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Do you help the people holding cardboard signs at stop lights?


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I'm not sure what I should do. I want to help, but I've heard not to give money (in case there's a drug or alcohol addiction -- I have no idea how prevalent that might be!) Once I went through a drive thru and handed a man food. He seemed disappointed and said he was trying to gather funds to move to CA where he could receive bigger government checks.

 

Here's a related question -- what do you do when people walk up and ask for money? They often seem to say they need it for a bus ticket for an important reason. In these cases, I have given money ($5 to $10 -- about what I carry in my purse), even if I didn't know whether to believe them or not.

 

I want to help people who truly need help, but I'm not sure what to do in the above situations.

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No. Never.

 

I lived in a large city for a long time. The homeless people begging for money never changed. The guy who sat outside the train station would read porn and drink Starbucks until the train pulled in, then he would stow his stuff under a milk crate and beg.

 

I think that there are a lot of people who need help. But direct money does little to change anyone's situation.

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My husband has offered to buy people who claim to be hungry, food. One guy (who apparently had a nice car) declined and continued to push for money. I have sometimes given food if I happen to have some. I once gave a young lady right by a bus stop money because the sun was setting and I thought I'd need help if I were in her shoes, and it was $1, and she did get on the bus. I figure I'll never really know anyway if someone is honest.

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We make "blessing bags" and keep them in the car (in fact, we need to make more). I take a gallon-size ziploc and put travel-sized hygiene items in there, plus a granola bar, bottle of water, tissues, and a dollar. My daughters sometimes include a note to the recipient.

 

We had a recent situation where we gave at the stoplight, and the woman immediately started digging in the bag. I was so worried, thinking, "Don't go for the dollar, don't go for the dollar...." She found the chapstick, opened it, and put it on immediately. She said to us, "I really needed this. God bless you." Made my kids' day.

 

More info here: http://kwavs.blogspot.com/2011/05/blessing-bags-how-to.html

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Never hand them money. Actually I did once I take that back. There was a couple with a baby on an off ramp who ran out of gas. But other than that I don't.

 

I usually go grab a burger, fries and a drink and hand it to them. Everyone so far has been very thankful and went and sat down an ate. Most signs I see are will work for food, hungry and cold, anything helps signs. So if they say hungry I give food, if they are out there in the middle of winter in a thin shirt I will give them an extra sweatshirt or coat in my truck. I had one guy so thankful he kissed my arm and called me an angel. He said I was the only one who stopped that day and he was very thankful.

 

I figure it makes me feel better. Also most of the people I have seen I don't see again. Now there are a few I see often, so I don't stop but the rest I try to help. Also I never really know the truth of what they are going through, but in my simple mind I made a little difference that day.

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I keep "blessing bags" in my van for this purpose. :) it's just a gallon sized ziplock with crackers, water, snacks, tissue, gloves if it's cold, etc.

 

:iagree: This. Sometimes we don't have any bags, but I usually keep packaged crackers in the car to give out and ocassionaly bottled water. I don't usually give money out. I usually don't even have cash on me.

Thankfully I've never had anyone show disappointment in what we do hand out. They've always thanked us.

 

I was recently challenged by a sermon where our pastor was talking about how people don't want to give because they aren't sure if the people asking for help really need it. His response was that Jesus comands us to help those who ask, not to evaluate whether or not the people asking actually need the help. Yeah. That got me.

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No, I never do. A few weeks ago I went through an area of town and saw people at several different corners with homemade cardboard signs. All of the signs said the exact same thing in the same handwriting. I'm having a hard time believing that all the homeless people in town hire the same sign letterer.:tongue_smilie: Another time I saw a man standing for hours in an area near the mall that had literally thousands of businesses, including several that had signs saying they were hiring. His time would have been better used filling out applications. I will only give directly to social service agencies and homeless shelters.

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I'm not sure what I should do. I want to help, but I've heard not to give money (in case there's a drug or alcohol addiction -- I have no idea how prevalent that might be!) Once I went through a drive thru and handed a man food. He seemed disappointed and said he was trying to gather funds to move to CA where he could receive bigger government checks.

 

Here's a related question -- what do you do when people walk up and ask for money? They often seem to say they need it for a bus ticket for an important reason. In these cases, I have given money ($5 to $10 -- about what I carry in my purse), even if I didn't know whether to believe them or not.

