I've given food, occasionally a few coins if I have them (I don't carry cash so :: shrugs:
But years ago when the collections guy at a company I worked for told me a story of how he saw a family of 4 (mom, dad, little kids) on the corner of an intersection in on the south side of 35 in early summer (read: HOT). They were begging, "Family in need" etc.
He thought it was pretty rough that the kids were out there, so it had to be legit, right? He went to the gas station next to the intersection and bought them some milk, water, crackers. Took them over to the family. Dude and Mama FLIPPED OUT, screaming at him about how they didn't need food, they needed money, and all kinds of just vile stuff, profanities, really freaking out.
Always makes me wonder.
"The nice thing about memories is the good ones are stronger and linger longer than the bad and we sure have some incredibly good memories." - EverythingButWings
And see, that's what I hated about losing my compassion. All these stories about people scamming.
We actually had a guy working for us who like to tell tales and he told us when he was a little younger and working in the Forest Service as a seasonal firefighter he and his buddies went to the nearest town and started panhandling for money, for beer for a good drunk of course. They only asked for quarters to call home - but one guy had a real heart rending story and made out big time. As they were leaning up against the pickup one of their marks saw them and started to chew them out for taking advantage of people's good nature - so they tossed him back his quarter. It was a great story but it chilled me.
We weren't sad to see that guy move on.
OP, I think you did well. Sometimes it is just the right thing to do.
Better to give to someone that really needs it than be worried about being scammed for a few bucks.
My husband is the one - he goes to cash in the bottles, but gives them to the needy looking family. He goes in for a quick Chinese lunch and comes out with a chow mein for the guy at the door. He never misses an opportunity...
I'm the shy one, but I did find a bit of contraband in the form of a pack of cigarettes in the truck the other day (my husband is supposed to have given up smoking) - so I gave it to a fellow outside the rec centre. He was so grateful - and I felt I was contributing to his early death.
We make it a rule to never pass by a Salvation Army kettle.
We have a nursery and can use help - but nobody has ever showed up.
I buy diapers for the mums with babies - they are so expensive.
Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique
I pulled into a gas station a few years ago and a woman my age asked me for 5 bucks for gas, she and her 2, under age 10 kids were running away from her abusive ex boyfriend. I told her to pull up to the pump and I would fill the tank. She said she was driving from Ocala to Daytona, a 2 hour trip and I wanted to make sure she got there.
She actually told me the cash would be better and all she needed was 5 bucks. I said, "how is 5 dollars in gas going to get you to Daytona?" I repeated for her to go to the pump and I would FILL her tank.
NOPE! She walked away from me. She wanted that 5 bucks for something other than gas . To top it all off, she had her two kids in the back seat making sad faces at people walking by. Mind you this was at 6am as I was picking up a coffee to go to the barn.
I walked into the store inquired about the woman outside and the lady behind the register said they are there every other week or so.
I've never had him approach me, but apparently there is a guy who does this at a gas station near my house. Begs a few dollars off people "so he can get home", but never actually uses it for gas.
I am in San Francisco every day (aka pan handler mecca). To say I have become jaded regarding pan handlers would be an understatement. From run of the mill filthy addicts, to those with elaborated stories....
I have watched food I have given be thrown away one too many times. (seriously, more than 5 times I have watches food I was planning to eat be thrown away! Can't buy booze with a burrito!)
The sign about "just" getting laid off... On the same corner for 5 years.
Seeing my local corner guy in the line at the grocery store, stocking up on $10 bottles of wine.
I am through, I will never hand out money or food on the streets again. I would consider donating to an outreach group.
At least around here there are many services available. Guiding those in need to a professional service will help them more than a handout.
And we have what they call "chronic homeless". Some of these people are offered FREE apartments which they refuse! Preferring the "freedom of the street"!
I know not all cities are crawling with scammers and drug addicts, but that is an overwhelming majority in SF.
That whole give a man a fish vs. Teach a man how to fish thing.
Last edited by Appsolute; Apr. 4, 2013 at 01:26 AM.
We donate to St Vincent de Paul at my church, but we never do handouts.
My dad's boss at his former job used to be big on handouts. One day he saw this guy who had one of those "will work for..." or "Looking for work.." signs and he was getting handouts. My dad's boss pulled up next to him and basically offered him a job, but the guy turned it down saying "no I just need some money." Now my dad's former boss doesn't do handouts much anymore.
