Sometimes it’s tough trying to determine who’s in need of help and who’s just trying to make a quick buck. So, Auburn’s Police Department is kicking off a new campaign this week to crack down on panhandling.
The police department is encouraging residents and business to hand out their new Panhandling Solutions Pocket guide in place of giving them money.
FOX40 News caught up with panhandlers Haley and her friend Wayne at the Bel Air shopping center in Auburn.
“They’re all so nice, [saying] ‘Are you okay? Here some food.’ You know, I’ve never ran into anyone mean here,” said Haley.
The two are headed to New Orleans and hope to be there by Halloween. But had they traveled through Auburn 48 hours later, they may have gotten a pocket guide instead of money or food.
“As far as handing out cards and stuff, I think it’s good. But [it's] hard sometimes to use those resources when you’re only in town for maybe a day or two,” said Wayne.
The Panhandling Pocket Guide “Please Help, Don’t Give” provides panhandlers direction on where to go for food and shelter.
“A lot of homeless people are trying to get on their feet. Some of them aren’t, and if they’re aren’t then they are not going to use the services,” said Haley.
John Stansfield just opened his Cosmic Comix store two weeks ago and says panhandlers are everywhere.
“I see them everyday over by the corner where people have to exit out of the shopping center. They are always there morning and night,” said Stansfield.
Stansfield says he supports the police department’s new panhandling campaign, but isn’t sure if this is the right solution for everyone who finds themselves on the street.
“It could be good and bad … They can get these resources there. I don’t have to help them, then it can be hard as a traveler,” said Wayne.
“If I was a panhandler and I was looking for something to eat, if somebody gives me a card … that’s not going to help me eat,” said Stansfield.
Many Auburn residents are torn over what to do. They think giving panhandlers information on where to go for help is good, but they say there are times where they just may just need to do both.