ATWATER, California (KSEE) — Rishi Vanga decided to take it upon himself to make sure Merced County’s homeless community is safe during the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Last month, the 17-year-old started preparing Kare Packages for each homeless person in the county. A Kare Package is a hygiene kit filled with baby wipes, soap, masks, hand sanitizer and other supplies Vanga bought.
He said he got the idea after talking with a homeless woman near the Goodwill in Merced.
“I gave her five dollars and I asked her, ‘Hey, do you know what coronavirus is,'” Vanga said. “She said no and that’s when I realized we had a big problem.”
To date, 84 Kare Packages have been given out. Vanga has also donated a good number of them directly to help those at the Merced Rescue Mission.
“Every day we have people coming to the rescue mission looking for clothing, looking for food, and looking for hygiene kits,” Merced Rescue Mission’s executive director Bruce Metcalf.
Efforts to help the homeless in Merced County are being noticed by Gov. Gavin Newsom. Over the weekend, Newsom praised the county as one embracing Project Roomkey an initiative that started a couple of weeks ago. It’s helped house more than 4,000 homeless individuals in hotel and motel rooms statewide.
Vanga plans to continue handing out Kare Packages as long as he can.
“Even after this disease is gone, there’s still plenty of things like the flu, which kills thousands of people every year,” he said. “We still have to make sure everyone’s safe.”
You can help Vanga by sponsoring a Kare Package, which will ensure another person will get one. You can head to the Kare Package website by clicking here, you’ll see a button about sponsoring in the upper right corner.