UPDATED: Tuesday, December 18, 2012 - 3:50pm
Waco, Tx — You may be accustomed to panhandling if have spent time around downtown Waco. Although this illegal activity has gone on for many years, city leaders are now cracking down to completely eliminate the practice. Officials say giving out your spare change actually does more harm than good.
A powerful message is going up on doors and windows across downtown Waco.
"Your spare change definitely doesn't equal real change," said City of Waco Homelessness Administrator, Teri Holtkamp.
Posters of a man holding a sign with a cup of money are all a part of the Waco Improvement District's plan to eliminate panhandling. Officials stress that homelessness and panhandling are not one in the same. Unlike those who are homeless, we're told panhandlers are looking for extra money to use as they please.
"If someone is desperate enough to come up to you and ask you for money, there's some real desperation in that already. And so, that's what we're trying to change," said Holtkamp.
For downtown business owner, Kimberley Seesing, it's not locals that are the problem. She says many times those asking for money are from out of town.
"At this time of year, we get a lot of transient panhandling, and that's what we try to discourage more than anything," said Bloomingals owner, Kimberley Seesing.
The campaign kicked off two weeks ago and hopes to raise awareness, emphasizing your change does not help improve lives.
"It's not something new to us. What's happened is because it's more prevalent in certain areas now, you begin to see it more and more. We're trying to educate everybody else and say don't give," said Holtkamp.
Holtkamp also says it's best for panhandlers to seek out organizations for help.