More than 58,000 people in Los Angeles County are spending Christmas on the street, with no roof over their heads, but one local artist is doing his part to brighten the day for those thousands of people in need.
"Ain't nobody here but me," says "Rusty," sitting in his usual spot in the sun trying to warm up after another night sleeping under a bridge just east of downtown LA.
He adds, "Aw man, it gets cold under this bridge. Ain't nothing up there but iron, steel, cement."
U.S. & World
Rusty is a Vietnam veteran and has been living on the street for 18 years, but once a year at Christmas he gets a visit from a special friend.
"Hey, Merry Christmas, Rusty," a man known as "Skid Robot" says.
Skid Robot is a street artist who prefers to remain anonymous. Each year during the holidays, he paints Christmas trees near homeless encampments around LA.
"This is art in the sense of its true purpose of inspiring emotion and thoughts, rather than commercialism or marketing," the artist says. "I hope to continue to draw attention to the homeless crisis happening in our city."
Skid Robot also brings Christmas presents to put beneath his graffiti trees.
Rusty exclaims, "I got cookies, chips, toilet paper...everything!"
Skid Robot initially gained fame on his Instagram page by painting graffiti scenes around homeless people: thought bubbles depicting dreams of riches; backgrounds of home environments; etc.
Skid Robot says, "With each piece I painted and each homeless individual I met, I heard more stories, shared stories on Instagram and the world connected and gave someone a voice and people a bigger understanding of people living on the street."
The street artist adds, "If you know a person's story, your heart and mind open up to their situation and you relate more on a human level. Through this art, I hope to inspire more compassion and empathy."
Rusty says that being alone on Christmas isn't easy, but Skid Robot reminds him that he's not forgotten.