Arcadia, CA Local 3440 fire fighters keep tools and equipment for any situation on their engines, and this November will be making room to store “Hope Packages,” backpacks filled with blankets, toiletries, socks and water bottles for the homeless.

According to the Los Angeles Homelessness Services Authority, the total homeless population in the San Gabriel Valley is on the rise at 2,612.

“This is one more way we can meet a need and show compassion in our community,” says Local 3440 President Brian Ursettie.

Gary Robinson, a Local 3440 member who came up with the idea, says this is something he and his family do every year in their community. Supplies are donated from Local 3440 members, as well as community groups and REI.

“Our hope is that this effort encourages others to show compassion to those less fortunate in their communities,” says Robinson, who explains that Local 3440 members respond to a call involving the homeless population about 15 times each month. Though larger cities have much greater contact with the homeless, He wants those on the streets to know that Arcadia fire fighters care about their well-being.

“The goal is to have Hope Packages on all our apparatus,” says Robinson.

To date, Local 3440 has assembled 12 Hope Packages, dedicating three to each of the department’s four frontline apparatuses, with plans to provide many more.

“Newly appointed Arcadia Fire Chief, Mike Lang, as well as the entire administration, has been very supportive and encouraging towards the project,” says Robinson.