Begging For Change On The Streets

Boston City Councilor Maureen Feeney is making a push to limit street soliciting, according to today’s Globe:

Feeney said she would like to institute regulations similar to those in Chicago. Charitable organizations there have to apply for permits to solicit funds, and they have to specify dates and intersections.
”I know for a lot of groups they really do need to solicit,” Feeney said. ”But there should be some mechanism in place to know whether solicitors are representing real organizations or whether it’s just a couple of kids with cans.”

This is an excellent idea, and one that is long overdue. In fact, I’d like to see it extended beyond the streets and on to the sidewalks. Panhandlers are a fact of life in any big city, including Boston, and true charities should almost never be limited in where and how they can solicit donations.
But few things get to me more than seeing groups of kids running around begging strangers for donations to their track or swim team. Haven’t they ever heard of booster clubs?
When I was in school, we had fundraisers to support our extracurricular activities. If we needed new uniforms or equipment or funds to travel to a regional tournament, we’d suck it up and go door-to-door, selling candy, or wrapping paper, or even fresh fruit. It was hard work, but it was honest and we never failed to raise enough money. I don’t think I could have imagined standing on a street corner begging passersby for change.
Feeney definitely has the right idea. Putting limitations on soliciting is the first step toward moving these poor kids into true fundraising, and away from begging.

6 Comments so far

  1. (unregistered) on August 25th, 2004 @ 1:14 am

    I’m with you there…I definitely did the wrapping paper/holiday crap/candy fundraisers, and I thought THAT was a blow to my dignity– I can’t imagine standing on a street corner begging for change. Also, where in Boston do you think that panhandling (by the homeless/poor) is the most aggressive? My vote is Harvard Square…there’s always a guy by the CVS that jumps in my face and freaks me out a bit, even though I know he’s there.

  2. Scott Pepper (unregistered) on August 25th, 2004 @ 2:38 am

    Every time I have to run the gauntlet from the Park Street T to Winter Street, there are at least 3-4 panhandlers in front of the BK and Finagle. Harvard Square is hit or miss, depending on the day.
    But the can kids seem to favor the intersections along Newbury Street, where they are more likely to encounter sympathetic Yuppies.

  3. Anderkoo (unregistered) on August 25th, 2004 @ 5:52 am

    It’s easier to raise money doing door-to-door fundraising when you come from a relatively affluent, or even working-class, neighborhood. But, assuming these kids are legitimate, I’m guessing it’s not so easy in poorer neighborhoods. So, should these kids be taking the T to Beacon Hill and selling candy door-to-door there?

  4. (unregistered) on August 25th, 2004 @ 6:29 am

    I don’t care about the kids; I care about the guy I passed on Huntington Ave who asked me for change and as I passed, his cell phone rang.
    Let the kids bag whatever yuppie change they can from outside the starbucks on newbury. They’re kids. It’s not like they can get a job anyway. But screw that able-bodied dude in the Kenmore T entrance who wears new leather shoes.

  5. Cassford (unregistered) on August 26th, 2004 @ 4:19 am

    Panhandling isn’t easy as it looks. There are easier ways to make money. At the risk of being branded a “sympathetic yuppie,” I’d suggest we should asl ourselves why panhandling has increased so much in the city. I do think that the soliciting at red lights is getting dangerous and needs regulation, for safety’s sake.

  6. gary (unregistered) on October 28th, 2005 @ 2:14 pm

    hi maureen!!!!!!!!

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