Archive for Thursday, August 2, 2012

Coin meters bring change in charitable donations

A new meter downtown, placed by the city in hopes to collect money for the homeless, sits in the 800 block of Massachusetts Street.

A new meter downtown, placed by the city in hopes to collect money for the homeless, sits in the 800 block of Massachusetts Street.

August 2, 2012


The idea of trying to persuade downtown pedestrians to feed special “donation meters” instead of giving spare change to panhandlers is now up and running in downtown Lawrence.

Thus far, early results suggest the city and downtown leaders still have some work to do in spreading the word.

In mid-June, city crews installed six donation meters at the mid-block crossings along Massachusetts Street between Seventh and 10th streets. During the most recent 30-day collection period, the city collected $51.59 from the meters, which was donated to the Lawrence Community Shelter.

Whatever the financial totals are, leaders at the Lawrence Community Shelter are pleased with the effort.

“The idea is to give people an alternative,” said Loring Henderson, director of the shelter. “It is a positive way to try to help out with the issue of homelessness.”

It also sends a message, Henderson said, that many leaders believe supporting panhandling is an unwise use of people’s funds. The donation meters — which are just used parking meters that have a special paint scheme — ensure that when people give their spare change, the money is going to programs to fight homelessness.

“We don’t support the idea of panhandling,” Henderson said. “It is part of all the forms that people fill out to stay here. We make it clear to people who stay with us that we don’t want them panhandling.”

Now, several leaders said, more effort needs to be made to alert downtown visitors to the donation meter program.

“I think conceptually it is a great idea,” said Cathy Hamilton, executive director of Downtown Lawrence Inc. “I think we just need to do a better job of getting the word out about it.”

But Hamilton said the idea has promise because it makes for an easy way to donate to the shelter.

“It is just a matter of educating people that these meters are at a spot where they can deposit a couple of dollars or a couple of quarters and it will do more good in the effort to fight homelessness,” Hamilton said.

Jonathan Douglass, city clerk, said it cost about $300 per meter for the city to install the meters, which are on both the east and west sides of Massachusetts Street. He said the bulk of those costs were labor costs incurred by city employees. The cost for actual materials was significantly less, Douglass said.


50YearResident 5 years, 9 months ago

The front page picture is worth a thousand words. The bum is sitting next to the meter to collect the donation directly. Don't bother to put the coin in the meter, just hand it over now, thanks. This is the reason the meter will not work to stem panhandling downtown. It will have an opposite effect.

50YearResident 5 years, 9 months ago

I am a veteran too. After I was discharged I got a job and worked for a living. How do you know this guy is really a vet anyway or just claiming to be to get your sympathy? He looks able to work to me. Support vets by helping them find a job.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 9 months ago

Which is precisely why our charity ought to be directed to groups who are ready, willing and able to direct that charity to those who truly need and not give that money to those who do not deserve. The Lawrence shelter does not fit that definition. Our charity ought to be directed away from them and towards currently available homeless programs administered through the VA. Of course, we could always demand that the Lawrence shelter change their enabling policies.

Topple 5 years, 9 months ago

"Bum" a person who avoids work and sponges on others; loafer; idler.

I'm a veteran myself, and don't expect that status to earn me handouts for life.

You get up-in-arms about "veteran" homeless people but what about those who never served in the military? They're okay to call "bums" because they weren't members of the armed services?

I appreciate your respect for veterans but get a grip.

Topple 5 years, 9 months ago

Points taken. I would never consider receiving disability from the VA a handout. It's compensation for a severe price paid by veterans, and count myself fortunate to have avoided any injury during service.

As for 50yearresident, I didn't actually see him call all homeless people bums, just said this particular man is a bum. I'm not sure I find anything incorrect about that assertion. Instead of working or finding work, he's sitting on the sidewalk with a sign (lying about?) saying he's a homeless veteran 'bumming' cash off people.

50YearResident 5 years, 9 months ago

Loudmouth, If dolph4 is correct I called a bun, a bum. It has nothing to do with vets. Your log in name is a great discription of yourself.

cagiv 5 years, 9 months ago

you're name would more accurately describe you if it included, ignorant, or idiotic. No one ever said that all homeless vets are bums, he called that one individual a bum. You inferred the rest. Get a grip, and possibly a job yourself?

You’re trying to include other those "groups" is nothing but your idle mind “reading” what it wants to read and/or trying to be inflammatory. You make no sense.

Alyosha 5 years, 9 months ago

No, I've never noticed that. Where did you see these people, and what makes you think they're homeless? Did you ask them, or did you jump to that conclusion based on how they looked? (We all deploy stereotypes; just wondering how you're certain they were homeless.) Also, was it talking about buying a laptop the same way people talk about things they'll never be able to do? Like saying "I'm gonna go to India some day...."?

Most homeless people I see are carrying their life possessions around with them and that's never, in my experience, included lap tops.

Clara Westphal 5 years, 9 months ago

Henderson always has his hand out. I wonder how long it will take before the money in the meters start going to some other cause.

d_prowess 5 years, 9 months ago

Chad, next time you talk to these folks can you find out how often the meters are emptied and if the city has any problem with someone plugging them up so you can deposit money? I only ask because I tried a couple weeks ago and I couldn't put any coins in because it was either full or plugged up.

oldbaldguy 5 years, 9 months ago

what happened to bus ticket to Topeka?

oldbaldguy 5 years, 9 months ago

a long time ago my basketball team served thanksgiving dinner at the salvation army. going through the chow line was my neighbor's kid and her boyfriend. she was still living at home and her parents were employed. i quit giving money to beggars after that.

beatrice 5 years, 9 months ago

And everyone else that went through the line? Didn't their situation register with you?

