(CNN) — He won’t give them spare change, but he will help with the message. Anthony Bustos is helping the homeless and panhandlers — not with money, but with marketing.
Bustos’ philosophy is simple: Getting a little change starts with a smile.
“I thought, this is an easy way I can help these guys increase their income,” Bustos said.
Bustos hands out clever signs — intended to give the homeless a marketing makeover in the hopes a laugh translates into a donation.
Bustos says he keeps a spare sign in his car, so when he’s driving for Lyft (a smartphone ride-sharing service) or by himself and he sees someone in need — he has the sign ready immediately.
“I kind of just wait for the right person and if I feel like they’re standing out there with a sign that can be improved — I roll the window down and say hey you guys want a new sign?” Bustos said.
The social experiment started a few months ago — when Bustos was driving and saw a panhandler with a sign that said: “Poor, hungry.”
“I had no inclination to give him any money and I was wondering if something funny were written on the sign would I give him some money and I decided I probably would have,” Bustos said.
The signs are working for some.
One man told Bustos his sign was attracting a lot of tourists — some asking to take pictures with him.
“I am not really in a position to help someone find a job. I’m not an employer or a staffer. I’m just a regular guy — so I think we all kind of do what we are capable of,” Bustos said.
Bustos says his friends want to help too — by either making signs or inspiring catchy phrases.
“We don’t always have to change the world. We can do something small to make a small difference and that’s okay,” Bustos said.