 

I want to help people who truly need help, but I'm not sure what to do in the above situations.

 

My ex and I (when we were quite young) used to stop and help people - but usually gave them food and they seemed to be grateful. However, in recent years, I don't give to people on the corners. There's been talk around here that many of them may be well off and beg because it's easy. I do my charitable giving through other organizations.

 

However, there are specific occasions that dh and I will help - several months ago, he was approached by a younger woman in a grocery store parking lot, who was asking for gas money (she had driven here because her mom was in the hospital). So dh had her drive over to the gas station (same parking lot) and put some gas in her vehicle. I was with him and also felt like it was the right thing to do.

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Not usually. In our city they have to get a permit and follow certain rules to beg (and there is someone or more than one someone at every corner it seems!) We also have a wonderful homeless organization that does a tremendous amount of good dealing with the underlying issues. They even bought a hotel and converted it for women and children to have their own space. I'd rather give them money than the people on the corner.

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I was recently challenged by a sermon where our pastor was talking about how people don't want to give because they aren't sure if the people asking for help really need it. His response was that Jesus comands us to help those who ask, not to evaluate whether or not the people asking actually need the help. Yeah. That got me.

 

This is a good point. Definitely something to think about. Maybe we should re-think our food bag and certificates. Even though some people threw them away, there were probably some people that it helped.

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If we're going somewhere that I know we'll pass people, we'll pack them bags. I usually make pbj sandwiches, maybe an apple or banana, and bottle of water. I don't keep it in my car though, because we only see them when we go downtown. DH gives them money. He'll sometimes even go to the ATM to get cash out (not a huge amount, maybe $10). I've often wondered if they really need it or get in their nice car at the end of the day. But it isn't my place to decide. God knows our hearts and that we're trying to help.

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:I was recently challenged by a sermon where our pastor was talking about how people don't want to give because they aren't sure if the people asking for help really need it. His response was that Jesus comands us to help those who ask, not to evaluate whether or not the people asking actually need the help. Yeah. That got me.

 

This, exactly! Thank you.

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Normally, these people (usually at exit ramps) are "professionals". They are dropped off by someone who has a car (as it is at an off ramp with a light right?) and even my kids will say thing like... "Hey, that guy is here every Wednesday." They can haul in several hundreds of dollars a day.

 

My friend lives downtown and knows the difference between the "real" homesless vs. professional low amount grifters.

 

If it makes you feel better, do something. If you don't like being scammed, don't. You can always tell who's in it for real if they accept anything with gratitude... however, I would think that if you're a really good grifter, you would do that anyway, as you don't want ANYONE to know your angle.

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I think that there are a lot of people who need help. But direct money does little to change anyone's situation.

 

I will only give directly to social service agencies and homeless shelters.

 

My family gives of our time and money to charitable organizations that help the hungry. I don't think giving money to strangers on the street is a wise use of our money.

 

:iagree: with all of the above.

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I quickly consider the situation and make a judgement call. I think this calls for discernment & a quick prayer in the moment.

 

If the person is at all threatening, no. If I like their face, yes. If I saw the person on a street downtown the day before behaving drunkenly, no. If they are young, or women, more likely yes. If they interrrupt a church service, no.

 

Once I had a box of GS cookies on the passenger seat beside me & I was trying to resist eating them. I handed them out the window to a couple of young hitchhiker/hippies, who were overjoyed!

 

But, usually it ends up I don't give, and I don't feel badly about that.

 

There is a really good Catholic Community services group here, and they have a group of older ladies who go around ministering to these people and connecting them with resources. I think it would be better to support the agency, in general, than the individuals, themselves.

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You've had lots of people say "No" already, but I'll be different and say that I do. I know the young guy at the corner is there often. I've seen his girlfriend drop him off more than once. They have a cute baby in a very old carseat, and he brings a sweet dog and stands on the corner all day long at least once a week. I give him money everytime I see him if I have money to give.

 

I give to the old guy that sits on the corner downtown playing his guitar and singing off-key. I always make sure I have some cash when I go downtown during the day just so I can give it to him.

 

I've given to the guy that hangs out in the shopping center that is really skinny and has piercing blue eyes and a kind smile.

