City puts up panhandling signs in Lexington

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Signs encouraging citizens to “change the way you give” to panhandlers have gone up at 46 local intersections in Lexington.

The signs, part of a public awareness campaign concerning panhandling, urge citizens to give to www.lexgive.com, rather than giving change directly to panhandlers.

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“Lexington is a giving, caring community. People’s first instinct is to try to help when they see a panhandler on the curb. But there are better ways to help than giving panhandlers change,” said Polly Ruddick, director of the City’s Office of Homelessness Prevention and Intervention.

Ruddick said giving cash directly to panhandlers can support dangerous additions to alcohol or illegal drugs.

The www.lexgive.com website was set up to support the “End Panhandling Now!” van. The van has been traveling Lexington streets for two months, offering a ride and a job to those who want an opportunity to work and earn.

In addition to the signage, public service announcements are up on local media, encouraging contributions to Lexgive.

Ruddick said just over $800 has been contributed so far. The money will be used to pay the workers and support the van program, which is operated by New Life Day Center.

The goal is to put the signs up near intersections panhandlers frequent.

So far, signs have only been erected on City streets.

Lexington has asked the state for permission to put the signs on some state roads.

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Tom Kenny joined ABC 36 News in June of 2001 as a General Assignment Reporter. A native of Peoria, Illinois, he graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications from Western Illinois University. He currently anchors ABC 36 News at 5pm, 6pm and 11pm. Tom has more than three decades of experience in broadcast journalism. He is the only broadcast journalist in Lexington television history to be honored with a national Edward R. Murrow Award. Tom was recognized for reporting on a story that gave a rare glimpse inside the secretive world of the Federal Witness Protection Program. He has won an Emmy Award for anchoring and another for investigative reporting, exposing the deceit and potential danger of online diploma mills. Tom has ten other Emmy nominations to his credit for investigative and feature reporting. He has won Associated Press Awards for reporting and anchoring. He has won two Addy Awards for excellence in promotional writing. Tom was the first broadcast journalist in Lexington TV history to be awarded the Silver Circle Award by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. It is one of the highest honors given by NATAS. It recognizes television professionals who have performed distinguished service within the television industry for 25-years or more. Tom was honored for more than his longevity, he was recognized for making an enduring contribution to the vitality of the television industry and for setting high standards of achievement. He was also recognized for giving back to the community as a mentor, educator and volunteer. Tom also has network broadcast experience in radio and television having worked as a sports reporter for ESPN, Sportschannel, NBC Sports and the Breeders’ Cup. He was also the studio host and halftime producer for CBS Radio Sports’ College Football Game of the Week and covered the NFL for One-On-One Radio Sports. Prior to joining WTVQ-TV, Tom was Vice-President of the Houston Astros Minor League baseball team in Lexington. He was part of the original management team that brought professional baseball back to the Bluegrass after a nearly 50-year absence. Tom has lived in Lexington since 1984. In that time, he has been heavily involved with dozens of charity and civic groups, with a special emphasis on helping Veterans. He can be reached at tkenny@wtvq.com. You can also follow Tom on Facebook www.facebook.com/TomKennyABC and Twitter @TomKennyNews. Just click on the links at the top of the page.