Wrap up homelessness 

Wrap up 2021 by purchasing wrapping paper that benefits the homeless alliance through the Curbside Chronicle's annual Wrap Up Homelessness project.

  • Curbside Chronicle/Provided

Continuing a tradition seven years running, Oklahoma City’s Homeless Alliance program The Curbside Chronicle is embarking on its annual holiday season Wrap Up Homelessness campaign. Curbside Chronicle vendors will be offering an array of holiday-themed gift wrapping paper packages designed by local artists. The mission of The Curbside Chronicle, our state’s first and only street paper, is to provide opportunities for employment for those experiencing homelessness through their vending of its local magazine and to give a voice for these vendors and all the homeless of our city, as well as to encourage its vendors to foster the skills of time and money management and social interaction. 

“With Curbside Chronicle, everything we do with our magazine, our flower shop, and our wrapping paper, is try to help everyday people know they can be a part of the solution in ending homelessness. Small actions collectively have a lot of power in helping people end their homelessness in Oklahoma City,” Ranya Forgotson, Director of Social Enterprise for the Homeless Alliance, said.

“We will start making the wrapping paper available this Friday, Nov. 19, and sales will go straight through until Christmas. Of course you can buy packets from your local Curbside Chronicle vendor, wherever that person might be, and we also have some physical locations in the Midtown Holiday Pop Up Shops, they’ll be there all season long. And Automobile Alley Lights On Broadway, as well as the Indie Trunk Show,” Dan Straughan, Executive Director of the Homeless Alliance, said.

The OKC Midtown Holiday Pop Up Shops will be located at the corner of NW 10 and Hudson Avenue on Thursdays through Sundays from Nov. 26 through Dec. 19. The OKC Automobile Alley Lights On Broadway event will be held on Saturdays Nov. 20 and 27 and Dec. 4 and 11, as well as the Indie Trunk Show in the Centennial Building at State Fair Park on Dec. 11.

“Prices are $12 per package if bought at a shop, $10 if bought from a Curbside Chronicle vendor. Each package contains five designs. There’s a traditional package and a contemporary art package. We have ten Oklahoma artists represented with ten different designs that range from traditional Christmas-y designs, angels and Christmas trees and Santa Claus, to much more modern kinds of design that look like graffiti with Christmas messages of love and joy.” Further information about the Wrap Up Homelessness campaign will be forthcoming at the paper’s website. Forgotson said, “Not only does our Wrap Up Homelessness campaign give people an additional source of income around the holidays, but includes them more in the holiday festivities, contributing to another person’s holiday experience. Every package of wrapping paper is sold to a customer who’s then taking that home and wrapping gifts for their families and loved ones. I think that’s a hugely empowering part of this program, is that our vendors know they’re making other people’s holiday experiences more meaningful, more colorful, more artistic through the product they’re selling,” Straughan said.

Jerry Bennett is one of the participating artists this year.

“I always wanted to do the Wrap Up Homelessness project. It was always a bucket list item,” Bennett said.

“Last year, actually, one of the Homeless Alliance members who used to work on that project solely, she’d reached out to me and wanted me to do it last year, but I was so overly booked on things. I felt horrible that I couldn’t take it on, but I told her that I definitely want to do it, so she said, ‘Well, let’s just plan on for next year’ and so I had actually been working on these sketches for over a year.”

It’s not the only project that Bennett has been working on with the Homeless Alliance. Editor-in-chief of The Curbside Chronicle Nathan Poppe had something else up his sleeve for Bennett this year.

“We’ve known each other for a while, and he had been looking for something right up my alley, and he had found out they were doing a few children-oriented issues. One of them was going to be this kids activity section. And I got to create for him this one illustration where you find hidden objects and so I got to do that for one of his issues. And then just a few weeks later, he actually reached out to me again because they were going to be doing a completely kids-focused issue and they had a three page comic book story that they wanted me to do for them. And so the issue that just came out last month, I have a really awesome three-page story. The whole issue is focused on allowing parents and kids to be able to have discussions about poverty and homelessness, so it was such an amazing story. I haven’t I mean, I’ve been crazy busy, but I couldn’t say no to that because it was just too good. It played to my strengths perfectly and I just had to do it, so I probably lost a little sleep, but it was completely worth it,” Bennett said.

“I always buy the magazine, and I’ve been buying the wrapping paper for years and I just always thought it was the coolest thing seeing all these local artists doing pieces for the wrapping paper project ... I’ve always had a passion for doing whatever I can to just bring awareness to the homeless population and to the homeless community and showing you know that there are things that can be done,” he said.

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