Author Topic: money to beggars...  (Read 15738 times)

FuckRx

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money to beggars...
« on: December 10, 2013, 01:19:26 PM »

how do you handle this topic? i think this is more a societal question and what should my duty as a citizen be to the panhandlers and homeless and beggars?
yes, volunteering and donating to other causes is great but this question in particular about the local homeless people i pass every day...

.22guy

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Re: money to beggars...
« Reply #1 on: December 10, 2013, 01:43:17 PM »
I read a letter to the editor of my local paper asking people to please not give to beggars this holiday season.  Why?  Her son is a heroin addict, lives on the street and begs constantly, while he has a warm bed and hot meal at home.  She is afraid that one of these days he will OD on heroin purchased by some well-meaning soul's donation.

I personally don't give to them. 

MissStache

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Re: money to beggars...
« Reply #2 on: December 10, 2013, 01:53:25 PM »
There is a great organization here in DC where homeless people write articles for a newspaper called Street Sense.  The non-profit then publishes and prints the paper which the homeless people sell.  I think they buy it for $.50 then resell it for $2.00 and they get to keep the profit.  There are certain qualifications you have to meet to be able to sell the paper and they have special badges and vests that they wear to show they are affiliated with the organization. 

I get those papers whenever I can, but that is the only time I give money directly to them.  I prefer to funnel my money to organizations otherwise.

rockstache

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Re: money to beggars...
« Reply #3 on: December 10, 2013, 01:56:38 PM »
We only give food, never money. We're happy to buy someone a meal if they need it, but most of the time they turn us down.

GuitarStv

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Re: money to beggars...
« Reply #4 on: December 10, 2013, 01:58:35 PM »
Nope.  It fosters a culture of helplessness.  Giving people money is one way to ensure that there will always be people begging.

I'll give to charities that work with the homeless, or volunteer my time to help out . . . but never, ever, ever, ever, ever will I give money to beggars, addicts, or con-men.

zinnie

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Re: money to beggars...
« Reply #5 on: December 10, 2013, 02:10:09 PM »
I handle it by giving to an organization that helps the local homeless population with each paycheck. I don't give to people on the streets, though I too pass people asking for money daily. The way I see it, organizations are much better at using their resources to work to improve the situation in general.

I have in the past also kept some 2-1-1 cards in my wallet to hand out (this is a number people can call that will link them up with various human services in the U.S.)

I am not sure there is much else to do! I don't think it is a bad thing to be confronted with beggars and the homeless on regular basis as long as there are people like that out there; it has certainly made me more likely to support organizations that help get people in treatment programs and supportive housing. 

marty998

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Re: money to beggars...
« Reply #6 on: December 10, 2013, 02:12:24 PM »
There is a great organization here in DC where homeless people write articles for a newspaper called Street Sense.  The non-profit then publishes and prints the paper which the homeless people sell.  I think they buy it for $.50 then resell it for $2.00 and they get to keep the profit.  There are certain qualifications you have to meet to be able to sell the paper and they have special badges and vests that they wear to show they are affiliated with the organization. 

I get those papers whenever I can, but that is the only time I give money directly to them.  I prefer to funnel my money to organizations otherwise.

They have something similar in here. The magazine is called the "Big Issue". Sells for $5 and the poor down and out soul gets to keep half I think.

A group of us at work once tried to work out just how much a beggar can make on a busy city intersection. If someone dropped $1 in the hat every minute then you're looking at a very healthy tax free wage indeed. But yes many do have addiction problems which is where all that cash gets funnelled into.

MgoSam

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Re: money to beggars...
« Reply #7 on: December 10, 2013, 02:22:56 PM »
It is a tough issue, as I live in the Midwest so my heart goes out to them after seeing them in the cold. That said, I don't give any money to them, I put my contributions in charities where at least I know where the money is going to. I have offered food at various times and some times they would frown their nose at it while they took it (this was leftovers from a restaurant or leftover donuts from the office).

In Ann Arbor, there is a huge homeless problem. If you give any one money their initial reaction is to ask for me or for you to buy them food. There is a notable guy that stands near the campus and asks for change with a smile and will respond with, "God Bless Ya," regardless if you give him anything or not. He was profiled and turns out that he isn't homeless but instead lives iwth his sister and makes a fairly good income from it. Makes it harder to want to help people if there are people out there profiting off the trust of others.

brewer12345

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Re: money to beggars...
« Reply #8 on: December 10, 2013, 02:26:23 PM »
I donate to established charities instead.  There is a physical danger aspect to encountering someone on the street that I am uncomfortable with, especially since workplace security requirements mean that I am always unarmed when I encounter street people.

Argyle

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Re: money to beggars...
« Reply #9 on: December 10, 2013, 03:21:52 PM »
I saw a woman shivering at a street corner with her cardboard sign.  She had a kid about five years old with her.  I gave her $5.  She burst into tears.  She just stood there crying and thanking me. 

