Do you Give to Panhandlers?


Homeless Guy on the Street

I’m going to do something today that I haven’t done in a while.

I want to ask *you* a direct question.

You see a person on the street asking for help – asking for money or food.

What do you do?

There are more than a couple sides to this debate – and to get more information I called one of my best childhood friends who works every single day with the homeless on the streets of L.A.

He gave me his answer – which was a bit different than mine. I won’t provide you either (yet) – as I want to know your uninfluenced opinions on this.

When we get to L.A. in a couple months – Josh (my friend) has offered to take us into the streets with him, so we can see a peek behind the scenes of what goes on.

Let me start you off with this:

  • Does it matter if they are male or female?
  • Does it matter young or old… healthy-looking or scraggly and weak?
  • What if they ask for food outside a restaurant or fast food chain?
  • What if they asked for a cup of coffee as you walked into Starbucks (yesterday)?
  • What if you are overseas – in a third world country – instead of your home city?
  • What if they have a kid with them – does that change the equation?

I’d really appreciate hearing your perspective – the issue has really been weighing on my own heart. I’ll report back more once I hit the streets of L.A. myself (and use the discussion below in that post).

So here it is again (comment below)…

You see a person on the street asking for help – asking for money or food.

What do you do?


294 thoughts on “Do you Give to Panhandlers?”

  1. once in toronto a panhandler asked me for a loonie, I reached into my pocket and tossed him the coin. A few minutes later he ran up to me and asked me “What the heck am i supposed o do with this”. I took a close look at the coin I tossed to him and said :If your ever in Buffalo, you can get a free ride on the merry go round in the zoo”

  2. My son was a heroin addict for 10 years (almost 2 years clean today, by God’s grace). He was homeless for a good part of that time in Michigan, Arizona, Texas, California, Nevada. He has told me countless stories of people who gave him money, food, or just looked him in the eye with compassion. Do you think he didn’t know he was viewed as scum, dirty, hopeless? He remembers every person who handed him a cup of coffee, bought him a hamburger, or gave him $5 without conditions. One time my son was walking in downtown Detroit on a bitterly cold winter day with only a light sweatshirt on when a man pulled up along side him. My son was cautious, not knowing his intentions. The man got out of his car, handed my son his coat, said “you need this more than I do, brother”, got back in his car and drove away.

    My son is alive today because of that man, and countless others who did not try to “figure out” if they were doing the right thing.

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  4. Im a volunteer if fighter and EMT, I feel I give more than my share of my time and possibly my life to save others from harm, but I won’t give homeless people a dime in cash and I’ll tell you why. I was in the casino industry for 12 years and down in Los Angeles I worked at a major card club in the Bell Gardens area.

    It was frequented by a few people who shall we say we’re questionable characters at best, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. One day while I was working, I overheard one of the homeless guys that spend a lot of time in the club begging money from people that win jackpots etc., exclaim while he was playing blackjack, that earlier in the day he had sat on an off ramp and made over 300 dollars tax free and that’s what he was gambling with today.

    Another time I was going into a super market to buy groceries and a man approached me saying that he was trying to get home to Reno but he had run out of gas and money, he had a wife and a kid in the car with him and could I help him out with a few bucks to buy gas to get him home. I declined. A few days later I was in another parking lot a mile or so away and the same guy approached me with the same story, that he had ran out of gas THAT day and needed to get back home so his wife could have a baby,

    I’ll give my time to honorable organizations that assist those in need, but never will I give out even a penny, because you can’t believe any story you hear on the street.

  5. A very good question and great opportunity to share some information about the homeless:

    Yes, I do when I can; a good idea is train tickets, payphone cards, money and food. The best help could also be a map with directions to the nearest shelter, refuge or social worker office and then the money to call that place on a payphone.

    Some facts people don’t know:

    1) The homeless can’t “get a job” you need an address for a job, for legal and taxation reasons.
    Also who will really employ the homeless? It will become harder the longer they are homeless.

    2) If the homeless has a job or under-the-table arrangement in order to step around the legal forms you sign which require an ADDRESS to work—you don’t instantly get a house, just because you have a job.

    Job doesn’t = house we have established you need an address to work. Now they have to break the law with some seedy, cash in hands job.
    You are paid fortnightly or monthly depending on which country you live. If they have to go cash in hand, due to no address… how long do you think it will take to save up for bond and rent?
    Who will rent to the homeless?
    How long before they are robbed while saving up? Arrested?

    3) They will need money to stay in a cheap motel/hotel/hostel and the train ticket to get there while they are looking for work and an apartment.
    Where will they stay? Some of the cheapest may be $15-$20 per night and don’t forget they need to eat, shower and try to maintain some standard so they can eventually find work or be accepted on a lease.

    6) If it is a female there is higher risk of being raped each night spent uncovered and on the street. Most likely they are asking for money to get a roof over their head.
    Where will they go to get out of danger? How will they run and call police on their mobile if they are expected to sell their mobile or “iphone” by judgemental people?

    7) Nice clothes, mobiles and other items is no indicator of need. They have mobile or nice clothes from the life before being homeless. (Recession, company layoffs etc)
    They can’t sell their mobile as this is the safety line to get help from social worker or police while they are trying to secure a home.

    9) People can get into debt, have a job or have the rent increase and get evicted. It is not as hard as people think to be homeless.

    10) Not all homeless are unemployed or mentally ill. They just may not be able to pay their rents anymore or have unexpected medical expenses come up, made redundant at work…things can just go wrong to the best of us.
    Once they lose that house…It’s pretty much game over… It’s near impossible to get work again without an address.

    11) In the case they are mentally ill or sick in some way the above steps won’t even be possible. They will not have the capacity to explain their need for money to get a train ticket or transport to a hospital, shelter or motel stay.
    They will not know how to find social workers or someone to assist them into emergency accommodation.

    12) The best chance they have is a safe refuge or hospital with a social worker advocating for them to get into the workplace or treatment for any condition they have

  6. I will never ever give anything to the homeless, ever.

    I live and work in Las Vegas. As a general rule, they have severe substance abuse problems and have chosen their addiction over a decent life. I will not give money for them to drink, do drugs, or smoke. I work hard and pay my own way and do the tough thing of getting up in the morning everyday and going to work. I don’t ask anyone to foot my bills.

    I used to think I was kind, and would buy a burger or whatever. Until a close relative stayed with us while he was “trying” to find a job – all we heard were a pack of lies and scams, and he spent his day lounging on our couch, eating our food, stealing meds from our medicine cabinet, raiding our kids piggy bank (seriously) and facebooking with friends while we were at work everyday. After we kicked him out, we saw him picked up on TV – Las Vegas Jail – for being passed out on the Strip. No thank you.

    I give to charities for children, but these people need substance treatment and it won’t matter until they want it.

