Downtown officials caution against giving things to panhandlers - KMOV.com

Downtown officials caution against giving things to panhandlers

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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV.com) – Thousands of people are expected to pack downtown St. Louis Monday for the Cardinals home opener and with the crowds will be panhandlers.

Officials in downtown are cautioning those visiting the area not to hand over anything to panhandlers.

“It's really not helpful to give money or food to someone who is asking for it on the street. It's a very short fix for what they need,” Missy Kelley, with Downtown STL, Inc., said. “It's not getting them in to a program that can help them end the situation that's causing them to ask for money or food.”

Anyone approached on the street and asked to hand over a dollar can say “no thank you” and if the situation escalates, making someone uncomfortable, call the police, or find an officer on the street.

In 2014, 257 people were arrested for panhandling, 17 more than the previous year. In 2012, 144 arrests were made for panhandling. So far in 2015, 87 people have been arrested for panhandling.

Anyone wanting to help the panhandlers can dial 211 to make a donation to the United Way using their phone.

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