Helping the homeless is as easy as a text

NEW ORLEANS -- When you meet people asking for money in the street, your first instinct may be to take out some money and give it to them. But, the smart move may be to take out your smartphone instead.

"We have 1,200--at least, according to UNITY--homeless people in the city of New Orleans," says New Orleans City Councilmember Stacy Head. "Yet, many of the people who panhandle are not in fact homeless. We've got to find a way to be smarter about this."

At a press conference in the United Way building on Canal Street, Councilmember Head and leaders from the United Way, Downtown Development District, and other local organizations announced a new public awareness campaign to make donating to fight homelessness as easy as sending a text.

"Make Change NOLA" lets you text "WAY" to 27722 and donate $10 to the United Way, which will disperse the total donations to four local organizations that fight homelessness and poverty. The $10 donation shows up on your phone bill.

The public awareness campaign will include billboards and ads on buses and shelters. Organizers hope effective advertising will take advantage of good-natured tourists who can also text their donations.

Make Change NOLA