To give or not to give?

Dana - posted on 08/04/2009 ( 25 moms have responded )




Today while leaving the store I saw a guy, probably 18-20 standing by the road with a sign that said, "Traveling and hungry, anything you can give will help. I slowed down to read it but was quickly past him. I sat about thirty feet past him and thought. Is he for real, is he some local kid who wants money for drugs, is he just lazy? I sat there with 4 cars behind me waiting while I yelled "Hey" and hung a $5 dollar bill out the passenger side window. My conscience wouldn't let me drive away wondering, what IF he's hungry. I hoped my son sitting in his car seat and the fact that my car is 15 yrs old would weigh on his conscience is he was bullshitting me. I'm a sucker for everyone who's asking for money from the kids selling candy to go on a trip or team uniform's to women's shelters and veterans. I usually just give them the money and tell them to keep what they're selling for the next person. I even will stand there and listen to someone tell me why they want an issue on the ballot or their name on the ballot and they need so many signatures, I always sign, wether I agree or not. Do you give to causes? Do you think too many people are asking for money? What do you think of panhandlers?


Amie - posted on 08/04/2009




I've given to loads of organizations. We do every year, always get the tax receipts too but never use them. Not that it's bad if people do we just have enough write offs. That's not the point behind our giving. We give to the organizations that affect our families (diabetes, heart, cancer, asthma, etc.). We also sponsor a child and her family through World Vision. We give monthly to our local United Way. Every child that comes to our door raising money, we buy something. (My god you should see how much kids walk away with at Christmas time.. they love our house. LOL!) We are just a giving family, it's how we were raised to be and are happy to continue on the tradition.

We also have given to panhandlers. Not always but sometimes we do. There's been a few instances where we've even taken one or two to a restaurant to get them something to eat. There is nothing better in this world than seeing the smile of appreciation on someone's face. We've also been known to step in when people are out and out rude to these people. There is no need to be a bitch or an asshole to these people. Get off you high horse. It could just as easily be you. Just because you have your fancy life now, there is no guarantee it could all be pulled out from under you in the future. I watched it happen to a friend so I do know it's possible. I'll keep giving and making others have a bright sun shiny spot in their day. Their smile and quiet thank you is all I need. =)

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I try to be generous, but I don't like giving to people on the street who ask for it. I used to live in Birmingham, UK and if I gave to every person who begs in the city I would have been homeless too. I think I even said those words to one man who was harassing me to give him the only money I had left for my bus home. I think it's best to only give to registered charities.

Louise - posted on 08/05/2009




I work in SF and it's a haven for homeless people. However, majority of the homeless people are homeless due to some mental disability, drug abuse or alcoholism. Some homeless women are victims of domestic abuse. The shelters are not safe for them either. I am torn. I want to help, but all I do is delay the inevitable. We cannot help them if they do not help themselves.

I'm also thinking about hungry children in Africa, if we feed them, ten years from now, they're going to be hungry adults. It tears me apart that no matter what we do, if it's unsustainable, it won't help.

It's a hard decision, I have yet to see a program that works wonders for these people. Giving them money to pay for their vices is a disservice to them.

On the other hand, please enjoy this article of a success story. From homeless alcoholic to the famous shoe shiner in SF.


I however do give money to subway performers. They sing or dance, as long as they show that they're working for their money, then they've earned my dollar, sometimes a five.

Jocelyn - posted on 08/05/2009




i work in a liquor store, and i cannot count how many times homeless guys would come into the store and buy one big bottle of beer or a six pack, and pay for it in pennies and nickles. i never give money directly to panhandlers, i will gladly give food tho. i also donate directly to organizations that help the homeless, like the shelters, food banks and the rehabilitation centers. ( i mostly give to the teen rehab centers)

[deleted account]

I don't personally give to panhandlers. For two reasons: The first reason is that I just don't seem them where I live. So, that's a load of my conscience. The second reason is that if he/she would spend 1/2 their time actually pulling themselves together they could better spend their time getting a job. Any job. You can't tell me that of all the jobs in a city there is just not a single job for this one person. I don't buy it. There are too many org's out there willing to put them in decent clothes, help with the resume or interviewing skills and assist them in making a better life for themselves.

I guess I'm a cynic. But if that guys out there all day and only has 4 cars stop and give $5 bucks an hour . . he's making some pretty fat cash!! That's $20 bucks an hour tax free!! So, no, I don't feel sorry for them.

