By Craig Chamberlain As of Monday, residents of Champaign and Urbana have been encouraged to "Make a Change" in the way they deal with homelessness and panhandling on the cities' streets. Make a Change is the name of a new fund created by a coalition of social service providers and Campustown businesses to support the homeless. It is at the center of a program called "Put Your Change Where You Can Make One." With support from the two cities, as well as the UI and the UI Student Government Association, the program seeks to change people's attitudes and practices in the way they deal with panhandling in Campustown and on other city streets. "The university is pleased to participate in this program," said UI Dean of Students William Riley. "We anticipate this being part of a broader effort to assist students in learning more about their community and their responsibility as citizens, and to encourage their involvement in community service activities." The goal of the program is to get the people asking for money to the services they need, while at the same time providing additional support for those services. People who want to give their spare change to panhandlers are being asked instead to deposit it in Make a Change cash boxes at local businesses. Donations to the cashboxes will go to supplement the resources of the organizations that serve the homeless in Champaign County. Those same businesses will have supplies of "Street Cards" for distributing to panhandlers in place of spare change. The Street Card lists a variety of available services and how to find them, so the panhandler can find the help he or she needs. "It's in no one's best interest for people to live on the streets, particularly when there are services available to help them get back on their feet," notes the program's brochure. "Panhandling is becoming a way of life for some people, keeping them on the streets. Many people think that by giving money to a panhandler they are helping the homeless. What they may not realize, however, is that not all panhandlers are homeless, and that most homeless people do not panhandle." The program also encourages local residents and students to learn more about the issues of panhandling and homelessness, and to volunteer to work for organizations that help the homeless. Donations also can be made directly to the "Make a Change" Foundation, c/o The Community Foundation of Champaign County, P.O. Box 826, Champaign, 61824-0826.