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Salvation Army of Amarillo launches ‘Tokens of Hope’ program to help panhandlers

Published: Jun. 23, 2021 at 7:15 AM CDT
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - The Salvation Army of Amarillo has officially launched Tokens of Hope, a new program designed to provide panhandlers with food and shelter.

Community members uncomfortable handing out cash can purchase a token from The Salvation Army, and recipients can use it to purchase things they need.

“If you’re seeing a panhandler on the street, we provide you some of these tokens and you give this to an individual,” said Major Ernest Hull, commanding officer for The Salvation Army of Amarillo. “They’ll get two meals, dinner and breakfast the next day, and entrance into a program that will help change their lives. That’s the goal.”

Major Hull says the tokens allow community members to help those in need while ensuring their dollars are being well spent.

“If you go to give [the token] to someone and they don’t want it, do they really want a place to stay or do they just want your money?” said Major Hull. “It’s not [a] secret, a lot of our homeless population may use drugs or alcohol, not all, but some. So this is a way of testing the waters.”

Major Hull adds that while buying a Panhandler a meal may help them for a moment, these tokens can help them for a lifetime.

“Consider what happens tomorrow to that individual. You might have helped them for one meal, but what happens tomorrow?” said Major Hull. “This program helps them with tomorrow and the days beyond that.”

The Salvation Army of Amarillo is just one of three branches that have this program and say they’ve seen much success.

“The Salvation Army’s new Tokens of Hope program is a transitional living program. Our goal is to take a person living on the street and turn them into your neighbor again,” said Major Hull. “Through intense case management, with our new case management team, life skills training and getting folks into jobs where they might be unemployed, getting them working, starting to save money.”

Each token has The Salvation Army’s address and a map of how to get there.

As of now, tokens have been paid for by a local donor.

Anyone can purchase the tokens at The Salvation Army and distribute them to whoever they’d like.

Once the donor-supplied tokens expire, tokens will cost $10.

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