Montgomery messaging campaign aims to combat panhandling
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The Montgomery City Council passed a resolution Tuesday to help kick-start a new messaging campaign aimed at discouraging panhandling.
The city is partnering with local nonprofit Central Alabama Community Foundation (CACF) to roll out a text message and signage campaign that they hope will combat the issue.
The resolution will help CACF financially jump-start the program. The campaign will include billboards, yard signs, posters and more.
Residents can expect to see signage encouraging people to text “GIVE MGM” to 44321 and donate to the Central Alabama Community Foundation instead of handing money to panhandlers out of your car window.
“If we stop giving them money, they’re going to go somewhere else, and in the meantime we’re actually going to help some individuals that possibly need help and want help,” said District 8 City Councilman Glen Pruitt.
CACF will use the funds for immediate and long-term needs. They will also implement a grant program that will allow other local nonprofits to be awarded money based on their specific needs.
“If they are mentally ill or have drug addictions, we need to get them some help,” said Burton Crenshaw, president of the Central Alabama Community Foundation.
“If we can give these nonprofits more money, they can serve more of these clients,” Crenshaw said.
Montgomery passed an ordinance in 2019 that would have allowed arresting or ticketing of panhandlers, but that ordinance was challenged in court by the Southern Poverty Law Center and later repealed.
“This is the route that we’ve got to take, and what we need to do as a city and as a business community is get the word out that there’s a better way to help by giving someone $2 when they could possibly go spend it on their next beer or drug addiction,” Pruitt said.
CACF hopes to have the billboards and signage up in the next couple of weeks.
They encourage people not to donate through the text messaging campaign until they have officially launched the program.
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