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      Local charity hopes loose change from air travelers can change the lives of homeless

      A Grand Strand organization that's trying to change the lives of homeless people hopes your loose change can help.

      New Directions wants to place collection containers at Myrtle Beach International Airport.

      The organization is already reusing old downtown Myrtle Beach parking meters to collect money. Now, it hopes to do the same from people clearing their pockets and purses before getting on a plane.

      The group's leaders point out that travelers going through Transportation Security Administration screening either forget, or don't bother to pick up, their pocket change.

      "So this is an opportunity for that change to go into a donation collection area that would benefit a local charity, instead of just disappearing into the TSA system," said Mary Jo Rogers, New Directions board chairperson.

      Rogers says her group hopes to raise $15,000.

      Travelers who spoke to NewsChannel 15 at the airport were all in favor of it.

      "You know what? I think it's a great idea, because there's really not a whole lot going on in South Carolina for homeless people," said Edie Nanick of Murrells Inlet.

      "Well, I'm all for anything that helps the homeless and I think that's a good idea," said John Durante of New York.

      But the proposal has to be approved by Horry County and it's not a slam dunk with all county officials.

      The county's Airport Advisory Board split down the middle with a 4 to 4 vote, and some county council members have concerns.

      At a council administration committee meeting Friday, one councilman wondered if the county lets one group do it, won't a bunch of other charities want to do the same thing?

      Rogers responds that each charity has its own fundraisers. This one is purely New Directions'.

      "This is an idea that we came up with and brought to the county and said, 'We're willing to do all the work, this isn't going to cost you tax dollars, it's not going to cost you labor.' "

      The administration committee approved the request, with Councilman Harold Worley casting the only no vote.

      It will now move on to the full council in May.

      Rogers says other airports around the country have similar programs, including Denver, Colorado, which collects $80,000 a year for a local charity.

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