Group soliciting donations at busy intersections raises concern

Group soliciting donations at busy intersections raises concern

Posted:
This particular group was stationed at Morrell Road and Kingston Pike, as well as Lovell Road and Kingston Pike last week and into the weekend. This particular group was stationed at Morrell Road and Kingston Pike, as well as Lovell Road and Kingston Pike last week and into the weekend.
"The solicitations permit you receive from the city is purely for charitable, religious, educational, non profit purposes," explained Quillen. "The solicitations permit you receive from the city is purely for charitable, religious, educational, non profit purposes," explained Quillen.

By ALEXIS ZOTOS
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – The Knoxville Police Department received several calls and complaints over the weekend about a group collecting donations at busy intersections in West Knoxville.

6 News also received viewer complaints prompting us to find out the rules in place for a group to collect donations.

This particular group was stationed at Morrell Road and Kingston Pike, as well as Lovell Road and Kingston Pike last week and into the weekend.

"What I saw was two or three people collecting donations, they had buckets and safety vest but judging from their attitude they seemed kind of casual they didn't seem quite as organized," said Eugene Sabo of West Knoxville.

Sarah Powell lives near Lovell Road and saw the group on several occasions, including the previous weekend.

"I just saw a group of people in normal clothes, they sort of had on some neon jackets, vest, they had milk cartons with homemade signs," described Powell. "Honestly, it looked a little shady to me so I just kept my windows up and avoided them."

KPD officers said the group was from Memphis but weren't sure what the organization was. They said they issued multiple citations to the group after asking them to leave more than once because they didn't have a city permit.

Rob Quillen sits on the City of Knoxville Board of Solicitations that approves permits for organizations.

"The solicitations permit you receive from the city is purely for charitable, religious, educational, non profit purposes," explained Quillen.

Even if the group had a permit, there are designated intersections where groups can request donations. There are 12 across the city, and the intersections in question are not included.

"The public should be wary of seeing folks at intersections, if it's an intersection that they're not used to seeing people solicit funds, then they should inquire," he said.

According to the city code, groups are also only allowed to solicit donations on Saturdays and Sundays and only during daylight hours.

Quillen says groups must provide several pieces of proof that they are legally recognized as a tax exempt non-profit organization, and if a group doesn't have a permit there is no way to  guarantee where that money goes.

"Anyone in the City of Knoxville should have a solicitation permit, and anyone asked to contribute funds to that organization is entitled to ask them to produce that permit," Quillen said.

KPD said the group did have a permit from the county. However, according to the Knox County Clerk's Office, the only permits they issue are for door-to-door solicitation.

According to the clerk's website, "No peddler, street barker, solicitor, solicitor for charitable purposes, or solicitor for subscriptions shall offer to sell goods or services or solicit in vehicular traffic lanes, or operate a 'road block' of any kind."

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