Homeless guy living on a billboard .An ad campaign?

"I am Danny. I am homeless. I am here.

No, your kid isn't imagining things. Mobile Loaves & Fishes is elevating Austin's impoverished one family at a time.

You can drive from Minnesota to Mexico on Interstate-35. That's more than 1,500 miles. But until April 27, you couldn't see a homeless man smiling down at you from a 50-foot tall billboard alongside the highway.

It all started when Danny and his wife Maggie (at right) were robbed at a Salvation Army. They had come to Austin, Texas looking for work but lost everything at the homeless shelter — including their identification cards, which made it nearly impossible to find work. Maggie had no family to call on and Danny was too proud to ask his for help, so they ended up homeless for the next 15 years. Things worsened five years ago when Maggie suffered from a stroke that left her handicapped.

Today, they live in a tent on the north side of town and panhandle for cash. But 1,200 texts of $10 can get them into a home through the organization Mobile Loaves & Fishes' (MLF) I Am Here Campaign. The nonprofit teamed up with integrated marketing firm T3 and Reagan Outdoor to put Danny alongside MLF founder Alan Graham physically standing up on a billboard for 48 hours, under the words "I am Danny. I am homeless. I am here. Text 'Danny' to 20222 to donate $10."

Exploitative? Not so fast.

“Letting him sleep on the street is OK, but raising him up to be seen on a billboard is not?" Graham argues on the campaign's site. "I’m the P.T. Barnum of the homeless. I feel like I’m their manager. Like any great manager, how do I position them to get the resources they need to affect change in their life? I’d do anything to help bring attention to this cause.”

He's got the nation's attention and hopefully Danny will get a home.

“Sometimes it’s beyond our grasp to do things to change what’s happening,” Danny says. “I am here. It might not be my choice, but I am here. If I had anything at all to say, I’d say, don’t look the other way if you can help it.”

To do your part, text 'Danny' to 20222.

http://www.tonic.com/a

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