FEATURE | Posted Aug. 11, 2016

Blessing Bags for the homeless

Eye Center staff reach out to feed down-and-out

Valadaz and Kizer making sandwiches
Jose Valadez (left) and Gregory Kizer assemble Blessing Bags made possible by donations from Eye Center faculty and staff.

When UC Davis Eye Center laboratory technician Leslie Lopez went to Cesar Chavez Plaza in Sacramento for one of the free Concerts in the Park back in July, she saw firsthand all of the homeless people who call the plaza home.

Temporarily displaced from the park during concerts, the transients tend to congregate on adjacent streets and sidewalks.

Lopez decided then that she wanted to help.

In July, she created a Facebook event listing and collected donations. Then with a few friends, she made 85 “Blessing Bags,” filled with sandwiches, dry dog food and snacks for the homeless, which they handed out at the next concert.

“This whole experience has truly fed my soul,” Lopez said. “I have received so many heart-warming responses from the homeless. They are grateful, and the people with dogs are very appreciative and feed their dogs first. I’m humbled.”

Group of employees
The Blessing Bag team includes (from left to right) Gregory Kizer, Kristen Griffith, Megan Hughes-Salaber, Leslie Lopez, Joe Valadez, and Vashon Elmer.

Her outreach to the homeless also inspired eye center administrative assistant, Joe Valadez, to reach out to faculty and staff within the department, collecting $300 which made 120 Blessing Bags.

The group distributed the bags of goodies on Friday, Aug. 5, the final Concert in the Park event at the plaza.