Buster Cannon

Giving to people on the street?

19 posts in this topic

When a stranger approaches you asking for money, are you typically willing to give them something (be it money or food), or are you more likely to pass them by?

 

I ask this because I had a situation earlier today.  While grocery shopping, I ran into a man (with an infant) who asked me if I could help him out.  I reply that I don't have any cash on me, and the man says that he simply needs a place to stay b/c he was evicted today. He was passing time in the grocery store because he had nowhere else to go (his cart was empty). He tells me the price of a nearby hotel, and I offer to help him cover the cost, including a meal. I also offered to pray with him after giving to him, for which he was grateful, and with that he was off.

 

Thing is, I always tend to feel uneasy about giving to random people, because you honestly don't know where the money's going.  There are folks who are legitimately homeless, but there are also a ton of con artists. It feels like a catch-22; if you ignore them, you may have dodged a scammer, but in the back of your mind you wonder if they really needed help.  If you accommodate them, you can't help but wonder if they were truly being honest about their situation.  

 

:unsure:

 

Anyone else ever have this struggle?

9 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I do, sometimes. I'll tell you how my mom raised us. Which has helped me a great deal in my life. When you have it to share, and you see someone who appears to need it, give... but ONLY if you can do it with a cheerful heart. Leave it in Gods hands as to whether they are using it as they say, or not. He will see that you are showing charity with a cheerful heart, he won't be judging you on whether or not you were able to discern a con artist from a true needy person. If they don't really need it, then they are the ones who will answer to Him... as far as you are concerned you are showing the love that he has given you to share.

 

I don't know if this helps, but it's the best I've got.

 

Edit: It's also your discretion as to how give that help. I believe He understand that.

6 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

First off, that was very selfless and loving thing you did. You have truly blessed a man and child in desperate need and that is very honorable of you.

 

I think most people think about that at some point when they get approached by homeless people. I most certainly have many times. I always think what if that person is going to use it for drugs or booze? But the more I thought about it, the more I began to realize that our fear of scammers should be the least of our concerns. The problem is that many people use this as a convenient excuse to keep all their money to themselves. But the fact is, many of them aren't doing anything to help the needy at all whether if it involves money or otherwise. I'll be the first to admit I was guilty of this in the past. On the other hand, it's also easy for us to over analyze these things because if you think about it, any large or small act of kindness leaves us open to be taken advantaged of. If all of us never helped others out over that fear, this world would be a very cold and cruel place.

 

Now this isn't towards you, BC but rather people in general. But let's say it was a scammer. The worst thing is he walks off a few bucks richer and you a few bucks poorer. But at the end of the day, you go back home to food on the table, roof over your head and a job to replace the few bucks you lost in a hour. You're not losing much. But let's say the person you reject is genuinely in dire need. He has a lot to lose because you could have provided his first meal in days or his first warm bed in months or perhaps his means of getting a bus ticket home to his family. So you see, we are only responsible for our actions to care for others. What others do in response to that is entirely on them.

 

Buster Cannon, since you're a Christian, I think one the the best verses to read on the subject is Matthew 25:31-46. Jesus talks about whatever we do for the "least of these," we do for Him. On the same note, whatever we do not do for the least of these, we do not do for Him. Never once did He say, "except for those con artists." It's a universal command to us all. In fact, this issue is so serious that Jesus says there will be eternal consequences for those who reject the needy. We can't claim to love God if we don't love people. 

7 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When I was a kid there was a homeless man who always sat out in front of the McDonalds near where I lived. He would sit by the door and ask people for their change as they went out. My dad bought the guy a breakfast meal almost every morning on his way to work. There have been times in my life when I haven't been so generous, but I was always taught that it is sometimes better to buy the person food if you can, or if you know them at least a little bit, rather than giving them money. That gets expensive after a while, but in some situations it can absolutely be done. 

5 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Buster Cannon, since you're a Christian, I think one the the best verses to read on the subject is Matthew 25:31-46. Jesus talks about whatever we do for the "least of these," we do for Him. On the same note, whatever we do not do for the least of these, we do not do for Him. Never once did He say, "except for those con artists." It's a universal command to us all. In fact, this issue is so serious that Jesus says there will be eternal consequences for those who reject the needy. We can't claim to love God if we don't love people. 

 

Wow, that was the EXACT verse that floated around in my head during the situation today.  It did give me some peace regarding my decision, even though in the back of my mind I was still like "did I do the right thing?". I really like how you broke it down though, thanks!

6 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I never give money to people on the street due to an extremely bad experience I had a few years ago. When I was 18 years old, venturing out alone in NYC for one of the first times, I was approached by a panhandler. When I did not immediately agree to give him money, he called me a racist frigid bitch, threatened to beat the s**t out of me, and chased me down the street. I had to run into moving traffic in order to get away from him. I'm a 5'2 woman; I have no chance against pretty much any man out there. My safety comes first.