    1. WOW! “What A Wonderful Human Being Your Not!” I sure .. hope to God you have no kids. The example from your statement alone, suggests your tubes should have been tied a long time of go! “First Of All” you seem to be generalizing the entire populations of pan handlers. Lumping them all into the drug, drinking,stealing, and laziness category. Are you Republican by any chance? They did this with the entire unemployed population. They stated them to be all lazy bums who use the money to take vacations.. LOL. You sound just as ignorant! Where I come from .. the street bums who do all that are so out of it and messed up… they don’t have what it takes to sit all day, make up signs and conduct this as their job, until they get one. Second off.. do some Googling for Duane. The homeless man that asked for a beer. He is a millionaire. Are you? The Salvation Army had money stolen from someone who worked there. Heads of charities pocket money all the time. So.. don’t think for one minute your money may be going to that cause dear. Also.. I pan handle. I have been for a week. Not everyone is your relative. If you can’t even have compassion for a relative going through a hard financial time, are you human? Jobs are by far… harder to come by then they ever were! Do you watch the news? We had a recession. We pare still in one… not quite over it yet. With your expectations and demanding nature, I am shocked your still married to be honest. WOW! I don’t do drugs, drink or steal. Neither does the older man down the block whom pan handles that I know. Laziness to you… may actually be depression. Not being able to find work can cause depression. Perhaps the relative needed to visit and feel a sense of warmth and compassion to get his mind off the anxiety of not finding a job. Family hun… is suppose be there for your with you threw tough times and be on your side. Even when things are bad. Maybe he has a disability that is stress related that he needs to see someone about and perhaps can get a disability check. Clinical depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder are real. They are mental illness’s and you can go out on permanent disability for them.Who are you as an adult and a sister in law no less to treat him like a child ? If I were your husband… I would run!

      I never… ever expected to be in the situation of pan handling. I have only been doing this for one week. I am at present not very good at the creativity I read about how your signs should read. I am living in a campground. My state factually considers this to be a homeless situation. I have mold in the walls that I smell daily,slugs that get into the camper trailer that is a shack. I do the best .. to make the best of it. However.. I am absolutely miserable here and so are my two dogs. The neighbors are not neighborly. I try my best in all areas. Jobs because of the Obama Care Act, rather hire younger workers for a lot less hours, that is part time or less then, in order to not pay into health care next year. Minimum wage is not enough to make ends meet. No one wants to pay anyone.. unless your in the elite category of having a College degree. I took care of both parents for six years with cancer back to back. I was the full time care giver. I don’t regret it. I have talent. However.. I am putting it on hold due to financial burdens and the anxiety it creates. If employers were wiling to offer liveable wages along with 40 hours a week and raises, me and other pan handlers would not have to resort to this in order to not live under a bridge or in our car, or a forest. I met people living behind church’s and sand dunes. Yes. Community is all we have. We can’t depend on the Government on any level. Yes… I have soup kitchens and food stamps.There are food pantries as well. But.. financially … I can get nothing. I have no family left. No friends. I moved out of state. No one cares,but God.. who is allowing us poor to do this. My dogs are all I have. I consider them family. I have no boyfriend or husband or sugar daddy. I don’t want to get one to provide for me either. That can turn abusive and many times does. I don’t do drugs, I don’t drink or smoke anything. Neither does the homeless man I met on the other corner.
      One man said to me he chooses whom to Tye with. IF everyone thought that way.. the world would be a better place. This is all the homeless have. If they ban this, they are in reality saying we are all worthless.. and won’t get to a better place in time and will be phasing out the population that will eventually die. Because they don’t have the means to survive. This is better for the poor then prostitution, or phone sex line, or web cam credit card sex from your bedroom, or becoming a stripper. As long as women are cautious and safe about their surroundings and where this is being done. In a public place, not on some free way or highway. People need to start reaching out with people. The bible talks on many pages about the poor. God was for the poor. If the Government on state levels want to phase them out… is that of God? No Not At All! Do continue to give. It is better to help better the lives of pan handlers that you can clearly tell aren’t on drugs, or drinking, then .. to give your money foolishly away in other places. Even when you give to charities you can’t be sure where it is going or who is lining their pockets with the money. In the state I just left, The Salvation Army had money taken from them. It was an inside job. I see charity heads driving fancy cars making huge profits off their donations. When I am back on my feet, I will be selective, but will give to pan handlers as much as I can. Instead of wasting it on things I don’t need.People should matter more then things. People should warm their hearts more and touch others lives.. and reach out to others more. Also.. .it gives a good example to your kids to show them how to be compassionate and kind. “Food For Thought!”

      1. Your post was a gigantic overreaction and makes you seem unbalanced. The woman has a right to her opinion but since you disagree you trash her. Much too hostile!

      2. I agree with Ted that you seem unbalanced…and what a kind human being you are not either for being so hypocritical – you got after Bobbi for generalizing and lumping all the pan handlers together and then you go and lump all the Republicans together. I myself am Republican and same with my family and friends, and guess what??? We donate money to charities, clothes and goods to donation centers, do volunteer work, and yes, give change and food to homeless pan handlers! This is not because we are loaded with money either…my husband and I are both working and live in a small fourplex with our baby. So do not lump us all together! Maybe you heard a Republican leader or someone say that they thought unemployed people were lazy, but turns out, just because someone in their ignorance stated that, does not mean you should group all Republicans together as uncharitable people who think that. I am sorry for your misfortunes and wish you the best, but please don’t be hypocritical or rude to people just because of their political preference, when in reality a lot of those very people are the ones that agree with you and are trying to help the poor, such as yourself. Ever heard of the phrase, “don’t bite the hand that feeds you?”

      3. I have one question: I don’t mind giving but when you see the same people begging for money standing right along McDonald sign and McDonald IS ASKING FOR PEOPLE TO WORK, what does that tell me. For 50 years , I had to fight all the things of this world and go to work. I have problems too and been on alcohol many times but I still went to work. I know God wants you to help the poor but not the lazy . Maybe some of these people are on disability and collecting money from the Government. If they work, the Government will take there money away from them. If they collect money on the street , they don’t have to report that.

        1. How do you know that person standing by the McDicks for hire sign doesn’t have some severe mental illness that precludes them from applying for, getting and keeping that job? If you were McDicks manager and a homeless person came in to apply, possibly with no teeth or poor hygiene, because they couldn’t get ready for the interview in an appropriate manner… would you hire them? Or even meet with them? Also keep in mind that they usually want you to fill out an application and they will get back to you if they are interested in interviewing you. What is the person supposed to put for an address and phone number? I’m outside your business, stick your head out the window? smh

        2. According to several articles I’ve read, many panhandlers are unable to snag those McDonald’s jobs for a variety of reasons, like being a convicted felon, addiction, mental or physical disability.

      4. @Sue
        If you are panhandling how are you able to afford a computer/phone/ipad (or whatever you used to post your comment)?

        1. Perhaps she is on a computer at a public library. I have no job, no income, the government won’t help me and look here I am. My roommate (who is being nice enough to not throw me on the street come the first when I don’t have the rent to pay) pays for the internet and I am allowed to use it.

    2. It is out of control. There are always #%(#@s out there panhandling. Day and night. I work like a dog for my income, and they are hanging everywhere be it convenience stored, the strip, and everywhere in between. If I ever needed something they wouldn’t bethere for me. They have become overbearing, and this stupid town refuses to do much about it, yet they wonder why a lot of people dont want to come here anymore.

