Posted Dec 17th, 2018 in Feat of the Week
Unknown to many, panhandling, the term applied to begging, is protected by the First Amendment and cannot be banned. It was referred to in one court ruling as, “the right to engage fellow human beings with the hope of receiving aid and compassion.”
If you are fortunate to have your basic needs of food and shelter satisfied, you may want to help others who have fallen on hard times. These feelings are understandable; however, the presence of panhandlers can negatively impact businesses because it can deter potential customers or make people nervous about coming downtown.
So, resolving this conundrum is complicated. When the Municipal Services District (MSD) was formed in Downtown Wilmington in 2017, panhandling was one of the issues highlighted as important.
In 2018, after researching the options, the Have a Heart, Give Smart program was implemented and the Downtown Ambassadors help promote this initiative. The program encourages people who want to help to donate directly to the organizations that provide food, clothing, shelter, medical, and other services for people in need, instead of individuals. The program also educates businesses, residents, and visitors about services for people in need by providing “street sheets” that list addresses and contact information for nearby charitable organizations that can help with food, shelter, addiction or mental health.
The GiveSmartWilmington.org website provides details of this program and offers advice on how to respond to panhandlers. Donations can be made through a PayPal link on the website or by texting “Heart” to 910.817.4301.
This is a safe way to make a difference to people less fortunate than ourselves and may help people in need transition to a better life. So, have a heart and give smart!
Note: 100% of all contributions will be donated to local agencies less third-party financial transaction fees.