Have you seen this billboard currently on Governor’s Drive near Memorial Parkway? Its message is simple: Let’s all be smarter in our approach to panhandling. This is not a problem for our city government to solve, but rather agencies and citizens in the community. The ELM Foundation, in partnership with Lamar, WAAY-TV and the True Charity Initiative, are continuing the #GiveBetter campaign to educate and encourage our community to improve our giving to those in need.  

Individuals (and sometimes families) holding signs on street corners, asking for money in a parking lot, and even entering churches soliciting funds, indeed sometimes have viable needs but are we meeting those needs directly by handing them a few dollars and sending them on their way? Huntsville is a compassionate community. Showing that compassion in a more effective way by adding relationships and responsibility will help meet needs in a deeper, long-lasting manner. Effective charity acknowledges the unique capability of every human being. Many people living in chronic poverty wrestle with feelings of inadequacy or low self-worth. They may also be battling an addiction or mental illness. To attain healthy living, meaningful relationships, and fulfilling jobs, most people need guidance and encouragement.  

Active and concerned individuals and leaders affiliated with local agencies, churches and corporations are working toward localizing the True Charity model of success. This model provides the opportunity for work and dignity for those striving toward self-sufficiency.  The “earn it model” is a step toward fulfilling work and includes exchange, employment, and reciprocity. Continuously handing out goods and services to people in need is unlikely to inspire them to exercise their own gifts and capacity (and thereby robbing them of dignity). With a desire, effort and work, individuals can make a change for the better, and we as a community can help guide them on that path of hope!

If you would like to learn more about or donate to the #GiveBetter campaign, please contact Missy Hanks at missy@elmhsv.org

To learn more about True Charity visit truecharity.us  

by Missy Hanks

Executive Director

"Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it." -Hellen Keller