Give Change That Counts Campaign Launches in Savannah and Chatham County
The county-wide campaign Give Change That Counts which aims to strengthen the community and reduce panhandling throughout the area officially launched this week. The campaign is an initiative led by the Chatham Savannah Authority for the Homeless with collaboration and financial support from Chatham County, the City of Savannah, and major economic development groups including the Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce/Visit Savannah, Savannah Downtown Business Association, Savannah Downtown Neighborhood Association, Savannah Economic Development Authority, Savannah’s Waterfront, and the Tourism Leadership Council. Through various fundraising efforts, the campaign will help establish day centers throughout the area that act as safe havens and resource centers for those in need and enhance coordination of local resources with the goal of reducing the need for panhandling.
This pilot project is a part of a nationwide initiative called Streets to Stability which aims to create long-term sustainable solutions to reduce panhandling and homelessness in cities throughout the United States. The Give Change That Counts campaign will take place throughout Chatham County and Savannah from May until October 31st, 2021.
“This is an incredible effort by our community to change the way we give to panhandlers by providing them more resources and ways of getting the help they need,” said Mayor Van Johnson. We are asking that instead of giving to panhandlers on the street, you Give Change that Counts and help our efforts to increase available resources for those in need.”
Chairman Ellis of Chatham County said, “Give Change that Counts supports the mission and goals of Chatham County to provide essential services to improve the quality of life. I encourage all citizens to join Chatham County in being a part of the solution to strengthen our community.”
Over the next six months, supporting organizations have committed to producing singular efforts to raise funds, support local businesses in helping educate how to reduce panhandling in their area and provide information on the resources available for those in need.
Bill Hubbard, President, and CEO of the Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce | Visit Savannah stated that “The Chamber strives to strengthen the prosperity of our region by establishing a healthy business environment and providing continual support in community development. Give Change That Counts provides an opportunity to nurture and strengthen Savannah’s community and quality of life for everyone.”
Jackie Schott, Executive Director for the Downtown Business Association said “As one of the pillars of DBA, we constantly work toward the common goal of a thriving economy through cooperation between local businesses, governmental agencies, and the residential community. With Give Change That Counts, we can continue that goal and help reduce the need for panhandling which is an issue that affects every member of downtown both business owners and all its residents.”
The Chatham Savannah Authority for the Homeless recently completed a survey with panhandlers around Savannah and found that many are unable to find jobs from previous arrests or drug issues and would welcome centers to help point them in the right direction as well as simply provide a welcoming, safe place to go as a respite from life on the streets.
“Experts and research tell us that while well-intentioned, giving to panhandlers perpetuates the cycle of homelessness and can contribute to injury or death if the money given is used to buy alcohol or drugs,” Cindy Kelley of CSAH stated. “With the addition of day centers and enhanced coordination of resources, we hope to provide these community members with alternative and more sustainable means of help and support.”