Feb 08, 2017
Covers and Blankets Benefit Concert for Janus Youth
One snowy winter day, Christian Parkinson looked out his apartment window and reflected on his good fortune to be inside and warm. But as quickly as the snow fell, he realized that there were many people less fortunate, living out on the streets in the freezing cold. So he decided to do something to help. That was fourteen years ago when Christian started his “Covers and Blankets” fundraiser for Janus Youth. Each year in January, Christian organizes a benefit concert where a group of up to 300 people bring a donation of a blanket or warm clothing for Janus Youth while enjoying an evening of relaxing with friends and listening to live music performances.
Christian came up with the idea of “Covers and Blankets” because, as a musician, with many friends in the musical world who do cover songs or produce music, he knew he could quickly organize a benefit concert. He contacted friends who were happy to help. They donated sound equipment, provided a venue and helped organize the first “Covers and Blankets” benefit concert in 2004. It was a great success and within a couple of years, Christian was looking for a bigger space. For the past few years, Gustav Sculptor and Richard Cawley, owners of Manifestation, a creative space in SE Portland, have hosted the event. Christian, along with his team, produce the benefit concert, including getting fire permits, moving and setting up sound equipment, organizing the set list and collecting the cover charge to offset the cost of hosting the event. He doesn’t spend a penny on advertising; he promotes the concert with FaceBook postings and by word of mouth. After the concert, Christian and friends fill a van with all the donations and bring them to the Janus office where they are quickly distributed to our homeless shelters. According to Roy Spencer, Supervisor of the Porch Light Homeless Crisis Shelter, “these blankets couldn’t come at a better time. With one of the coldest winters we have had in years, there is a higher demand for blankets than ever.”
Knowing that he can make a difference gives Christian a great feeling of satisfaction. He says, “I could sit around and feel down in the dumps thinking about things that are out of my control, but if I help others, I feel good. It is an immediate impact. I really believe that helping other is part of my civic and moral duty.” Christian admits that he likes to help people he doesn’t know because it allows him to give without an expectation of receiving something in return. Says Christian, “Helping others makes me feel good in a way nothing else does.”
Thanks to Christian and his community of music friends, many cold youth have a warm blanket to cover themselves on these cold winter nights.