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Spare Some Change

It's ok to say "No" to panhandling and "Yes" to giving.

This public education campaign about panhandling and the choices Edmontonians have to help make real life changes for someone in need. The 'Have a Heart-Give Smart' public awareness campaign is a way to start the conversation among Edmontonians about how to best help people who panhandle.

It's one part of a larger and more integrated approach to address panhandling. The Edmonton Police Service and the City of Edmonton believe that complex social issues like panhandling require coordinated community responses that address root causes. Not all panhandlers are homeless. Many, however, share the same issues as people who are homeless -- addictions, mental health issues, disabilities, poverty, low levels of education, and unemployment.

Edmontonians care about each other. Giving money to panhandlers may not be the best way to help people.

Giving money to panhandlers may:

  • support drug and alcohol addictions
  • discourage panhandlers from accessing community resources that can help
  • encourage them to work specific areas and eventually lead to police intervention

There are many places in Edmonton for people who need free food, shelter, and support. Regular free meals and food banks are available throughout the city.

The Pocket Guide is a publication of 211 Edmonton (a program of the Support Network). 211 Edmonton is a 24/7 free and confidential telephone information and referral line. Information and referrals are made to health, government and community services in the Edmonton area. Calls are answered by a live person, and tele-interpreters are available in over a 170 languages.

Immediate Giving

When approached by panhandlers, it can feel good to give directly to people. You have a choice when you give directly:

  • If you know a panhandler by name, offer to buy them a snack or a meal.
  • Buy a copy of Alberta Street News from local vendors on the street.
  • Donate money and/or volunteer your time to social service agencies that provide food, shelter, and support to people in need.

Want to encourage smart giving in your area?  Click here for printable leaflets.