I guess what I think is, "What would be worse?  To give money to someone who's not really needy, or not to give money to someone who is really needy?"  Different people will have different answers.

chasesfish

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Re: money to beggars...
« Reply #10 on: December 10, 2013, 04:58:54 PM »
I donate to established charities instead.  There is a physical danger aspect to encountering someone on the street that I am uncomfortable with, especially since workplace security requirements mean that I am always unarmed when I encounter street people.

+1.  I'm not allowed to have a sidearm at work, even though I have a carry permit.

ASquared

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Re: money to beggars...
« Reply #11 on: December 10, 2013, 05:35:03 PM »
I will sometimes give food or coffee etc to homeless people.  For example if I saw someone sitting outside when I was going to buy groceries, I would buy a couple extra things (ready to eat) and give those. I feel more comfortable giving food/etc than $. 

Once on a road trip in New Mexico there was a young man with a sign near the gas station.  My husband gave him a couple of bananas from our car through the window, and he was so thankful and had finished one before we could drive away.  Just broke my heart!

badassprof

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Re: money to beggars...
« Reply #12 on: December 10, 2013, 05:42:06 PM »
Yes, I do.  I suppose that someone might use it for something "bad," but thinking about the Wendell quotation from an earlier post in an earlier thread, my personal decisions aren't always that great either. Who am I to judge.?

I've never had a bad encounter with a homeless person, either whereI live now or when I lived in New York City. Guess just lucky. Honestly, rather than money (or maybe with money) some time and attention is always good. I had a friend who was homeless for awhile as a child; she said the worst part of it was how people would look right through you as if you weren't there.

Gggirl

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Re: money to beggars...
« Reply #13 on: December 10, 2013, 07:47:13 PM »
I have given in the past but not anymore.  I had always heard people say they aren't really homeless a van drops them off or they park their car over at the store then stand on the corner. I thought it was an urban myth until I walked into a group home and recognized someof the residents as people I had seen on corners in different parts of town.  They would have had to ride a couple of different buses to reach the area where they panhandle.  It was an eye opener experience to say the least. 

scrubbyfish

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Re: money to beggars...
« Reply #14 on: December 10, 2013, 08:20:14 PM »
I was once homeless for a period. Shelters were usually closed all day, it was hard to walk a long way on zero calories to whatever soup kitchen was open next, the noise and crowds and other issues inside the rare day shelter was hard for me, and it was cold or hot or wet outside. I didn't panhandle, but I remember wishing I could access -in solitude- a little snack or hot drink. I wasn't up for conversation, explaining myself, being with others, and so on. I wasn't lonely; I was exhausted.

With all of that in my memory, if I feel like giving, I give $1-$2 (occasionally more) so the person can buy themselves a cup of coffee to warm up, or a snack of their choice. If I don't feel like giving, I make sure to still make eye contact (acknowledge the human being), smile kindly, and say, "No."

I know some people are collecting under circumstances some of us don't like; the catch is, we can't tell by looking who just needs a small, transitional gift to feel warm and hopeful again and who needs other help. So I give based only on my sense of the moment. It's a very imperfect system :)

bmorestachian

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Re: money to beggars...
« Reply #15 on: December 10, 2013, 08:24:54 PM »
I work for an organization that provides services to the homeless. Up until I started working at this organization, I used to be conflicted about giving out money to homeless who I regularly see while walking to/from work. I am no longer conflicted. The majority of the time, your money is best put to a local charity. There will always be an exception when someone really needs the help, but you'll know it when you see it.

The best thing you can do is to look them straight in the eyes, and kindly inform them that you don't give out money. Homeless tend to be ignored outright, and even those who do give money rarely stop to say anything. I've noticed a very different response when I look someone in the eye, and say, "I'm sorry bud, I don't give out change." It took some time to work up the nerve to tell the truth and to their faces, rather than ignore, or just give a quick 'no'.

If all you're giving is a dollar, it isn't going to go very far. Save that dollar, give it to a local charity.

Of course, if you live in an area that doesn't have a large safety net for the homeless, it could be a whole different matter. But if you live in an urban setting in the U.S., chances are there are gov't agencies and a plethora of non-profits that can help better than your dollar.

My two, rambling, cents.

sunshine

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Re: money to beggars...
« Reply #16 on: December 10, 2013, 08:31:37 PM »
I saw a woman shivering at a street corner with her cardboard sign.  She had a kid about five years old with her.  I gave her $5.  She burst into tears.  She just stood there crying and thanking me. 

I guess what I think is, "What would be worse?  To give money to someone who's not really needy, or not to give money to someone who is really needy?"  Different people will have different answers.

