Rickey Garnes had been asking for spare change along Shady Grove Road for a little more than a year when he decided to try something different to encourage drivers to open their wallets. Garnes, 55, strapped a trash bag to his chest and a bright yellow vest that reads, "Curb Patrol." Garnes, who is homeless, allows drivers to hand him their trash — or throw their empty cups and food wrappers into his bag.
"Sometimes they have cash. Sometimes they have trash. Sometimes it's both," he said. "But if I have to be out here, I might as well be doing something constructive."
Garnes also cleans up trash near the median where he stands almost daily — at the intersection of Shady Grove Road and Md. 355 near the Rockville-Gaithersburg border. Now, Garnes says he is worried a proposal by County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) could harm what he considers his business or lead to a requirement that the money he collects be taxed. Montgomery County panhandlers such as Garnes would have to apply for permits to ask drivers for spare change under legislation Leggett is requesting from state lawmakers.
Leggett said panhandlers often stand in the median strip of county roads — which is allowed under county law — but that many approach drivers by walking into the street, which is not. In the county, panhandling is legal, but aggressive panhandling is not. Aggressive panhandling involves using verbal or physical threats when seeking donations. SOURCE: Gazette