On Friday, the Harvard Square Business Association, in partnership with Leaf, a local tech startup, announced a new initiative that allows patrons to effortlessly donate money to help provide food, clothing and shelter to the homeless population in the Harvard Square area with the swipe of a credit card.
Using tablets designed and donated by Leaf, which were installed in more than a dozen Harvard Square businesses, monetary donations from $1 to $100 can be made by shoppers when they are checking out at the kiosks of participating businesses, and the funds will then be distributed to seven different local charities.
“Walking around the Square, you can’t help but notice people in need. But even if you have spare change to put ‘in the cup’ you can’t be sure how it’ll be spent,” said Denise Jillson, executive director of the Harvard Square Business Association, in a statement sent to BostInno. “We’ve been working with the business community to help solve this dilemma and considered donation boxes, but for many reasons, dealing with cash or change ourselves was less than ideal.”
Jillson said when the association learned about Leaf’s charitable components, the group knew “it was a perfect match.”
Members of the HSBA said homelessness is a real issue in Harvard Square, and visitors are becoming less inclined to make direct donations to people asking for change.
The advances in technology have also led to people traveling with credit cards, and carrying cash less.
The HSBA said through the partnership with Leaf, using the company’s point-of-sale tablets, people can now know exactly where the donations are going.
When making a donation, $1 can provide a pair of socks to a person in the homeless, $5 can provide three hot meals, $10 can provide one onsite medical visit and the maximum donation, $100, will provide shelter for a week.
“Giving back to the community is core to our business and has been since Leaf’s inception,” said CEO Aron Schwarzkopf. “As a platform that helps local businesses standout in this new digital age, we are committed to giving back to local communities and collectively making a difference.”
Leaf tablets will be available in 15 business locations in Harvard Square including Black Ink, Brattle Square Florist, Concepts, Curious George, Market in the Square, Tistik and The Tannery. HSBA will work directly with local charities including Youth on Fire, Harvard Square Meals Program, On The Rise, Bread and Jams’ Self Advocacy Center, CASPAR, Spare Change and The Harvard Square Homeless Shelter to distribute the donations accordingly.