From the outside, it looked like a typical open house—a sign out front invited passersby to come inside and view the home. But instead of finding a house for sale, visitors found a message from The Salvation Army.
The “open house” was an exhibit put on by the Army in Toronto in May to show how, in many instances, poverty remains hidden behind a seemingly fine exterior. Throughout the house were plaques with statistics about poverty in Canada, as well as information about how the Army is helping. The open house also had 15 hidden cameras to capture visitors’ reactions, which have been used to create videos highlighting the Army’s work and encouraging donations.
“Many of those who came through the house were really surprised,” says John McAlister, national director of marketing. “Many people have this idea that we live in a rich, developed country and that poverty isn’t really a factor.”
He notes that some of the strongest reactions took place in the children’s rooms, where the message was, “The kids aren’t alright.”
“Faced with the reality of the challenges that low-income children can have, one woman said, ‘I had no idea,’ ” shares McAlister.