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‘Don’t give them money’: Man holds sign by panhandlers who refused jobs

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MUSCATINE, IA – (WQAD/CNN) – A good Samaritan said he found out that not everyone asking for help wants it. The man offered two panhandlers a job. What they told him, and what he did next, has gone viral online.

Some would call it tough love.

“The only way you can ever succeed in your life is, you just got to push yourself and don’t let anyone stand in your way,” said Mike Pothoff, who offered the panhandlers a job.

On a corner in Muscatine, you can find panhandlers several times a week.

Two are regulars.

After feeling bad for the boys, Pothoff offered them a job at his business.

“I said, ‘You’re hired,’ and they said, ‘Well, we’re not from around here.’ And I said, ‘Well, you’re here now,’ and then they just smirked,” Pothoff said.

Over the weekend, the same boys were back at it, holding signs saying they are broke and hungry.

Once again, Pothoff offered them a job. They declined. So Pothoff decided to join them.

Pictures captured him standing on the corner with the panhandlers, holding his own sign, which read, “Offered these guys a job. They said no. Don’t give them money.”

The picture has gone viral.

“All of a sudden, it just went kaboosh,” he said. “I mean, it just blew up.”

While Pothoff doesn’t have a problem with panhandlers, he said he wants to make sure they really need the help.

“It upsets me that we have younger kids or people that can work that are doing that,” he said.

This is not the first time he has offered a job to a panhandler, saying, “I’m hiring down the street. You can work for cash,” only to have them turn the offer down.

“It’s about, you know people that really do need money, and maybe they do, but I think they can work, too,” he said.

It won’t be the last time, either.

“If they’re going to stand out there and hold a sign and ask for money and say they’re homeless, I can hold a sign out there – ‘I offered these guys a job, don’t give them money.’”

In Muscatine, people are allowed to panhandle as long as it’s not done aggressively.