I'm with you. I give because I would hate to not help someone that needs it. Lots of people fall through the cracks as I have learned volunteering with charities. It is 20 below zero. One guy was out with a sign saying they were out of fuel oil yesterday.

iamlindoro

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Re: money to beggars...
« Reply #17 on: December 10, 2013, 08:50:03 PM »
I donate cash to established charities and fairly frequently give food (most frequently to people who are verifiably veterans or with children).  I know it's possible to do the mental gymnastics to say providing food is enabling a drug habit by freeing up money for the habit--  It's just that it nourishes *me* to feed the hungry, and I'll take the chance if it means I feed a genuinely needy person most or even some of the time.

scrubbyfish

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Re: money to beggars...
« Reply #18 on: December 10, 2013, 10:17:56 PM »
I guess what I think is, "What would be worse?  To give money to someone who's not really needy, or not to give money to someone who is really needy?"

+1

Lots of people fall through the cracks as I have learned volunteering with charities.

+1

These responses say my thoughts far better than I did. And the me that was in those circumstances is wildly happy and grateful to hear these perspectives! I feel like it is the long-ago me you are helping :)  So, thanks!

dragoncar

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Re: money to beggars...
« Reply #19 on: December 11, 2013, 02:56:48 AM »

If all you're giving is a dollar, it isn't going to go very far. Save that dollar, give it to a local charity.


According to the last guy who asked me for money on the street, all he needs is a dollar for crack.  I was incredulous it was so cheap, but he said he knows a guy.

The above is serious.  And that, folks is why I don't give out money on the street.

killingxspree

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Re: money to beggars...
« Reply #20 on: December 11, 2013, 04:40:12 AM »
who carries change with them these days?
I don't give money to them mostly because maybe erroneously(?) I believe that there is adequate help provided by the government in Australia for people who need it and those who choose to beg are doing it for the wrong reasons.
Plus some of them really piss me off. There is this one particular guy I would feel sorely tempted to run over if I had a car. He hangs out at traffic lights and washes everyone window screens regardless of whether they want it or not and asks for change. He just ends up making them dirtier in the end anyway.

Ishmael

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Re: money to beggars...
« Reply #21 on: December 11, 2013, 05:33:28 AM »
No, I think homelessness and poverty is an issue that needs to be addressed through government and social policy. I don't want to help cover up the problems, nor do I enjoy the interactions - some of them can get very aggressive.

I'm happy to pay taxes, as long as they are managed decently. That's where I think issues like this need to be addressed.

arebelspy

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Re: money to beggars...
« Reply #22 on: December 11, 2013, 07:14:50 AM »
Long thread on the E-R.org forums about this topic:
http://www.early-retirement.org/forums/f52/begging-66396.html

Worth reading if you get to the bottom of this thread and want more opinions/stories.


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mpbaker22

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Re: money to beggars...
« Reply #23 on: December 11, 2013, 08:00:05 AM »
I saw a woman shivering at a street corner with her cardboard sign.  She had a kid about five years old with her.  I gave her $5.  She burst into tears.  She just stood there crying and thanking me. 

I guess what I think is, "What would be worse?  To give money to someone who's not really needy, or not to give money to someone who is really needy?"  Different people will have different answers.

Yep.  This is my take too.

I'd rather give a few bucks to someone who "didn't really need it" than to not give to someone who really did.

But I don't know if that situation is at play above.  I don't think there are many cities where a mother with a 5 year old child can't find a warm  bed and a couple of meals.  The real problem is with the truly homeless men.  They aren't allowed at many of the homeless shelters because men are more likely to fight.  Thus, the shelters only allow women and children.  If anything, I think it would have been best to offer to give her a ride to the homeless shelter.

A few anecdotal stories I've encountered on this:
The first was a teenage girl asking me and 2 of my friends for money.  She had the look of someone who didn't need it but knew she could get something if she asked.  Myself and one friend said no, but the third friend gave her $5 or $10.  She then went to the food cart (there because an event was going on) and bought some terrible, and expensive, food.  She dropped it on the ground, but didn't seem to care since she hadn't actually paid for it!

The second was a guy I bought a dinner for.  He mentioned he was going to try to catch the bus to such and such shelter.  I said I was going that way and offered to give him a ride.  He said he didn't want to get there to early with nothing to do, and the bus arrives at the proper time.  I'm not really sure what to think of this one.

mpbaker22

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Re: money to beggars...
« Reply #24 on: December 11, 2013, 08:36:49 AM »

Related: I donate TIME to charities of my choice but rarely if ever donate money. *shrug* Call it a quirk of mine; I could never match in cash what I donate of my time to charity. It's my line in the sand.


Another thing about donating food to homeless shelters, I do wonder if soup kitchens are different.  The homeless shelter I volunteer at has a huge abundance of food.  When I go, I usually go home with a bag of chips or a can of this, drink of that, etc.  In short, they have more food than they need, and they can't use it before it goes bad.  This really makes me question the 'volunteer opportunities' at work where we can go sort canned goods before they get sent to food kitchens.  I'm sure if everyone stopped donating canned goods, the charities would suffer, but it seems they have too much.  Final point - It's much better to get out there in person, than donate some can of food.

