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Several Pennsylvania Towns Crack Down on Canning

Some canners have been experiencing trouble when attempting to collect money for THON in parts of Pennsylvania. Over the first canning weekend, canners in Newtown, Pa. were asked to leave an intersection on Sycamore Street in the township and asked not to can in the township by police.

In a phone interview, Newtown Township Manager Kurt Ferguson explained that the township received a phone call from an organization asking to can and informed them that canning was illegal in the township, citing an ordinance. They went anyway and were asked to leave by township police.

“The township is liable for anyone getting injured on its streets. I’ve seen kids almost get run over on streets, this isn’t safe.” Ferguson added, “Newtown isn’t against these volunteers raising money for a great cause, but we need to find safer alternatives for them to do so.  We would like to work with the organization to find safer alternatives for these kids to do this.”

Bethel Park, Pa. cites state law when not allowing canners. According to the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code, § 3545 Pedestrians soliciting rides or business, “No person shall: (1) Stand on a roadway for the purpose of soliciting a ride. (2) Stand on a roadway for the purpose of soliciting employment, business or contributions from the occupant of any vehicle. (3) Stand on or in proximity to a highway for the purpose of soliciting the watching or guarding of any vehicle while parked or about to be parked on a street or highway.”

Technically speaking, canning in the middle of a street is illegal in the state of Pennsylvania, but some municipalities do not enforce this law. For example, in Northampton, Pa. canners must submit a written request detailing where and when they intend to can to its Borough Council.  The council must then vote on the subject at a public meeting, which may not take place between the time an application is received and a canning weekend.

Pittsburgh has also been notorious with its unfriendly canning laws.

THON has required canners to attend safety meetings recently, and the organization itself is against canning in roadways, but the threat of taking a portion of the money raised during canning weekends hasn’t deterred some students from darting in and out of traffic. Ferguson explained that the intersection on Sycamore Street where the canners were asked to leave has parking on both sides of the street. In order to get donations, students must then walk through the parking to the roadway which according to Ferguson is “full of blind-spots for drivers parking and leaving the street.”

So are the canning safety workshops really working if students are still running into traffic? When asked for statistics on the matter, Rules and Regulations Overall Janine Patton responded, “It’s difficult to gather data that can be deemed conclusive since our workshops only began prior to the final canning weekend of 2012.” Without knowing these numbers or the ability to find them out from a private organization, it is difficult to tell if the workshops are actually working.

If canners continue to defy municipalities’ wishes, there will continue to be fewer and fewer places to can without confrontation, leading to less overall money for the organization. By working together with municipalities, THON organizations can avoid these confrontations and bring in even more money.

So call ahead, stick to the sidewalks, and raise money for the kids the right way.

About the Author

Ted Hozza

Ted is a senior majoring in Community, the Environment, and Development, or as his friends here at Onward State like to call it, Architecture. You can probably find him at the Phyrst late at night with other Onward Staters if he's not somewhere else editing articles. You can follow him on Twitter @TedHozza or email him at [email protected]

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