MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – It’s a part of city life that Minneapolis hopes to end – panhandling.

Billboards in downtown Minneapolis urge visitors and workers to avoid giving money to panhandlers. The “Give Real Change” campaign encourages people instead to give to charities.

“I think it’s ridiculous,” Edwin Schall, who panhandles, said.  “I use it for my food and tools that I can work with and clothes, I use it for very good things.”

Schall says the “Give Real Change” billboards do more harm than good.

But those who support the campaign say in the long term, it will be better for individuals and the city.

“It doesn’t help to provide direct assistance to somebody who’s on the street who’s panhandling that more often than not will just perpetuate a life circumstance,” Minneapolis Downtown Council CEO Steve Cramer said.

Cramer says the campaign not only encourages people to give to charities that work directly with the homeless, but also aims to encourage panhandlers to then find help through an organization.

“Organizations that can really help provide long term solutions,” he said.

“It was shocking to me when I first saw it,” Liz Berkholtz, from Minneapolis, said.  “I think even small acts of kindness when you’re on the street, when you see someone that needs a little help, I think that’s something that shouldn’t be discouraged.”

“I think the campaign is a good idea. I don’t really agree with panhandling,” John, from Minneapolis, said.

The Give Real Change campaign is already in several major cities.

For now, it is a pilot project to help end panhandling and homelessness in Minneapolis.

“Longer term solutions is going to be the best thing for everybody concerned,” Cramer said.

Kate Raddatz