Burners Without Borders Detroit: Homeless Backpack Project

Danielle-Kaltz-Burners-Without-Borders-Detroit-Homeless-Backpack-Project-Impact-Grant-2014-225x300The creative generosity of Burners Without Borders never ceases to amaze. One project in particular, run by the Detroit BWB chapter has gathered enough momentum that you should definitely know about it, in case it inspires you to help out the homeless in your community.

The Burners Without Borders Detroit: Homeless Backpack Project has given away over 1200 backpacks full of water, food, clothes, blankets, and hygiene products to the homeless people of Detroit since it was conceived by Danielle “Doxie” Kaltz in 2008. Their target for this year is to give between 400 and 500 more. It gets cold in Detroit. These people need lots of supplies to survive. This 100% volunteer organization, nearly 100 people strong, is making a major difference for them, making grantors like the Pollination Project into repeat customers.

“It started out of the back of my Jeep,” Doxie says. “In winter 2006/2007 I started to see homeless under the bridges on the highways in Detroit, and it made me realize I had too much stuff. Don’t we all. So I started to fill my car with blankets and food, then I would stop and take items to the people who I started to call the Highway Men. Brave or stupid I realize this, but it was a calling, and I had to do it.”

10846487_10204479782309056_4169549143634316576_n-300x168Then Doxie’s friend, Rosey, asked her family to donate supplies to the Backpack Project instead of giving her Christmas gifts that year, and that’s when Doxie says “the project leveled up.” Rosey had the idea to put the supplies into sturdy backpacks instead of paper or plastic bags. Now nearly 100 volunteers help fundraise, gather supplies, and distribute backpacks. Anew Life Prosthetics and Orthotics has donated office space to the project for storing the supplies and hosting the backpacking events. Best of all, now that other volunteers are helping out, Doxie can now spend more time getting the word out.

“I do have one request of everyone who helps pass out backpacks,” Doxie says, “and that is that they ask the name of the person they are engaging with and that they tell them their name. It is easy for us to ignore homeless as we busy ourselves with our phones or radios or just simply refuse to turn our heads. I hope to humanize the experience as everyone deserves to be acknowledged, and I really do think we can change humanity if we just say ‘hi’ to people, not just homeless, and mean it. Time to bust our bubbles and connect to others.”

You can follow along with Burners Without Borders Detroit on their website or on Facebook.

Photos courtesy of the Pollination Project

About the author: Jon Mitchell

Jon Mitchell

, a.k.a. Argus, was publisher of the Burning Man Journal, the Jackrabbit Speaks newsletter, and the Burning Man website from 2016 to 2019. He joined the Comm Team as a volunteer in 2010 and as year-round staff in 2014. He co-wrote a big story about spending 24 hours at the Temple of Juno in 2012. His first Burn was in 2008.

17 Comments on “Burners Without Borders Detroit: Homeless Backpack Project

  • jasmine says:

    “in case it inspires you to help out the homeless in your community.”

    You mean all those rapists and pedos? LOL no.

    Report comment

    • Jon Mitchell says:

      I thought about taking this comment down, but I’m going to leave it up so that the community sees it and can respond.

      Report comment

    • ~doxie says:

      Good Morning Jasmine..

      Have you ever worked DIRECTLY with anyone who is homeless? IF you have then you know there are some amazing folks who have ended up there as a result of bad times. Not sure if you are aware but we have been in economic hard times and many folks.. thousands, have lost their jobs and in many cases there homes.

      Others are mentally ill and in the case of Michigan one of our past governors closed departments and facilities and many folks had no where to go and ended up on the streets.

      and still others have abuse issues and have ended up on the streets due to no resources.

      and have you heard of the Vets who are on the streets.??

      THIS IS NOT AN ‘LOL” moment for me..this is VERY serious!!

      IF you want to come to Detroit.. i will take you on the streets and give you a tour of our city as YOU hand out backpacks to the homeless..

      WITH LOVE ..from Detroit


      Report comment

    • Chris ,or Diabolical says:

      Sounds pretty cunty, but I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you’re just ignorant. Most rapists and pedos have homes, and usually jobs. In fact, most pedos have more money than you or I. I feel sorry for you, I hope you experience whatever it takes to open your mind. Homeless people have troubles, but they don’t deserve to be spat upon. If we can help them all get better, we’ll work on helping you next.
      I really hope, though, that you have found your way by then.
      This goes for you too,Tony.
      I honestly don’t know what the two of you are even doing on a burner website. Maybe you need community way more than you even know.

      Report comment

  • Kiki says:

    BWB, I love you guys! Going to see if there are any projects like this in my area. Keep up the awesome work!!!

    Report comment

  • Doug says:

    @Jasmine and Tony: I smell entitlement. Everytime I walk by your gated community at Burning Man. It stinks. I hope your respective communities reach out to you both and help you understand that entitlement can be treated. Now that my snark is over, come to Detroit. Meet the homeless veterans that served our country in Vietnam, Persian Gulf… And I challenge you to engage them in conversation, look them in the eye, and offer at least a few seconds of concern, and maybe a backpack. Maybe consider thanking them for signing up to put their own lives before the President and the people of their country. *steps down off soapbox.

    Report comment

  • Rambo says:

    I’m just a little curious. Before handing out these backpacks to the homeless, is there some kind of talk about Burning Man and its 10 principals? Do these men need to recite any of the principals before receiving aid?

    Report comment

    • Cooky says:

      Rambo, zero speeches needed or given to get a backpack. We hope to exchange names and at least a moment of connection but zero prostelatyzing of principles.

      Report comment

  • Laura says:

    There is a special place in hell for people like that! Thank you for all you do to help your fellow man.

    Report comment

  • Chris C says:

    Bummer that the first comment stole everyone’s thoughts away from a great project and story.
    The reality of this project is that the community came together and helped some people that needed help badly. There is no doubt in my mind that more people would have perished or suffered frostbite in the record cold winter(s) had it not been for the leadership of such an amazing woman and the people that have supported her project.
    I personally have seen a man receive gloves and hat and his eyes well up with thanks and another see food in the bag and dive in as it was the first real food of the day. Lastly think of how a bottle of water would taste when everything else is frozen and you have none.

    Report comment

  • doxie says:

    I would like to make ONE small correction to the article as i believe in accountability and leaving a good record….
    the blog stated… “Then Doxie’s friend, Rosey, asked her family to donate supplies to the Backpack Project instead of giving her Christmas gifts that year, and that’s when Doxie says “the project leveled up.”

    What that statement missed is that Rosey Posey (LNT QUEEN) did was ask her family to donate supplies then SHE put them into backpacks…..when she gave them all to me that winter she was so matter of fact when she told me..why not use our burners camping sensibilities and put them to use for this!!! so simple so genius.. that is what leveled us up the first time.. i was just giving folks items with or without paper and plastic bags.!! thank you Miss Rosey!!

    Report comment

  • I AM homeless. My dog ” The Nine ” & I AM are biking to Burning Man. We leave from Orlando for:
    ” The You Thirsty Campaign : a B.U.M.M.S. project “.
    This is a 3000 miles bike ride to bring awareness to the homelessness problem in america.
    The Nine and I AM; both burnt souls, shall bring the reality of homelessness to Social Media through our journey to Burning Man.
    Dr.Rev.Sr.Skratch & ” The Nine ”



    Report comment

  • P.S.

    Report comment

  • Comments are closed.