New Brunswick

Fredericton's kindness meters boost revenue to shelters

Fredericton’s so-called kindness meters have been a success in directing more money to organizations that help the homeless, according to the director of a shelter in the city.

Warren Maddox says kindness meters have contributed $3K to shelter's budget

Fredericton’s so-called kindness meters have been a success in directing more money to organizations that help the homeless, according to the director of a shelter in the city. 1:40

Fredericton's so-called kindness meters have been a success in directing more money to organizations that help the homeless, according to the director of a shelter in the city.

It's been just over five months since Fredericton launched its kindness meters, which were intended to raise money for the homeless and to reduce panhandling on city streets.

Warren Maddox, the executive director of Fredericton Homeless Shelters, said overall the project has worked in helping his group with more funds.

He said his organization now expects they will contribute at least $3,000 to his $500,000 budget, which is just under one per cent of the budget.

"It did sort of what we expected it to do, which was, start off gangbusters and then it sort of plateaued out and it's been pretty consistent there on in," he said.

The six kindness meters are old parking meters that are painted green and accept small coin donations.

The money raised in the meters are then sent to the Fredericton Homeless Shelters and the Fredericton Community Kitchen.

The idea was led by Downtown Fredericton Inc., which hoped the meters would eliminated panhandling.

Maddox said his only fear when the project started was these small collection points would replace larger donations cheques.

"We need the support of the people of Fredericton to be able to keep our doors open. So we were worried a little bit about people popping a loonie and going 'Uh, that's it for the year, I'm done, I'm good,'" he said.

"We actually need a little bit more involvement than that. As it works out fortunately that doesn't seem to be the case. We've had an incredibly generous November, December and January, I hope."

If the goal of the kindness meters was intended to eliminate panhandling, then that has failed because people are still on the streets.

Ricky Anderson, 51, said he sometimes spends 14 hours a day panhandling in Fredericton.

Anderson often sits next to one of the green meters, but he said he makes a point of never actually asking for money.

"You don't got to be a scientist to figure out that I'm looking for money, You know, I got a little cup out," he said.

Anderson said he hopes there continues to be a place for both types of giving in the city, to the meters that helps groups but also to individuals who need help.

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