From left, Patrick Wang, Sgt. Shannon Robledo, Geng Nie and Wang Ning hold backpacks. Photo by Steve Whitmore

In a show of communitywide support, South Pasadena is coming together to present the local homeless population with new backpacks filled with everyday necessities during the upcoming regional count.

So Pas police, along with Women Involved in South Pasadena Political Action (WISPPA), are going to be stuffing new backpacks with toiletries, blankets, hats, socks and other items for the local homeless population. The new backpacks are going to be presented to the homeless during the annual homeless count in a couple weeks in South Pasadena, according to So Pas Police Sgt. Shannon Robledo.

“On Jan. 22 of this year, we are going to do the annual homeless count,” Robledo said during a recent interview. “It’s a regional homeless count that L.A. County is putting together. And we are doing it at a specific time and a specific date.”

The count will begin in So Pas at 7 p.m. and end at 11 p.m. on Jan 22, according to Robledo.

“It’s a visual count, so we drive around and we cover the city with a couple of officers, and we basically do a head count,” Robledo said. “We know more or less where our homeless congregate or live because we are so familiar with their living arrangements.” That homeless count becomes part of the official record for 2019.

Robledo is leading the homeless count in South Pasadena, and the backpacks are just a way to help the homeless with daily necessities. It gives them a taste of hope, Robledo said.

Robledo also said they give out the backpacks as a way to offer them the referral services available to help get them off the streets.

“That’s always the goal,” Robledo said. “We want them to have a  home.”

The new backpacks and blankets for So Pas homeless donated by Koala Know and Purists. Photo by Steve Whitmore

Robledo does not do this alone. WISPPA came forward and offered to fill the backpacks, which are being donated by Koala Know, a Chinese language institute, and Purist, a car enthusiast club, out of the City of Industry.

Many of the backpacks are valued at about $125 each because the volunteers wanted the materials to last through any type of inclement weather conditions.

“The backpacks are donated by a car enthusiasts’ club called the Purist group,” Robledo explained. “They do toy drives and do blanket

giveaways. They are in the City of Industry. This will be the third year that they have given us the backpacks. In the backpacks we put supplies such as hats, socks, clothing, bottled water, granola bars – whatever we can get that’s donated.”

That’s where WISPPA members come in because they provide the hats, socks, clothing, bottled water, granola bars and the other supplies that go inside the backpacks.

Meanwhile, Patrick Wang, co-founder of Koala Know and the Purist car club, explained why the City of Industry-based organizations are donating brand new backpacks still in their plastic bags to the South Pasadena homeless. In no small measure, Wang said, it’s because of their “deep respect” for the South Pasadena Police Department.

“South Pasadena Police Department has been a role model police department as far as we are concerned,” Wang said. “They have been doing such good work for so many years. Shannon is also a good personal friend of ours. When we reached out to the community we wanted to provide support back to South Pasadena. And this is the least we can do for a city we respect.”

The count, sponsored by the Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count (GLAHC), is scheduled to take place in the San Fernando, Santa Clarita and San Gabriel valleys on Jan. 22 between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. Robledo said he anticipates the So Pas count will be about the same as last year between 10-15.

The Los Angeles Countywide results from the 2018 count tallied 52,765 people experiencing homelessness, which is a 4 percent drop from 2017, according to data provide by GLAHC.

Steve Whitmore
Author

Steve Whitmore is the editor for the South Pasadena Review. Steve has spent more than four decades as an award-winning print and broadcast journalist with a 16-year stint as the senior media advisor for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Steve comes to us from the Keene Sentinel in Keene, New Hampshire, where he covered politics and was a columnist.

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