Inside Lucky Duck Foundation’s efforts to distribute backpacks for the homeless
Written By Erin Meanley Glenny – Published by SAN DIEGO MAGAZINE
When Pat and Stephanie Kilkenny launched Lucky Duck Foundation in 2005, their goal was to serve everyone in need, from people with disabilities to shelter animals.
They changed their focus in late 2017 to concentrate solely on San Diego’s homeless population, and in doing so made it a point to collaborate with other service providers, politicians, and anyone else who wanted to get in on the conversation. “Passion for the project is really contagious,” says Stephanie, the foundation’s president. “Homelessness affects everybody.” Erecting tents downtown was their first goal, to get people off the streets before the winter weather came. The city set aside land for these bridge shelters while Alpha Project, Veterans Village, and Father Joe’s Villages continued providing expertise, staff, and resources. “The next thing we heard is that they needed everyday toiletries, socks, warmer clothes, and water.” Hence, the backpack care kit was born. Here, we unzip how the backpack program, dubbed “1 Act of Kindness San Diego” or 1AoKSD, works and what’s inside.
In order to receive a backpack, an individual must get eight stamps at the shelter in a “Wellness Passport.” Those tasks include connecting with a case manager, reviewing their eligibility for Medi-Cal, getting vaccinated for influenza and hepatitis, and undergoing a medical and mental wellness screen. The county’s Public Health Services, Alpha Project, and Family Health Centers of San Diego all have representatives at the tents to help.
LEADING THE PACK
Feeding San Diego put together about 700 backpacks by the end of 2017. Alpha Project, Veterans Village, and Father Joe’s distribute them; so far they’ve given out 500. That means 500 people have been vaccinated, counseled, and more. “We’re helping people help themselves,” Stephanie says.
- $20 Walmart gift card
- Granola bars
- Hair brush
- Toiletries: deodorant, shampoo/body wash, mouthwash, toothbrush, and toothpaste
- Rain poncho
- A bottle of water prevents drinking water that’s not safe for consumption
- First-aid items: hand sanitizer, bandages, and antiseptic towelettes (handy when no running water is available, and helps prevent the spread of hepatitis A)
- Socks are the most requested clothing item at shelters, according to the Lucky Duck Foundation website. Without transportation, homeless men and women spend a lot of time on cold, wet feet. Yet people rarely donate socks.
Donors, take note: Lucky Duck Foundation matches $1 million every year.
BUY A BACKPACK
Donate $25 for a backpack at luckyduckfoundation.org.
Published by SAN DIEGO MAGAZINE – CHARITABLE GIVING GUIDE 2019