 

Your situation is a bit different, since you were in the relatively safe location of a grocery store, and that man had a young child with him. I'd be much more inclined to give in that situation, though I just don't think I have enough money right now to pay for an entire night's stay at a hotel. You were very generous.

5 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I never give money to people on the street due to an extremely bad experience I had a few years ago. When I was 18 years old, venturing out alone in NYC for one of the first times, I was approached by a panhandler. When I did not immediately agree to give him money, he called me a racist frigid bitch, threatened to beat the s**t out of me, and chased me down the street. I had to run into moving traffic in order to get away from him. I'm a 5'2 woman; I have no chance against pretty much any man out there. My safety comes first.

 

Your situation is a bit different, since you were in the relatively safe location of a grocery store, and that man had a young child with him. I'd be much more inclined to give in that situation, though I just don't think I have enough money right now to pay for an entire night's stay at a hotel. You were very generous.

I can understand how you would have problems after that. Without bringing my faith into it, all I can say is that I totally understand how you can have the issues that you have with giving after that kind of experience. The fact that you didn't completely turn on the idea of helping all together, that is a very good thing. You are a good person.

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm torn on this one. One the one hand, it's the worst feeling in the world when I see someone begging on the street and just have to walk past them. But on the other hand, the advice of homeless charities is almost always, "Don't give people on the street money - give them food, a hot drink, clothing, etc. but not money," so to ignore the advice of the experts (if you can call them experts, I guess) seems to be not a great idea.

 

Saying that, I have given money in the past, especially when someone actually approaches me for it. A woman once came up to me with a note saying she needed money to pay for food, or something like that, and I gave her some. But I think I'd rather give food, or something instead. 

 

xxx

5 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I usually prefer to get people food if I can. I also agree with Steadfast Madcap a little. If your in a really bad area it could be dangerous to pull money out. However I don't think we should be afraid to help others because of one bad experience. I'm not saying this about Steadfast Madcap directly. I saw a post a few weeks ago about being nice to women. The post asked if it was insulting to women if men did things like holding the door for them and other nice things. Well imagine if because one person didn't like nice things done for them, we all stopped doing nice things. It would be a very sad world.

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A man was standing on the island in the middle of traffic I just picked up breakfast on the way to my sisters and I opened my window to talk to him. I gave him some of the breakfast I had and said a quick blessing to him and he was oh so very grateful.

I was uneasy about it at first but right after I was blessed with something much needed and I knew I had done the right thing. Sometimes they only want money to get that next hit or drink and you can usually tell who they are by what you say to them.

I must admit I'm a giver....always have been since I was able to understand. I offer to sit with them and talk while we get food or coffee or shopping for a new pair of socks and or shoes and the ones that run away I know that they are just looking for that quick hit and buzz. Especially if you mention Jesus. But I always believed that it's more blessing to give......

Sorry I rambled!

6 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I rarely directly give money to someone asking for it. I donate to organizations that help the poor, the homeless, teenagers kicked out of their homes, and women/children escaping abusive partners. Those organizations can help those people better than I can.

 

Where I used to live, the state capital, there's a program that helps the homeless. The homeless people in the program are working in the streets, but offering local newspapers in exchange for donations. They are identified by a clear ID badge around their necks. I don't know all the details of the program, but it's a really good one that provides resources to homeless people to improve their situation. Whenever possible, I give money to those people.

 

On occasions, I have given restaurant gift certificates, free food vouchers, and snacks to people on the street, when I ascertained the situation was safe to do so. Like Steadfast, I've had some scary experiences with people on the street when I lived abroad, and I DO prioritize my own safety.

6 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I struggle with giving and not enabling. As a smaller girl, I've run into situations like Steadfast mentioned where the bigger guys will try to use intimidation or are plain crazy. So, I try to help the smart way, meaning I'm more likely to give to charities, help the elderly or women with young children.

Honestly, I've seen the same person begging in the street finish for the day and get into a car nicer than mine, or smoke a cigarette while telling me they don't have enough money for food. Sort of disheartening. But, it's a constant struggle not to be too jaded or hard hearted. My solution is to give when I do have it to folks that I feel lead to. And half the time, they're not the homeless begging, it's the young Mom counting change to pay for groceries or gas, the church program for college scholarships and food drives. I've learned to let go of needless guilt.

5 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I grew up in a place where there are very few homeless people, and a ton of con artists. It's easy to tell which are which, and in 14 years of living there, I think I've encountered about two genuine homeless people (there's not to say they don't exist, but they rarely if ever beg on the streets). Most people you see begging are actually part of a team which sends their women, children and disabled members onto the streets to get money and give it back to the team leaders. I was raised to ignore them, because, as sad as it is, any money I would give them would just make their leaders richer.

