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Contact(s):Jimmy Pritchett
City of Little Rock

Sharon Priest
Downtown Little Rock Partnership

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


City of Little Rock, Downtown Little Rock Partnership, and Southside Main Street Project
Collaborate on Program to Address Panhandling, Help People

(Tuesday, September 30, 2008) – “Little Rock people are generous and compassionate. We want to help others. I am proud to announce “Change for the Better” which will be another way for Little Rock citizens to put their generosity and compassion into action,” said Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola.

“Change for the Better” is a collaboration among the City of Little Rock, Downtown Little Rock Partnership, and SOMA (Southside Main Street Project) that is designed to give people an opportunity to donate money to assist those who need it.

Sharon Priest, executive director of the Downtown Little Rock Partnership noted, “When we see panhandlers, the natural assumption is that they are homeless. But national statistics show that only 8% of homeless individuals panhandle. Giving money to panhandlers is not reaching those who need it the most. Through ‘Change for the Better,’ all donations will be given to organizations whose mission is to help those who need assistance.”

“How do you participate in ‘Change for the Better?’ It is easy. Orange collection boxes have been placed throughout the downtown area,” noted Mayor Stodola. “Just put your cash donations into the boxes. You will have the confidence in knowing that people will actually be helped by your efforts.” 

“The next time a panhandler approaches you for money, just refer them to one of the organizations that are receiving funds through ‘Change for the Better,’” continued the Mayor.

The funds collected each month by the Downtown Little Rock Partnership will be distributed to area service organizations that help homeless individuals and families. The organizations are: Friendly Chapel, Our House, River City Ministries, Salvation Army, and the Union Rescue Mission\Dorcas House.

George Wittenberg, president of the SOMA Board, noted, “The approximately 25 collection boxes have been sponsored by area businesses and will be installed in the downtown Little Rock and River Market areas. We are grateful to them for their support of this initiative.”

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