      1. Vegas is a cesspool. Places like that attract scum. Homeless or not. You too are generalizing. But that’s a different subject. I am a college educated, professional mechanic. I have been my entire adult life. I can tell you first hand that in today’s economy it is very easy to become homeless. People assume too much. They assume that you have a loving family to turn to in times of need; They assume that there are plenty of jobs if you just look hard enough ; They say things like “If I were you, I’d get a job flipping burgers for minimum wage. Well did you know that a large percentage of homeless people actually have jobs? According to a 2002 national study by the Urban Institute, about 45 percent of homeless adults had worked in the past 30 days — only 14 percentage points lower than the employment rate for the general population last month. The number of working homeless would probably be even higher if “off the books” work was included. Whether scavenging for scrap metal or staffing shelters, many homeless people adopt ingenious ways to subsist.I recently became homeless. I had everything going for me. or so it seemed. I’d moved out west to San Diego to restore old Volkswagens, leaving my friends and what little family I had behind to follow my dreams. Things were good. That is, until I came home to my apartment to find that I’d been robbed. They took everything. I’m self employed, So, when a self employed mechanic loses his tools, he’s in trouble. When a mechanic who loses his tools also doesn’t like banks, keeps his life savings in a jar that got stolen in that same robbery loses his tools, he’s f@#$ed. Rent was due soon. I had 27 dollars in my pocket. What would you do in this situation? I usually can find work fixing cars pretty easily when I have tools. Try fixing a car without them. Not gonna happen. I used my last’s month’s rent and deposit to keep a roof over my head until it ran out, I did find work shortly at a mechanics shop, So when I got evicted, I stayed in a van at my work. But my co-workers got tired of loaning me tools, and having to smell me because I lived in a van and had no way to bathe. Soon enough that was over. What now? I went to my local church to seek help. I soon found out the answer to the age old question, “What would Jesus do?” Apparently, he would send me to the next church, they would tell you to go to the one down the road, then that church would direct me back to the first one. No help there. I called my family back east asking for a loan, but they aren’t in much better situations than I, so the 20 bucks here and there that they could send would only buy me lunch meat and bread for a couple of days. Have you ever tried to live without a refrigerator? Not cool. Pun intended. So, one day after all of my resources were tapped out, I found myself hungry, alone, stinky, tired and broke. I hope that you never find yourself in such a desperate situation. Many would turn to stealing, rather than ask for hand outs. Do you have any idea how embarrassing it is to have to ask strangers for help? Imagine how it feels to ask for help only to be treated like an inferior, worthless moocher. Maybe, just maybe, If someone had shown some desperate person in need some kindness, instead of ignorance, condescension, and arrogance,that same person wouldn’t have ended up being the person who stole all of my stuff. So, to answer your question, Yes. I have, would, and still do give to the homeless, even though technically, I still am myself. I’m writing this from a couch that I sleep on in the shop that I currently work at. That long winded story left out many details and still took a while to read, huh? Well, that’s just my story. There are an estimated 600,000 homeless people in the United States, all with a different story. I suggest that before you assume that the dirty guy on the street is a lazy freeloader, who’s not even trying, you at least mentally put yourself in my stinky shoes. Try that on for size.

        1. To the first Don, thank you for sharing your story, although it may be difficult. I was homeless as a young child with my mom and younger brother after my father left us without so much as a good bye. My mom worked hard to eventually buy us a home, not a house, but in between there was a lot of sleeping on couches and sharing one bedroom between the three of us. At the time I did not recognize it as homelessness because we did not sleep in the street, but rather on the floor of someone else’s house, but looking back as an adult I can see details my younger mind left out, such as after hurricane Katrina hit in 2005 and literally tore the roof off my room (only a couple years into our first home after Dad left) and left me with a view of the stars through the tarp for 6 months until we accumulated enough money from fema, ssa, and donations from employers and family friends to “buy” a second home.

          now as an adult with a baby of my own I do give to pan handlers when I have cash on me. I give to men, women, scraggly especially, and regardless of location. However, I get angry when I see a family panhandling, and I suspect it’s because no matter how bad our situation got, my mother never took us to hustle money on the streets. She may have schlepped us to her second job after school and put us in daycare too often, but she never subjected us to the kind of special hell that is witnessing how vulnerable you are to the world’s whims and that your parent cannot take care of you. Mom tried her best to shield us from the truth that parents are just people who happen to have kids, and I will always love her for that.

          I personally don’t know what its like to spend my night on the street, but I’ve gotten close enough to know that it’s nowhere I want to be. Again, thanks for sharing, and I hope your situation has improved since your post.

    3. I agree with you and to sue YOU ARE AN IDIOT! I have a friend who works with homeless and he tells me NEVER give them money as it all goes to drugs and alchohol! I worked since I was 15 and now I live comfortable in my 50’s because of it! I do donate to ST. JUDES every month to help kids with cancer!

      1. Not every homeless person is a druggie or alcoholic and even if they were I don’t blame them. When you are only able to get bits of money here and there and feel hopeless and worthless and don’t know when or how you will get off the streets (the government doesn’t always help, contrary to popular belief) sometimes you feel like numbing the pain and you’ve been without for too long, you get $10 and think to yourself OMG I can go get a gram of weed and sleep, totally done with this day. Because you have hardly eaten and you can’t get much for $10 (some people have food allergies, even the homeless) and you’ve just suffered too much and don’t want to deal with it anymore. Not like the $10 will get you a place to sleep tonight. People are just too intolerant and too quick to judge. They don’t think that in a second they could be in the same position.

        1. first off i must say, not all homeless people trying to get help are drug addicts, not all are lazy bums. i am homeless with 2 kids trying to get housing. i worked my ass off as a rn until i had a stroke that prevented me from being able to do my job. i will pray for all you judgemental people and pray that God leads you down the righteous path.

  7. I’m selective, but I do often give money to people who ask for it. I won’t give money to young healthy looking adults, especially those with a dog in tow.

    I had a dear brother, who developed schizophrenia in his late teens, and would become paranoid for some reason or another about his living situation, and go live on the streets for days or weeks…not because he wanted to, but because he was relentlessly driven by anxiety and delusions. This is a devastating mental illness, that no one would wish on their worst enemy. Many, if not most of those people you see on the streets are suffering from serious mental illness. There have been some quite angry comments posted above these homeless people begging for money. This attitude really saddens me. I can tell you what my brother lived with (before he died in an accident at 37 ), was a real horror. When I see someone begging, I remind myself of my brother, and how I wish strangers would have helped him without judgement.

  8. i think it depends on situations and agressive nature. one lady came up to me and my girlfriend who happens to use a wheel chair and is in our faces and says hey lwheelchair lady got any train money. on occasion i will buy water or food. and also for me it depends on how well the panhandler is dressed. someone panhandling in nice jeans and a white crisp tshirt is less likely to get money from me than someone with all their worldly goods on their back and seem truly in need. everyone needs help. i am not trying to descriminate for i am likely to buy the person with nice jeans and a tshrt something from the corner store and give the truley hopeless woman and her child money. thats just my opinion.