TrulyStashin

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Re: money to beggars...
« Reply #25 on: December 11, 2013, 09:01:26 AM »
I was once homeless for a period. Shelters were usually closed all day, it was hard to walk a long way on zero calories to whatever soup kitchen was open next, the noise and crowds and other issues inside the rare day shelter was hard for me, and it was cold or hot or wet outside. I didn't panhandle, but I remember wishing I could access -in solitude- a little snack or hot drink. I wasn't up for conversation, explaining myself, being with others, and so on. I wasn't lonely; I was exhausted.

With all of that in my memory, if I feel like giving, I give $1-$2 (occasionally more) so the person can buy themselves a cup of coffee to warm up, or a snack of their choice. If I don't feel like giving, I make sure to still make eye contact (acknowledge the human being), smile kindly, and say, "No."

I know some people are collecting under circumstances some of us don't like; the catch is, we can't tell by looking who just needs a small, transitional gift to feel warm and hopeful again and who needs other help. So I give based only on my sense of the moment. It's a very imperfect system :)

+1 to giving based on my sense of the moment.   I usually don't give/ give to charities instead and volunteer, etc. 

But yesterday, I found a dollar bill in my pants' pocket.  It floated around all day in the same pocket.  On my walk home last night, as I passed an older beggar, I reached in my pocket and gave him my dollar for reasons I don't completely understand.   Our eyes met and we both paused as he said "Thanks."   I'm glad I did that.

hybrid

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Re: money to beggars...
« Reply #26 on: December 11, 2013, 09:03:18 AM »
I have given in the past but not anymore.  I had always heard people say they aren't really homeless a van drops them off or they park their car over at the store then stand on the corner. I thought it was an urban myth until I walked into a group home and recognized someof the residents as people I had seen on corners in different parts of town.  They would have had to ride a couple of different buses to reach the area where they panhandle.  It was an eye opener experience to say the least.

I am confident this is the case in downtown Richmond.  Too many panhandlers are amputees in wheelchairs who have been panhandling for years.  Which begs the question, how do they get downtown in the first place???  I strongly suspect they are being delivered but I haven't seen one arrive or leave over the years, they are usually there during the lunch hours.

There was also a recent news story about a panhandler in nearby Henrico County who went to court about this.  In subsequent reports it was claimed he makes quite the living this way and it makes sense, he panhandles in the wealthiest part of the city.  All he needs is one generous soul to part with a buck every four minutes to bring in $15 an hour.

http://www.timesdispatch.com/news/man-sues-henrico-over-anti-panhandling-law/article_a0e994d6-d8b1-5050-a048-a4677de9a782.html

For these reasons and all the various anecdotes about supporting drug and alcohol abuse I don't support panhandlers 99% of the time.  Funny thing is the last two occasions I did I was in Las Vegas (some kid who reminded me way too much of my own son who needed a buck for a taco - which he in fact used it for) and recently in Baltimore.  Why out of town and not in town, I haven't put that together yet.  It's a very disturbing topic for me, I am definitely torn on the subject.  I prefer to donate to charities instead like many of the other posters. 

smalllife

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Re: money to beggars...
« Reply #27 on: December 11, 2013, 10:42:30 AM »
I have given in the past but not anymore.  I had always heard people say they aren't really homeless a van drops them off or they park their car over at the store then stand on the corner. I thought it was an urban myth until I walked into a group home and recognized someof the residents as people I had seen on corners in different parts of town.  They would have had to ride a couple of different buses to reach the area where they panhandle.  It was an eye opener experience to say the least.

I am confident this is the case in downtown Richmond.  Too many panhandlers are amputees in wheelchairs who have been panhandling for years.  Which begs the question, how do they get downtown in the first place???  I strongly suspect they are being delivered but I haven't seen one arrive or leave over the years, they are usually there during the lunch hours.
I've seen one being picked up at the end of the day (he sits in his wheelchair with his discharge papers and a veteran's hat on) by a nice truck by someone who was probably his son.  Elderly baby sitting?

I've become friendly with a beggar who sits at a busy intersection on my way home - biking it's hard to ignore.  He's never there in the worst weather but has a bike to transport himself so I'm not sure what he does otherwise.

badassprof

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Re: money to beggars...
« Reply #28 on: December 11, 2013, 11:30:42 AM »
"But yesterday, I found a dollar bill in my pants' pocket.  It floated around all day in the same pocket.  On my walk home last night, as I passed an older beggar, I reached in my pocket and gave him my dollar for reasons I don't completely understand.   Our eyes met and we both paused as he said "Thanks."   I'm glad I did that."

I'm glad that you did that too.

