New signs in Manchester ask drivers to give to charities, not panhandlers
Police chief says request is rooted in hopes of fighting drug crisis
MANCHESTER, N.H. —
Signs have been installed across Manchester as police are urging residents to avoid giving money to panhandlers.
The signs, which say “Your generosity could lead to a fatality,” ask drivers to donate to a local charity instead.
The signs also list the addresses and phone numbers for three local charities: New Horizons, Child and Family Services and Families in Transition – New Horizons.
One man, who wouldn’t go on camera, told News 9’s Jean Mackin that not everyone is an addict. Some people just have hard times, he said.
Police Chief Nick Willard told WMUR in June that while his request to not give money to panhandlers may seem harsh, it is rooted in hopes of fighting the drug crisis.
“The large majority of that population are feeding some sort of addiction or have an underlying mental illness. A $5 donation could lead to a fatal overdose, and I’m sure that’s not what the person giving would want,” Willard said.
According to Manchester police, between 2015 and June 1 of this year, 24 people involved in panhandling have overdosed, and six of them died.
Staff at the organizations listed on the signs agreed with the police chief’s position.
“I think it’s a great idea, and I hope people read into what’s behind the signs — ‘let’s get people up and out,'” Families in Transition – New Horizons President Maureen Beauregard said.
Some drivers still open their windows and wallets in front of the new sign, but others said they are heeding the advice.
“These guys walk right up to the window, kind of hold that sign right in front of your face, make you feel guilty. Who knows what they do with the money,” Kevin Handschumaker said.