    In the US there is a shortage of shelters for everyone. Many wait in line and some are turned away at the last moment due to maximum capacity. And funds are being cut even with donations. Not everyone has the mental ability to hold a job even if they have at some point. I almost always try and give coin to legit buskers who have permits and are really just trying to make a name for themselves. That is truly hard work as I have helped a friend with equipment a few times, lugging amps and such down to subway terminals, since you never know who may be listening that day.

    Hopefully tides will change eventually.

  9. I never donate money, but I have contributed food, clothing, blankets and shoes to individuals. Help out the food pantries and shelters. Shoes are a big one – if the individual’s look like they’re about to fall apart, I’d rather buy them a sturdy new pair of shoes than throw some cash at them. Many of the long term homeless suffer from mental illness, substance abuse or a combination thereof, but they are still deserving of the basic right to nutrition and health care. Many people have also gone through a period of being homeless – their finances were wiped out, they lost their job or were unable to work ,they had an inability to quickly find a new job or to find employment that will satisfactorily pay for housing and food.

    In this country, our politicians and lending institutions have no qualms with evicting the poor, from foreclosing on the only place they have to live. I think there would be much more sympathy if it was understood that there are various factors that could have played a role in why an individual is homeless and that from a social welfare perspective, it doesn’t benefit our society to only look for ways to address the needs of the “deserving” or the “good” poor, while marginalizing the rest.

    When I was young, I hitchhiked through the U.S. and Canada and freight hopped, so I tend to rely somewhat on my own experiences – for instance, if the person panhandling has little to no possessions with him (coats or layering of clothing, a backpack or cart), I’m a bit more cautious of them. And unfortunately some panhandlers are harassers and bully people into giving them money (go to some parts of Europe to witness this). Plenty of homeless and freight riders do have dogs for companionship, so I have no issue buying food for both the owner and his/her dog.

    1. Speaking from a direct experience with pan handling and from speaking to others whom do this, I have a much more “Realistic” perspective. I always say.. “Never Assume You Know.” Unless.. you have done so yourself. “I Have And Do Know.” There is a misconception and stereo type as you mentioned; that the homeless suffer from mental illness or are substance abusers. I just want to clarify what the reality is. The Republicans once thought…a few years back that the unemployed take vacations with the small unemployment checks they get. Again.. a huge misconception. Unless people whom have been there or are going through it speak to the public to clear up the rumors and stero types, there will continue to be false statements. I also have had the opportunity to speak with (many) homeless people and hear their stories. I just am hoping to share with you information you were un aware of. First of all…all the pan handlers I met were on disability.Some for depression that the majority of Americans have and don’t seek help for, but for back injuries, diabetic neuropathy, IBS related diseases that effect half the population. There was only one man I met whom has a sever mental issue. One out of say..25.
      Second…many are (choosing) to get Marijuana cards, as their means of pain control.Not because they have a substance abuse problem, but because they are actually intelligent enough to know and many I spoke to have researched at the library that many go to believe it or not, and they realize the side effects from Marijuana which is a natural substance out weighs the ramifications and down word spiral of “Synthetic Drugs” any day. (Fact). A nurse i spoke to is homeless and a Dental Hygenist. A commercial fisherman. All of which had in their day occupations. The Dental Hygentist experienced on the job sexual abuse. The Commercial fisherman injured his back on the job. The Nurse.. told me, working for a hospital she was sometimes asked to kill people, although not in those direct words, and she was unable to do this anymore. She found out inside information that they don’t want the public to know. I know what she means because they did this to my mother and to two other people I know in WI. I also sat in on a staff meeting at a hospital and was told that can maneuver the situation and change a doctors orders in favor for my mother. So… that being said.. (She is not nuts!). Also.. if a person has a disability. Many homeless share more then one, that does not in my eyes make them less worthy,while in the USA many share the same diagnosis, but choose not to be treated or diagnosed. A disability check is about $700.00 a month unless your a nurse or made a much higher income. It is nearly impossible to live on this. Rent has increased to the point of raping an individual of a place to live. No one cares to put any regulations on that. Many homeless actually choose not to live in subsidized low income housing because of many drug users and fights that break out. The nurse I spoke of is living under a bridge and had a stalker. I spoke to an old man.. again.. none of these people including myself drink or do drugs. Yet we are actually asked if we do as people hand us money. The older man went through a bad divorce and wiped him of every penny he had. Where I live, there are Church’s and Soup kitchens that feed us. They also have clothes there. A big room with much to wear, and shoes, coats and blankets. We also know where to find resources for this believe it or not. We are capable. People think… they know what we need and they have not a clue. Also… I have met a handful of homeless people choosing to travel the world and live this way to do so. There is a combination. The few and I say few because the number is so.. low, yet pan handlers and homeless get a bad name.. that are substance abusers, are hooked on legal medications like Oxy Cotton that doctors and pharmaceutical companies profit from. These are the facts!

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  11. There was a stand up comic who said:

    “Some people say, ‘Don’t give to the homeless; they’re just going to spend it on drink and drugs.’ And I tell them, ‘Well what do you think I’m going to spend it on!'”

    The comic also said:

    “And then there’s charities. They say, ‘Don’t give your money to the homeless. Give it to us and we’ll give it to them. Yeah, we’ll make sure they get it.'”

    I think you should follow your heart when it comes to generosity. Whatever the need or end use, the people that really need help really need help.

    One regular around the city clearly liked to drink a bit, but you could tell he was a kind soul. I took him into a bar and bought us a few rounds and asked why he was living on the streets. Years past, he caught his wife and another man together and ended up stabbing the man (non-fatally). I imagine no one will employ someone arrested for violence, and so he’s been on the street since. Just that one blind moment of rage steered his life.

    Other people around the city make up obviously fake stories that are improbable, like their sons play on the local college football team and they need money to get a bus back home (when their son is nowhere in sight).

    Then there’s the adventuring types who are hitchhiking across the world. I dig that and always try to help out. $10 bucks is a lunch for two backpackers.

    Recently I saw some rather young looking kids, kinda drugged out, just being lazy and asking for money. They tried to sell me pot too. I was pretty confused.

    And something nice to do is to just go buy a grocery bag full of food and put it near a homeless campground (where their blankets and belongings are).

    In my mind, being homeless doesn’t imply poor morals. We’ve seen many rich people with terrible, terrible morals. I’d rather divert my tax dollars to feeding the homeless than to building a federal war machine.

    It’s a tough coin to flip, but like I said, follow your heart. It will tell you more about who you are as a person than about the person begging.

    1. Caroline Mannheimer

      John! I replied to your amazing comment but you’re gonna have to scroll down to read it, I’m afraid.

