An Angel Tree and Helen Reddy benefit concert will kick off an ongoing campaign to provide constructive, problem-solving help to Utah's homeless.
KSL-TV has developed the Close to Home Campaign to generate community support for helping some homeless individuals or families to find permanent solutions to their problems.The objective will be to help them find jobs, pay the initial costs of housing or get job training that will get them off the streets, said Cheryl Cox, development consultant and project director.
The Angel Tree will provide the initial funding for the campaign, said Joan Betros, who is spearheading this aspect of the campaign. Families and businesses will be asked to "purchase" Christmas tree angels through a donation to the Close to Home campaign. Suggested donations are $100 per family and as much more as corporations or groups can afford.
On the evening of the Reddy concert, Dec. 17, donors will be able to claim an angel from a tree in the foyer of Symphony Hall as a decoration for their own tree and a reminder of the charitable purposes of the drive, said Betros. The pre-concert reception for contributors and community leaders will be at 6 p.m., with doors open for concertgoers at 7 p.m.
Concert tickets are selling for $12.50 to $15. Reddy has adopted the cause of the homeless as a personal charity.
Angel Tree donations, or other contributions to the Close to Home Campaign can be made to the Community Services Council, 212 W. 1300 South, Salt Lake City, UT 84101, telephone 486-2136. The council will serve as a clearinghouse for the ongoing campaign. An advisory group will help decide how to divide contributions among service agencies that can help the homeless.
Reddy's visit has been arranged by On-Stage Productions, a Utah group headed by Jan McCardell, a former Brigham Young University Young Ambassador. Danny Thompson will choreograph the program. Lobby entertainment will be provided by minstrels, jugglers, a mime and others in holiday costume.
Cox said the Close to Home theme was chosen for the KSL campaign because homelessness touches the lives of many Utahns, whether homeless or not. She said promoters hope to alter the image of the homeless as indigent ne'er-do-wells looking for charity.
In fact, she said, 30 percent to 40 percent of Salt Lake's homeless have jobs but no place to sleep at night. They cannot afford the move-in costs for housing. Many of Utah's 4,300 homeless are victims of inflation, recession and other economic factors that affect their ability to provide for themselves. Many who are homeless never believed it could happen to them, and the fastest-growing segment of the homeless are single parents with children.
The television station will build support for the campaign through frequent public service announcements and an educational program that will be taken to community groups. Businesses, church, social or civic groups and individuals will be asked to support the effort by contributing money or "adopting" a homeless individual or family and helping them become self-sustaining.