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OPINION: Helping the Hungry with Extra Cash

A number of pay-to-park machines around Western’s campus will no longer be accepting cash . According to the Western Today, machines in lot 6V behind the Viking Union, lot 32G by the Administrative Services Building, lot 12A by Fairhaven and the C-lots on south campus will only accept cashless payment. While this means students will have some extra cash, it also means they will have less of an incentive to carry that extra money with them. Not having to carry coins or small bills may seem insignificant but it makes it tricky for people to help others. People do not carry change all the time, and this new system hinders people from being able to give their loose change to the homeless. In Bellingham there are no shortage of places where students may run into people who are struggling and asking for help. Even on campus there are students going through financial troubles, which can sometimes prevent them from getting food and shelter. According to the Whatcom Homeless Service Center, in 2014 there were 553 homeless reported in an annual county census. Of that total, 25 percent are reported to be between the ages of 18 and 34. Of that 553, 43 percent also say economic reasons are behind their homelessness. For that 43 percent, handouts could be the difference between getting a small meal or going to bed hungry. However, if parking changes dissuade students from keeping their wallets full, there are other ways of helping those in need. A quick search will reveal organizations like the Lighthouse Mission, Opportunity Council and Lydia place that work to give people in Bellingham a place to go. Many organizations accept online donations as well, so the need to carry extra money is no longer a factor. So even though parking stations are encouraging students to keep their change in their pockets, there are ways for them to do what they can to help others.

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