Backpacks for the Homeless

For the past five years, the CEC has participated in alumni parent Ann Martin's annual drive to provide holiday backpacks for the homeless in Pasadena. We would like to once again extend her invitation out to the CEC community to participate in this meaningful project. Please see below to read Ann's letter and view a full list of the items she is hoping to collect.

We will have boxes in the Oak Grove and Co-op offices, as well as in the Dolphin room for families to drop off donations. Thank you for paying it forward this holiday season!

Her message:

Thank you so much to all of you who continue to participate and a warm welcome to those of you who are new to this endeavor. Every year, I am so touched by the amazing generosity of my friends, colleagues, and family!  We all have so much to be thankful for and I appreciate you all paying it forward by contributing something to those who survive on so little.

Thanks for your overwhelming generosity, last year we were able to distribute 40 backpacks and sleeping bags filled with necessities for homeless women and men in our community.  When we ran out, we had extra gift cards that we were able to hand out so nobody we encountered was left empty-handed.

Apparently, we are developing somewhat of a reputation in the homeless community. Last year, when we stopped on the side of the road to offer a backpack to a homeless man, his face lit up and he exclaimed, “Oh, you are those backpack people I’ve heard about!  I’m so glad you found me this year.”

Your contributions really make a difference. Sadly, the problem of homelessness continues to grow.  With rents soaring, we are seeing many more seniors and families being displaced.  My heart broke when I encountered an elderly man walking through a gas station with a shopping cart holding his remaining possessions.  His mop and broom poignantly protruded from the neatly packed piles of clothes, kitchenware, and other belongings.  When I asked if he was okay, he told me he could no longer afford his rent. He was so grateful for the sleeping bag and the gift cards I was able to offer him. I wanted to take him home with me.

This year, I have purchased 48 backpacks to fill with things that the homeless can use to make their lives a little better.  In an attempt to try to make this more convenient for you during this busy time of year I have put together a Wish List on Amazon of items we need. 

You can just go to the link and pick out what you want to donate and order it online at:

If you enjoy getting out to the stores and shopping (99 cent store and Target are great options). 

Please bring your donation to the designated CEC drop off locations and they will be delivered to me by December 21. I plan to distribute the backpacks during the week of Christmas. Suggested items are listed below.  Small denomination food gift cards to McDonald's are not available on Amazon, but are much appreciated, as are donated items of clothing!

I want you all to know how thankful I am to have such wonderful people like you in my life.

Thank you for your consideration and, of course, no pressure to participate!

Love, Ann

With additional appreciation from Elyssa!

Needed Items 

  • Sweatshirts
  • T-shirts
  • Face towels
  • Underwear
  • Knit caps
  • Baseball caps
  • Socks
  • Paperback Books
  • Playing cards
  • Blankets (no aluminum blankets because they need to not stand out when sleeping)
  • Chapstick
  • Antibacterial ointment
  • Pre-paid phones
  • Energy bars
  • Nail clippers
  • Soap
  • Shampoo
  • Razors
  • Shaving cream
  • Combs
  • Brushes
  • Deodorant
  • Lotion
  • Gift certificates to Subway or McDonalds
  • Bus tokens
  • Toothbrushes (soft bristles)
  • Toothpaste