Humanity Heroes’ Annual Backpack Drive Supports LA Homeless

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“BigMike” Straumietis, most widely known as the founder and CEO of Advanced Nutrients, was back in Downtown Los Angeles on December 18 with his nonprofit Humanity Heroes, which takes a hands-on approach to help ease the suffering of the homeless. They were there for the organization’s seventh annual holiday donation drive, distributing 2,000 Humanity Packs directly to the residents of Skid Row—LA’s most impoverished neighborhood. From toothpaste and toothbrushes to sunscreen, gloves and tarps, each backpack is stuffed with 21 non-perishable items that the homeless community desperately needs. In addition to the backpacks, Humanity Heroes also handed out warm dinners, blankets, pet food and toys for the kids. Humanity Heroes launched in December 2012 in Bulgaria as “Holiday Heroes,” before being rebranded in 2019. BigMike’s idea for the nonprofit was spurred by his own personal experiences, in addition to having a strong desire to help those in need. To date, BigMike’s charity efforts have resulted in non-perishable food donations to Skid Row totaling more than $600,000. Not All Heroes Wear Capes Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Humanity Heroes’ efforts to help the homeless are proving to be especially impactful. According to the 2020 Census, Skid Row’s population has risen to 9,9092 people—a 20% increase from 2019. And at least 4,000 people in Skid Row are homeless on a permanent basis. The recent Census figures also show that the greater city of Los Angeles saw a 16.1% rise in homelessness last year, bringing the total number of those needing shelter to 41,290.  A report co-authored by Randall Kuhn, associate professor of community health sciences at UCLA, highlights the vulnerability of homeless people during the pandemic. “Homeless people are twice as likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 and two to three times more likely to die than the general population,” the report concludes.  For BigMike, it’s not enough to talk…

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