Argyle

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Re: money to beggars...
« Reply #29 on: December 12, 2013, 01:33:51 AM »
I know there's a lot of fear that we're really being swindled and that these folks actually have comfortable homes and don't deserve our charity.  Undoubtedly that's true of some of the beggars.  There are swindlers at every level of society so it would be strange if there were none at that level!

One dollar every four minutes seems like a high rate of donation to me, based from what I've seen sitting at traffic lights.  So I'd be surprised if $15 per hour were a regular rate, though maybe some of you live in more generous parts of the country than mine.

I saw a guy with his cardboard sign at an interection today, near the onramp of a highway.  He was standing there in the exhaust fumes in a beat-up corduroy jacket and it was about 25 degrees F, and it had been sleeting miserably for some time.   The guy looked pretty bedraggled.  The man in the car ahead of me gave the beggar some change.  I thought, "However much he's getting from standing here in the cold and sleet, it's not enough to make me do it."  That's a pretty miserable existence, however much money he's getting.  We've had a cold snap and in the newspaper today was an item about a local homeless man who froze to death a couple of nights ago.  Maybe he was one of the regulars at one of the intersections, I don't know.  But I think it's a pretty grim living standing out there for hours, whether you live under a bridge or in an actual house.

Self-employed-swami

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Re: money to beggars...
« Reply #30 on: December 12, 2013, 01:45:31 AM »
I live in the great white north, so we have 4ish months of weather that can, and does, kill, if you have to sleep outside.  Because of this, I make an effort to drop off extra winter clothing and blankets to the drop-in center.  I also give/buy people food, and most of the time, it is well received and I am thanked.  However, I am rarely downtown any more, but I encountered a lot more homeless folks before we moved (and now that I don't work downtown as well).

C. K.

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Re: money to beggars...
« Reply #31 on: December 12, 2013, 06:16:36 AM »
It's best to interact with the person for a bit if you're in the helping mood. Just handing them a dollar or whatever makes you feel less guilty with minimum contact, but you haven't addressed a need. Sometimes it's like people are just paying them to go away.

If they are genuinely indigent and not just scamming, they need a morale boost. Conversation (actually stopping to talk for a second, and not just tossing them a quick sawbuck and rushing away feeling proud of yourself) might help.

Ask the need. If it's food, buy groceries for them. If it's shelter, always have the contact info of a shelter on hand. In this way, you address a genuine need without giving cash to a potential drug addict or gambler.  Much of the time, the scam artists refuse the groceries, the ride to the shelter, etc.

If you cannot do anything in the moment, but still want to help, go home and prep for the next time you meet - extra food in your bag, the address of a place that can help. Then prep for more long term solutions like starting your own charity or becoming more involved with an existing charity.

There is a lady who has an orchard with far more fruit than she can use. She doesn't want to make it a business, so she has a set time of the week when anyone can come and pick fruit for free - that, is, you have to work for yourself. You'll see lots of people there- poor and frugally wealthy. Maybe if more people did something like this there would be fewer genuinely poor people begging for food.
« Last Edit: December 12, 2013, 06:25:15 AM by C. K. »

MissStache

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Re: money to beggars...
« Reply #32 on: December 12, 2013, 06:56:11 AM »
There is a lady who has an orchard with far more fruit than she can use. She doesn't want to make it a business, so she has a set time of the week when anyone can come and pick fruit for free - that, is, you have to work for yourself. You'll see lots of people there- poor and frugally wealthy. Maybe if more people did something like this there would be fewer genuinely poor people begging for food.

Ah, gleaning!  A sadly abandoned tradition!  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gleaning


C. K.

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Re: money to beggars...
« Reply #33 on: December 12, 2013, 07:20:01 AM »
There is a lady who has an orchard with far more fruit than she can use. She doesn't want to make it a business, so she has a set time of the week when anyone can come and pick fruit for free - that, is, you have to work for yourself. You'll see lots of people there- poor and frugally wealthy. Maybe if more people did something like this there would be fewer genuinely poor people begging for food.

Ah, gleaning!  A sadly abandoned tradition!  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gleaning

Yes. I was reminded of the Book of Ruth.

mpbaker22

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Re: money to beggars...
« Reply #34 on: December 12, 2013, 07:55:48 AM »
Ask the need. If it's food, buy groceries for them. If it's shelter, always have the contact info of a shelter on hand. In this way, you address a genuine need without giving cash to a potential drug addict or gambler.  Much of the time, the scam artists refuse the groceries, the ride to the shelter, etc.

Two stories, both involving bus passes and a friend from church who does a ton of work with the homeless.
1) Woman asked me for change so she could "buy a bus pass".  I found my friend who gave her a bus pass.  She came back and asked for change as well.

