Caring Cash

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In a troubled economic climate, the sight of a destitute individual asking for cash for food or bus fare is all too common. It's easy to drop some spare change in a cup and pretend that the problem is solved. Unfortunately, these well-intentioned handouts may serve to deepen a dependence on drugs or alcohol. This reinforcement may also prevent them from seeking long term assistance, thereby worsening their situation. Caring Cash is a system whereby a person can reach out to the needy without fear of causing more harm. By providing for short term needs and encouraging them to seek lasting help, the giver can affect lasting change.

Veronica Houghton

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December 8, 2011
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We all see the needy asking for handouts on busy street corners. But does the cash you donate really help? All too often, that money is spent on addictions that feed into a cycle of helplessness. I search for a means to provide real assistance without fear of unintentionally reinforcing destructive habits.


I created a prepaid gift card that can be used to purchase bus fare, food or clothing. It can be given to panhandlers in lieu of cash. Since the cards have limited use, there’s no worry about the money being used to feed destructive addictions. Accompanying material encourages the needy to seek long term assistance.