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Those of us that live in a major metropolitan city can often walk by dozens of homeless people daily, most of which we pay little to no attention to. According to the Covenant House -Canada’s largest homeless youth agency -there are at least 10,000 young adults homeless during a given year in the city of Toronto alone, with an estimated 30,000 Canadians being homeless every night. (2)(3)

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For many, interactions with the homeless can often be an awkward experience. Fear, sympathy and guilt are just a small sample size of the common emotional responses many of us will have when either approached or passing by a homeless individual.

To help combat homelessness, those at Real Change Movement have initiated a very creative approach to assist the homeless in Pasadena, California. They have developed and already placed 14 bright orange parking meters in high traffic areas throughout the city. Each of these parking meters are equipped to accept either change or credit card donations that go directly to local organizations that help to feed, shelter and rebuild the lives of the city’s homeless.

The initiative has not been without a certain level of doubt and scrutiny but the intentions of those at the Real Change Movement certainly do seem genuine, and I personally admire their creativity. The era of carrying cash around is quickly dwindling and I can remember a number of times that I felt inclined to assist a person in need, but had nothing but my credit card on me. The implementation of these machines in every Metropolitan city would give us all an easy opportunity to help out at anytime, regardless of what we are carrying.

It’s Time To Shatter The Stereotypes

As intimidating as particular homeless individuals may be in their presence or approach, these select few certainly do not justify a lot of the common stereotypes we inflict upon them as a whole. One particularly prevalent stereotype is the belief that any money that we do give them is most likely going to be spent feeding a bad habit (such as drinking or drugs) rather than feeding their stomachs. But as another awesome article released on Think Progress showed, a lot of what we think we know about panhandlers couldn’t be farther from the truth. A survey of 146 participants found that 94% of the homeless use any money that they receive on food with only 25% being alcoholics. (4)

Much like we do not like being classified by any stereotypes, it’s important that we remember to not cast them upon others. Near the end of another article I recently wrote -entitled A Young Man Asks To Borrow A Homeless Man’s Bucket, What Happens Next Is Awe Inspiring -I touch upon a practical exercise we can all do to help overcome any judgements or stereotypes we may hold towards the less fortunate.

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Other Ways To Help The Homeless

A late friend of ours at Collective Evolution, dedicated a great portion of her life to assisting the homeless in a number of ways. To both help out and to follow in the legacy of her great work, we at CE are going to be handing out pre-packed healthy and organic lunches to the homeless in the City of Toronto later this month. This is just one of the many creative ways that we can all do our part to help those in need. We are curious if any of you have any unique ideas on how you already have or have always wanted to help out the homeless. Be sure to share them via the comment section below and perhaps we at CE can help to make them into a reality!


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