Rescue Mission to launch panhandler initiative

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Drivers around Fort Wayne have seen a growing number of people holding cardboard signs, asking for donations. Many want to help, but don’t know the best way the best way to do so. That’s why the Rescue Mission is launching a new initiative aimed at making a real change in the person behind the sign.

The mission plans to launch “Real Change, Not Spare Change” June 28 at the Public Safety Academy during Southside Fest. Leaders say it should teach people how to give panhandlers a hand up, not a handout.

Panhandling is a topic 15 Finds Out has covered extensively. In February of 2013, 15 Finds Out followed three panhandlers at random and discovered donations may not have been going where drivers may have thought.

In February of 2014, 15 Finds Out investigated the Sandbox Veterans, a so-called charity that collected donations from drivers in what many called an aggressive way. The group is now being investigated by the Indiana Attorney General.

The Rescue Mission says its new initiative will teach the community that life transformation will ultimately help those in need, not just cash.

“Your stories helped expose something that was a question many folks in our community have. And that obviously led to the Rescue Mission, being a champion for the homeless, to step up and say we believe we have a great solution,” said Richard Cummins, chief development officer for the Rescue Mission. “We would contend that throwing a few bucks at somebody might not always go to the right thing. There’s a better way to handle this.”

The Rescue Mission is teaming up with organizations across the city for this initiative including Blue Jacket, Fort Wayne Housing Authority, Caring About People, and the Unity Performing Arts Foundation.

“We are partnering with organizations like that right now who are committed to real change, real change and transformation in the lives of those we serve,” Cummins said.

Leaders will unveil what real change looks like, and how the community can get involved when they launch “Real Change, Not Spare Change” on June 28.

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