I hate to be a Grinch, but here goes. Don’t give money to panhandlers.

A lot of folks, who are fortunate and have kindness in their hearts, are willing to help people who are less fortunate.

You may have read recently how local charitable organizations are struggling to help families. You also may have read that we encourage people to give what they can, especially this time of year. I say give what you can, but be careful where it goes.

To date, we still have no idea where all the money is that was raised for the flood victims. There seems to be little oversight on the fund and there is clearly no transparency to the distribution of the funds. If I were a person running for governor or if held a government position now I would be jumping up and down to see where that money is.

But because it’s Eastern Kentucky, no one cares.

I have been critical of parts of this state and politicians who are not from this area because they care less about us but want our money. Recently, one flatlander entrepreneur caught on to the generosity of Eastern Kentuckians and ventured east to this region.

The entrepreneur is known as the Bogus Beggar. This guy has a history of faking mental illness and panhandling for money. And, sadly, people are giving him money.

If you haven’t noticed lately there are an increasing amount of people at our area shopping centers with signs asking for money. Some look the part — destitute and in tattered clothes. How legit their circumstances are is up for debate.

I grew up in an area where beggars were abundant. At times I have helped people by giving them money but I learned my lesson, quickly. Once I gave a guy $20 because he gave me some sob story about being homeless and hungry, he took the money, took off his tattered clothes and bought liquor.

One time I saw a person holding a sign that said please help. I offered him a job and he politely told me to perform an act that is anatomically impossible. Another fake.

This Bogus Beggar was seen in Pikeville and arrested in Paintsville. Police said he was asking for money in an aggressive fashion and showing what appears to be a mental disability, which is also fake. What this loser is doing is ruining the opportunity for people with real issues.

During this time of year and all throughout, we know people are truly hurting. If you are compelled to help out with money please find a reputable organization to give to.  If you personally know an individual who truly needs help because you have some background information on them, then buy all means help if you can.

However the panhandlers who are at the intersections are not legitimate. Don’t give them anything and be careful, if they jump out in front of your car and claim an injury you will be liable.

Maybe if the word gets out that this region will not be fooled by bogus beggars, they will not come here and we will be absent of this type of behavior that offers a negative stigma on an area. We need the beggars to know this area is bad for business, so please don’t give them money.

Thanks for reading the Floyd Chronicle and Times.

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