On Monday, Inspiration Corporation participants received a donation of more than 40 multi-use backpacks from Citypak. This is a new project started by lifelong Chicagoan Ron Kaplan, his family’s SBK Foundation, and local outdoor-gear manufacturer High Sierra Sport Company.

Keiara in a Citypak poncho and founder Ron Kaplan at Inspiration Cafe

The Citypak is a rugged, high-quality, multi-use backpack that has been specifically designed for and distributed to those spending a significant amount of time on the streets of Chicago. It has excellent storage capacity, multiple pockets, and comes with a rain poncho that covers both the wearer and the entire pack. It has multiple enclosures to keep items dry and an anti-theft closure to help keep it secure for the wearer.

Kaplan came up with the idea while riding his bike along Lower Wacker Drive when he saw homeless people trying to keep their belongings in plastic or paper bags that were falling apart. He approached High Sierra and they designed the Citypak for just this need.

The first production run of 2,000 bags has been distributed through many local social service organizations since October, and demand for the bags has been tremendous. Chicago Public Schools has made a request for its 10,000 homeless students, and Kaplan hopes to take the program statewide and to other American cities as well.

“I don’t have a magic wand to fix homelessness,” says Kaplan, “but I can make life on the streets a little easier.”

Judging from the reaction of participants at Inspiration Corporation on Monday night, he’s absolutely right. Check out their website at citypak.org for more information about this brand new bag.