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‘Keep the Change’ program asks residents to stop giving money to panhandlers

keepthechangeMARYSVILLE- At the HotRod Barbershop in Marsyville, a new sign greets customers on the way in, encouraging them to “Keep the Change” and not give money to panhandlers in town.

“It just got to the point where they were down there on the corners fighting each other,” said employee Karen Suppan. “My husband and I saw them literally and it came to blows. They’re owning these streets and they’re making big money.”

Mayor Jon Nehring pitched the ‘Keep the Change’ idea to the owners recently.  At the same time, the Mayor was receiving more and more complaints about aggressive panhandlers.

Instead, Nehring encourages people to donate to charities that help the homeless. In his community that includes the Marysville Community Food Bank and the Damascus Road Church.

“They more and more were going into the parking lot and literally approaching moms as they were getting the kids into the car and their merchandise,” Nehring said. “They would turn around to grab their keys and someone is standing there they didn’t know they were there asking for money.”

Now, the campaign has spread to neighboring Arlington where the police chief believes there is a link between panhandling and an increase in heroin use. One hundred window decals have been distributed to businesses and homeowners. But not everyone is happy about the brogram. Vietnam Vet Jim on the corner of 4th Street and the I-5 off-ramp in Marysville.  He said the Keep the Change campaign hurts because he needs the help spare change provides him.

“I come out three days a week or so when I run out of money,” Jim said. “I ran out earlier this week.”

Jim adamantly denied using money he receives to by alcohol or drugs. Concerned citizens, such as Georgina Median, said they will continue to give to people like Jim because the money goes directly to those in needs.

“Seeing people like him it really hurts my heart,” said Median  “Today me and my daughter have been in Everett and here and are just going around handing stuff out.”

Nehring said he definitely supports kindness, just in a more official capacity.

“We are very compassionate towards those who are truly homeless and in need of help,” Nehring said. “But we want to be very careful that we’re meeting the needs of those who need the help and not subsidizing drug habits.”

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18 comments

  • Esco

    I get so tired of being asked that most of the time I'll drive to the upscale areas in town to shop where there's security guards in the parking lots. It takes more fuel to get there and costs me more but at least I can shop in peace.
    Every now and again I need my change to get gas and other things, I just can't keep giving it away to folks. It's too bad it's come to this but it is what it is.

    • JPRP

      I agree. It used to be that when going to work and back home I only saw a few people asking for handouts here and there. Now it seems as though they are on every single corner with a cardboard sign. It really is frustrating and quite frankly does not help our neighborhood to look good.

      • Sockpuppet

        Everyone that is homeless or on welfare should be scooped up, forced and assigned to work. No need to send people checks, no need to hand people change.

        • Luke

          As cold as your comment is, i think a lot of people on welfare would actually like this approach give them work, not to make us the tax payers happy. But to give the welfare recipients an honorable sense of self, that can hopefully let them climb out of the mire they've fallen into.

  • Angels Among Us

    My Charity Angles Among Us help the homeless who have no resources because the have no address. I can't believe that the mayor is asking to help the homeless by donating to the food bank. Food banks require a proof of address to receive food…. know there are scammers out there abusing and bullying other homeless people and being territorial. They are the ones who need to be booted out, not the people struggling. I don't care what the reason is they became homeless! I was homeless over 25 years ago due to drug use. I wanted help sooooo bad, but I did not have an address, so I was stuck. It was a couple of very compassionate people who didn't even know me, who gave me the encouragement and support I needed (no money!) to get myself into treatment and get my life cleaned up. that is what these people need, not cold hearted people like the mayor and those at that barbor shot. I'm sorry, but I am going to do my best to make sure no one I know goes there to that shop. Grow a heart people!! And Mayor, you just lost my vote…..

  • chris

    i would rather give money to a begger than give it to supposed charity. These charities like Goodwill ect… give fractions of the donations to people who really need it. For example Goodwill gives back 6% of what they make. The other 94% goes to administration and expenses. This is all documented fact.

    • Angels Among Us

      I agree, my charity is strictly volunteers, no one gets paid for their time. 100% of donations go to the homeless and to shelters and transition houses. It has been that way for 20 years, and will always remain that way….thank you Chris for your big heart

  • Gary

    Hmmm giving away money to people encourages them to beg more? Interesting. Where have we seen this before? Oh that's right welfare. I see able bodied men alone in grocery stores constantly with food stamp cards. I recently saw one guy pull cash from it then purchase top cigarette papers. Thank you Democrat liberals for that. People need to get to work. We aren't the Soviet Union even though these liberals would love to try that old philosophy out again.

    • Luke

      I agree Gary, but we need jobs that actually pay a living wage that make a man feel like a man. I think people get into a spiral on low self esteem and lack of motivation as they dont really see a way they can contribute to society, mostly because society doesn't see value in them. Just a viscous cycle.

      It seems like government run worker programs like sweeping the streets, washing police cars, cleaning up garbage interning with government run construction jobs would be a really good way of given them a reason to get up in the morning and actually see their welfare like a wage instead of just a handout.

  • TED

    What do you think the mayor does for a living? He begs for money. It’s the same for all politicians. Why don’t we give our change to the mayor? I’ll bet he’s ok with that. And we’ll force the homeless to get 50,000 dollar a year job,(problem solved). And as far as “The ‘liberals’ did it……There are basically two kinds of people in this world, … people who believe the ‘liberals’ are the problem,…and people who are stupid enough to believe that there are only two kinds of people in this world…..(thank you)

  • CALiberal

    I think it's obscene that veterans are homeless and panhandling. America needs to take better care of it vet's.
    I had a recycling business for 20 years in San Diego. I knew a lot of homeless. In California they can get money by recycling cans and bottles. "Get a Job" is ignorant. Jobs are pretty scarce right now. But there are never any jobs for the homeless. No address, no phone, no car, no bath. How are they going to get a job like that?

  • Scheri

    I'm torn on this situation. I got attacked by a panhandler in Vegas, to the point that I called the police on him, but I do have a big heart and try to help these people. I don't give them cash, I will offer to buy them a meal or some groceries, but that is it…

  • 1%Shame

    Where's the 1%ers on this issue? Oh yea, they're more worried about the competition making a few more million than they did this year and need to cut some more jobs to catch up. Must be nice to let the 99%ers pick up the tab for the homeless.


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