LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Even before the coronavirus pandemic, the number of people experiencing homelessness in the city of Los Angeles has been on the rise, and Union Rescue Mission in downtown Los Angeles has been at the heart of the crisis.
“This has been a very challenging time,” CEO Andy Bales said.READ MORE: Orange County Deputies Open Fire Inside Foothill Ranch Walmart, Suspect Wounded
But on Saturday, actor and comedian Joel McHale will host a virtual fundraiser benefitting the shelter which had to cancel its April event due to the pandemic.
“I’m going to wear, probably, a full tuxedo, a top coat, a top hat and chainmail maybe,” McHale said in jest.
He will host the televised special from home with a number of celebrities making special appearances.
“I’m hoping that a lot of people will tune in,” he said. “You’re going to see a lot of celebrities, a lot of videos of the people who have experienced homelessness and have recovered and some really inspiring stories.”
McHale and his wife have been ambassadors for the downtown homeless shelter for years, even rappelling down buildings to raise money for the mission.READ MORE: Amazon To Open First Ever Brick-And-Mortar Clothing Store In Glendale
“With the COVID virus, the homeless population and the people who do not have homes, they are some of the most vulnerable, so you helping them is also helping to flatten the curve,” he said.
According to Bales, the effects of COVID-19 have hit the mission especially hard.
“It’s taking not only our regular resources, food and everything that entails, but medical supplies,” he said. “We really have had to become like a mini-hospital. One staff member and one guest lost their lives from this horrible COVID-19 monster.”
Money raised during the special will go to the mission’s Hope Gardens Family Center.
“Families and children, their lives are transformed and they never experience homelessness ever again,” Bales said.
The mission said it expects more people and families to seek help in light of the economic crisis brought on by the pandemic and is hoping to open additional shelters throughout Los Angeles in the coming years.MORE NEWS: Woman Runs Down, Kills Man With Car In South El Monte, Injures Deputy, Then Leads Pursuit
The one-hour Angels of Hope TV special will air at 7 p.m. Saturday on KCAL9.