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New York Homeless Man, Chris Coons, Panhandling As A Social Experiment

First Posted: 06/28/11 01:02 PM ET Updated: 08/28/11 06:12 AM ET

Coon

A New York panhandler, often seen around Union Square, is on a unique mission, The Local East Village reports today.

Chris Coon, 29, who has two kids and is homeless, wants to ask a million people for a dollar. He describes the project on his website, AskAMillion,com (a woman heard about his idea and gave him a laptop), as "A Social Experiment to both Help me to get out of Homelessness, take care of my two daughters and to take care of my daily living."

Coon has asked 3,462 people for a handout since the beginning of May and at this rate, City Room calculates he will reach his goal in about February 2054.

When approaching people, clipboard in hand, Coon describes the concept behind his experiment, asks for some money and then records their gender and ethnicity.

He explains on AskAMillion:

Regardless to what my profits are, I plan to verbally ask a million people for a dollar. I will document everyday how many people I ask, how many people give, what I make and what I spend. Later in this experiment I will actually break down the percentages to a demographic stand point and try to do an hourly break down.

He has some ground rules as well, according to a comment he posted to the Local East Village article, and objects to being called a panhandler:

And I do not consider what I am doing as panhandling… I am working towards a greater Goal...I don’t start until about 1 pm because people generally are going to work and don’t have time to listen in the morning. I don’t bother people when they are eating because it is rude and I don’t ask on the train but will on the platform if necessary.

Coon keeps track of all the money he makes and spends on his website and some days are much better than others. On May 1st he asked 500 people and made $127. But if it rains or if his feet hurt too much, Coon may only ask a handful of people and pull in a couple bucks for coffee. As of Friday, Coon had raised $1205 since the project began in May.

Born in Arkansas and raised in North Carolina, he describes his life, after leaving a foster home at the age of 12, as a series of "group homes and jails and detention centers and homelessness".

And although Coon claims it's in the name of an experiment, it appears he could really use the help. Check out the video below to see an interview and you can donate to his project here, if you don't see him on the street first.

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Filed by Christopher Mathias  |