  12. Almost every time I go to the grocery store, there is a homeless man or two standing on the corner with a sign “Homeless and Hungry” or something to that effect. I found this to be a very uncomfortable situation. I had never lived in an area where there were homeless people that actually sat by the street asking for something. For the first year, I would try my best not to make eye contact, all the while picturing the cupboards of food that I have at home, not to mention the bags of food that I had just put in my car. This year, my daughter started asking about them. ‘Why don’t we give them food, Mom?’ Well, I really don’t know why I didn’t give them food. I had always been taught not to give money because they may not know how to spend it well, but my parents have talked about giving food, or offering to take them to a restaurant to get something to eat.

    We decided to start packing lunches. I wrapped my baby on me, sat my 5 year old on her bike, and walked 2 blocks with a lunch pail in hand. The first day, we handed the man food, and told him that we wanted him to know Jesus loves him. The second time, I decided to ask him name. ‘Tom’ is a man who is probably 50 years, give or take. He seems incapable of taking care of himself. I once took him soup in a cup and had to help him take the cover off because his hands were not strong enough. He has my heart. My daughter draws pictures of herself with him. She gave him one of those pictures, and the little surprised smile that he had melted my heart.

    And then we met ‘Jerry’. He was a man, 45 or so, but much healthier looking and acting. But I don’t know his situation, so I will just as willingly take him food. You never know who will be standing there anyway, it could be Tom, Jerry, or someone else. But then, today, something strange happened. My daughter and I started down the street to the store, food in hand. She riding her bike, baby strapped onto me. We had to walk slightly past and backtrack in order to cross the street at a ramp for the bike’s sake. As we got close enough to see, I noticed Jerry and another kid. The guy was on a bike, and just leaving as I was watching from across the street. Across the road from Jerry was a man pushing a cart load full of grocery bags, and a train of 5 or so people behind him. Cart man runs across the street to Jerry, and Jerry hands him a bag of food that he had acquired. Jerry starts to pick up his sign to leave with the guy, I assume, and turns and spots me. Says something to Cart Man, and stays put as Cart Man takes off, pushing cart, and people in tow. I go up to Jerry and hand him the food. He thanks me, calling me sweetheart, and I ask him what that guy’s name is, nodding toward Cart Man. ‘Danny. He lets me stay with him sometimes, so I’m letting him take the food home so it doesn’t spoil.’ He thanks me again, calling my sweetheart, and says he’ll eat my food soon so it doesn’t spoil. I tell him not to worry too much, its tomato soup, so its not gonna go bad right away. I look in his eyes as I talk to him, and I can see that he feels the need to explain to me, feels guilty or something. I walk away, unsure what to think, a million things running through my mind. I’m mad. I want to help Jerry, and I want my food to go to him. I don’t like to assume, but I can only imagine that Cart Man Danny is some kind of pimp, letting these people stay on his property, and making money and food off of them. I don’t know. Does anyone else know of things like that happening? Do people actually stoop so low?

    I will keep taking food. I care about Tom, Jerry, Christina, Michael.. I don’t know all of their stories. I don’t know where they sleep at night, i don’t know if they’re using my food to feed a poverty pimp, but I do know that I am blessed with plenty, and all I can do is my best to help them. If even one person receives a meal instead of going hungry, that’s what I care about. To God be the glory.

  13. It was around Christmas time, and there was a man with a sign asking for help at the end of a highway offramp in my town. I didn’t stop to offer him anything while I was in my car, but I pulled into the nearby parking lot and parked near him. I walked down the hill, told him I was going to the grocery store, and asked him if he’d like me to pick up some stuff for him. He told me he was too busy… I tried to explain the situation better, that I was willing to go to the store right over there, and bring him back food. I don’t remember if I got another response. People say you shouldn’t make people suffer for the sins of others, but that definitely set back my willingness to help. Too busy? Not that desperate then. And I was watching, nobody was stopping to help him.

    1. In this country it is a shame that we allow people the freedom to hurt themselves and freeze or overdose or die on the streets. There are not enough services or shelters and many on the street do not want help; they just want the $ to spend as they see fit.

      Get to know them, get to know their stories. Most do not need food or money for food. In my neighborhood, a woman, Sue denied my offers for food. She needed rent $. I met her landlord, gave him $20.00 and she was so greatful. Learn their stories and help them or please donate to the service agencies that provide in their neighborhood. VG

  14. I have on occasion given a couple of dollars, but I’ve really kinda stopped lately because of all the debate about whether or not these people are legitimately in need or if they just do this and go home with a bunch of money. I want to help people who really need it but I don’t want to contribute to some lazy asshole’s scam. All of this has made me really conflicted about giving money to people. I will say that I would not give money to someone who seems clean and dressed in nice clothes. It just seems like they don’t need it. People who are obviously worn and dirty looking or even just not well-dressed are more believable to me.
    Now you asked if they have a kid with them, does that change the equation. Well, I can only comment on the one time that I say a kid with someone holding a sign on the side of the road. He was a young guy and was carrying a little boy on his shoulders while holding his sign proclaiming that he was a single father and trying to make ends meet. I watched them for a few mins while I was stuck at the light and my honest impression was that the kid was being coached to look sad. They guy wasn’t focused on the kid at all and really just seemed to be using him as a prop. That made me feel really upset and I would not have given anything to that guy.
    I guess I kind of just go with my observations and my intuition about people before giving them anything. I just don’t want to be giving to a scam instead of helping people who really need it.

  15. Panhandling is a blight on the world. I do not give to panhandlers, homeless, street people, what ever you wish to call them. I have been all around the world and seen it in so many of its forms. I does bother me when I see it but I always turn away. There are so many variations on the whys and wherefores it really doesn’t matter. Most people that really need help utilize the many channels that are open to the less fortunate, churches, shelters, social workers, VA, Police, etc, because they don’t want to be homeless or panhandle. Those that you see on the street panhandling truely have something wrong with them, even if it is just the fact that they have no moral affinity to it. if you want to challenge them there is always a horrible story, but in many cases if the story were true either one or many of the channels mentioned could help or it is an outright fabrication. If everyone who could afford to put a dollar in a bucket it wouldn’t reduce the panhandling one bit, it might actually make it worse. We already give a ton of money in taxes each, much of which is put into numerous social programs to help needy people. Of course some of these needy just need another social program, but others use them to get a leg up and stop being needy. The next time you see that teenage panhandler in front of Best Buy walk on by and ignore his snide comment because you didn’t give him some money. If he really is starving maybe that will push him to go get help from one of the many available options.

  16. Jesus didn’t say to judge them he said to help them. I feel sorry for the ones who don’t have compassion for others because in the end they will have the worse ending.words of In the words of Jesus:
    Matt 25:41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Away from me, you that are under God’s curse! Away to the eternal fire which has been prepared for the Devil and his angels! 42 I was hungry but you would not feed me, thirsty but you would not give me a drink; 43 I was a stranger but you would not welcome me in your homes, naked but you would not clothe me; I was sick and in prison but you would not take care of me.’ 44 Then they will answer him, ‘When, Lord, did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and we would not help you?’ 45 The King will reply, ‘I tell you, whenever you refused to help one of these least important ones, you refused to help me.’ 46 These, then, will be sent off to eternal punishment, but the righteous will go to eternal life.”

