Don’t give cash to panhandlers – advice from rescue workers, police

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Here’s some advice you don’t hear every day – don’t give.

Martinsburg City Police and those who work with the homeless on a daily basis are asking residents to not give cash to Panhandlers.

Pastor Tim Guerino said a recently completed random testing showed 99 percent of the residents at the Martinsburg Union Rescue Mission are clean. As Superintendent of the Mission, he wants to keep it that way.

“That’s why I encourage people don’t give to panhandlers. Those who are coming in for the first time, we test them if they want to be in our program after seven days. They’re about 95 percent or more failure rate, because they’re coming in off the street. And people say to me ‘I give money to them -that’s between me and God’ – well, it is between you and God, but I’m telling you what they do with their money because they come to us, and they get tested and they fail,” Guerino said.

Martinsburg Police Chief Maury Richards said with all the food programs in the area, panhandlers do not need cash.

Martinsburg Police Chief Maury Richards

“98 percent of the panhandling that’s going on – 98 percent of that money is going to go to two things and it’s not good. It’s either going to go to booze or it’s going to go to drugs. No one is starving here in Martinsburg. We’ve got all kinds of programs. If people really need food, we’ve got it,” Chief Maury Richards said.

Pastor Guerino and Chief Richards have made separate appearances recently on ‘Panhandle Live’, heard weekday mornings at 9:06 on WEPM & WCST.

Story by Marsha Chwalik