Road Home volunteers share joy of giving responsibly to the homeless during the holidays

SALT LAKE CITY -- Community leaders have a message for Utahns looking to donate this holiday season. They say don’t give directly to the homeless.

"With tears in her eyes, she’s like, 'This takes such a burden off of me, that I can now give my children a Christmas. It wasn't going to happen without Candy Cane Corner,'" said Joyce Pell, volunteer at The Road Home.

Pillows, toys, hats, and coats are just some of the brand new items available at the Road Home’s Candy Cane Corner, an event where those in need receive vouchers to pick out items donated by the community.

"A lot of these clients are either fleeing domestic violence, are low income or experiencing homelessness," said Taylor Winsness, marketing and event specialist for The Road Home.

At a news conference Tuesday, civic leaders urged Utahns to make their holiday donations in the most effective way possible. Explaining how sometimes good intentions can lead to not so good outcome.

"Public health is concerned about the health risk of handing food out on the street. Public safety is concerned about your safety and others trying to hand out items on the street...The city is concerned because we send crews out during the month December almost daily to clean up items left on the street," said Cory Young of Salt Lake City Waste and Recycling.

Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox says he doesn’t want people to stop giving. He just wants to make sure donation go to the right place.

"Please give smartly. Please give to these established organizations who can actually help their clients, our friends who are experiencing homelessness," said Cox.

Organizations, Cox says, like The Road Home.

"They know that their child needs diapers. They know that their teen wants earphones. They know that they need a new microwave for their new home, right? And so having Candy Cane Corner provides an opportunity for them to come choose those items specifically," Winsness said.

You can find a list of the Top 10 Needs, how you can volunteer, and places to donate to the Candy Cane Corner here.