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Arizona cities, groups promote ‘healthy giving’ during holidays

This time of year, many cities and nonprofits encourage "healthy giving" to help unsheltered people.

“What it means is just thinking more holistically about how we give and serve men and women that are experiencing homelessness,” said Jerome Parker, community pastor with First Christian Church in Phoenix and member of the Healthy Giving Council.

Rather than handing someone a meal or coat on the street, he hopes people consider this: “Maybe my efforts would be longer lasting if I partner with a nonprofit organization, if I partner with people that are in this space day in and day out that are actual experts in getting people closer to ending their homelessness.”

In a statement, Rachel Milne, director of Phoenix’s Office of Homeless Solutions, said, “People mean well when they give to someone who is unsheltered, but that often encourages them to stay outdoors and away from services that can end their homelessness. By working with established service providers, it helps create connections that can change people’s lives.”

The city of Phoenix is part of the Healthy Giving Council, a coalition of community leaders, local governments, businesses, social service providers and others who educate people about volunteering responsible giving during the holidays and year round. The group’s website lists volunteer opportunities with more than two dozen local nonprofit entities that serve unsheltered people.

As a senior field correspondent, Christina Estes focuses on stories that impact our economy, your wallet and public policy.