Thousands of volunteers and visitors were expected to gather Saturday in downtown Los Angeles with the area's homeless for the fourth annual Skid Row Carnival of Love.
The event, founded by actor Justin Baldoni, known for his role on the CW network show "Jane the Virgin," was created to connect Skid Row residents with health checkups, haircuts and showers, job preparation, resources on domestic violence, legal advice on citations and a number of other services — both vital and entertaining — to those in need.
From noon to 4 p.m., volunteers will be helping with resume writing and connecting people to Goodwill WorkSource and other job placement programs. Onsite job interviews with Starbucks will also be conducted, event organizers said.
The even will take place on San Julian Street between 5th and 6th streets, and on 5th Street between South San Pedro and Wall streets
A parking lot will also be filled with nurses, doctors, dentists and therapists providing basic care and health checkups, body mass index, blood pressure and glucose screenings, private HIV/STD testing, insurance enrollment, substance abuse counseling and connections to free rehab services.
Volunteers will also help set up voter registration, public library cards and Medi-Cal and food stamp enrollment. AmeriCorps will be there to help people start the process of transitioning into shelters and supportive housing.
Organizers will also be handing out gift bags with soap and shampoo and clothing and setting up a full shower bus and "spa area" for foot washing, haircuts and massages. Other activities include:
- Pet section: Dog groomers, dog food, veterinarian services, flea medication.
- Carnival activities: Carnival games, entertainers and performances, free hugs, face painting, music.
- Children’s area: A bounce house, book and toy donations, face painting, kid’s yoga, art and science projects, book readings.
- Adult activities: Yoga and breathing classes, poetry writing, art projects.
"We create a space where there is no division between who is rich and who is poor," said Baldoni, who created the Carnival of Love after asking a group of close friends to help him celebrate his birthday one year by joining him in bringing supplies to skid row instead of having a party. By 2015, the group had grown to 75 people and is now an annual event with numerous sponsors.
"Our volunteers are there to help connect attendees with vital services; but, even more importantly, they are there to learn from attendees, hear their powerful stories, and create beautiful new friendships with people they might not otherwise meet in our community."
Last year 2,000 volunteers served more than 4,000 skid row residents. This year, organizers said the event is expected to serve more than 5,000 people.
Earlier this week, thousands of volunteers and Los Angeles County officials fanned out across neighborhoods, in Metro stations, along rivers and under freeway overpasses for the annual three-day effort to count the number of homeless people in the region. After last year's count, officials said there were nearly 58,000 homeless people in the county. The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority will release this year's count in the spring.