City and chamber of commerce launch anti-panhandling campaign

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Mike Skelton, President and CEO of the Greater Manchester Chamber, hangs posters in downtown Manchester. Courtesy photo

MANCHESTER, NH – A coordinated effort by the Office of Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig, the Manchester Health Department and the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce has been launched to help battle panhandling in Manchester.

Dubbed the Give Manchester Five campaign, or #GiveMHT5, the initiative seeks to educate Queen City residents and visitors about the downside of giving money and food to panhandlers and instead donate to non-profit organizations geared toward helping the homeless population.

According to Manchester Health Department Director Anna Thomas, giving to panhandlers may be well-intentioned, but referred to it as a “band-aid” on a serious problem and says data has shown that it ultimately perpetuates the cycle of homelessness and can contribute to injury or death if the money given is used to buy alcohol or drugs.

“A caring community works together to find solutions for all who reside there, especially those who need us most,” says Thomas. “The #GiveMHT5 campaign is a simple, safe and effective way for people to give back to something bigger than themselves and toward a stronger future for all who enjoy the Manchester community.”

“By contributing to organizations rather than individuals, we can ensure dollars are going towards those who are the most in need and seeking help,” said Mayor Joyce Craig. “We need to work together to keep our downtown and the rest of the city safe. We’re asking residents and visitors to stop giving directly to panhandlers. We encourage everyone, when you are thinking of giving money or food to someone on the street, to still treat that person with respect, but to instead donate to #GiveMHT5 and help address the root cause of homelessness.”

The hub of the campaign is its website, www.givemht5.com, which contains campaign information, resources and a link to a secure donation site. Donations to #GiveMHT5 will be administered by Granite United Way, which will disperse funds to Manchester nonprofits The Way Home, the YWCA, Waypoint and Families in Transition/New Horizons, which are committed to ending the cycle of homelessness.

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Born and raised in the Granite State, Andrew Sylvia has written approximately 10,000 pieces over his career for outlets across Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. On top of that, he's a licensed notary and license to sell property, casualty and life insurance, he's been a USSF trained youth soccer and futsal referee for the past six years and he can name over 60 national flags in under 60 seconds according to that flag game app he has on his phone, which makes sense because he also has a bachelor's degree in geography (like Michael Jordan). He can also type over 100 words a minute on a good day.