Columbus to change panhandling law to make exception for charities

Local News

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Less than a month after Columbus City Council voted to tighten the city’s laws on panhandling, they are making some changes. The legislation would have prevented charities from collecting on the roadways. 

Right now the law prohibits anyone from soliciting in the middle of the street and freeway ramps – something that local firefighters have been doing for years to raise money for muscular dystrophy. 

“It is critical to be able to raise those funds and have them coming in from the firefighters because it helps with so much that we do,” said Pat Cusick, Executive Director for Muscular Dystrophy Association of Central Ohio.

Cusick has been watching firefighters across Ohio collect money for muscle dystrophy research and families affected for years. 

“98% of the events have been on the street collecting funds from the community,” said Cusick.

He says Ohio has the largest number of firefighter unions in the country and has been a huge supporter of the fundraising tradition. 

But with the city’s attempt to tighten aggressive panhandling across the metro, the current law prohibits charities from collecting fundraising dollars. 

Tonight city leaders plan to fix this. The additional measure will allow all non-profit entities like Fill the Boot and Charity Newsies “to apply for a permit to engage in distribution on the roadways.”

“Like any non-profit organization, we are dependent on the kindness and generosity of the community around us. Fill The Boot and other programs like it, it is a direct connection with the community,” said Cusick.

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