Handouts help, but is there a better way to give? - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Handouts help, but is there a better way to give?

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On Church Street in Burlington there are plenty of things to spend money on, from food to clothes-- even people.

The Marketplace gives permits to some performers, but officials have concerns when it comes to other people soliciting money. So instead of handing over cash to panhandlers, they want people to give it to nonprofit groups, like the Committee on Temporary Shelter or the food shelf.

Rod Redmond with the Marketplace says the money is better spent going to organizations working on long-term solutions.

Reporter Gina Bullard: Why is it better to give to an organization versus directly to the person?

Ron Redmond: What you're doing, you're feeding a cigarette habit, a drug habit or an alcohol habit.

Church Street is reaching out to business owners and customers with the new message on pamphlets and posters.

Gina Bullard: Does it tarnish the Church Street image to have panhandlers?

Ron Redmond: We're a downtown. The reality is if you go to any downtown in the country there are people panhandling.

To ease your conscience, Church Street is making it easier to give to COTS with donation boxes.

"Right now, it's survival nourishment because I've been on the streets for so long," said Marquis Maxavier Stan Smith, a homeless man who goes by the nickname Mooga Man.

Mooga Man is a panhandler and says he'd rather get the cash directly, but does use local nonprofits for help.

"If you ever come to Vermont, COTS is the place to go. CVOEO is the place to get your life straight. They help with food stamps, housing," he explained.

Gina Bullard: Why do you give money to panhandlers?

Chris Richardson: Usually because I feel like I'm in a better position than them and I also feel like it's good karma on my part to give to people less fortunate.

Karl Barry panhandles. He's not homeless and says he puts money he solicits toward publishing a poetry book. Barry says the new imitative will take money out of his pocket, and that he adds to the Marketplace mood, unlike some who ask for money.

Karl Barry: They'll get drunk, get facetious, 'Hey, hey, give me a dollar.' OK, well that's not how you ask for a dollar. You say, 'Hello, good afternoon.' And they'll say he's a real one and maybe drop you a $5. It's how they act.

Gina Bullard: Do you make a lot of money panhandling?

Karl Barry: I don't know nothin'.

So far, people are dropping about $50 a week into the donation box. The Marketplace will add another donation box this summer.

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