Change to homeless community

A pilot program to help homeless people seems to be paying off one coin at a time.

In August, Virginia Beach installed eight meters at the Oceanfront which collect money that goes towards programs to benefit the homeless in the city.

To date, the effort has collected about $800. Five of the meters are sponsored, at a rate of $1,000 per meter, raising an additional $5,000.

“I think you can be confident that when it goes in a meter, it’s going to the right place,” offers George Kotarides, owner of Dough Boy’s Pizza Restaurants, one of the meter sponsors.

“It’s not just giving them a meal. It’s getting them an identification card. It’s getting them transportation. It’s helping them learn how to find a job,” says Kotarides. “You want it to go somewhere where there may be sort of a template in place to kind of give them a road map to becoming, you know, productive citizens and recovering from whatever they are dealing with.”

“I love the idea,” Anna Johnson tells 13News.

Johnson unloaded some change into the meter at 17th Street and the Boardwalk late Monday. She and her family are visiting her son who lives here.

“We always have loose change. We take it out, put it on the counter, don’t know what to do with it. Great idea,” Johnson says.

“We’ve been here in the summer numerous times. I mean, you guys could make a killing on this. You really would, especially with kids that want to go there and turn the knob and see how far it goes like I just did,” she states. “It’s great. You know, they’ll go in and grab a soda or something, it’s like $1.26, and they’ll come and just put the rest of it in there.”

The city is supposed to evaluate the program at the 1-year mark, determining whether it should continue, be expanded, or end.

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