We do however give to our church and help any charitable causes they may have. We made the mistake of making a donation over the phone. I don't recall to whom, maybe the VFW or the local PD. Anyhow, ever since we did that we have been on a list and every charitable orginazation calls. And initially I was giving to them all because I wanted to do my part . . but it just wouldn't stop. You think it's a one time donation but no, they call you next quarter for the next fundraiser drive. We had VFW, local PD, State PD, Water Conservation, Police and Kids Program all calling. . all the time. . I just had to start saying no. Because bottom line, everyone has a good cause. And they are good causes but they'll suck you dry over time! I just couldn't take it anymore. So I just started saying no. So it's church and their fundraisers and the Christian's Childrens Fund. If anyone else wants something, take it from the extremely high taxes I pay.

Charlie - posted on 08/05/2009




The homeless in Australia have a magazine published for them called " the big issue " The homeless are able to get a stack of these magazines a week and sell them on the streets for around $5 , i always buy one of those .
Its a great opportunity for them to make money the " honest " ( i dont know if thats the right word ) way .
Many of the homeless guys who i buy these mags off often tell me how it has really helped them , a lot of them are out of shelters and into their own place because of this great idea !!

Angie - posted on 08/05/2009




Lindsey, I love how you think 60,000 people is a small town... :) hahaha the biggest town to us is 15,000 people. The town I live next to is 400 people...

Where I grew up, our ranch was next to the railroad and we have had a lot hobos come and ask us for food. We did give them food and blankets if they needed it. There are some hitch hikers who are just trying to get to one place or to the other, so that they can better themselves. I loved your story Loureen!

Michelle - posted on 08/05/2009




im a sucker for the homless who sit on the street with there dogs, i always give them money. I have 2 true stories for you here though. My mum used to work in the centre of manchester (in the UK) every morning she would pass a "homless "guy called Jimmy sat on the steps on the busiest street in manchester with his hat that was always filled with money, 1000s of people passed him every day and by the evening he could have up tp £500. I know this as my mum used to see him out at night in the posh bars with an expensive suit on buying rounds for everyone. This man earned more a day than we could ever dream of by begging! Another time i was out with my mum and we walked past a homeless guy who had a 24 pack of beer next to him, he asked my mum if she could spare any change and she said "sure mate no problem" she gave him 50p and took one of his beer's. Funny,funny, funny.

[deleted account]

Loureen----thats an awesome story! Homeless are people too, sometimes with very sad stories.

I see panhandlers everyday of my life....multiple times a day. I sometimes give and I sometimes don't. Depends on the day, my mood, and my change flow. As for charities, I have donated a few times to organizations that I have some sort of connection too. I regularly donate to the Harvest House, a rehabilitation center for young men with drug/crime problems. Oh, and I also LOVE chocolate so I always have an eye out for kids with candy and cookies!!

Dana - posted on 08/05/2009




Maybe I should explain my earlier statement. I sign petitions for issues or names to be put on a ballot that can then be voted on by others who may agree or disagree. I don't sign something that says I agree with something I don't. I'm not THAT nice....ROFL An example would be.... A man was standing outside of the grocery store asking for signatures, he need 2,000 so his name could be on the ballot. He was telling me what he stood for at the end I told him I didn't agree with what he had to say and hoped I had a chance to vote against him and signed the petition. I believe in giving everyone their chance. I think it's ridiculous for someone to have to get that many signatures or any for that matter. If you don't agree vote against it but we shouldn't stop anyone giving options.

Dana - posted on 08/05/2009




I also live in a small city so I don't encounter panhandler's often either. I also have some experience myself from the other side. My husband (then boyfriend), a friend and I were traveling to Nederland, CO, 10 yrs or so ago, when our friends car broke down in Kansas. We then hitch-hiked the rest of the way, we spent all the money we had about a week after we finally arrived. We then hitched rides into Boulder so my husband could play guitar on the street and try to make money for us to eat. So not everyone is looking for money for drugs or booze.

