The last time I stopped by St. Louis—my old college town—I noticed a new addition to the streetscape of the picturesque Central West End’s Euclid Avenue. Bright green parking meters have been repurposed through the Real Change program to collect pocket change for the city’s social services.
Here’s a little more about the program:
The Central West End Association and the City of St. Louis have announced the launch of the “Real Change” campaign. The goal of the campaign is to discourage the random giving of money to panhandlers while encouraging contributions to local social service providers. The campaign is conjuction with a new city ordinance restricting panhandling.
Parking meters donated by the St. Louis Treasurer’s Office have been installed at four locations in the Central West End. These meters will be used to collect change that will be distributed to area service providers. In addition, neighborhood businesses will distribute cards informing residents and visitors of the campaign and encouraging participation in ‘real change.’
A similar program has been in effect in Montreal since 2007. They even had a campaign this year to decorate the meters. The St. Louis program started with four meters and the Montreal program has grown to about 70 meters across the city. It appears these meters are popping up in cities across the country from Chattanooga to Laguna Beach.
After Louisville replaced its old parking meters with newer digital versions a few years ago, obsolete meters have been for sale for $125 at the Louisville Store (now on sale for half off). Perhaps a few of the countless thousands of old meters could be used for a similar program?