Coming face-to-face with someone who needs help can often kick off a kind of internal struggle: Experts often advise against handing over cash, saying there's no guarantee it will be used constructively. So then, what do can you do to make a difference in that one person's life?
In Portland, Oregon, a local nonprofit, Sanctity of Hope (now known as Give Tokens), thinks it has an answer. Partnering with other local nonprofits, Sanctity of Hope has created a new program that allows people to purchase tokens and give them to the homeless who ask for help. The homeless can then take the tokens to participating businesses and exchange them for things like food, clothing, blankets and bus tickets.
HLN affiliate KATU reports that the organization is founded by Executive Director Travis Vanstaaveren, who says that he believes people need a way to be able to give "face-to-face compassion" to the homeless.
The tokens cost a dollar each, and so far, 12 businesses are on board with the idea. A single token can buy food, while two can buy a clean shirt. The full list of all participating businesses is listed on Sanctity of Hope's website. The project also hosts events such as backyard barbecues to feed the homeless.
“I think the best use of a token is individual,” said Vanstaaveren to KATU. “One on one.”