Esther - posted on 08/05/2009




I'm a giver. I give to charities that call me, I make monthly automatic donations to certain specific causes, I will buy the candy bars (if I'm asked politely) and will help the local sports team. I also give to homeless people/panhandlers. It's like that Phil Collins song says "It's just another day for you and me in paradise". You don't know that person's life story. You don't know how they ended up on the street. It's not a life that I would ever wish on anyone I love, so I will do my bit. I do not, however, just sign a petition or a ballot just because someone asks me to. I'm WAY too opinionated for that and if someone asks me to sign something I don't believe in, I will not only tell them no (or HELL no), I will also explain to them why not in no uncertain terms.

Lindsay - posted on 08/05/2009




I live in a fairly small city (about 60,000) and we don't see a lot of homeless people but more along the lines of school sports team car washes or girl scouts selling cookies. Around the 4th of July we were heading to Josh's parents' house for a cookout and saw a homeless man walking down the highway. We had passed him a few times and Josh pulled up to McDonalds to get something for him to eat. He hadn't been holding a sign or anything but was pushing a shopping cart with all his stuff in it and it was pretty obvious. Josh hopped out and asked him if he was hungry and gave him a couple cheese burgers and about a dozen cold bottles of water we had in the cooler for the cookout. We left and never saw him after that.

As far as the kids, I usually will give a donation at the car wash but won't let them wash my car and I'll buy a couple boxes of cookies from the girl scouts. We try to help when we can even if it's just a little bit.

If I lived in a bigger city where the panhandling was all the time and not just a case every few months, I can see where it may become more of a problem but at the moment I don't have a problem with helping someone out when I'm able...=)

ME - posted on 08/05/2009




When I lived in Boulder, CO, I got to know a homeless vet pretty well. He had some psychological problems, and no family. He needed help, but panhandling wasn't getting him the help he needed. He would buy a 40oz beer every morning around 6 am, and keep drinking all day. He would steal bikes off of the mall, and sell them or trade them. He would make 50-100$ a day, and spend all of it on Alcohol...He talked about many homeless friends who did the same. I started carrying bags of day old bagels, cereal bars, fruit, etc...I would offer them food, but never gave money. I do give money to registered charities when I can afford to, but I am something of a charity I try to volunteer my time instead!

Charlie - posted on 08/05/2009




I also gave a old homeless dude a beer out of my six pack once and i sat with him on the steps and drank a beer and chatted to him until we finished our beers , while all the "suits " hurried by and looked at us in disgust ( i in no way looked homeless but people are judgemental )
He was so happy someone not only gave him a cold beer but took the time to sit down and have a chat with him ,he said it made his day , which made mine !!
The funny thing is , it was in the middle of the city , and i was meant to be in a shoe shop helping my friend pick her wedding shoes , but after 4 hours of shoe shopping i REALLY needed a beer !!

Charlie - posted on 08/05/2009




Living in sydney i saw lots of Homeless people , at first i felt sorry for all of them and gave them all a little money but in the end i made a rule to myself : Donate to one homeless person only a day and one busker , And only sign up for one Charity a year !!
Otherwise id be sending myself broke and would have to draw a sign up for myself !!

Crystal - posted on 08/04/2009




I'm a big sucker for hobos (sorry, midwest lingo for homeless).

It's just that up here in the Dakotas, homeless people or hitchhikers are fewer and further in between than they were the 5 years I lived down in California. When I see a homeless person/hitchhiker/beggar in -20 degree windchill, my heart hurts for him (always a him for some reason) and I will do what I can. I've picked up a "scary" looking man during a windstorm and drove him through a McDonalds drive thru (he ordered two McChickens and a milk) then took him to the bus station...

I've given money and food to beggars... I just feel that I have these things (even though I get by paycheck to paycheck) so why not share with those less fortunate? That's what Jesus wants me to do.

JL - posted on 08/04/2009




I don't give money to beggars or panhandlers but I have been known to stop and ask them if they need help in finding a shelter or soup kitchen. I give money directly to organizations and such as a way of helping out others.We usually pick five different organizations and charities at the beginning of each year to donate too so that way we are covering different things each year. Plus at Christmas we have a rule that everyone must buy at least one gift that gives back. And I don't do garage sells I take everything that I am wanting to get rid of and I donate it or I just give it away to people who need it. I also have my daughter's girl scout troop volunteer for different organizations and charities as away of helping out.