So you quit giving because of two people who took advantage of a free meal. Well, I hope that clears your conscious for not helping others ever since.

Deb Engstrom 5 years, 9 months ago

Everyone is welcome at the community Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. You don't have to be poor or homeless, just want a good meal and company. Some of the most affluent people in our community come to LINK for Thanksgiving and come to the Community Christmas dinner at the Methodist Church. You really should join us this year.

blogme 5 years, 9 months ago

Give it away and they will come. Get ready for more of 'em. Had a couple of runins with the poor and destitute in this town. One had a gas can and was asking for money @ 23rd and Louisiana. Told him to meet me at the station and I'd fill his can. Of course, he couldn't walk a block for his "gas" and didn't want a ride there, just wanted the money. Another one was by king buffet / perkins. Him and his 10-11 year old son. He was asking for money. Buddy of mine told him they have food kitchens here in town if they were hungry. He told us "Yeah, but we're vegetarians." Just shrugged my shoulders and walked away. Seriously? Apparently your parents never told you beggars can't be choosers, another failed societal lesson. Oh well, so be it. Needless to say, govt based charity get's no charity from me.

gccs14r 5 years, 9 months ago

Was it a graybeard with a couple of forearm tats claiming to be a vet trying to get to the VA in Leavenworth?

Deb Engstrom 5 years, 9 months ago

I think I saw that same person. I took his gas can to the gas station, filled it up and took it back to him. I also gave him a couple of dollars. Didn't hurt me a bit!!!

paulveer 5 years, 9 months ago

Geez, not a breath of human kindness on this page. So judgmental!

Liberty275 5 years, 9 months ago

Do you think a web page full of kindness is edible?

Iwanttosaythis 5 years, 9 months ago

its bad eough that the parking meters steal your money without giving you time now this well if i going to get nothing for my money what the hell

Bladerunner 5 years, 9 months ago

Save your change for language skills training.

classclown 5 years, 9 months ago

Does each one come with its own panhandler, or are they sold separately?

beatrice 5 years, 9 months ago

Wow. Equating homeless people with human chattel, wondering if people are "sold." Now that is one bigoted comment.

Liberty275 5 years, 9 months ago

I think you are bigoted against people with twisted senses of humor.

oldbaldguy 5 years, 9 months ago

homeless vets are usually homeless for a reason, either substance abuse or mental health or both. i would not accept someone's word or sign that they are a vet without knowing more. i can't tell you how many times clients of mine told me they had PTSD from getting kicked out of boot camp, falling off the supply truck or something similar. i have had clients who were in hard combat and they still are having problems. the VA is the first place i send them if they have not initated contact.

give aid to organizations, not bums on the street.

georgeofwesternkansas 5 years, 9 months ago

The City of Lawrence has saved the world with this meaningless gesture.

Jayhawk1958 5 years, 9 months ago

How about some lettering on the meter that says to not give to panhandlers but give to the meter instead. Or is there a constitutional issue here?

beatrice 5 years, 9 months ago

Imagine, making an attempt to help others. How terrible!

WWJS -- (Who would Jesus scorn.)

jhawkinsf 5 years, 9 months ago

If a guy was depressed, would you give him a loaded gun?

If a guy is an alcoholic, would you give him money to buy a drink?

If, with an ounce of common sense, you know there is a strong likelihood that people on the streets will misuse the funds given to them, why would you enable this person in their self destructive behavior?

Now I'm not a Christian, so I may be wrong about this, but I think Jesus would give the beggar some bread or fish. Or given the state of our more modern society, he might encourage a gift to a reputable charity which would then dispense that charity is an appropriate manner. I doubt he would give the person money so they could buy a pint of cheap whiskey. I'll apologize in advance if I've misinterpreted the meaning of Christian charity.

beatrice 5 years, 9 months ago

So Jesus might think putting money in meters that go to charitable organizations rather than in someone's hand a good idea? Indeed, he might. He certainly wouldn't criticize people for trying to help others, as people are doing here.

pizzapete 5 years, 9 months ago

Instead of spending my money helping the poor, the homeless, and less fortunate amongst us, I'm saving my money to buy a bumper sticker that reminds everyone that America is much better off without Saddam Hussein.

pizzapete 5 years, 9 months ago

Maybe instead of setting up meters downtown the city could use their "special" sales tax to help pay the poor people who have to work at our new city subsidized hotels and burger joints a living wage

frenchie360 5 years, 9 months ago

My Step-dad is a disabled vet and we both agree that you cant expect a free ride just because you served. I respect every vet but doesnt mean they should now sit downtown and ask for change. I think the city should require a permit to panhandle that requires 40hrs of community service or downtown clean-up per month.

Liberty275 5 years, 9 months ago

I just got a Veterans tag for the Vette. My first job out of the army was in a hole with a shovel getting the parts a backhoe couldn't.

tbaker 5 years, 9 months ago

So do these meters work like homeless parking spots? When the meters run out, the urban outdoorsman has to move along or be ticketed for vagrancy? Or is this just a way to donate to the homeless shelter that doesn't involve a personal interaction with a street person? Nothing like a real live bum on the street as an ad campaign for the shelter. I like it.

Andrew Boyd 5 years, 9 months ago

hey can those of use that have jobs but only make 28000 a year have meters to raise money for us? O wait i forgot the city of lawrence only helps those that won't get a job and is a destination city for Bums and homeless folk.

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