It can be heartbreaking to see a homeless person on the street. Knowing how to help can be a challenge. It is hard to know if your couple of dollars is really helping someone who has fallen on hard times, helping to feed an addiction, or just contributing to a scam. The Provo Police Department is making it possible for people to know that their charitable contributions are going directly to helping the hungry and needy.
New signs decorating the city read, “Want to help end homelessness and hunger with your spare change? Give where you know it will make a difference.” These signs are strategically placed where panhandlers tend to congregate to ask for money as part of the new campaign.
The message is clear and simple, and the goal is admirable: to make donations made by Utah citizens stretch as far as possible, and to make sure that donations go to good use.
Dixon Holmes, the Deputy Mayor of Economic Development said, “The ultimate goal with this program is to direct our residents to legitimate and well established service organization who can appropriately assist the homeless population in meaningful ways.”
With help from organizations including the Food and Care Coalition, United Way, Community Action Services and Food Bank, all of the contributions will go directly to providing homeless people with necessities like food, shelter, medical needs, and employee training.
Not only will your charitable contribution go straight to work, but it will also be stretched further.
Food Bank trucks collect basic foods such as milk, produce, bread, and eggs from local grocery stores daily. All of the goods that are received by the Food Bank are donated, but it is through local contributions that allows the trucks to continue running.
Lieutenant Matt Siufanua with the Provo Police Department said, “We want to make sure that the money that citizens give actually makes it to those we need it the most.”
He encourages Provo citizens to donate in this new way because, “You get more bang for your buck. You can take your $5 contribution and turn it into $10 by donating to organizations such as United Way because they are able to get great donations.”
These major organizations are able to get many necessities donated, many do not have to pay taxes on the food, and volunteers make labor virtually costless. Therefore, someones small donation can go a very long way. Annually, the involved organizations provide almost 100,00 meals that cost under $3.
Not only will it provide better for those in need, but it will also keep Provo safer.
“I think our efforts will provide a safer evnrimoent for vehicles and for panhandlers both because often times they have to run out into the street to collect money which is dangerous for them and for drivers,” Siufanua said.
“Also, for those who are using the money for alcohol and drugs, they wont have the source of income, which will help them and the community.”
Melissa Jacobsen, a business major from Lakeville, Minnesota, says she is excited about this new campaign because she often feels torn about giving to the homeless.
“I like to give money to homeless, but you never know where that money is going to go. I have always thought it is better to provide them just with clothing or food. This campaign is so great because you know your money is going straight to work.”
There are plenty of ways for BYU students to make a difference and get involved. Both Holmes and Siufanua encouraged donating food, or time, to volunteer at any of the involved organizations including The United Way of Utah County, Community Action and the Food and Care Coalition.