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San Diegans Urged To ‘Make Change Count’ For Homeless Donations

Video by Katie Schoolov

It's the season of giving and San Diego's downtown partnership wants to make change count, literally, by providing a variety of locations to donate money to help homeless people get off the street. KPBS reporter Dwane Brown was there at the unveiling of the new donation meters.

Those red things that look like parking meters you'll see around downtown beginning Monday are actually devices you can use to make donations for the homeless.

Those red devices that look like parking meters downtown Monday are for making donations to help the homeless.

The Downtown San Diego Partnership launched its Make Change Count initiative, in which people can stick their spare change into the machines. The donation stations also accept credit cards.

Interim Mayor Todd Gloria said San Diegans can “donate with confidence” during the holiday season because the money will go straight to programs that benefit the homeless.

“You know that the spare change rattling in your pocket will be used to provide needed services for homeless individuals,” Gloria said at a news conference. “And if you don't carry change, that's even better, because we can take your credit card.”

Downtown San Diego Partnership president and CEO Kris Michell said the funds will pay for a program that provides travel to homeless people from other cities that have family willing to accept them. She said the proceeds also pay for first and last month's rent and other necessities when they get into housing.

The programs have helped 650 people in downtown, she said.

“So, we're asking people to make change count, please don't give money directly to individuals, and put your money here,” Michell said.

The Make Change Count program is also designed to discourage panhandling.

San Diego Police Lt. Debra Farrar works with the department’s Homeless Outreach Team, and said The Make Change Count program also is designed to discourage panhandling.

“People want to give, but what happens though when they do give, that encourages more people to do more panhandling and sometimes it gets very aggressive,” Farrar said.

The program is funded in part by donations from Cox Communications and IPS Group, a San Diego-based firm that makes solar-powered marking meters. The partnership is made up of businesses and residents who work to improve the downtown area.

All donations will go directly to the designated programs for the homeless. Donations can also be made at participating restaurants and shops, and online at downtownsandiego.org.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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