  17. Yes I do give I have a big heart and feel sorry for them. One day sitting out on a patio down town saw a guy bumming money I called him over and gave him 5.00 he came back to see me few minutes later and showed me what he bought 2 slices of pizza and pop and thanked me. Thought that was really nice and made me feel good. Another one I saw was at Walmart saw this poor guy seeking for a cigarette butt.was so hot out that day I cried I was so upset to see this poor guy no water or anything so drove up to him and gave him 20.00 if I didn;t have to go back to work probably would of takne him into Walmart to buy him some clothes. I get sent sentimental at times. So use your descretion and those in need!!!!

  18. Not anymore! Three days ago outside a burrito place someone asks for money for food because they’re hungry, I offer to buy them a burrito. They say “it’s too greasy, can I just have the money for McDonalds instead.” Whatever, I gave them $4 then saw them walk into the tobacco store.

    Then today going into Starbucks someone asks for money, I say I don’t have cash but I’ll get you Starbucks. I got his order, coffee & 2 cakes, give it to him, and then he AGAIN asks for money. I’ve not encountered any gratefulness, so I’m done giving out anything to strangers! (I say that but unfortunately I think the Christian teaching of “clothing the naked/feeding the hungry=the same as feeding Jesus himself” in Matthew 25:31-46 is too engrained in me and I’ll give out money/food again.)

  19. I’m in Garland, a suburb of Dallas.I just went to Kroger, and right beside the front door (bold move, I’m thinking, must be desperate) stood a youngish Indian woman with a cardboard sign saying “Please help. I have 2 kids,” something like that. Her clothes looked old, not dirty, but old. I thought, “If she’s still there when I come out…” Well she was there, and then I noticed her husband as well (I deduced by his demeanor and voice). In my heart there was no question. I walked over, pulled out a $10 and handed it to her. They both expressed extreme gratitude and humility (I heard it in their voices) and gave me the “God Bless” that ALL the panhandlers in this area hand back, every time.
    If I’ve any to spare at all, I won’t pass any of them up.

  20. i don’t work for my money. i work for free. i get money for free too.

    but i’ll never give money to the “homeless” or panhandlers because…
    i don’t think it helps in a meaningful way.

  21. Caroline Mannheimer

    John, I think I love you. I am a writer and actor for a troupe based on the Theater of the Oppressed model. Our main focus is educating about homelessness and, as you can well imagine, panhandling is always linked in our conversations. We take real stories from the streets and dramatize them and then have a talk-back with the audience. I’ve worked with this troupe for 5 years, doing 100s of shows and at every show am asked “should I give to panhandlers?” My answer is the same as yours: follow your heart. I’m always kind of amazed at all these restrictions people want to put on their “generosity”. I’ve an ongoing argument with the local charities here about them telling people not to give–but wonder if they’d be willing to eat the expired swill dished out at those soup kitchens–so I’d love to know who the comic is who said that bit about “sure we’ll get the money to them…” Anyway, you’re awesome and after reading some rather ignorant comments yours has restored my faith in humanity. Thanks.

  22. Edit (misspelled a couple words): I sometimes donate to panhandlers, but I’ve done so less often of late. There are places for homeless people to stay and they can get food stamps if they have no income. If you have food and shelter (and can therefore actively look for a job) you aren’t so in need that you should be begging on the street. Unless you need something other than food or shelter… like alcohol and drugs.

    You might say I’m being negative and mistrustful but this is based on knowledge. I’ve heard numerous accounts of people who give to panhandlers just to find them in a bar that evening or who give out free meal tickets just to find the panhandler selling the meal ticket for (beer) money later on. I give to charity organizations that can help those in need, but I don’t give to panhandlers who just want to get their next fix.

    1. I live in Canada so I don’t know what a meal ticket is. But how do you know they are selling it for beer? If someone gave me a meal ticket (I am assuming it is for a free meal somewhere), I would have to sell it too to buy stuff I can eat because I am gluten intolerant and there are a lot of things I can’t eat. So don’t just assume that someone is reselling your gift to buy beer. You don’t know their circumstances.

  23. I try & give what I can. I know how it is to be broke. It takes alot to ask for help. & besides you never know who ur helping or u may find yourself in need of help one day. Small acts of kindness such as this is what’s missing in the world. Apathy is rampant. We all need to make this world a better place.

  24. I don’t Pay for other people’s bills. That being said, I am not homeless nor am I broke. If I never needed to leave the house again, the homeless Problem would be none of my concern ether way. Give everything you have, Then all you have done is give less then a penny to all. As for the homeless, I give them money because this is how I solve problems and survive. Because time is money, its much more expensive to let stupid people places and things divert me from getting back to work on the most important Freedom in America, Owning a Business, The finest legacy Capitalism, Total Freedom.

  25. Chasen Brown-Hawkins

    I would give someone food. I would prefer not to give money but I have given a few dollars to someone for gas (at the pump) and bus fare a few times (boarding the bus). It is true; many of Americas homeless have problems with addiction. This is why I would give food, but would hold back the cold hard cash. That way I am not paying for someone’s street drugs, and; I do have limited funds myself and I don’t always have it to just hand out. Though the person I would give food to, a homeless person, may also be an addict; does that make them unworthy of a meal? And, is addiction always a choice, or could it be an mental illness? Would I give food to a woman who suffers from depression but withhold food from a man addicted to narcotics? I only see people who are hungry who are asking for help. Compassion would compel me to help, or at least try; without judging them or the situation. It’s food. Everyone needs to eat. Just try going without food for 48 hours. Then decide if you think someone would choose to go without food so they could have one more dime bag instead. Or is there really a choice in all this.

  26. Ive worked most my life before and wind up in my situation i use to be a manager at grocery store when i got my injury i wound up homeless now i am on ssd i recieve 960.00 before child support taken out afterwards it’s 470.00 a month rent 425.00 …. $50.00 dont last long and i panhandle too live survive i don’t do drugs i dont even drinking it would be damgerous anyways mixing my prescriptions for siezures but i am sure there are many that are needy and could use help with meals and similar situation that i am in life is tough on streets you dont always make money to eat

  27. I, personally, think that people who do not feel compassion or sympathy for the homeless are not humans at all. Sure, you don’t have to go around giving money all the time, but is it so hard to at least feel sorry for these people? I know that some people out there panhandle only for drugs, but what if it is a serious mental illness? Or what if someone was born into a poor family and something happened to them? It’s not their fault at all. One day, i was walking to a barnes and nobles in downtown, and I saw this young man, about 20 or so. At first, i decided to stay away because some people his age tend to do drugs, but all he asked from me was if I could spare an extra blanket. I noticed he was only wearing a t-shirt and had a very thin blanket around him. I immediately felt bad, and I told him I’d be back with one. He thanked me for not ignoring him like everyone else, and that broke my heart. I also decided to buy him a cup of coffee and a hot bagel, since it was already November in New York. I came back with blanket and food, and you would not believe the look of utter gratitude on his face. He told me,”May God bless you and thank you for these gifts.” I just hope anyone who is reading this knows that not all homeless people are homeless in their own fault. Sometimes, it is the fault of the richer citizens who look down on the homeless, for not helping them and realizing that they are human beings too.

