The Giving Spirit, a local nonprofit that serves homeless individuals in Los Angeles, recently assembled 1,200 Companion Animal Kits at the Westchester Municipal Building to serve homeless individuals and their pets. photos Courtesy of The Giving Spirit

The Giving Spirit assembles 1,200 kits for homeless individuals with pets

By Kamala Kirk

An estimated 10% of homeless people in the United States have pets who offer them companionship, protection and support. Assisted by volunteers, local nonprofit The Giving Spirit recently assembled 1,200 “Companion Animal Kits” at the Westchester Municipal Building to serve homeless individuals and their pets across Los Angeles.

The Companion Animal Kits were packed in sports bags and included a fleece blanket, collapsible bowls, dog shampoo, adjustable collar, flea comb, leash, chew toys and snacks. They are a complement to the universal and women’s and young girls’ survival kits that The Giving Spirit distributes on a regular basis.

“Companion animals provide unconditional love, friendship, a sense of structure and responsibility for their homeless caretakers, increasing both of their chances for survival,” said Tom Bagamane, founder and CEO of The Giving Spirit. “Each Companion Animal Kit helps maintain that relationship and provides for access to agencies with services and connections to housing.”

The Giving Spirit’s agency partners identified kit recipients in advance and picked up the kits from the Westchester site, delivering them into the hands of those in need. The Companion Animal Kits were distributed to help sustain and enhance two lives with one loving gift.

“Kits access lives,” Bagamane said. “It’s about lives served, both in the streets and in our communities. Our kit outreach unveils the true realities of poverty that they are truly us.”
Since 1999, The Giving Spirit has served homeless individuals in LA. Since its inception, the nonprofit has helped over 87,000 homeless lives with the help of over 21,000 volunteers.

In addition to assembling the kits, The Giving Spirit also hosted a “Two Lives, One Heart” educational session via Zoom last month. The session was designed to inform the public on the relevant issues surrounding poverty and its impact on the most vulnerable. The session included representatives from Pals N Pets and the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), as well as the courageous heroes featured in the corresponding short film documenting unsheltered animals and their companions.

“Our aim is to provide critical suppliers and to spur dialogue on the issue of homelessness for humans and animals alike,” Bagamane said. “Kits and outreach open the door to learning and education, creating a closed-loop solution and long-term impact.”

The Giving Spirit