Say no to panhandling and yes to helping.


It’s cold and late, and someone asks for spare change. What should you do? What can you do? What’s the right thing to do? How can I help?

Leaders within Charlotte’s human service community, working with our most fragile neighbors every day, agree it’s ok to say no to a panhandler. Giving money to individuals only perpetuates a condition of daily crisis and prevents them from seeking help.

When he is asked what to do, Tony Marciano, Executive Director of the Charlotte Rescue Mission, will often ask in return: “What do you want to see happening in someone’s life who is in crisis?”

Many respond that they want that person to get help, have a meal, find shelter, be warm, be safe, be respected…. To achieve these outcomes one dollar, five dollars, 20 dollars given to one person, one time is not going to be enough. The best way to help is to direct the person in need to the places where they can get professional help.

Giving help is hard, and the results are not instant. But connecting someone in crisis with these services allows for relationships to form that go beyond treating the immediate needs of the individual and starts a conversation toward finding long-term solutions, making Real Change.


This is one story about one man who stopped panhandling once he got professional help. He is now housed and volunteers in our community. This is what real change looks like.

Human services professionals agree that giving money to individuals on the street does not end their crisis. Tony Marciano explains how to help our neighbors in crisis.