  28. Vilolent Sloth

    I do not give to bums. That is the proper term to refer to these animated piles of feces by…BUMS. Decent folks work each day for a living and piss away their time and youth to survive and have a home car and food while these urine soaked gibberish spouting assholes lay about with their hand out trying to con soft hearted (soft headed) people into carrying their dead weight. We’re it up to me I would allow the police to hunt and kill bums on sight in an effort to clean up our cities and make like more pleaseant for the rest of us decent folk who do the right thing. Society shouldn’t tolerate bums who are nothing but a drain and drag on our resources.
    I had one of these worthless scumbags try and beg money off me in a dimly lit parking lot at 2am as I left work and I reached into my car and pulled out a length of pipe I keep for such reasons and sacked him right across his face knocking him out cold. Since nobody was in the parking lot at that early hour I also took the liberty of running over his legs,so now,if he lives he will really have a reason to say he can’t work. Hopefully he will die.

  29. I donate when someone is at least trying. In Portland, some of thehomeless sell a homeless newspaper for a dollar. I’ll give them 5. That’s all I ask: try. It’s a start. I understand there are many people incapable of holding down a job due to mental disorders of some sort. I get it. But to stand on the same corner every day and beg for a quarter…Something is wrong with this picture. They have probably worn out every helpline they had possible and how, why? I give to organizations that help get people off the street. I’d like to believe help is there if people are willing to take it, and that means having to follow “rules” these organizations have which I know is a very large problem for some folks. Too bad. Take the help and get straightened out however you can. I am a democrat by the way.

  30. We had a gentlemen in the same spot most days, most weeks. He looked in bad health, being in Hampton Roads, it is often a veteran. Veterans can often spot veterans; a ragged ball cap or jacket with insignia. I could not in good faith just drive by. I would not give money. It was noon and the sun was unrelenting in the spot where he would sit quietly with a cardboard sign at his feet. I drive around the block, drove thru MacDonalds and delivered a happy meal to the man. For that moment, he had food and a cool drink and I could drive back to work not feeling conflicted. I should add I am a veteran, disabled and know what it feels like to be homeless and have nothing. There are scammers. There are also desperate people in need of compassion and a helping hand. Many good people just need phone numbers we can call. Phone calls that will correctly identify a panhandler who is breaking the law simply preying on charity. But, more importantly, to trust that true individuals who are in desperate need receive proper direction and assistance. This is what weighs on my heart.
    Thank you.

  31. I ask, “Where are our hearts”? Some of us righteously brag about helping the homeless with $10, $20 or taking them homemade lunches or buying them a taco, as though this was something magnanimous! I think that most of us don’t give to panhandlers/homeless and are happy to justify our actions with the excuse that they might use our donation for drugs or alcohol or that we have heard that they make hundreds of dollars a day begging! I’m sorry, but when I see someone with their trimmed, nail cut poodle (on whom they spend thousands of dollars each year) think that they are being such “good people” for giving someone $5, it makes me laugh! How good are we as human beings if we see someone in need and don’t respond LIKE WE SHOULD? Do we really need more jewelry, more clothes than don’t fit in the already crammed closet? Couldn’t we not eat meat once a month/week and give that money to the needy? Couldn’t we not buy the tutu or Christmas outfit for Fido? I am including myself in this comment and apologize to those out there who have deep pockets and large hearts. God bless us all!

  32. I think the majority of panhandlers are addicts of some sort. But we have all seen panhandlers who quite obviously can’t hold down any sort of job due to illness, age, personal hygiene, mental illness, etc. Not sure what the answer is exactly.

  33. I try to buy $5 gift cards from grocery stores, and give those out instead of cash. The people who seriously are hungry are very happy to get it. The people who wanted booze or drugs call me many things and inform me that’s not what they want, to which I reply that’s all I have to give. The ones who need my help get it, and that makes me happy. I figure maybe they seriously need food, and it’s hard to look for or do work if you haven’t eaten, so the card gives them a chance.

  34. I’ve had some bad experiences with panhandlers so I don’t give to them and try to avoid them whenever I can. I had one panhandler in Cincinnati grab hold of me and continue to beg even though I didn’t have any money with me and still wanted me to give him money. I had just arrived on a trip there and was going to get something to eat and pay with my credit card. So I had no cash even if I wanted to give him money. In Las Vegas I said I don’t have money to a panhandler who then told me that I am a liar and he saw me buying items with cash at a local store that I had just walked out of. I’ve also seen others have bad experiences such as someone who had a Big Mac thrown in his face by a panhandler who didn’t want food and emphasized that he wanted cash. I also witnesses a group of aggressive panhandlers harass a woman who finally gave the guy $20 after he followed her and kept begging for change. Right after she gave him $20, he made a hand signal and 4 of his friends also wanted her to give them $20 and when she said she was out of money they kept hassling her asking why she would help one panhandler but won’t help them. This situation escalated and if it weren’t for a police officer happening to drive by this woman probably would have been attacked when she probably didn’t have an additional $80 to give to his four friends and didn’t want to give him money in the first place and wished she could take back the $20 she gave him under duress thinking that it will make him go away but only resulted in him summoning his friends to also beg her for $20 each. One panhandler acted as an aspiring rap musician who wanted help. I tried to walk away as he was signing a CD after asking my name. He told me that I must pay for this CD since he signed it even though I didn’t want the CD or him to sign it and wasn’t interested in buying what he was trying to force me to buy. You’re dealing with complete strangers and you never know which may happen when you refuse to give them money. Some people have been attacked and robbed by people approaching them asking for money. I realize that not all panhandlers are scam artists or aggressive but I avoid them since I have no way of knowing how someone will respond and if you give money to one panhandler he may summon others to come and beg or other panhandlers will notice your generosity and also beg you for change thinking you are made of money and when you sincerely run out they cannot seem to believe you when you tell them you have no more money. Panhandlers have to remember that people walking on the street aren’t rich and may be living from paycheck to paycheck and even close to homeless themselves and cannot give them money. A lot of us are fortunate to make at least some money but there are people who are poor and close to homeless who you may be begging for cash.

  35. I have seen a lot of panhandlers get even more aggressive lately and do support the homeless by giving to homeless shelters but no longer give to panhandlers. I have had bad experiences with panhandlers and avoid them if I can. I’ve seen someone have food thrown at them that they tried to give to someone who asked for change so that he can buy food but didn’t want food by this well meaning person. I’ve seen someone give to one panhandler only to have several more people ask this person for change. I feel that you should help the less fortunate but sometimes these people are scammers and even professional hustlers such as a recent arrest in Las Vegas where a group of panhandlers would target people on the Las Vegas Strip. If someone gave one of these panhandlers money, they would contact other members of their group via cell phone that they have found someone who is generous and this person would be approached by other panhandlers. They even observed people in stores to determine who is carrying cash and would confront these people asking them how they don’t have money to spare when they were at a local store just seconds ago buying items with cash or ask how they no longer have cash after they saw them donate to another panhandler. Some people give a panhandler money because they are aggressive and hope by giving money they will just leave them alone only to be introduced to his “friends” who are also homeless and could use help and question why they would help him but not his friends. I saw one person end up giving away over $200 as she gave a $20 bill to one homeless person and was approached by many others. She only wanted to help this one person but ended up being hustled by others for donations after they saw her give to this first person. There are panhandlers hard on their luck but also ones who are taking advantage of people’s generosity. If you do donate to panhandlers give them gift cards but be prepared to face possible harsh treatment from others who want cash.

