Humanity Heroes’ Biggest Ever Holiday Donation Drive
The eighth annual backpack campaign by Humanity Heroes brought more essentials than ever to the homeless community of Skid Row.
On December 17, “BigMike” Straumietis, founder and CEO of Advanced Nutrients, rolled up his sleeves and returned to Downtown Los Angeles with his Humanity Heroes for the charity’s eighth annual holiday donation drive.
The 2022 event is being celebrated as the biggest and best yet, with more help and opportunities available to help those who need it most, including thousands more Humanity Packs made by volunteers at the Palladium theatre in Los Angeles. According to BigMike, over 200 people showed up to help create the packs.
“We had three assembly lines instead of two,” BigMike said. “It was an amazing turnout.”
One of the volunteers was West Coast hip-hop superstar Xzibit, who returned to help for another year with his Napalm cannabis brand. Cannabis Talk 101 was also onsite, along with other socially conscious cannabis companies. BigMike says he is “really happy” to see such support for his initiative.
“The cannabis community is really embracing this and coming in strong. So I’m really happy about that,” he said.
The Gift of Giving
The Humanity Packs are stuffed with 23 life essentials for those living on the city streets this winter, including socks, gloves, rain ponchos, a first aid kit, pen, paper, shampoo, soap, razor shaving blades, toothbrushes, toothpaste and more. This year, BigMike and his team consulted with the homeless community directly to identify what items are most needed to help make their lives a little easier.
“We gave out 10,000 Humanity Packs this year,” BigMike says. “Last year we gave out 7,000. An extra 3,000 took a whole lot more extra manpower than we anticipated, but the team came together and we got it done.”
Additionally, $1.2 million worth of delicious, dried fruits such as freeze-dried bananas and strawberries were donated by Nature’s Turn.
Along with the homeless community, Humanity Heroes also works with California-based nonprofits, My Friends House and Covenant House. Core Group, the crisis response organization founded by actor Sean Penn, is also involved with Humanity Heroes to help bring relief to underserved communities.
In vulnerable situations like homelessness, the relationship people develop with their dogs helps them cope with challenges and difficulties daily. According to a study on the bond between homeless people and their pets, 74% of participants said that animals are their main source of social support. Greater Good Charities, which works to help people, pets and the planet by mobilizing in response to need and amplifying the good, showed its support to Humanity Heroes by donating dog food for Skid Row’s dog owners.
Another first for this year’s drive is Humanity Heroes’ partnership with 40 Tons, a social impact premium cannabis brand that’s dedicated to bringing more BIPOC communities into the space and providing second chances to those with previous cannabis convictions. The two organizations worked together to “deliver backpacks to families who have people who are still incarcerated for cannabis-related violations,” BigMike says.
While the event mainly focuses on helping the vulnerable residents of Skid Row, LA’s most impoverished neighborhood, this year Humanity Heroes was also able to help society’s most vulnerable people in Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Michigan and, for the first time, the Philippines.
“This is our first official year working with the Philippines,” BigMike explained, thrilled that his nonprofit continues to help people around the world. Humanity Heroes made its debut in Bulgaria back in December 2012 as “Holiday Heroes” before being rebranded in 2019.
BigMike’s idea for the nonprofit was spurred by his personal experiences and a strong desire to help those in need. The charity organization is BigMike’s passion project and mirrors his hands-on approach to philanthropy and corporate responsibility.
“If a company is successful, they have an obligation to give back directly to the community in which they get their money and society as a whole,” he said.
Giving back to the community is what drives BigMike. During California’s devastating wildfires, he donated cash and over half a million dollars worth of nutrients to help farmers reestablish their grows.
Humanity Heroes would like to thank all the brands who donated items for this year’s Humanity Packs: Hanes, U.S. Bank, Frito-Lay, Greater Good Charities, Operation Blankets of Love, Do Good International, Nature’s Turn, CalyFx, Catch 21, Hydor Water, Haifa, Proventus Bioscience, Advanced Nutrients and Cannabis Talk 101.