Coins for a Cause Aims to Reduce Panhandling Downtown - News, Sports and Weather

Coins for a Cause Aims to Reduce Panhandling Downtown

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Coins for a Cause is a new and likely permanent initiative for downtown Great Falls.  The goal is to eliminate the problem of panhandling.  David Campbell is the owner of Amazing Toys on Central Avenue for the last 14 years.  He says, "there's a certain amount of panhandling downtown, people begging for change and what have you and it's annoying for employees, for businesses, and for customers".

Panhandling can not only make customers uncomfortable, but it can also be a safety issue.  Carrie Koppy with NeighborWorks explains, "if you're being followed by someone who is panhandling you're concerned for your personal safety".

Instead of fueling the panhandle cycle by handing out money, Coins for Cause tries to make a difference by offering education.  Koppy says, "the theory behind it is that if you have spare change you should be donating it to help a class of people as a whole rather than just one individual person and at the same time try to break that cycle of panhandling and coach people through these little cards to go to services and agencies in Great Falls where they can get help".  The Coins for a Cause cards list multiple local organizations that can help those in need.

You can help the cause by donating in one of the coin jars at the checkout of more than a dozen downtown businesses.  Campbell says, "a lot of people don't want their pennies, so we throw them in and some people donate a dollar or even a 5".  All proceeds this year will be donated to the Great Falls Rescue Mission.  More than $500 has been collected already in just the last few months.

It's a win-win: spare change keeps agencies like the Rescue Mission open, which can help the panhandler, and no more panhandlers means better business and a better economy.  Campbell says, "repeat customers downtown or at any business generates income for the economy, jobs, and tax revenue".

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