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Panhandlers causing citizens concern

LAWTON, Okla._Panhandling in the city of Lawton has become a concern for many of our viewers; some complaining about the amount of people taking to the street corners in search of a handout. 

Posts to a local Facebook page describe some of the panhandlers as people who just refuse to work. And others like this one, claim some of the beggars may not really need the help. Saying, quote "it's crazy how many sit with a hand out claiming to be homeless and then you see them driving home and stopping in a convenience store for beer and cigarettes."

Then there are mothers like Donelle McKenzie, who said she's been searching for work and is on government assistance, but still has a hard time making ends meet.

"Just trying to live every day is a struggle," McKenzie said.

McKenzie has lived in Lawton for the past year and in that time, she has applied for jobs, and even uses a career counselor to find work, but no one has given her a chance.

 "If somebody came up to me, even if it was like you know cleaning toilets, anything I would pick up the job. Even it was like a temporary, or a job that not anyone would pick, I would do just about anything instead of being out here," she said.

She's not proud that she has to ask people for money and even said it's embarrassing.

"When someone knows me it's like really bad."

She said for every person who offers help

There are those who are less compassionate and just tell her to get a job.

“I don't think they really understand. Maybe they haven't been there, or maybe they just don't understand simply why we have to do this."

McKenzie also said while her situation may not be ideal, it could be worse.

"You could be out here stealing, and bad things, and that's what I think about sometimes when I have to be out here, is that I could be doing worse."

The city's policy on panhandling does require that those wanting to ask for handouts get a permit. However the permit is only necessary for those who are panhandling in city streets.

If they are on a public sidewalk, then a permit is not required. The city's policy also said panhandlers who are on private land, like business parking lots, they'll need permission from that business.

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