A joint public education campaign to address panhandling in Montgomery County has been introduced by County Executive Ike Leggett and Councilmember George Leventhal. Homeless advocates and grassroots social service agencies, the faith community and the Police joined the elected officials at the launch.
The announcement was made next to the busy intersection of Georgia Ave. and Veirs Mill Rd. where known panhandler Mary Josephine Fish, aged 52, was killed last May 16 when an automobile jumped the median and struck her.
“Panhandling is not safe and giving cash to panhandlers doesn’t help them,” said Leventhal, who chairs the Council Health & Human Services Committee.“We all know the feeling. We want to help those less fortunate than ourselves. We feel guilty. We all want to help. The question isn’t whether to help – it’s how."
“I hear a lot from residents who are concerned about the proliferation of panhandlers at intersections throughout the County,” said Leggett. “I agree that the status quo is unacceptable. Even though panhandling is legal under the First Amendment and Maryland law, it is not a safe thing to do and giving cash to panhandlers doesn’t help.”
By texting “SHARE” on their cell phones to 80077, persons wanting to help can contribute $5 to the Community Foundation for Montgomery County, a non-profit, non-government organization that will distribute the proceeds to grassroots efforts in Montgomery County to really help those in need.
Contributions also may be sent to the Community Foundation for Montgomery County, 8720 Georgia Ave., Suite 202, Silver Spring, MD 20910, or residents may choose to give to the community or faith-based agency of their choice.
Read more about the campaign in the news release.
Get details about how to help, plus, read the laws and see press coverage about the campaign on the panhandling website.
Watch the video to hear why panhandling isn’t safe and why it doesn’t help from local law enforcement, non-profit and elected officials.