More than 100 of these CityPak backpacks will be distributed to Surrey’s homeless this year. (Photos submitted by Union Gospel Mission)

VIDEO: 150 ‘street proof’ backpacks for Surrey’s homeless

Custom ‘CityPak’ backpacks feature built-in rain gear and anti-theft measures to help homeless

A total of 750 “street proof” backpacks will be delivered to the region’s homeless this year and 150 of them have made their way to Surrey.

Union Gospel Mission and Wolfe Auto Group have partnered with the CityPak Project to deliver the custom backpacks, which are designed for life on the street.

The backpacks feature a built-in rain poncho, compression straps for bedding, reflective straps, durable material and anti-theft loops.

In Surrey, the bags have been handed out at Surrey Urban Mission Society (SUMS), located at the corner of 108th Avenue and King George Boulevard.

In a video about the distribution event, SUMS director Michael Musgrove said the Whalley neighbourhood they serve is one of the poorest postal codes in Canada.

“We have a lot of folks who are in need of help, they’re struggling with homelessness. CityPak has become an awesome tool in just helping people out,” he said.

“Often we don’t have bags and stuff to give out. Getting these CityPaks has been an absolutely awesome gift to be able to give to folks. They’re excited, it’s a great thing. It’s not easy living on the streets. I see a lot of people struggling with it but this will make it a little bit more bearable.”

“Those are the CityPaks, aren’t they?” a woman asked in the video. “Bless you. Thank you Michael.”

“I’ve been a lot of places with that bag, that’s for sure,” says a man, smiling.

See more: Count finds 49 per cent more homeless people in Surrey

See more: HOMELESS COUNT: The toll of Surrey streets

See more: More than 100 seniors living on Surrey streets: homeless count

Each CityPak costs roughly US $32 and this year, the costs were shared by CityPak and Wolfe Auto Group. Union Gospel Mission (UGM) helped co-ordinate and distribute the packs.

UGM’s Jeremy Hunka said the bags were popular in Metro Vancouver last year and “demand is through the roof” this time around.

Though most will be distributed in Vancouver, more than 300 will go south of the Fraser River.

The bags are destined for six organizations in the Downtown Eastside, New Westminster, Surrey, Langley, and Abbotsford.

“After witnessing the impact these survival bags had on individuals last year, we knew our good deed went a long way,” said Wolfe Auto Group’s Tristan Schon.

“We really wanted to bring City Pak to charities in Vancouver and the Fraser Valley again this year.”

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