 

I've let couch surfing teens crash on my couch and in my spare room.

 

I've also given to innumerable others . If I have water, I give that. I've given my lunch and my pizza. I've given away at least a dozen umbrellas to total strangers caught in the rain. This summer, I went to my truck while at a restaurant to get my spare towel and umbrella and gave it to a family with a baby caught in the rain. I give what I can when I see a need.

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That is a most wonderful idea! I think I will go and do likewise, minus the dollar. I don't give money, but have been known to give food when I see someone who looks needy. I tend to follow my "gut" about who to respond to and who not to....just depends on the situation.

 

 

We make "blessing bags" and keep them in the car (in fact, we need to make more). I take a gallon-size ziploc and put travel-sized hygiene items in there, plus a granola bar, bottle of water, tissues, and a dollar. My daughters sometimes include a note to the recipient.

 

We had a recent situation where we gave at the stoplight, and the woman immediately started digging in the bag. I was so worried, thinking, "Don't go for the dollar, don't go for the dollar...." She found the chapstick, opened it, and put it on immediately. She said to us, "I really needed this. God bless you." Made my kids' day.

 

More info here: http://kwavs.blogspot.com/2011/05/blessing-bags-how-to.html

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No but if they are close to my house I tell them where the local service agency is (very close). There they can get linked into resources with a social worker. I used to volunteer there. They also give out homeless kits (food with pop tops, soap, toothbrushes, razors, etc). And I do my donations to that agency.

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No one does the off-ramp thing around here. But, when I lived in NYC, I'd help people. Most of the folks in our neighborhood who were homeless found "jobs" for themselves. Like the guy who would guard the door at the Chase ATMs all night. I'd catch him every Friday morning as he was leaving, and buy him breakfast. Or the guy who'd always sit on Amsterdam Ave. and yell compliments at us as we exited the subway at the end of a long workday. I remember he always celebrated the holidays: a mask for Halloween, a Santa hat, a St. Patrick's hat. :) One guy would move our cars for us on street-cleaning day. He wasn't homeless, but he lived at the flophouse, err, youth hostel. There was no set charge for him to move our vehicles, and he never stole anyone's car. ;)

 

I found it hard not to help those who were trying at all, or simply polite. One day, a man was sitting with his daughter outside a bakery. My backpack was killing me. I'd come in from NJ and gotten many dollars worth of change in quarters from the train ticket machine. He asked if I could spare some change. I looked at him and said, "Oh boy can I! You'll be doing my back a huge favor." I gave him close to $10 in quarters. We profusely thanked each other, and he took his little girl into the bakery. :)

 

But I have to say, I've had confrontations with folks trying to shake me down too. Most of those happened in other cities, but there were a couple of memorable ones in NYC too. ;)

 

I figure shame on them if they are scamming. My take is that I've been too blessed not to give spare change when it is handy or seems like a safe thing to do. But, I don't think it is a "must" do type of thing.

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Not usually. In our city they have to get a permit and follow certain rules to beg (and there is someone or more than one someone at every corner it seems!) We also have a wonderful homeless organization that does a tremendous amount of good dealing with the underlying issues. They even bought a hotel and converted it for women and children to have their own space. I'd rather give them money than the people on the corner.

 

:lol: They have to get a permit to beg?! How's that for government bureaucracy!

 

I give food and water when I have it. I'm not always prepared. Rarely do I give $, though I have. I have thought that i should put together littl esnack bags and keep them in the car. Didn't think to put toiletries in there; that's a good idea. I've usually had good responses. Only once had a negative. Gave a guy homemade cookies and he had a weird look on his face and said something about me "looking trustworthy" so it was ok. It hadn't occured to me that a begger would be concerned about where his cookies came from. (is someone really rinning around town giving the homeless poisoned cookies?) everyone else has been extremely grateful for food.

 

I know there are organizations that feed them. But I also see it as my responsibility to Take care of the needs I see. I can't save the world, but i can make this one person's day a little easier. And I love what it teaches my children. They have more compassion on the needy than I did at their ages jusg because they see it. Recently I acciedently bought a can of soup that we won't eat. My dd immediately thought we should give it to "the poor people".

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I never never help or give anything. I keep my doors locked and my windows rolled up.

