Donation stations draw dollars in Macon

jgaines@macon.comDecember 25, 2012 

After a month of use, the donation stations in downtown Macon have collected nearly $1,000 for programs to aid the homeless.

That’s according to Mechel McKinley, Main Street Macon manager and a member of the Leadership Macon 2012 class that first had the idea for the meters.

“We are very pleased with the response so far and encourage people to give anytime they are downtown,” she said via e-mail.

The stations, which resemble parking meters, were a Leadership Macon class project, aiming to fund established service providers and cut down on panhandling.

Eventually the money will go to member groups of the Macon Coalition to End Homelessness, parceled out in grants by the Community Foundation of Central Georgia, said June O’Neal, coalition chairwoman and executive director of the Bibb County Mentor’s Project.

Prior to this effort, there was no similar avenue for donations to coalition members, she said.

“We’re thrilled,” O’Neal said. “We are so thankful that the Leadership Macon class of 2012 embraced this project, and we just hope that it will be wildly successful.”

Officially called the Power of Change program, the donation-meters effort is a partnership of the Leadership Macon class, the Community Foundation and the Macon-Bibb County Urban Development Authority. Its website is www.powerofchangemacon.com.

“Poverty and homelessness is not a popular subject, and we applaud them for their courage,” O’Neal said.

After a year of collecting money, it will be distributed among coalition members, O’Neal said. Those members are the Bibb County school system, Centenary Church, Christ Episcopal Church, Come to the Fountain, Daybreak, Faces of Homelessness, Family Advancement Ministries, First Choice Primary Care, Goodwill Industries, Loaves and Fishes Ministry, Macon Outreach at Mulberry, Macon Rescue Mission, The Mentors Project, Rainbow Center of Central City AIDS Network, Reconciliation House Inc., River Edge Behavioral Health Center and the Salvation Army.

The money will be used for their services combating homelessness.

“Services range from emergency shelter, healthy meals for families, job assistance and, ultimately, a way out of poverty and panhandling,” according to the Power of Change website.

The devices can take coins, cash, and credit or debit cards. Eight were installed last month at the corners of: Second Street and Cotton Avenue; Mulberry and Third streets in Third Street Park; Third and Cherry streets near The Rookery restaurant; Poplar and First streets in Rosa Parks Square; Poplar and Second streets; Mulberry and First streets near First Presbyterian Church; Spring and Pine streets; Fifth and Cherry streets; and Cherry Street and Second Street Lane.

At least 10 major cities, including Atlanta, have similar donation stations downtown.

The Macon-Bibb County Urban Development Authority collects and holds the money. Though Macon City Council authorized installation of the stations, the city doesn’t get any of the money; and the stations are paid for by local sponsorships. It cost about $13,000 to buy and install them.

The sponsors listed on the Power of Change website are Clean Control Corp., Macon Occupational Medicine, Infinity Network Solutions, The Sanford Co., Macon Trial Lawyers and Associates, J.D. Miller of Northwestern Mutual, Georgia AARP and Walthall Oil Co.

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