Not only is Los Angeles County one of America’s COVID hotspots (the latest figures in are 7-Day Daily Average: 75,583 cases of people testing positive), but it is also grappling with increasing homelessness. And homelessness has always been one of L.A.’s biggest issues.
The Los Angeles Times reports that massive job losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic nationwide will leave tens of thousands of low-wage workers without homes over the next three years.
Last year’s count estimated the county’s homeless population at more than 66,000. Nearly three-quarters were living in makeshift shelters such as tents or cars. This year, due to the pandemic, the federal government has allowed Los Angeles County to cancel its 2021 homeless count over concerns that it can’t be done safely or accurately during the coronavirus epidemic, so there is no way to estimate the growing number of people that are now living on the streets — but take a stroll through any neighborhood now and you will see an increasing amount of people sleeping on the streets, tents mounted under underpasses and pavements. It was always a dire situation, which has made worse by COVID.
Thankfully, there are little angels that walk amongst us — in this case, the extraordinary 15-year-old Rachael Rosenberg, who delivers care packages to those on the streets.
She founded Bundles of Kindness in December 2018 in an effort to create a community project to help the homeless of Los Angeles – everywhere from Canoga Park to Beverly Hills. Each and every bundle is personally delivered by Rachael, accompanied by at least one adult. Rachael’s mission is to provide basic necessities while offering human interaction, dignity, love, and kindness to the homeless.
Each Bundle of Kindness is a large care package specifically designed for people who are homeless. It’s a sturdy canvas tote bag that typically consists of a sleeping mat, an umbrella, disposable rain poncho, flashlight, sunscreen, socks, water, juice, pouches of vegetables, pouches of soup, a variety of protein bars, dental hygiene products, haircut vouchers, meal vouchers, beverage vouchers, clothing vouchers, shampoo, conditioner, soap, first aid kits, and feminine hygiene products and dog food, leashes, and harnesses, blankets, hats, gloves, scarves, hand warmers, underwear, and t-shirts as needed.
“Ever since I was very young, I noticed people who are homeless as my family and I went about our daily routine,” she tells Kindness and Hope of inspiration to create the care packages. “It was confusing to me why anyone should be living without their basic needs being met.
She adds how this anonymous quote sums up her desire to help those less fortunate: “I always wondered why somebody didn’t do something about that, then I realized I am somebody.”‘
So far she estimates she has helped distribute the 500 care packages to date, with a goal of reaching 650 people in the coming weeks. Over 60 large companies, small businesses, and nonprofit organizations have supported her efforts to help people who are homeless. She also estimates that about 100 individuals have made donations that are helping me help those in need.
She adds: “In between sharing care packages, I have also given people who are homeless freshly picked fruit, face masks, and extra socks.”
Rachael reveals helping others is her long-term mission.
“It feels great to give a substantial care package,” she says. “It feels even better engaging with the recipients of my care packages so they realize that I view them as individual people who are just like me and my family. They are sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, siblings, and friends, just like all of
us are. The biggest gift I get in return when helping is a smile.”
But helping others doesn’t come without a certain extent of heartbreak.
“Unfortunately, I have seen a lot of people suffering,” she reveals. “It’s important to me that the recipients of my care packages feel respected and know that I view them as important. It was sad to hear someone tell me they are homeless because there was a death in their family, resulting in too little income. It was hard to see a man crying because he was cold and wet from falling asleep on the grass when sprinklers turned on. His hands were so cold he immediately put socks from my care package on his hands (That’s why my current round of care packages include gloves.). It was shocking to hear a woman say she had been in need of socks for months. She put them on while I spoke with her. It was very upsetting to meet a pregnant woman living in a tent. For each heartbreaking situation I learn about, I hope that I have been able to make someone feel better by listening to them and that the care package I give them results in helping them get the help they need. Each of my care packages includes a list of resources in the community ranging from mobile showers and shelters to food pantries and government assistance.”
COVID has affected her efforts, somewhat, but it hasn’t thwarted her dedication to help others.
“I plan to continue helping people who are homeless in Los Angeles and increase the number of people I help,” she relays. “I’m currently exploring several options. I will definitely be maintaining the Bundles of Kindness Amazon Wish List. ( You can click on her wishlist HERE.)
As she says, “so many people live on the edge of becoming homeless.”
So what do Kindness and Hope mean to this remarkable teen?
“Kindness means treating people with mutual respect and sharing a smile,” she says. “Hope means being optimistic about the future. The flashlights in my care packages are intended to provide light and hope for the future.”
Help provide smiles and light for the future of those who desperately need it by joining Rachel’s efforts at [email protected] and follow her on Facebook. You can also follow her @bundlesofkindness on Instagram and her TikTok handle@bundlesofkindness,