Ez - posted on 08/04/2009




Homelessness and poverty is a huge problem. I think most of us can agree on that. But I don't give money to beggars or panhandlers, for the very reason you mentioned Dana. There's too much chance my generosity will be abused and the money misused. I'm not in any position to donate money to ANYONE (other than my daughter) right now anyway. I'm a single mother still on maternity leave, and I tell people as much when I'm approached for a donation. But when I have made donations in the past it has always been to a reputable charity, where I get a receipt. Always. If I'm digging into my pocket I want to know the money is going to the people who need it, and being used in an appropriate manner.

[deleted account]

Just wanted to say that those little make a wish boxes you see at the gas station...get stolen and picked through all the time. I've worked in many gas stations and I can't count the number of times I've had them stolen from my counter by customers. And as a manager, I've had to fire several employees for stealing from them (most places have dvd surveillance now)....they are not what you think they least the money doesn't end up where you think it does all the time. You want to donate to charity and be assured it will go to the charity? Write a check and put it in the mail.

And as for panhandlers, we don't have many in my area but the times I do see them, I always give if I have it. Never more than a dollar or two and sometimes just whatever change I have in my ashtray. I'd rather donate and take the chance that the person will not spend it the way I "think he should" than to not donate and it end up being someone who really needs it. They aren't all boozers and drug addicts. I used to be one....

Sharon - posted on 08/04/2009




I always give a dollar to the old fart at the over pass/under pass with a sign that says "why lie, I just want a beer"

Causes - if I agree with the cause I'll sign it. I always donate to the veterans at walmart and the grocery store and wear my little red flower happily. Kids come to me wanting to sell me $5 - $10 candy bars and I tell them I don't need the extra fat but if they want to wash my car... never happens.

to the homeless guys who are next to my favorite grocery store - I take them burgers loaded with veggies, apples, bottles of water and plain burgers for their dog(s).

the dogs are always disappearing/changing I hope its because animal control is taking them.

I rarely carry cash though. A handfull of change is usually what I have on me. And I REALLY REALLY REALLY hate men/large boys who walk up to me in the dark at the grocery store selling stuff. I drive a monster big suv and its my baby I tend to park at the back of the lots so I'm way far away from help. One time some big guy headed towards me from behind. I could see him in the side view mirror. Without ever looking I snapped at my kids "STOP PLAYING WITH THE GLOCK" they were shocked. Only my oldest boy got it. He whipped his head around and saw the strange guy coming. And loudly asked if it was loaded. The swerved off. I dunno why I did it. I've never done anything like that before and I did NOT have a gun in my car!! LOL I never carry a gun they're all at home for snake and pest control.

Traci - posted on 08/04/2009




My husband is a cop and he used to see what kind of cars those dudes got out of....and I'll bet their car is better than yours, lol. He'd always chase them away, but they always come back. They make a killing doing what they do. If you really feel badly for them, go buy them a #2 at Mickey D' least that way you know they aren't drinking it or smoking it ;)

I always feel such guilt looking the other way, too. It's a shame you have to be so cynical, but that's the way of the world. Give extra to your church that week, or throw some money in one of those Make a Wish boxes you see on store counters, or even send a check to your local food bank to help clear your conscience. Those are all ways to compensate for looking the other way when you see a panhandler. It's not your fault you can't trust them....

Angie - posted on 08/04/2009




I can you tell a math teacher in high school saw a homeless guy standing on a corner...I can't remember what the sign said, but she turned around and went and bought him a Big know what that guy did...he threw it right back in her face, he said he wanted money and not food. There are very few people who don't choose to be in that kind of situations...but I have a hard time feeling sorry for homeless people...For as many hours they stand or sit there, they most definitely can find a job...

I also have another story...K story time everyone :)

Anyways, a town about 2-3 hours from us, they all pitched in to get rid of this homeless guy that has been sitting on the same spot for a very long time... They bought him a bus ticket and gave him some money, he ended up staying at our town for 4 months...He got there in August stayed in the same spot and didn't leave until December...Now I lived in Wyoming and around November things start getting cold. People felt sorry for him, so they brought him presents...if he ever did want to leave, he would have to have a U-Haul to take all of his junk with him. The police couldn't do anything about it because it was out of town limits...Granted there was a homeless shelter, but he never left!!!!

I do sometimes give to causes...Like I am a sucker for those pictures of kids and babies on the cans! If I know what the cause is for someone and I know some who is in need of it, most definitely.

I have also seen a 20/20 special on homeless people on the streets of New York...that is usually their job and they usually drive off in a vehicle. But granted not all are like that.

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