Rockford Police and community groups say don't give to panhandle - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Rockford Police and community groups say don't give to panhandlers

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ROCKFORD (WREX) -

Rockford Police send a strong message to the community; do not give money to beggars. We told you a couple weeks ago the panhandling problem is growing in the city. Community leaders need your help to stop it.

For many people it's hard not to want to give a few bucks to someone who says they are homeless or hungry, but everyone from police to local shelters say it's more likely you are hurting that person instead of helping.

"Panhandling only continues when they are successful at it so we ask the public not to provide any money." says Lt. Pat Hoey, Rockford Police Department.

The Rockford Rescue Mission and other community groups agree. It is not just because someone may be running a scam but your good deed might help someone stay in a lifestyle that keeps them homeless or hungry. It forces those people to make a choice.

"Do I allow this money to feed the deep rooted issues which would usually be like an addiction or the symptom which is the hunger. That's a tough decision and when you are dealing with an addict especially a lot of times the addiction will win out," says Chris Eldridge, Rockford Rescue Mission, director of development.

On top of that police say you never know who you are really giving money to.

"In a case a couple weeks ago right downtown here a panhandler was right outside Memorial Hall when the officer stopped him he was wanted on parole violation warrant," says Lt. Hoey.

"That hunger, the homelessness are a lot of times the catalyst for a change that needs to be brought in that life that needs to be experienced in that life. And when we just appease the symptoms because of our desire to feel like we have done something have kept them from the catalyst," says Eldridge.

Rescue Mission managers advise if you want to help buy someone a sandwich. Otherwise point them to resources in the community like the mission's shelter which feeds people three times a day and helps them find housing.

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