PHOENIX — We all say it. “I don’t have any cash on me, I’m sorry”. “I’m in a hurry”. “I don’t carry change”. In a world that’s beginning to rely on cashless methods of payment, what happens to those who are in need of the easily exchangeable green paper?
Samaritan, an up-and-coming startup app currently used in Seattle, Washington, seeks to resolve the issue by allowing you to donate money to the homeless by just a click of a button.
How does it work?
Once the app is downloaded, it uses Bluetooth to notify you when you are near a “beacon holder”, or a homeless person carrying the unnoticeable Samaritan beacon. Once notified, you are then able to read their story and decide if you want to donate.
Beacons come preloaded with a $10 amount to start the beacon holder off and allow holders to receive donations without good Samaritans having to stop on their route.
Holders meet every month with a provided counselor to ensure that their beacon remains active and to plan their month accordingly.
The donations allow those in need to purchase items from participating merchants and nonprofit organizations. This includes select stores, restaurants, coffee shops and grocery stores located near Seattle.
Samaritan’s goal is to help homeless people feel noticed, heard and taken care of.
About 12,000 Seattle residents have downloaded the app and have already began to make a difference in the lives of those participating.
The app —and others similar to it— only works in the Seattle area for now, but other sites exist with the same goal.
StreetChange, an app similar to Samaritan located in Philadelphia, enables users to make donations toward a nearby beacon holder’s wish list.
Another app devoted to caring for those in need, OurCalling, exists to help the homeless find a path that leads to a healthier and sustainable lifestyle. OurCalling can be used in all cities in the U.S. and allows volunteers to discover where someone is living on the street in order to provide assistance.