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Roadway solicitation decision the right one

After several weeks of discussion, the LaGrange City Council voted Tuesday to prohibit roadway solicitation.

The council cited safety concerns and noted that there are safer places — such as the entrances to grocery stores — for nonprofits to raise money. The LaGrange Shrine Club debated against banning roadway solicitation last month.  The Shriners raise most of their money by standing in the roadway near Commerce Avenue and taking up donations as drivers stop at the red light. The Shriners were asking for stricter policies against roadway soliciting, an option that the council considered.

However, at the end of the day, it’s just safer to keep people out of the roadways. Not only do drivers get nervous when they see someone in the road, there’s always a chance that anything can happen in the roadway. What if a driver runs a red light or is driving recklessly?

We agree that it’s better for the city to do its part to take that scenario off the table completely. At the same time, nonprofits that benefited from taking up donations in the road need a way to continue their good work in the community. That includes the Shriners, which raises money for Shriners Hospitals for Children. The hospitals treat children in the areas of orthopedics, burn care, spinal cord injury and cleft lip and palate.

The decision is obviously a blow to the Shriners, who say they raise considerably more money in the roadway than anywhere else around town.  It is also a blow to travel teams and other groups that raise money that way.

We hope that the community as a whole will welcome the Shriners, travel teams and others with open arms as they look for other ways to raise money. That includes stores, community organizations and anyone else that could be of assistance.

Of course, that also includes the donors, who should think twice the next time they see someone collecting money outside a local store, as it sounds as if they’ll have to work a little harder to raise the money they normally do.