Fairfield – Signs say, “Keep the Change, don’t support Panhandling” Signs are hanging in areas like Fair Ave in Lancaster. The rest of the sign says, “The majority of your change goes to drugs & Alcohol. Help more by giving to charity.”
It’s an interesting stance coming from the government, because most panhandling is a legal act, as long as it’s not done around ATMs, or overly aggressive, but counties and towns nationwide are trying to educate and just want people who want to help the homeless to contribute the right way and make sure the money really makes a difference.
“Panhandlers sometimes misrepresent their situation to solicit funds, preying on people’s sympathies with often fabricated stories of misfortune,” the police department said in the post. “Even worse, some panhandlers use their solicited funds to feed self-destructive drug and alcohol addictions. The bottom line is that it’s impossible for a citizen to vet the need and condition of a panhandler.”
So what should you do when you see homeless or want to make a difference in your community?
- Give the money to an organization working with people experiencing homelessness.
- Buy a street newspaper.
- Buy a small gift card – i.e. for a local coffee shop or fast food restaurant.
- Use the money to donate food to a food bank.
Buying food and giving it to the homeless may sound like a perfect option but, what if they have allergies, are picky eaters, or even don’t trust food to be safe? Giving them a coffee instead of money may be a good idea for you, but what if they have already received several cups that day, they may refuse it.
There are systems in your community that aim to help people who are homeless, engage them, express your concerns, and ask how you can help, that’s my two cents