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Pastor warns of street panhandling scams

To The Editor:

My name is Sherry Hall and I am Bishop/Pastor of New Life Church Franklin. On Saturday, March 14, there were several people at the intersection of College and Armory Drive collecting money for a feed the hungry program. They carried buckets with a hand-written sheet of paper taped to it that read New Life Feed the Hungry Program. They were showing people that they were collecting money for New Life Church, and giving them the impression they were from the area. I drove up to the intersection and asked the people soliciting the money where was their church located and I was told they were from New Life Church in FLORIDA.

As bishop of New Life Church Franklin, we will never stand in the street and beg for money. Our church has no such feeding program and I did not authorize anyone in the congregation to make such a collection. I received a call that evening from someone telling me that they had just donated to our “Feed the Hungry Program.” Our church does not have a program like this.

People, please be careful and don’t get scammed by dishonest people. When you are approached by someone soliciting funds or a street peddler, before you give them your change or loose dollars, ask questions and get answers.

After checking with the police department, I was told that there is no law against panhandling in Virginia, you don’t need a permit and as long as you do not cause a traffic jam, it is legal. There is nothing the police can do as long as traffic keeps moving.

My next step is to approach the City Manager about what can be done. I don’t know if an ordinance can be passed or whether the city can put in place paperwork to be submitted so they make sure the innocent hard-working citizens will not be taken advantage of.

Bishop Sherry M. Hall

Pastor, New Life Church Franklin