“Have a Heart, Give Smart” Campaign Reaches New Heights this Summer

Posted August 10, 2016


Champ and Champette Surface to declare a phenomenal season of giving on the Church Street Marketplace.



Some might think that the “season of giving,” is characterized by snowflakes, scarves, and the holiday season. However, kind hearted folks in Burlington don’t let sweltering summer days curb their giving spirit. Instead, locals and visitors to the Church Street Marketplace have been contributing record amounts to the Champ and Champette collection bins that support the Committee on Temporary Shelter (COTS). This past week, the July 2016 collection was tallied at a whopping $2,156.89. On average, 3 to 4 month collections can range from $300 to $500 in donations, however, this eight month collection far exceeded these figures.


This program began in Burlington in 2012, with inspiration coming from the “Have a Heart, Give Smart” campaign launched by Downtown Seattle in 2007. This public awareness campaign was designed to educate people about the most effective ways to assist with issues of poverty in their communities, in contrast to merely dropping change into cups without the slightest idea how that money might be used. Unfortunately, it is common for donations to be used to support alcohol and drug addictions, and often panhandlers are not necessarily homeless. Therefore, this campaign encourages people to donate to local community service providers that can truly assist those need. Ultimately, “Have a Heart, Give Smart,” lets people who simply want to help know that, “It is okay to say no to panhandling, and yes to giving.”


This program has extended its reach to downtowns across North America, from Rideau, Ottawa, and Edmonton, Alberta, to Boise, Idaho, and Ann Arbor, Michigan, where pedestrians are encouraged to drop their coins into Kindness Meters to benefit the Salvation Army and local homeless shelters. It has also achieved great success in Burlington, having collected an astounding $9,957.33 since its inception in August of 2012.


The donations collected from Champ and Champette go to support the COTS’ Daystation. This daytime drop-in shelter is open 365 days a year, seven days a week, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. It offers refuge from the streets and access to an array of services and medical care, including a free noontime meal. This is where individuals can meet with COTS staff and connect with local resources, receive mail and telephone calls, and find support toward their goal of self-sufficiency. In 2014, an average of 40 people a day used the Daystation, the only daytime shelter for homeless adults in Chittenden County (COTS, 2016).


According to Tamira Martel of COTS, historically this program has not received a great deal of designated donor dollars so funds from the “Have a Heart, Give Smart” initiative make a big difference for this critical program.  “It means that 600-900 people a year can access the internet, make a phone call, receive mail, take a hot shower or get a warm cup of coffee on a cold day,” Martel stated.  “Guests can also access services like case management where guests are referred to other organizations that can assist with job skill training, substance abuse, mental health counseling, and medical treatment,” she added.


Both COTS and the Church Street Marketplace wish to send our greatest thanks to all those who so graciously donated to this vital program. We are so proud to say that locals, employees, and visitors of the Marketplace not only “have a heart,” but have some of the biggest you can find.


To donate further to this incredible cause, or to find out how you can help the Committee on Temporary Shelter by volunteering or other means, please visit http://cotsonline.org/get-involved/ or contact lorig@cotsonline.org. 


Related Category: Church Street Marketplace