WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- There are lots of parking meters downtown. But only a few take your pocket change to change the lives of others. The United Way's “Make a Change” donation meter project is in place to reduce the problem of panhandling downtown. Ten meters are in place in panhandling hot spots. The meters give generous folks who want to help another option besides just giving out money.
“Most dollars that go to panhandlers do not go to breaking the cycle of homelessness. They go to less valuable causes such as alcohol, tobacco, or even substance abuse,” said Dan Ferrell, Director of the 10-year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness.
Ferrell says many panhandlers aren't really homeless. The meters are going to be permanent fixtures downtown, and the backs of the meters have a list of resources, such as food banks and shelters, to make it easier for the homeless to find help.