• Lakewood launches new campaign targeting panhandlers - and those who give money

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    LAKEWOOD, Wash. - The city of Lakewood launched a new campaign this week targeting panhandlers and those who give them money. However, not everyone agrees the move is necessary or fair to those struggling to make ends meet. 

    Signs just put up near some of the busiest streets in Lakewood tell drivers to "Say No & and Keep the Change" when approached by panhandlers. 

    "If you want to help, your money can go farther if you give them to an organization rather than an individual," Brynn Grimley, from the city of Lakewood, told KIRO 7's Patranya Bhoolsuwan.

    Lakewood city leaders say the new campaign is in response to complaints from residents of the growing number of people coming into town to beg for money -- especially in heavily trafficked areas. 

    "They step into lanes of traffic, becomes (a) public risk, they could be cited for that," Grimley said.

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    Sebastian Connolly, who just moved to the area from Tennessee, said the signs aren't necessary and will only hurt people who are really trying to get by. 

    "I haven't panhandled, but I know people who have and it has helped them out big time," Connolly said. 

    The city of Lakewood said it budgets $720,000 every two years for social services like homeless shelters and local food banks. 

    "This city is not anti-homeless. We are certainly empathetic to people needing assistance," Grimley said. 

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