Change for Columbia Real change, not spare change

Columbians are compassionate people and we give our spare change to panhandlers because we want to help. Many issues can be at the root of panhandling including homelessness, behavioral health, substance abuse, trafficking, and food insecurity. Giving someone cash may prevent them from getting the long term help they need.

The Loop is teaming up with the United Way and the Basic Needs Coalition to put the emphasis on real change, not spare change. We're working together to address problems of homelessness, food insecurity, and behavioral health--and we need your help to create this change.

Get the Facts

  • Many issues can be at the root of panhandling and giving someone spare change doesn't help address these issues in the long term.
  • Handing someone cash or food while you are in a moving vehicle puts everyone in danger.
  • It is not illegal for people to gather in public areas such as sidewalks, benches, or parks.
  • It is not illegal to ask someone for money or food but they should not touch you, block your path, shout, or verbally intimidate you.
  • There are organizations working to address issues of homelessness, food insecurity, behavioral health, and substance abuse that can use your help.

Help us make real change

There are better ways we can help. Instead of offering spare change, consider a donation to a non-profit working to provide food, housing, behavioral health, or substance abuse treatment to individuals and families in need.

Heart of Missouri United Way

The Heart of Missouri United Way works to improve lives of people in need by mobilizing and coordinating the caring power of community resources in Mid-Missouri. The United Way focuses on health, income, education, and on providing a safety net. They accept monetary donations and use these funds to partner with local non-profits to address these areas of concern.

The United Way is donating their services to this campaign so 100% of contributions will go to the Basic Needs Coalition and their efforts.

Basic Needs Coalition

The Columbia-Boone County Basic Needs Coalition assists the citizens of Columbia and Boone County in meeting their basic needs for food, clothing, shelter, and transportation. The Coalition brings stakeholders together to exchange information, determine unmet needs, and mobilize community resources to find solutions.

Donations are used by the Basic Needs Coalition's outreach team to purchase small items like bottled water or blankets that they can offer to people in need. This helps them start a conversation to learn what services an individual may need in the long term.

Text "change" to 40403

Now, real change is only a text away.

The United Way has established a dedicated fund to help the Basic Needs Coalition in their efforts to combat homelessness, food insecurity, and substance abuse.

Simply text CHANGE to 40403 to make a donation.

Call 211 for help

Often, we want to help but don't know where to start. That's where the United Way's 211 line can help. Trained professionals will offer people assistance with basic needs, housing, health care, job training, support for seniors and children, and more.

People who need help can dial 211 to speak to a trained professional 24 hours a day, seven days a week. TTY (1-866-385-6525) and multilingual services are also available. If you are using a cell phone dial (800) 427-4626. Calls are confidential and free.

Spread the word

If you're a business owner, you can help too.

We have small cards with information on how to donate and how to call the United Way's 211 number for help. Contact us if you would like some cards to distribute.

Real Change, Not Spare Change is a cooperative effort of The Loop, the United Way, and the Basic Needs Coalition.

Together, we can change Columbia.

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