Screen Shot 2014-10-09 at 11.36.23 AMI exit US-131 at Wealthy every day on my way to work and every day – just beneath the stoplight there – a man or a woman stands holding a cardboard sign, asking for a handout.

You’ve seen them too.

At the corner of US-131 and Wealthy.
At the corner of 28th Street and East Beltline.
At the corner of Breton and Burton.

How do you react?

Do you roll down your window and offer a dollar?
Do you busy yourself with the briefcase beside you?
Do you smile?
Do you look away?

How do you react?

There’s been a lot of thoughts and discussion about panhandling across West Michigan and the United States in recent months and years. In Grand Rapids, the result of those conversations has been Real Change, Not Spare Change.

What is Real Change, Not Spare Change?

Real Change, Not Spare Change is a campaign developed by the Heartside Neighborhood Collaboration Project, including Mel Trotter Ministries. The campaign is designed to provide the public with information on panhandling in our city and how to react.

Here are a few suggested DO’S:

  • DO treat individuals who are panhandling with respect.
  • DO answer requests for money with a firm no.
  • DO offer panhandlers and the homeless information on where they can get help.
  • DO have compassion. Donate to organizations that have a proven track record of helping the homeless.
  • DO volunteer.

And also a few suggested DON’TS:

  • DON’T encourage panhandling by giving money, food, etc.
  • DON’T assume you are making a difference when you’re giving to panhandlers, as you are inadvertently facilitating poverty.
  • DON’T assume panhandling is good for the community. It can lead to crime and lower the quality of life.
  • DON’T use panhandling to make yourself feel better.

There’s a better way to give. You can learn even more here.

Posted by:Bultema Group

Bultema Group is a full service marketing and design studio located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Our team partners with businesses and non-profits to implement strategic marketing, public relations, communications, and creative campaigns.

2 replies on “Real Change, Not Spare Change

  1. We agree !!! Have you ever considered printing a coupon in your news letter that folks could cut out and hand to the person asking for food, inviting them to come to the mission for a free meal and bring along the family they have listed on their sign ? Those of us who have printers could duplicate them ourselves and keep a few in the car to hand our when necessary.


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