Panhandling practices under the microscope

Local 6’s Todd Faulkner stopped along Lone Oak Road Wednesday to ask several panhandlers the purpose of them collecting donations. At first, one man provided us with few details, pointing to a nearby van where he said the organizer would take our questions.

"So you don’t know if the money stays here?" Faulkner asked the man. However, the organizer threatened to sue us when we approached him. "I’m going to sue you. Otherwise, I’m going to sue you and have you for litigation," he told us.

We asked for identification and one man told us the money was going to an organization in Florida called Holy Hands Ministries. It is a licensed business, according to a state website, but there was no direct contact information for us to verify.

"We’ve arrested some people," Graves County Sheriff Dewayne Redmon said. He said it’s your right to question where you money is going, but often what’s advertised isn’t real.

Sheriff Redmon said complaints about panhandling cases typically increase around the holidays. He advises if you feel uncomfortable, then don’t give.

"Couple instances, people were using it for doing drugs, money for alcohol and beer," he said.

Last year, Graves County deputies charged Dawn Riley with theft by deception because, Redmon said, Riley asked churches for money to help her sick son, when in reality her son was healthy. He’s even had to change the popular Shop with a Cop Christmas program after parents cashed in on their child’s toys.

"That same night the parents would take those items that they bought and get cash back for them," Sheriff Redmon told Local 6.

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