2) Man asked me if I could go to the store and buy him some bus passes.  (this is as I'm going into church)  I said I had to go because I was running late, but I'd be happy to have my friend come out and give him some passes afterwards.  The guy literally responded, "I know who you're talking about.  I don't want to talk to him.  He can't help me."  After that, I couldn't do anything but walk away.  If you don't want help from the man who runs an anti-homeless organization, you don't want legitimate help.

ArcticaMT6

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Re: money to beggars...
« Reply #35 on: December 12, 2013, 11:56:00 AM »
I typically don't give money.

I will give food, and if we end up with extra blankets at home, I will give blankets and the like. These are to the people that I see every day. They aren't even begging, just trying to go about their existence.

StarryC

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Re: money to beggars...
« Reply #36 on: December 12, 2013, 12:48:28 PM »
I don't think there are many cities where a mother with a 5 year old child can't find a warm  bed and a couple of meals.  The real problem is with the truly homeless men.  They aren't allowed at many of the homeless shelters because men are more likely to fight. 

My experience differs.  There are many homeless beds in my town for men. There are very few for women, especially women without a domestic violence issue.  And there are even fewer for women with children.   Since most homeless people are men, they are the target market.  Women don't usually feel safe in a dorm with 150 men, so the shelter would need to set up a separate room.  And children add another layer of risk.  Women with children can get into some longer term programs, but there is not much "just tonight/ no registration/ no program" shelter space for them.  And, if they do go "into the system" there is a great fear that their children will be taken away and put in foster care. 

I speculate that women with children are homeless with less frequency because families, schools, friends, etc. are more willing to go out of their way to help a woman with a child than an older man. Also, they are much less public about the homelessness because of the risk of CPS being called. 

madmax

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Re: money to beggars...
« Reply #37 on: December 12, 2013, 02:29:35 PM »
So how do you say "no" to a beggar? I once told a beggar that I didn't have any change and he started calling me racist and a liar and threatened to pull a knife on me.

dragoncar

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Re: money to beggars...
« Reply #38 on: December 12, 2013, 03:11:59 PM »
So how do you say "no" to a beggar? I once told a beggar that I didn't have any change and he started calling me racist and a liar and threatened to pull a knife on me.

It depends on the particular beggar and how friendly/rude their approach is.  My default is to simply say "sorry" and keep walking (I walk quickly).  If they are just jingling a cup at me, I ignore them completely.  If they seem dangerous or deranged I also ignore them -- this is the "big city" and I don't have time to engage everyone on the sidewalk in conversation. 

There's this one guy who's super friendly and doesn't explicitly ask for money, just greets everybody with a "have a nice day" or whatever.  That guy I am friendly back to but don't give money either.

In general, I return the vibe they give me.  If they are rude*, I'm totally fine ignoring them.  If they are friendly, I am friendly back.  I've never had a friendly person turn mean once I've refused (although I believe it might happen, it's never happened to me).

*Rudeness does generally include asking me for money without any introduction, jingling the cup (I hate that cup), grunting, etc.  If they tell me their story first, that's one thing, but in general I think asking strangers for money is rude.
« Last Edit: December 12, 2013, 03:13:30 PM by dragoncar »

Simple Abundant Living

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Re: money to beggars...
« Reply #39 on: December 13, 2013, 12:38:55 AM »
Our local news station just had an expose on panhandling at intersections and on/off-ramps, which has exploded in our state.  They busted a lot of myths
1)Panhandlers are homeless
Fact: none of the ones they interviewed over 6 weeks were actually homeless
2)There stories are heartbreaking
Fact: None of the stories were 100% accurate- a lot of people who said they were trying to get home to other states were actually from our state and had criminal records, including violent offenders.
3) They are hungry/thirsty.
Fact:  A lot of food was thrown away after the car had passed.

A small quote from the story:
"People get stories, and they find the stories that are going to be the most compelling," Mathis said. "You shouldn't confuse homelessness with panhandling."

Giving to panhandlers creates a false sense of charity, he said.

"I think it kind of lets people off the hook a little bit," Mathis said. "So if somebody's walking by, they give three or four bucks to a panhandler and think, 'OK, I'm a good person, I've done my duty and I don't have to worry about this again.' Well, really what you may have done is enabled somebody with a substance abuse problem."

So this all begs the questions, what will you do? What will you think? What will you say, the next time you stop at the light?"


Read more at http://www.ksl.com/?nid=1171&sid=27782692#dKMoZ9QtaT8bSH84.99

C. K.

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Re: money to beggars...
« Reply #40 on: December 13, 2013, 02:28:16 AM »
Long thread on the E-R.org forums about this topic:
http://www.early-retirement.org/forums/f52/begging-66396.html


Some of those stories are hilarious! Thanks.

mm1970

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Re: money to beggars...
« Reply #41 on: December 13, 2013, 07:46:06 AM »
This is a tough one for me.  I really don't like giving money.  I don't think I ever have.  But I do give to the food bank regularly.

