Multilectual Daily Online Magazine focusing on World Architecture, Travel, Photography, Interior Design, Vintage and Contemporary Fiction, Political cartoons, Craft Beer, All things Espresso, International coffee/ cafe's, occasional centrist politics and San Diego's Historic North Park by award-winning journalist Tom Shess
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
ARCHIVE / SAINTS JUNIORS HELP THE HOMELESS, ONE RED BAG AT A TIME
Kevin Bitar, left and Michael McRoskey
GUEST BLOG--By Alexander Danilowicz, staff reporter, The
Augustinian, student newspaper, St. Augustine High School.
In 2010 Michael founded The Red Bag, Inc., a non-profit
corporation devoted to providing material and spiritual nourishment to those
who need it most. Kevin joined the project in August 2012, acting as The Red
Bag’s Director of Ambassadors.
What is a Red Bag? The better question: what isn’t a Red
Bag? An energy bar, bottled water, raisins, trail mix, beef jerky, chewing gum,
and a hand wipe, all packed into one reusable, recyclable, and waterproof
drawstring bag. For five dollars you get a care package of essentials to have
at the ready in your car to distribute to a homeless person in need. Michael
and Kevin encourage everyone who purchases a Red Bag to add a personal note or
prayer, as well as toiletries, warm socks, fruit or a blanket. Have you ever
felt compassion for a beggar on the street, but were reluctant to give money
that might be abetting substance abuse? Then Red Bag is for you.
“By keeping a Red Bag in your car, you will be equipped with
a kit that makes it easy to help our neighbors in need. Instead of giving cash
that may feed an addiction or bad habit, you’re providing the gift of
encouragement and nutrition in a way that treats our neighbors with dignity and
respect,” said Michael.
It all started 3 years ago, during Michael and Kevin’s
freshman year. The concept behind The Red Bag was inspired by Mr. Cudal’s
Honors English I class’ downtown homeless service project. After handing out
sack lunches for a mere 15 minutes, all of the class’ prepared food was
allocated without even covering a city block.
“What would Jesus do? Well, whatever he would do, Michael
McRoskey and Kevin Bitar are getting it done,” said Mr. Cudal, who has been
organizing the service project for the last 3 years.
San Diego had the third largest homeless population of any
American metropolitan area in 2012, surpassed only by New York City and Los
“Homeless people weren't new to me–I had seen them on street
corners and off my freeway exit – but something about seeing them so hungry and
so thankful sparked an idea. What if anyone could do what my class did? And so
the Red Bag began,” said Michael.
Since its inception, The Red Bag has sold over 1500 bags.
After its first two years of operations and countless hours of hard work, The
Red Bag was granted official non-profit status in August 2012. “It’s going
really well,” said Kevin. In an effort to get their local community involved,
Michael and Kevin speak at youth groups, local organizations, and businesses in
the area. Additionally, The Red Bag has its own social media campaign to reach
beyond San Diego. Michael and Kevin encourage students to like The Red Bag on
Facebook and to visit www.red-bag.org for more information. You can purchase
Red Bags individually or in bulk from the website, or by contacting Michael or
“Red Bag was founded on the principle that a small act of
kindness can change lives–one person at a time,” said Michael. Clearly, Michael
and Kevin are undertaking an effort that epitomizes the Catholic values of
Saint Augustine High School.
Thank you to Stephanie Castillo for her help contributing to