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Panhandlers: Not always what you think

Those charged with helping the homeless, police and city officials all seem to have the same message when it comes to dealing with increasingly aggressive panhandlers on Manchester's streets: Don't give them money.

They aren't being heartless. The advice is sound. Citizens need to hear it loud and clear.

As Susan Howland, director of homeless services for Manchester, said Tuesday in a front-page article by reporter Kathryn Marchocki, 'Many of them don't have those families to feed that it says on their signs. And they are not veterans looking for help. They are people taking advantage of the goodwill of the people of Manchester.'

And it can be worse than that, according to Police Chief David Mara, who warned, 'A lot of the people out there we recognize as people with substance abuse problems, and are not homeless. And, if they are homeless, it's because they are not interested in getting the services the city has to offer. What they are interested in is getting enough money to buy alcohol or buy drugs.'

In other words, you are doing them no favors by giving them money in the belief you somehow are assisting them.

Giving them money merely increases their aggression. They are running up to cars, accosting diners at sidewalk restaurants and customers coming in and out of local businesses.

For those who feel a need to help, and that should be all of us more fortunate, there are legitimate organizations assisting veterans, the disabled, the homeless. They are worthy of support. And you can be confident that donations given to the organizations actually will assist those truly in need.

Eric Church
Saturday, 8 p.m.

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Kathy Griffin
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Peter Wolf
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