When Skye Fenton met a homeless veteran while out with her father in their Hermosa Beach neighborhood, the precocious 11-year-old felt moved.
“We gave him $5 to go get coffee and food,” Skye said of a conversation the family shared with the man. “It’s really sad that there are actually people on the street. I knew I had to help.”
Skye came home that day and told her mother, Emie, she wanted to find a way to help people like him.
So the Backpack Club was born.
Through donations from the community and a Veterans’ Day bake sale which garnered some $750 towards the effort, the club was able to gather essentials such as toiletries, blankets, tarps and food.
“It was just such a great reception,” Emie said of the bake sale which took place at the Hermosa Pier. “People were so giving that day. It was kind of the kick off.”
Volunteers then stuffed 100 backpacks—an effort Emie said was only possible because of the support of the South Bay community.
“We had a lot of help,” she said, explaining a Hermosa local opened her home to the club. “We had tables packed full of stuff, so we did an assembly line. It was just great how the whole community really came together to help and make it happen.”
The stuffed packs were then dispersed among a shelter in San Pedro, a homeless encampment off Lomita and U.S. Vets in Inglewood.
Emie explained the family had made a connection with a formerly homeless veteran there, Kevin Kincey, who now does outreach for the center that provides housing and resources.
“They have an outreach team that goes out and interacts with the homeless,” Emie said. “They’ll use these packs to kind of build a relationship with the people.”
Emie said the Backpack Club will continue to donate stuffed packs of goods to U.S. Vets on an as-needed basis.
“When we last went there, they had already given out half of them,” she noted. “We will keep replenishing whenever they need more.”
For young Skye, the opportunity to continue helping others is what it’s all about.
“I think it’s really good to give back,” she said. “I’m hoping to help a lot of people.”
For more information on the Backpack Club, check them out on Facebook at facebook.com/groups/2232860763651868/