  36. I just saw an old guy begging for money in the train station. I felt really bad, but I didn’t know what to do. Was there anything I could have done other than throw him some change? Was there anywhere I could have taken him?

    I read all these comments and most of them are either advocating you give the anyone begging money, or looking down on the homeless for being lazy / drug addicts etc, with only a few comments that are in the middle.

    I am not judging anyone, and I don’t think anyone should judge the homeless. I don’t know what life circumstances led them there. Many probably are not drug addicts or immoral in any way. Even if they are drug addicts, or lazy, or immoral, or anything else, I am not going to judge them because I don’t know what they experienced that led them to get to that point.

    I don’t want to hand over money, for it to just go to drugs, or to someone who is not in need, or someone who is abusing those homeless doing the begging. I got burned too many times in the past. One woman was begging for money to get home saying she was stranded – I saw her again the next day and she did not even recognize me. One person was begging for money saying he was hungry, a woman gave him her own lunch she packed and he refused it. I am not saying I am judging those people, even if they are lying and stealing. I am saying I don’t think giving them change will help.

    I am in debt myself. I don’t actually have any money to spare. But I would do what I can if it is something I can do, without putting myself at risk. I just don’t know what that would be.

  37. This topic has always troubled me. I was a Navy brat growing up. I’m the second oldest of 6 blood related siblings. When I was born, my parents lived in a pool house in San Diego. Both were military AND eligible for food stamps. They were stuck in their situation because they were stationed there, but couldn’t live on the ship due to having children. Years later, we transferred to Norfolk, VA. 15 years ago this place was abysmal, from what I remember. It was the worst time of my childhood. My father left my mother and his four kids, and our mother was discharged in San Diego because she had children in a dual-military marriage. She only had two years of service under her belt, so she walked away with no benefits, with the exception of us kids having health insurance under our father’s plan. We lived in a dingy trailer park while she worked two jobs to make ends meet, with no one around to help us at the time. We would’ve left for Maine sooner, because our grandparents offered their aid and a home for us, but we couldn’t leave the state because of the divorce proceedings. Even though our situation drove us through hell and back, she never lost faith in herself or in us. And I thank her for what she sacrificed to make sure that we were healthy. Even though it was the hardest time in my life, she taught me that not only hard work pays off, but that helping family and those in need always takes priority.

    Fast forward fifteen years. I enlisted in the Navy because the cost of living in Maine is expensive. Eight months of winter takes a toll on your bills, turns out. I wanted to work, to learn true discipline, and be able to provide for my mother and my younger sisters, who still struggle. My mother is worn out, and thankfully, the two youngest girls have proven themselves to be self-sufficient and extremely bright young women. I took the role of caretaker and enforcing my mother’s ethics upon them. And it’s proven to work. One of my sisters is finishing her junior year in high school, has had straight-A’s for every year in the last six years, while also working two jobs in order to provide for herself. Her older sister, on the other hand, is living at home, with no motivation, no job, and no drive. It baffles my mind why she acts this way. I recently had to step up and tell her, “Go look at yourself in the mirror, and tell me that you are proud of the effort that you put forth every day! You want to go out and help people but you don’t even have the motivation to help yourself!”

    Conclude backstory. I’m stationed in Norfolk (oh joy!) and even within an advanced career in the Navy, military pay is still lacking. It’s tough to get by, and there’s always the threat that we won’t get paid altogether. It’ll be even tougher because of their living situation with their father in Maine, my two youngest sisters will be coming to live with me soon until things get organized back home.

    In Hampton Roads, there’s numerous people that ask for money. It’s a nightly occurrence, especially whenever I go to a gas station at night. There’s people I can tell that are in genuine need of help, and I do offer money when I can to aid them. The problem is, there’s so many people in need that I can’t offer money to everyone. Most understand when I apologize, and don’t give me any grief. However, some in this area are pushy, or arrogant in nature. I walked out of a 7-Eleven with snacks in hand to get me through the following 12-hour shift at work, and a guy sitting outside yelled, “Hey, why don’t you go get me some food!” I ignored that comment, but just as I got into my car, another man approached, and younger looking guy, maybe around my age, asking if I had any spare change. I gave him what was left in my car for quarters, but then he turned around and goes, “Mind if I get some cigarettes from you, too?” I immediately lost it at him. I berated him in public, for the nerve he had to approach me like that. I told him if he had to ask for money on the streets, he definitely didn’t have the money to afford a smoking addiction. I felt terrible after, not for him, but because it reminded me of the people who had actually needed money before that I couldn’t provide to, and I just gave a young man some change who possibly didn’t need it. It bothered me severely, and still does. When I lived in Maine, I gladly helped out as much as possible. I understood: people need food and shelter in the north. You can’t stay on the streets when it’s -10F outside for a third of the year. But it’s made me hesitant about giving out money now and who to trust. I’m dealing with an 18 year old sister and trying to prevent her from becoming someone like that young man who sponges off other people. There are people that need assistance, however the paranoia instilled by people like that prevents good-natured people from trusting those that actually need aid. It puts my ethics at a compromise because there’s so many here that claim they need help, but end up soiling the reputation of all homeless people.

  38. James williams

    Some if not most you people on this blog is heartless! Stop focusing on what people who’s asking for help is doing with the help! It’s not about what they do with it! It’s about where your heart was when you gave it! And if they have guile within their heart when asking then they will have to answer for it in the end. But it’s not for you to determine that! Only the one true living God can do that!

  39. Is a pretty hard situation and complicated.. But if i have i give.. Because i was 2 years homeless and panhandle i was a shame buy i did.. That’s why not everyone have a addiction of any type.. That’s why i help with out think for what they going to do with it.. I just give… is on them wha they really going to do with the money.. I did my part and i fell great to do it. Hey give.. And don’t give a shit to care. It fells great!! God see.. What we doing and for wha they wanted. U know!!

  40. I started working g in Chicago and panhandlers are on every corner. One of them looks like he is on the junk so I can’t see me helping him with his addiction. So I thought maybe I’ll help the guy that isn’t on the junk I studied he for a few months. Then one day I could tell he was on the junk nodding off on my truck. Now I just don’t know what to do I can’t even look at them anymore. I can’t give them money to supply their addiction when I’m struggling to get by paying student loans and other life bills. If I after skip a meal because I need to pay a bill I am not going to give them money to get high. If I knew they was gonna use it to get by I would do all I could.

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