It's not uncommon to see people on the side of the road asking for money. Panhandlers can pose a problem for motorists.
"It's something that only cash will seem to solve their dilemma, " Craig Hammond, Director of Bluefield Union Mission, said. "A lot of motorists will just help people directly, give them money for whatever need they might need."
The Bluefield Union Mission has a solution. It's called the Road Patrol. They respond to tips from motorists about panhandlers in Mercer County and offer assistance to those people. Hammond said they have been doing this for decades. They typically respond to 15 to 20 calls a month and the road patrol sees an uptick in calls about soliciting during the winter months.
"Ever since the growth of addiction to pain medication, we've seen the number of people out soliciting has grown. Now I don't know if that is a coincidence or a direct correlation, " Hammond said.
The Road Patrol aims to provide what people need without giving them cash.
"We offer emergency, food, shelter, clothing, anything an individual could use, " Hammond said.
Whether you give money to panhandlers or not, Bluefield Union Mission wants you to ask if you're uncertain about someone. If you're driving and see someone in need of help, you're asked to call 304-327-8167.
"Just give us a call and we'll drive out and look at it, " Hammond added.