Scammers at busy intersections can get 100+ dollars a day if they "work" hard enough for long enough on other people's charity. But donating to organizations and shelters is a good way to make sure your money/food is put to good use.
Of the heart-aching, hard-working, hope-having, horse-loving and horse-less variety. We are a sad species indeed.
I've given cash and/or food, and other times nothing. Depends on what my gut instinct is.
Many years ago I lived at the oceanfront where there was a decent sized group of homeless people. One particular guy "Ron" would always be out front of the grocery store reading a paperback. For awhile I took him books and we struck up a relationship of sorts. Never gave him cash, I was too broke myself. One night DH was grocery shopping with me and decided to get Ron a burger and fries from BK. When he handed Ron the bag, Ron politely gave it back and stated he was a vegetarian and would prefer we just give him cash. Right.
There are a few around our CBD and most have mental welfare issues - we do have a social welfare system with state support and most of these people are known to them already. Just cant cope with modern society. They dont make eye contact and look really "down".
When I buy my lunch (not often as I dont get out of the office that much), I always buy 5 Deli sandwich packs and bottles of water. As I walk past, I drop off a pack and bottle at each person. The smiles they give just light up my day. (I also really appreciate that roast beef sandwich that I have for lunch.)
Others give cash or food. A woman dropped off a hand-knitted jumper for each long-term street person. She looked as hard as rocks in her "power suit" but obviously had a good heart.
Nobody decides that on a career in begging. They are driven to it.
Not always. Back when I was in high school (eons ago) a friends dad walked out on his family and six figure job to live on the streets. Got himself a corner and worked it for years then just disappeared. Around the same time we had a local homeless guy everyone called the "Great Bridge Bum". I used to make sure I had a few bits of change to give him. Never understood why it made my Mom so mad till years later I found out he had family that was willing to take him in he just wasn't Interested. He passed away awhile back in a local retirement home. Newspaper did an article on him were he talked about how much he enjoyed his days living free.
It is sad I know that there are people who will scam and take advantage of peoples good hearts. Like I said I live in a very small town, and to the best of my recollection I cannot remember ever seeing anyone standing around with a sign in my little town. But there is always a first. I don't know, like I said, I just felt compelled to do it. still do not regret it.
I will say it is nice to see all the good hearts on COTH!
I don't give to panhandlers. Many of the local intersections have "regulars" that probably make more money than I do. What I DO do is donate to the local food bank and kitchen. They do great work and feed many people who wander for a good meal, or moms and kids down on their luck who need some groceries. I feel my donations are truly helping. I also bring 5 lb. dog food bags there.
Either the "bums" have changed or I have. There used to be a colorful bunch of scammers mixed in with those who were truly lost (old folks, mothers with kids). I just dont see the same types anymore, just the young scammers.
I used to talk to them, know their stories, kind of found them uplifting, as in "all is well, there's jane doe at the corner and everything is okay in the world".
It takes all types to make a village and I felt they had their place.
But I dont see them anymore.
I have little bags in my car that have a dollar, a pamplette from the local shelter, a granola bar, and a small bottle of water. I hand these out. I figure it's not my job to know why the person is standing on the side of the road when I drive by asking for my help. I just give them the bag. Surprisingly, I don't give away nearly as many as I thought I would.
I'm really impressed by how thoughtful so many of you all are in terms of having ready made items to give out.
I tend to give to people who are not asking.
In my neighborhood (metropolitan area) there is a family who goes through the trash for recycling items (cans/bottles) to return for cash.
They are NEAT and INDUSTRIOUS. Every bag they open is tied up and replaced where it was lying originally. I have never seen them ask for money. Because of this I have gone up to the mom and given her cash when I have it.
Otherwise I'm not big on giving out cash. I've known too many substance abusers in my life and prefer to help those who are already helping themselves.
I also donate to musicians or performers who are playing on the streets. I buy street art. So many talented people trying to make an extra dollar or two.
We dont normally have panhandlers were we live. Seeing one is a rare occurance. But one time on an intersection there was a guy with a sign that said Flat busted broke. It was cold and blowing and very very nasty out, and his sign was wet and crumpling, and he was freezing. So we pulled up and gave him our last 5 dollars, as things were tight for us at the time. But I never looked back except to think gosh I wish we had more to give at the time, and I hope he is ok.
We also help a neighbor guy out from time to time. He lives in a garage and is poor. So we give him food, clothes, and cat food for his cat. We also nuetered the cat for him. Just stuff like that. But I worry about him in the winter, and if he is warm enough.