 

However, my church has a massive homeless ministry and we give to that. They do meals each week and have a huge outreach. It's awesome! So, I feel comfortable giving to my church and watching how they are able to help.

 

It's sad that so many who truly need help aren't able to get that help because of those who take advantage of the system. It really really bothers me. :glare:

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I always give granola bars and bottled water. Never money. One time I gave a guy a giant box of food I was going to drop off at the food bank. He was happy about that, but it was stupid of me to open the door and get so close to a complete stranger. Now I just roll the window down a little and hand over some supplies.

 

Honestly, I don't much care if they *need* it or not. Something in their life is wrong, whether it's drugs, depression, or a bad past. I'm not here to judge, especially since my life could easily be theirs.

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Yes, I often do.

 

I have a homeless friend; this has served to disintergrate any previous assumptions I made about homeless people.

 

Our seminary recently had a class that went out to an organization that helps (not evangelizes, but HELPS) the homeless. They learned a lot of things, mostly myth-busting.

 

My homeless friend is not homeless due to addiction. When his "neighbors" party too much/loudly, he moves. :D:lol:

 

Coming back to add: While I have seen my share of "60 Minutes" type exposes on mock-homeless, I think the hype around that exaggerates the numbers. I don't believe that the homeless, begging, population are made up by significant numbers of homeless fakers.

 

And, franky? Homeless fakers/posers have serious issues. I hope they use my money well.

Edited by Joanne
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You've had lots of people say "No" already, but I'll be different and say that I do. I know the young guy at the corner is there often. I've seen his girlfriend drop him off more than once. They have a cute baby in a very old carseat, and he brings a sweet dog and stands on the corner all day long at least once a week. I give him money everytime I see him if I have money to give.

 

I give to the old guy that sits on the corner downtown playing his guitar and singing off-key. I always make sure I have some cash when I go downtown during the day just so I can give it to him.

 

I've given to the guy that hangs out in the shopping center that is really skinny and has piercing blue eyes and a kind smile.

 

I've let couch surfing teens crash on my couch and in my spare room.

 

I've also given to innumerable others . If I have water, I give that. I've given my lunch and my pizza. I've given away at least a dozen umbrellas to total strangers caught in the rain. This summer, I went to my truck while at a restaurant to get my spare towel and umbrella and gave it to a family with a baby caught in the rain. I give what I can when I see a need.

 

You are awesome. I want to be you when I grow up!:D

 

I have no problem doing things for people. I have given money at times, and other times I wouldn't because it was someone young and he looked physically able.

 

I think I will try not to make as many assumptions in the future. Maybe that young guy on the corner last week was really out of work and homeless, and had a baby, too.

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People have a basic free speech right to ask for money, but in some places, it's really a problem. There are people at stop signs everywhere with cheesy signs. It's dangerous and sometimes scary. So municipalities make it harder to beg by having limitations and in some places, a permit requirement.

 

As to the original question, No. I don't give unless circumstances are a bit unusual. I used to think I had a biblical obligation to give when asked. But you know, my email right now is filled with requests for money, some from people I know, some from people in Nigeria, one supposedly from a friend stranded overseas, but I suspect his email has been hacked. I'lll check with him.

 

I no longer feel guilty not giving to everyone who asks. I think many people prey on that feeling of guilt, and also on the intimidation factor. I think we have to use wisdom and discernment. I don't have unlimited funds.

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I live right in the center of my town (Seriously, if I go over to my living room window, I can look right down to the cannons in the square) :D

 

During the summer we get homeless men who sit on the benches for the entire day. I mean, they appear sometime after 8am and will sit there sometimes until 10pm. Where they go after that? I have no idea. They don't move. They don't beg. They just sit there. :confused:

 

On the other side of the square (or next to this side) there is usually a larger group of people who go to the counseling center right down the street.

 

I have had others approach me when I am out and about. One lady asked me for bus money, but I had no cash. Another asked for a ride to another town, and I had to tell her I was going the opposite way. That being said, I did give my spare change to a homeless lady in a Target one time because she wanted to buy something to eat. I just wished I had more to give her.

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I don't.

 

1) I saw a special on our news about how people "went to work". The man would stake out a corner and made between 400 and 500 each week from our dollars and change.

