Wednesday, May 23 , 2018, 5:59 pm | Overcast 62º


‘Real Change, Not Spare Change’ Goes Live with Mobile Giving Campaign

Those who wish to support Santa Barbara's street outreach programs can donate $5 via text message

The Santa Barbara-based alternate giving and panhandling education campaign “Real Change, Not Spare Change” is providing education and ways for people to redirect their generosity to better help those in need in the community.

The campaign officially launched in April, with businesses around State Street, the waterfront and Milpas areas hosting countertop donation boxes. The campaign has just launched a mobile giving option.

Now, Santa Barbara residents and visitors who wish to help those in need — but don’t want to contribute to the negative cycle of panhandling — can immediately donate $5 to support street outreach programs, by sending the text message “ChangeSB” to 85944 from their mobile phones.

“Real Change, Not Spare Change” is the first local initiative to use mobile giving to support a local cause.

Street outreach has been shown to be the critical link to connect the homeless with local services that feed, shelter and rebuild lives. The street outreach programs are coordinated by the Casa Esperanza Homeless Center, which directly receives donations made by text, countertop box and online donations.

It is estimated that close to $600,000 is given in cash to panhandlers each year in Santa Barbara by residents and visitors.

“With the launch of the mobile giving option, and a growing number of businesses hosting countertop donation boxes, the campaign is providing more and more immediate alternatives for people to help,” said David Damiano, president of the Santa Barbara Downtown Organization board and a member of the Alternative Giving and Panhandling Education Task Group. “It can be hard to turn away from someone who is asking for help, and we hope these options will empower people to put their compassion and generosity to work in a way that will actually change lives for the better.”

Businesses, workplaces and other organizations are also encouraged to join the effort by using countertop donation boxes to collect funds.

“In May, when Casa Esperanza received a call requesting pickup of the first full donation box, we were encouraged at how quickly people were understanding how even small gifts can add up to the priceless gift of a life off the streets,” Damiano said.

The first full donation box yielded nearly $40 in change and small bills in funds that otherwise would most likely have contributed to the purchase of alcohol or drugs.

The boxes are available through the Santa Barbara Downtown Organization. Casa Esperanza staff and volunteers collect the donations on a regular pickup schedule or can be called for special pickup when a donation box is full. To reserve a donation box and other materials, businesses or community groups should call the Downtown Organization at 805.962.2098 x25.

Click here for more information about “Real Change, Not Spare Change.”

— Marjorie Wass is a publicist.


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