I am all for helping poor women and children.  I am even all for helping poor men.  What I am not for is doing it at intersections in the Gainesville District.  We have enough traffic problem without having to put up with panhandling  by church groups.  There are other ways to help the poor.

I have had several reports that intersections in Gainesville and Haymarket this past weekend had a church group out asking motorists for money at most of the major intersections in Haymarket and some of the intersections in Gainesville.  While I salute the cause of helping the poor, I don’t salute snarling traffic or panhandling on public property.

I don’t know if this church group had permission from local authorities or not.  They should not have been granted permission.  If one church group is allowed to panhandle, then all churches should be afforded the same right.  Can you imagine what we would have on our hands?  Every weekend people just out trying to do their errands would be snarled in traffic.  Getting from point A to Point B would become a nightmare.  People would avoid shopping and doing business in those areas.  If the competition on weekends got too heavy for all the churches, they could hit commuters up during rush hour.

This practice must stop. Where were the Haymarket police?  Where were the Prince William County police?  Unfortunately, people feeling guilty for calling the cops on churches out working for charity.  Some of us don’t.

I am all for the local fire departments out at intersections one weekend out of the year collecting donations to support fire and rescue activities and needs.  I always drop a couple bucks in the “boot.”  It’s traditional yearly event and they do remind us about road safety, once a year.   Fire departments are also supported by our tax dollars.  Heretofore, they are the only group I can think of who have been permitted to take donations at intersections in the past.  Church groups have not and should not.  They need to find another way to raise money.  Panhandling and pestering motorists is not acceptable.

Church groups aren’t exempt from following the laws of the county.  We don’t allow panhandling in the county.  If one of those poor people this group wants to help came up to the car to, in essence, beg, most motorists would think nothing of picking up their cell phones and calling the police.   It simply isn’t safe to be approached by strangers at intersections.  Did we know the people at this fundraiser?  Probably not.  Do  we fish out our  wallets in front of people holding a sign representing a church?  We probably shouldn’t.  How do you know for real who they even are?

Allowing panhandling at intersections is a bad idea.  It causes congested traffic jams, it institutionalizes panhandling, it could present danger, and it gives license for all other charities to follow suit. This practice must not happen again.

8 Thoughts to “Panhandling for the poor in the Gainesville District”

  1. Steve Thomas

    The broader question is “what are the PWC ordinances regarding pan-handling on the public way?”. Whether they are an organized church group, or an individual with a cardboard sign, the rules should be the same.

    As I was pulling into the Walmart parking lot on Liberia, I noticed 2 adult women, with 4 children, pan-handling. Now this is publically accessable private property, but I wondered if they had permission from Walmart to be doing this.

  2. Jackson Bills

    This reminds me of a woman I saw doing the same thing off of rt. 1 a while back. I declined to give her money and then pulled into a gas station to wait in line for inspections. After a while of sitting there a saw her walk across the street, behind the gas station and drove away in a pretty nice Chevy Blazer.

    1. GRRRRRrrrrrrr!

      I had something similar happen in a Roy Rogers on Capital Hill, in the restroom. I just said I was broke, had no money and turned and left. I guess the girl asking was too new at theft to know she had to snatch my purse and run. I knew if I took my wallet out, I was doomed. She might have thought I was homeless. I was pretty ratty looking that day.

  3. Watching

    While I don’t support panhandling, the plight of the homeless and those less fortunate is something I think I need to pay more attention to.


    I believe income inequality throughout the US has led to a degradation of our culture on some levels, so while panhandling makes me uncomfortable (even when done by churches), I think raising the awareness of need is important.

  4. Absolutely the plight of the homeless and the poor need more attention. Many of my friends are actively involved with the homeless, right here in PWC.

    Churches can help these causes. They should not be permitted to panhandle at intersections, however. I think most churches try to help the poor. One church should not be given the edge over another with this issue.

    I read today where the City of Manassas has strengthened their ordinances against any panhandling at specific intersections. They should make it all intersections in my book.

  5. Mark Wolfe

    Moon- Panhandling has been ruled to be a part of freedom of speech. As such, a government can not ban it but may only regulate/limit panhandling for an over-riding public need, such as safety.
    That is why the new Manassas ordinance places restrictions for panhandling only at some intersections that have very high accident rates.

    1. Thanks for that information, Mark. I guess we can expect to get pestered a lot more other than at those 16 intersections in the City of Manassas. BTW, kudos to the City for taking this initiative. I wish PWC and Haymarket would do the same thing.

      In my opinion, panhandling is dangerous almost any where. Strangers approaching people asking for money can end up as robbery. They are also a traffic distraction. Most women don’t want a stranger they don’t know approaching their car.

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