 

2) A man asked me for money in the parking lot to get oil for his car. I had some change. I gave it to him. He went back to his car and fidgetted. I had forgotten a bag, and went back an hour later to the same man asking another passerby for money. He had asked me, the woman before me ... and how many others? I asked my husband to look on his way home. You figured it out. He was still there outside the grocery store asking for money to buy oil.

 

Not again.

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I always do. Maybe I'm a sucker, but I'll take that risk, if there's a chance that the person actually does need help. I usually stop and chat for a minute too, if it's not a busy road. Most of the people I've helped out can't find work and are trying to save up enough to move somewhere else with more jobs.

 

I'm surprised at the number of people saying flat-out no- I thought more of the Christians around here would say they do help. Huh.

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I am also surprised at the number of people who do not help. I don't feel like it's up to me to decide if they actually need it. I leave that up to God to take care of.

 

 

I agree with Nakia. I give if I feel led to in that moment. I think God also gives us a brain and discernment. Just because someone is standing on the corner with a sign does not mean they are in need.

 

ETA: Likewise, just because someone says that they don't give to people with a sign does not mean they are not giving in other areas.

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No, and social service agencies ask us not to here. There are beds for those who are clean and sober, and there are places to get food. My son volunteers regularly at one of the soup kitchens.

 

I work downtown and probably get asked for money about 5 times a day, and it would be 50 if I didn't walk quickly and avoid eye contact.

 

This doesn't mean I'm not compassionate, but if you are giving folks $5 or 10, I think you are feeding the problem, not solving it.

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I always do. Maybe I'm a sucker, but I'll take that risk, if there's a chance that the person actually does need help. I usually stop and chat for a minute too, if it's not a busy road. Most of the people I've helped out can't find work and are trying to save up enough to move somewhere else with more jobs.

 

I'm surprised at the number of people saying flat-out no- I thought more of the Christians around here would say they do help. Huh.

 

Interesting, and I guess I'm following up on this because I really respect what you have posted elsewhere.

 

I think because of where I live and work I get asked a lot, and I've looked into the issues to figure out what I think I should do. Most people (maybe the vast majority) who panhandle where I live (urban Portland, OR) are looking to avoid dealing with their addiction or mental health issues, and having a steady stream of money helps them avoid treatment. Here getting treatment for mental health is voluntary, and yet is so needed. Clients of the mental health organization I used to volunteer for did so much better when they got help, but they had to accept it. Years ago my dad did a lot of work with the largest secular homeless shelter. At least at that time they had enough beds for everyone who would accept the conditions of being sober. But again there had to be an incentive to get sober.

 

I used to get vouchers for meals and hand them out, or a map of shelters and soup kitchens. Maybe I should get back to that. It just was never well-received.

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Normally, these people (usually at exit ramps) are "professionals". They are dropped off by someone who has a car (as it is at an off ramp with a light right?) and even my kids will say thing like... "Hey, that guy is here every Wednesday." They can haul in several hundreds of dollars a day.

 

My friend lives downtown and knows the difference between the "real" homesless vs. professional low amount grifters.

 

If it makes you feel better, do something. If you don't like being scammed, don't. You can always tell who's in it for real if they accept anything with gratitude... however, I would think that if you're a really good grifter, you would do that anyway, as you don't want ANYONE to know your angle.

 

In our nearby "big" town there are professionals. They should just get laminated signs really. :tongue_smilie:

 

However, we have stopped to help people before. We were challenged several years ago to give with good intent, don't judge the recipient. If I am to give, then when I give, I've done my part. It is not up to me what they do with the money.

 

I remember sitting in the car with ds one day. We had been out to lunch and were having a character building discussion in the car. We passed a man holding a sign. it was in a busy retail area. As we drove passed, I just saw his face. He was broken down, and here I am having a lesson on character with my son. I turned the car around, drove up on the curb. I stopped and chatted with the guy, gave him 10.00, and found out he was an out of work construction worker from out of town. I gave him dh's business card (who was in construction at the time). I told him I didn't know if he had work, but to call. He did, they never could work it out because dh didn't have too much going either.

