The video takes the viewer down a line of students on Center Street in downtown Provo, wrapped up in winter wear and holding cardboard signs on a chilly Saturday.
“You’ve thought it, you’ve felt it, you’ve said it,” the cardboard signs read, a few words on each one. “I wish I could help. I would if I could. But, where would the money go? I have no cash.”
You don’t need cash, the video continues, and there is a way to know where the money is going.
The signs the Brigham Young University students are holding then point to a solution — use the Venmo app, which works as a digital wallet, to donate to the Food and Care Coalition in Provo.
“Every time you see a cardboard sign, remember, you might be cashless but you are not heartless and they are not hopeless,” the signs read. “You can help the homeless.”
The one minute, 46 seconds-long video was created by BYU Adlab students and has been viewed more than 20,000 times on Facebook and shared more than 210 times as of Thursday afternoon. It was posted Wednesday afternoon on the Food and Care Coalition’s Facebook page and quickly began racking up views.
“It is doing very well and we are really pleased for them,” said Brent Crane, executive director of the Food and Care Coalition. “It has resulted in increased awareness and resulted in some donations to us as well.”
Crane was up until 2 a.m. Thursday sending thank you messages to people who had donated using the app.
The Food and Care Coalition serves meals daily to the homeless and people in need. Crane hopes that the video reminds people of a way to help others during the holiday season.
“Everyone wants to come and serve and we only have so many slots,” Crane said. “This is a convenient way for people to meet our needs.”
About 85 percent of the organization’s funding is raised around Christmas, and funding is needed more now than ever. In 2015, the Food and Care Coalition served 92,748 meals. This year, Crane said as sweeps in the Salt Lake City area are bringing more transient people to Provo, it will be a record year. Crane said the organization currently has a waiting list for its transitional housing and its kitchen is busy.
“We have been kind of overwhelmed, really, as an agency this year,” Crane said. “It has tapped us in terms of resources and need.”
Students with the BYU Adlab, a student-run advertising agency, approached the Food and Care Coalition with the idea for the video, which was shot within 20 minutes Saturday. Within those 20 minutes, about $100 was donated via Venmo by people passing by who saw the students holding the signs and filming the video.
Jason Murray, a BYU student, said the idea for the video came from a class where students were assigned to come up with a campaign for Venmo. The students started wondering about what if a priest used the app for collection, or if children used it for a lemonade stand, since many people don’t carry cash anymore.
“We are cashless, but we definitely aren’t heartless,” Murray said. “We definitely have a care for the homeless community.”
The students came back to the idea about a month after the assignment and began taking steps to produce the video.
Jeff Sheets, an associate teaching professor at BYU and Adlab founder, said people will often see someone on the streets holding a cardboard sign and think they should do something, but they don’t have cash or are unsure of what the money will go towards.
The video, he said, was a way for the students to use their talents for work for good.
“They have such a drive to make a mark in this world, but they also want to help people,” Sheets said. “That’s the most rewarding and fun part of the day.
The video was posted with #LighttheWorld, the hashtag for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’s social media Christmas campaign, which includes daily challenges for the 25 days leading up to Christmas. The message for Dec. 7, the day the video was posted, was “Jesus fed the hungry and so can you.”
Wilsynn Wheat, a BYU student, expected the video to raise a few hundred dollars. It’s connection to the feed the hungry challenge was coincidental, she said.
They turned to the Food and Care Coalition for the idea because they thought it was a better, and more verified way, to help those on the streets.
“Instead of helping one homeless person, you know it is going to the right place,” Wheat said.
The video also promotes #CashlessNotHeartless. To donate to the Food and Care Coalition, use Venmo and find @FoodandCare.