City of Salem, MA

10/12/2017 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 10/13/2017 08:25

City of Salem Launches 'Change It': Panhandling Alternative Giving

Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll is proud to announce that the City of Salem, in partnership with Lifebridge, North Shore Community Action Programs, North Shore Community Health Center, and the Salem Police Department, has launched Change It, a panhandling alternative giving initiative.

'This initiative encourages people to 'text to give,'' explained Mayor Driscoll. 'With the proceeds from the donations going to support the City's Collaborative for Hope homelessness initiative. Key components of this initiative are new outreach workers and police patrols, additional supportive services, and a new focus on the concept of 'housing first' to move individuals permanently out of homelessness.'

'Lifebridge is excited to be part of an initiative that allows people in need to access vital services and supports,' added Jason Etheridge, executive director of Lifebridge.

'Not all people who are homeless panhandle and not all panhandlers are homeless,' said Salem's Police Chief Mary Butler. 'It's a means to an end and often we see that end is addictive behavior. Most people are truly caring individuals who want to help. Please help with Change It so our service agencies can provide the support and services necessary to make a real and positive change in someone's life.'

Change It signage will be installed around downtown and in the parking garages over the coming weeks, but the text-to-donate feature is live now. Donors can text SALEM to 50555 to make a donation of $5, with the dual goal of raising donations for the new programs and, most importantly, decreasing the amount raised by panhandling, which often goes to feed addictions or other unhealthy behavior.

Anyone who donates at least $5 can receive discounts from participating Salem businesses and restaurants. The list of participating businesses is available at and is updated as new businesses sign up, so check back often. Participating businesses will also have decals on their business to indicate their participation. Donors can show their text or email receipt from their donation within 24 hours of making their donation to receive the discount. Use the receipt at as many participating businesses as you like, however one receipt cannot be used at any one participating business more than once.