 

Last year a friend of mine died because he was homeless. He died from carbon monoxide fumes from what I understand. He was trying to keep warm. We had moved away and lost touch. I have no idea why he was homeless or what events transpired to get him there, but he was only 37. Before we moved he had spent time at our house for dinner, he'd worked with dh some, and now he's gone. I still feel guilty and angry about the whole situation, honestly.

 

We've also been blessed to have a formerly homeless man in our lives during the early part of our marriage. He had previous alcohol issues that had led to his homelessness. When we knew him he was married, owned a business, and owned a house. He and his wife were an emotional support for me and dh when I had my cancer tx.

 

I know some people stand out there and earn hundreds of dollars a day, but some people are just broken. Maybe they once had it together, maybe they will again. If I can help, I do. Granted we haven't been able to lately.

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In my city and many larger cities, there are newspapers that cover poverty issues that people can sell to earn money. I will buy those papers but I mostly just tell the others good day or about how they can start selling the paper. Here is a site listing the ones in North America: http://www.nasna.org The one here is very good with lots of great stories.

 

My family was homeless for a time as a child and I have worked my whole career in non-profits focused on families and poverty, including homeless people. I know a lot of homeless people. If I gave money to them all, I would not be able to feed my family. I give what I can to groups that help people who need help. I also have given more than a few homeless people I know cash help once they find an affordable apartment- helping with the deposit, shopping for apartment needs like shower curtains etc. Very rarely do I give money to an individual on the street asking but there have been times. That said, if I do I really don't care what they use it for. Once I have given it (or purchased a paper), it is theirs and how they choose to spend it, be that beer or sandwiches is none of my business.

 

Many times addictions are a factor that cause the homelessness, however in lots of other people I have known, the poverty and homelessnesses and associated stress cause the addictions- it is self medicating.

Edited by kijipt
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:D

I always do. Maybe I'm a sucker, but I'll take that risk, if there's a chance that the person actually does need help. I usually stop and chat for a minute too, if it's not a busy road. Most of the people I've helped out can't find work and are trying to save up enough to move somewhere else with more jobs.

 

I'm surprised at the number of people saying flat-out no- I thought more of the Christians around here would say they do help. Huh.

 

I volunteer a lot, my son volunteers and I donate money to programs that help find long term solutions for people. I do have compassion, I just choose where to use it and to whom....not the other way around.

 

 

I have worked in the same location for 5 years, and then same people will stand and beg every day. Then they come into my work buy beer and drive off in their nice cars. They have nice hair cuts and iPods. Now, you could argue that maybe the haircuts are free, and the iPod was a gift.....sure, but these are people that look manicured, not destitute.

 

I do not presume that I can judge who deserves help and who does not. But, what I do know is that I work really, really hard for my money. Dh put in 60 hour weeks and I have always worked and homeschooled. We also volunteer. Why should I have to give it away, just because some random person, has asked for it?

 

There are people who you can tell they are homeless. Those people, I will buy a dinner for or help them. BUT, ironically, they are not usually the ones asking for help. LOL

 

Ds17s decision for volunteering is 'giving his time, listening to people on the bus'. He rides the bus several times a day. His goal is to talk to someone each time he rides, and to seriously listen to them. He feels led to 'hear' people and to sincerely ask them questions. There was one day that he rode the bus an entire extra loop, just talking to someone. :D I think it is a nice thing for him to do. How many times do we all spend 'chatting' to various people, but not really listening to them? He comes home and then tells me their stories. He also volunteers at church in various ministries, but this particular one...it just his own contribution to life.

 

 

 

I work in pharmacy. One thing I do, is to try to add discount cards to help people when I can. Just because someone isn't on a street corner doesn't mean they don't need the extra $5-10 that I can save them. I don't judge who needs it, I offer it to everyone. It is not my money I am giving away, but it is my time and effort. It makes my job much more difficult and complicated. I don't have to do it, I just do.

 

Not all gifts of 'charity' are financial.

Edited by Tap, tap, tap
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No, never. We give generously to proven charities though including crisis nurseries and local homeless shelters. We volunteer time too with food shelf, etc. I think it's wise to help in ways that you know will be the most cost effective and productive to people who are struggling. If you hand people money on the street, you're enabling them to be on the street longer. And then they avoid facing their addictions, mental health issues, etc. I live in an urban area, so if I started giving out money on the street I'd be doing it constantly.

Edited by kck
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