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Have a Heart, Give Smart

Panhandling Awareness Program — DORMANT SINCE 2015


It’s okay to say NO to panhandling, and YES to giving.   Have a Heart — Give Smart is a public outreach campaign managed by the Downtown Ottawa Coalition for a Safe Community (DOCSC) to educate downtown Ottawa residents, employees and visitors about the issue of panhandling. While panhandling is often associated with homelessness, most panhandlers are not homeless.   In many cases, giving money directly to panhandlers often supports drug and alcohol addiction  and can have a negative impact on the adjacent community.  The program was originally developed by the Downtown Seattle Business Improvement District.  They have granted copyright permission to the Downtown Rideau Business Improvement Area to use the program in Ottawa.


As part of the Give Smart Ottawa campaign, 16 Kindness Meters have been installed throughout Downtown Rideau and ByWard Market. The Kindness Meters provide the giving public an alternative to helping the homeless rather than giving to them directly.  Painted bright orange, the Meters are easily identifiable in high panhandling locations for giving convenience. The money collected in the Kindness Meters is given to the Salvation Army homeless shelter in the area to pay for costs to move people out of homeless shelters and into permanent housing.   These funds are vital to providing this service, as moving costs was previously a gap from other funding sources.

The Downtown Rideau BIA encourages the giving public to consider supporting the Give Smart Ottawa program by making donations to the Kindness Meters in our district.

The Downtown Ottawa Coalition for a Safe Community would like to thank Downtown Rideau for sharing the Have a Heart, Give Smart program with Ottawa.

Please feel free to download a Give Smart brochure or pocket pamphlet!

Bilingual Pocket Pamphlet

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