How do you help someone who’s asking for spare change?

What do you do when someone in the street asks you for money? Feel uncomfortable and look the other way - or hand over some cash? The St Vincent de Paul Society in Phoenix, Arizona have come up with a very thoughtful alternative scheme that could well catch on in other places.

Instead of handing out cash, they offer 'need a hand' cards.  Blase Bova from Phoenix SVP writes: "this wallet-sized card lists the addresses and serving times of our five Phoenix Metro-area dining rooms. The reverse of the card lists the services available to the homeless through St Vincent de Paul’s Special Works Ministries located at our main Watkins Campus.

A one-day bus pass is attached to the card to help the individual make the trip to St Vincent de Paul and any other bus trips needed that day. Cards are sold in packs of four for $10. This amount covers the cost of the bus tickets, and what remains can help defray some of the costs of providing the services being accessed.

"The idea is that, instead of giving someone cash, you can help them get to the assistance they may really need to change their lives," Blase says.

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