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NOVEL WAY TO HELP HOMELESS PSAS ON VEGAS TV STATIONS ALLOW PEOPLE TO SELL JOB SKILLS

By Published on .

Jack Wright and Crystal Smith were driving down a Las Vegas street a few months ago when they saw a sight that has become uncomfortably familiar to many Americans: a homeless couple on a corner carrying a sign that said, "We'll work for food."

"They looked a lot like us. They were about our same age [46 and 38]," Mr. Wright said.

He noticed other motorists studiously avoiding eye contact with the unfortunate pair. That's when Mr. Wright and Ms. Smith decided to put their Lunar Light Productions to work to help homeless people.

An idea was born: to give the homeless an opportunity to sell themselves and their skills through a series of 30-second public service announcements to air on local TV.

"I wanted to bring them right into the living room. To get the potential employers while they were eating dinner," he said.

It didn't take long.

They approached Las Vegas' Boulder Strip Association, composed of hotel and casino owners, and asked for funding.

"It wasn't much, probably what they would have spent on some small ads," said Mr. Wright, who declined to divulge the amount. Three Las Vegas TV stations, the NBC and ABC affiliates and an independent, agreed to air the spots with a 5-second sponsor's tag.

Mr. Wright and Ms. Smith asked the Salvation Army to pre-screen people who would be featured in the spots, and they were then again screened by Lunar Light before they were put on camera.

"These are people who got lost along the way. They don't want to be homeless ... ," Mr. Wright said. "They're just trying to get back on their feet. They're not the ones who want to be homeless."

Lunar Light has made 20 PSAs since early April and will continue with "a few more" during the next five weeks of the project, concluding with a generic spot that will continue to run.

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