April showers bring May flowers, but this year, April brought with it something to help combat those showers — ZacPacs!
What are ZacPacs?
ZacPacs are the result of one young person’s desire to help those in need.
Zachary Weinberg and his family moved to Vancouver in 2017. Zac was surprised at how many people he saw on the streets for such an affluent city. “I started the ZacPac Project because I wanted to give back to my community and was compelled to do something after walking through the DTES for the first time 5 years ago when I moved here. I wanted both to raise awareness about the homeless crisis in Vancouver and to let people know that we care. I am motivated as the need is so great and in fact the situation is now worse coming out of the pandemic. The pandemic has been tough on everyone emotionally, physically, and economically, but those experiencing homelessness have been among the hardest hit over the past two years. Lockdowns were tough but at least the majority of us had a safe and comfortable place to stay — others in our community were not so fortunate.”
The first ZacPacs went out in 2020, right before the pandemic hit. The 20L waterproof packs contained, socks, toothbrushes, toques, gloves, water bottles, granola bars, and rain ponchos. Zac distributed 2,200 packs to a variety of organizations, including Covenant House Vancouver, who received 150 of the packs.
The 2022 ZacPacs
For this year, Zac wanted to do more to help the city’s most vulnerable. Zac wanted to not only increase the number of packs that were to go out to 3,000, but he also increased the size of the packs to 30L in order to store a waterproof sleeping bag, as well as non-perishable food and hand sanitizer.
Recently, 150 of these packs were delivered to CHV. “Covenant House Vancouver is incredibly grateful to Zachary Weinberg for his support of young people experiencing homelessness through his ZacPacs,” shares Allison Briggs, Development Officer at Covenant House Vancouver. “The pandemic, housing and opioid crises continue to have a profound impact on vulnerable young people. Thank you, Zac, for your passion and all you are doing to help those experiencing homelessness in our community.”
Zac was able to gather 30 amazing volunteers, including 14 fellow grade 8 students, to pack all 3,000 ZacPacs in just one day. These packs were then distributed to over 40 outreach organizations throughout Metro Vancouver.
When asked who inspired him, Zac said, “From the time I was a young kid, my parents got the ball rolling by instilling the importance of giving back to the community. I like to create new ways of doing things, but I do admire anyone who makes the effort to make a difference.”
What’s next for Zac?
“I received a lot of positive feedback from across the country when the ZacPac Project was featured on CTV National. I have been asked to expand the project to other cities. I have also been asked to create the bags for other organizations outside of my 40 current outreach partners. My plan is to continue and hopefully expand the ZacPac Project to help people in need.”
Do you have any advice for young people wanting to make a difference?
“Don’t be afraid to share your ideas with people who can support you in making things happen. Start somewhere; you never know where it might go. I just hope I can inspire others of all ages to think of ways that they can help their community, whether big or small, and then follow it up with action.”
Thank you, Zac, for your inspiration and action to help vulnerable youth in our community!