When I was young and in college and in Pittsburgh, my friends and I were leaving a bar/ restaurant where we were celebrating turning in our final senior engineering project for the fall semester.  We passed a homeless guy (it was winter and freezing) sitting on a grate, who asked for money.  We didn't have any money, but we did have leftover hot wings, and he was happy to have them.

Then I moved to DC where there were way more homeless, and you'd see the same people at the same corners or Metro stops every single day.

Then I moved to CA.  There were a couple of well known homeless people here who would play music at the farmer's market or around town.  One of them was very good at singing about you as you went by.  He got money because he had a great voice and a guitar and was entertaining.  (Sadly, he died a few years ago.)

But our homeless problem has ballooned the last few years.  Good weather, sympathetic town.  I do not go downtown every anymore because of the aggressive 20 something panhandlers.  I have encountered the same (well dressed, well spoken) woman asking for bus fare to get home every Saturday morning at the farmer's market.  I got hit up for gas by a well dressed woman driving a minivan who was "on a business trip and didn't have a credit card and needed gas".

I did once give food to a couple that was at the local beach park as we were packing up our picnic.  They looked to be the "temporary homeless" to me.  Late 30's, well dressed, I don't know what else gave me that impression.

There is only one time that I felt guilty when I didn't give someone anything.  Christmas last year (Christmas eve), leaving the grocery store, it was raining, and I saw a family with two or three kids shivering outside asking for money or food.  I'd seen so many scams...but that seemed legit to me.  Ah well, I gave more money to the food bank after that.

DTown

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Re: money to beggars...
« Reply #42 on: December 13, 2013, 10:47:03 AM »
I generally don't give handouts to panhandlers for many of the reasons listed above.

However, there was one time that I was running errands and was parking near a store. A man walked up to me as I was getting out, and just asked "How's it goin'?" I just muttered "Fine..." and he asked me if I would be able to buy him a bus ticket to get across town - I'm not sure exactly what it was that tipped me off, but he seemed different from any street corner beggers I've met. He explained that his wife cheated on him in their apartment, claimed domestic violence (and he claimed it wasn't true), and now he was homeless with no money, possible (false?) criminal charges, and needed a bus ticket to get to a shelter. I gave him $10. He started bawling and said he could give me his SSN or anything so he could pay me back one day. I told him not to worry about it.

That $10 was probably worth more to him right then than what I make in a month is worth to me.

I absolutely believed him - not even professional actors could fake that so well. I actually wish I had given him all the cash in my wallet. Some people REALLY do need it.


On a side note - I like the granola bar idea.

Argyle

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Re: money to beggars...
« Reply #43 on: December 13, 2013, 02:00:56 PM »
I just have two points of curiosity about the panhandlers.

1) If, as the one survey found, none of the panhandlers they talked to were homeless -- how many of them were jobless?  My thought is that you don't have to be homeless yet to be in a desperate state.

2) I think we're all clear on that fact that some people are homeless, even if the TV station didn't talk to them.  Do none of those homeless people panhandle? 

I used to know a guy -- office worker, well dressed, very respectable -- who had lived homeless for a while.  He was the son of a single mother and when his mother married an abusive man, this guy left home at around age 16.  He couldn't support himself, got kicked out from living with friends, and ended up on the streets for about a year.  Eventually he found some people who helped him out and he got his GED and made a life for himself.  But anyway, he said, "We all think we're all upright and dignified.  But my experience is that when you're on the streets and you haven't eaten for three days, you will do anything to get some food."  That statement made me think.

MoneyCat

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Re: money to beggars...
« Reply #44 on: December 13, 2013, 02:08:02 PM »
I give to charity every week, because I am a Christian and that's a part of the natural lifestyle for true believers.  (You don't do good deeds because you think it will win you favor with God, but because it's a normal part of being a kind and loving person.)  However, my church is part of a massive worldwide organization and they are very good at getting donations -- whether monetary or material -- to the people who need it in our country or around the world, so most of my donations go through my church.  For instance, for the Christmas season, we have "adopted" a local family who needs help and the church was able to match us up.  In addition, I give to the local animal shelter regularly to help them save the lives of homeless companion animals.

soczab

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Re: money to beggars...
« Reply #45 on: December 13, 2013, 02:17:37 PM »
Generally speaking i have always felt charity better.  That said, I think if you are going to give to a panhandler, the person who suggested offering food had a good point.   This also might be my background growing up in NYC too, but ive also always found if you live in one place long enough you get to know the panhandlers just due to time passing.  In other words, who are the people that tend to spend it on alcohol and drunks.  Who are the ones you often see volunteering to do part time work for money (i,e seem to be trying).  Is there someone who you see sleeping out there as opposed to just going to earn some extra money?  And so forth.

