BART, Salvation Army launch effort to help homeless community

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This holiday season, BART and the Salvation Army have collaborated to launch the “Partners for Change” campaign to help the homeless community seeking shelter in BART’s stations and trains.

This debut partnership between BART and the Salvation Army will take place from Dec. 3-24, coinciding with the Salvation Army’s seasonal Red Kettle Campaign, said BART spokesperson Anna Duckworth in an email.

“The Salvation Army is uniquely qualified to help the homeless in the Greater Bay Area and we are glad to be working with them together to continue to address this crisis,” said Bevan Dufty, BART Board of Directors president, in a press release. “Our various fare machines are also notorious for giving change in all coins. The Salvation Army’s iconic Red Kettle is a perfect place to off load a pocket full of change and unused paper tickets.”

Before scanning in to pay, commuters can find the Salvation Army’s Red Kettles and donate their change in them, according to the press release. To encourage riders to donate, signs have been posted in BART stations near vending machines that give change. The money will directly affect the communities where the donations were given.

Commuters are also able to donate their paper BART tickets with leftover fare, which will be refunded for cash, according to the press release. To better accommodate those with mobile phones, donations can also be made via Apple Pay and Google Pay. A website was also created by the Salvation Army for those who wish to donate online.

“We are placing kettles at as many BART stations as possible,” said Samantha Jarosz, spokesperson for the Salvation Army’s Del Oro Division, in an email. “Our goal is to cover every single station, but we need volunteers to make that happen.”

While this campaign hopes to assist the homeless community, some community members said it is not enough to help the homeless population. According to homeless advocate Mike Zint, distribution of vouchers or a system that granted cities free BART fare tokens would be more beneficial for those who face homelessness.

According to Jarosz, all donations will be used to support the Salvation Army’s various homeless assistance programs.

Jarosz added that the Salvation Army has plans to distribute the donations from this campaign to programs such as housing and substance misuse treatment initiatives through a partnership with BART’s crisis intervention coordinator.

“Our riders have expressed concerns and a willingness to help those experiencing homelessness in our stations and this partnership brings the community together to connect people to beds, supportive services and treatment centers,” Dufty said in the press release.

Contact Maxine Mouly at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @moulymaxine.