The Road Home helps give Christmas to everyone

by JOHANNA WISCHMANN

During the holiday season in Salt Lake City, many families and people find themselves with nowhere to turn. To help those in need of shelter and other necessities for livelihood, The Road Home helps accommodate those who may not have the resources to live a somewhat comfortable life.

“I think people are shocked to learn that both locally and nationally, families are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population,” said Celeste Eggert, the director of development. Between 2007-2009 the number of families in homeless shelters jumped 124 percent, Eggert said.

“Our goal is to help these families return to housing as quickly as possible,” Eggert said.

There are a few things the Road Home, located at 210 S. Rio Grande St., does during the winter season to help those in the shelters.

On the first of October, the Road Home opens a Community Winter Shelter. The Winter Shelter serves as an overflow shelter so that the Road Home does not need to turn anybody away during the cold months of the year.

Every December, the Road Home creates a holiday store, called the Candy Cane Corner Store; usually it occupies an empty or vacant building.

This year the Candy Cane Corner Store is located at 502 West 300 South in Salt Lake City. It is open Mondays through Fridays from noon to 7 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m.

The store is made up of new or donated things gathered from the community, like rattles, shoes, hats and gloves.

The Candy Cane Corner Store provides a “wish list” every year supplying information for things they need to fill the store.

On the 2011 Wish List, there are different sections that need to be filled for newborns to fathers and mothers. In each section there are items that people in the Road Home need or want for the holidays, like sweaters, socks and shoes.

The Road Home also gives the men and women in the shelter gift bags. Every person gets something for the holidays, Eggert said.

The Road Home supplies a “needs list” that asks for donations for the gift bags. The men’s gift bag list this year has things like shampoo, razors and deodorant.

Donations for the gift bags are to be delivered by Dec. 14. Donations can be brought to the donation drop-off area located at the south of the Road Home building. For all the donations, the Road Home gives out tax receipts.

The week before Christmas, volunteers put the items into pillowcases and hand them out on Christmas Eve.

About 700 Christmas bags are handed out each year.

“All the parents in our programs get to come over to the store with their case managers and hand select clothing and toys for their children,” Eggert said. “Last year we served over 2,000 people, most of which were children.”

Children aren’t allowed to come in the store because the store is designed for parents to surprise their children on Christmas.

The case managers help the client pick a few items for their family members. Usually every child and adult gets a new outfit and children get a toy and a book.

Additionally, families get a household item like towels or an alarm clock, which will help them with everyday life.

Once all the presents are chosen, families get to wrap their gifts and store them until Christmas, when the families can give out the gifts.

“Last year, we helped more than 400 households move into a variety of housing settings,” Eggert said. During 2010, 88 percent of the people who were placed into housing did not have to return to the Road Home shelter after only about a year in the Housing Program.

The Housing Program has many different services and uses “traditional transitional units for the families with significant housing barriers,” Eggert said. There are also “many other options including Tenant Based Rental Assistance in partnership with three local Housing Authorities, Shelter Plus Care vouchers in partnership with two local housing authorities, Rapid Rehousing subsidies, and Permanent Supportive Housing,” Eggert said.

For chronically homeless men and women there are many community projects that provide permanent housing for them.

The Road Home provides financial information and fiscal year data for the public to access and has contact information for emergency purposes.

During the holidays, the Road Home has a radio broadcast that is held on Dec. 20, 21 and 22 at the Road Home Homeless Shelter. There are 10 local radio stations that will broadcast live from the shelter.

The radio broadcasts encourage radio listeners to donate financially or donate items. All the items donated will directly go to the homeless men, women and families with children.

During the radio broadcast, the Road Home is in need of volunteers to collect and sort through the donations. To volunteer during the radio broadcast contact Josh Stovall.

The Road Home is always in need for help from volunteers.

Currently, the Road Home is looking for volunteers to help at the Candy Cane Corner holiday store throughout the whole month of December. The store provides history and backgroundinformation about the store when you sign up to help to volunteer.

To volunteer for the Candy Cane Corner holiday store you can sign up online. For any more questions about donating or volunteering contact Becca Dupaix.