Advice on encountering panhandlers

Here’s advice on encountering panhandlers while at annual conference session

In Indianapolis, one thing you are sure to find on most street corners downtown are panhandlers – people asking for money through either signs or by shaking a cup that has coins in it. By law panhandlers are not allowed to verbally ask for money. This can prove to be a problem as you decide what is the best course of action. How do you help someone without doing any harm? Giving money may seem the kind and generous thing to do, yet often times allows one to continue down a road of addiction/destruction whether that is the Off-Track Betting on N. Pennsylvania Street, to the liquor store or the drug dealer. So what is one to do? Here are some things to consider:

  • A smile and a kind word are always welcome.
  • An offer to provide food may be welcome – bring snack packs with you.
  • If upon listening to a particular plight that you feel led to help – call 211 for information on local agencies downtown that can offer a Hand UP vs. a Hand Out.
  • Remember that giving cash, although well intentioned often causes more harm than good.
  • Find ways to volunteer in the community in ways that lift people out of poverty, such as the Community Outreach Day, Wednesday, June 5.