MrsPete

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Re: money to beggars...
« Reply #46 on: December 13, 2013, 04:38:13 PM »
There are certain qualifications you have to meet to be able to sell the paper and they have special badges and vests that they wear to show they are affiliated with the organization. 
That concept harkens back to the 17th-18th century and gaberlunzies.

I've had a couple negative experiences with giving directly to beggars -- only a few, but enough to make me think it's better to give carefully.  I'm remembering once in college we were moving, and we saw two families (with kids) standing out on the street begging.  We had very, very little ourselves, but we were sorry for them, so we stopped went through the stuff we were moving -- we gave them ALL the food we had that didn't require cooking (we didn't want to ask if they were actually homeless and had a kitchen).  This was a real sacrifice for us at the time because it was going to be weeks 'til we got paid, and we left ourselves pretty much with beans and rice.  They didn't even say thank you, and they set it on the ground behind them.  Later in the day we drove by the same spot, and saw that they were gone, but they'd left all the food we'd given them on the ground. 

Today I almost always have packs of crackers or granola bars in my car (for days when the kids are hungry and want fast food), and I've frequently offered them to people by the road with "Please help" signs.  They almost always refuse. 

I frequently attend meetings at a church very near the homeless shelter.  OFTEN when we come and go, homeless people meet us in the parking lot asking for money.  The pastoral staff has issued strict instructions to groups who use the building, saying that they don't want to encourage these people to hang around the parking lot (and sometimes they try to get into the building to sleep, and they've done damage a couple times), BUT we're to tell them that if they'll come by the church office during office hours, the pastor will hear their story and will help them in whatever way seems appropriate -- but he promises that some type of help will be given.  He reports that no one will ever come to him in that "official capacity"; they just want to hang out in the parking lot and hope individuals will give them something.

As a result, I'm with those who say, "Give to reputable charities and trust them to distribute the money well."  My own church does a great deal to help those in need, and we give generously there -- our pastoral staff does a great deal for the jobless, elderly and single-mother types within our own church, but they also organize wonderful programs for the entire community, including free yard sale days in the spring (where people can come get clothing for free), providing wrapped sandwiches once a week to the homeless shelter (as the people leave the shelter in the morning, they get a sandwich to carry with them for lunch), and days when teams go out to do house repairs for people in need.  LOTS of things, and I know that this money is going to actual needs. 

I guess what I think is, "What would be worse?  To give money to someone who's not really needy, or not to give money to someone who is really needy?"  Different people will have different answers.
Well, giving money does encourage the individual to continue begging, and it may well encourage others to begin.

cats

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Re: money to beggars...
« Reply #47 on: December 13, 2013, 07:41:57 PM »
I almost never give money, and especially not to folks that I see regularly.  I grew up in a neighborhood where it was common for people to come to the door begging.  If you gave money to one person, you'd have a string of people coming to your door every night for the next month.  My dad sometimes tried to come up with ways of ensuring they actually needed help/would use the money the right way and his schemes almost always went awry.  On one occasion I had to call the cops because a guy was getting really nasty with my dad for offering to write a check to K-mart (for buying the space heater he said he needed) rather than giving him cash. All of that has made me VERY leery of handing out money.  Every now and then I do see a case that looks "genuine" and may hand over a dollar or two.

I will sometimes give food, and once or twice I have passed on a fast food or grocery gift certificate that has been given to me.  I've also let people make quick calls on my phone (though only if I am with someone else, and only because my phone is so old that I doubt anyone would want to run off with it).  I make regular donations to charitable organizations and have helped out at soup kitchens and food banks on and off over the years.  I'm not saying what I do is "enough" but if I decide more needs to be done I'm planning to go in the route of more volunteering or donating, not directly giving money to someone on the street.

Re: the value of food donations, I have volunteered at several shelters and soup kitchens, and in my experience what there tends to be more of a problem with is large donations from grocery stores of food that is very close or even past an expiration date.  One time I was getting a batch of lunches ready to deliver to a satellite location and I had to throw out half a dozen loaves of bread before I could find a couple of loaves that were free of mold.  They had all been donated within the past couple of days, so I suspect at least a few of them had been visibly moldy when they left the store.  Or we would get pre-packaged deli foods (potato salad, etc.) that basically all had to be consumed IMMEDIATELY, and even then were kind of borderline.  Non-perishable items like chips, canned goods, etc. are less of an issue (though I have occasionally been sent home with a bag of chips too).  That said, a donation of money (that the shelter uses to buy food) will probably be put to better use, as the shelter/kitchen can combine donations and then get bulk discounts on purchases, get a more "balanced" food intake, etc.  Sometimes putting together a meal for 50-100+ people from donated food can be a MAJOR challenge because you'll just have little bits of this and that.  It's much easier to just have $100, buy a flat of canned tomatoes, a flat of canned beans, a few vegetables, some chicken, and a bunch of rice and make one big batch of soup (or similar).