However, a couple of years ago I started participating in a movement which encourages people to be kind, and I started to change my outlook. Just because 90% of beggars are con artists (my estimation for the city where I grew up) doesn't mean you shouldn't help out those who really are homeless. I think I was just afraid and using the con artists as an excuse. I still don't give them money for food, because like several other people have said, that's not the best thing to do, but if they ask me for something in particular (like a hot drink, or a night at a shelter which they sometimes have to pay for) I will give it to them. I've also sat and talked to them a few times, and that can be really rewarding too. They're so often overlooked so it's nice for them to be listened to from time to time. I've seen people go from depressed to smiling and joking with me, and that's so much more rewarding for both of us than if I'd just given them money :)

7 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can understand how you would have problems after that. Without bringing my faith into it, all I can say is that I totally understand how you can have the issues that you have with giving after that kind of experience. The fact that you didn't completely turn on the idea of helping all together, that is a very good thing. You are a good person.

Thank you so much!

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think offering food is a safer bet than giving money if at all possible. At least then it would remove the possibility of them secretly getting booze or drugs.

And yeah I also agree that sometimes all they need is someone to talk to. Loneliness is one of the worst feelings in the world and sometimes lending an ear is more valuable than anything tangible.

9 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yep, I think giving them food is prefered to money. Have done so in the past. Don't really feel comfortable giving them money but then its such a sucky feeling afterward that maybe they'd have used it properly...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've had situations where I'm out and about in town and someone will come up to me asking for money. Most of the time I oblige and offer to pay for a meal, then sit and chat with them for a while. Some of the stories I have heard are truly depressing and not every homeless man you find will be a 'bum'. Some of them are actually highly educated, they just experienced a traumatic experience in life or had a run of bad luck. I've met lawyers, firefighters, teachers, and the interesting one was a pastor. Growing up I had the benefit of having one of the wisest women I have ever known be my teacher, my grandmother. She one told me something as a child that has stuck with me to this day, and is an intricate part of my life, 'If you have the ability, you have the obligation'. Meaning, if it is within my means to physically, spiritually, mentally, or financially help someone it is my job to do so. Let God take care of the rest and put your trust in Him.

I do find it difficult at times to say no, and usually I'll do this only if the person doesn't appear to be all there (either drunk or suffering from apparent drug use). In situations like this I rarely give out money and instead offer to buy them a meal. The hardest people for me to believe are the ones who hold "War Veteran" signs because numerous members of my family have served in the armed forces, and for them to have that and not be a vet is a huge sign of disrespect in my eyes to those who have served. @PhotoGirlmade a very good point earlier about offering with a charitable/cheerful heart and doing it in good conscience leaving what they do with the money in God's hands. I think that is a great way to raise a child.

I think at some point in all of our lives we are guilty of not being so charitable, I know I have. Sometimes circumstances don't permit us to be as charitable as we'd like but God knows and sees our hearts. I believe it is important in situations like these not to become indifferent to the suffering of others. @Buster CannonIt's people like you who I see everyday that offer their time and support to others that gives me hope for this world. I truly wish there were more people like all of you in this world. :)

 

*****Side Note*****

I try to donate as often as possible, especially if it's for a great cause. I donate $5 a week from each paycheck which I know doesn't sound like much, but I have done that for almost 10 years now. I also donate each year to cancer research and to organizations that are affiliated with my place of employment like JDRF, MDA, FeedingAmerica.org, TurkeyBucks (Thanksgiving dinners for families in need), Toys for tots, American Cancer Society, and a few more.

A few years ago there was a married couple from my church who were missionaries, and at the time I had the financial means to help assist them monthly which I did. I donated $300 each month to help pay for health insurance for the whole family as well as offer to help babysit their son and take care of their dog when they were out of town. I did this every month for 4 years. Sure I could have used that money for other things in my life but I felt that is where God was testing me and my faith. I did struggle some months but I had made a commitment to them and to God and I was resigned to honor it until God told me otherwise. There came a point where the two of them were receiving so much support from others that they felt they no longer needed my assistance. As one of the first persons to offer assistance when they had just become missionaries, they felt I had done enough to help them out. We still talk to this day.

After graduating high school I attended college for a year and hated it. I had no desire or direction for what I wanted to do with my life, so my brother offered to help me financially until I found my passion. I ended up living with him for almost 8 years and during that time I had a job (Which I still have almost 10 years later) that did bring in money, but I was still pretty reliant on him for a while. Eventually he graduated and moved while I stayed and began my trek to finish school. I found a 3 bedroom house and lived alone for almost a year before offering two of my friends who were in really bad financial situations a place to live. They didn't have much as far as money but I told them all they had to pay for was their room. I paid rent, all utilities and even offered to split the bill for food. I did that for almost 2 years before they were able to find their footing and financially stand on their own two feet. We split all utilities now as well as rent and they buy their own food. I did this because I had someone who was charitable with their time and money for me, so I felt it best to pay it forward and do the same for someone else.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have given before during my life but today I tell them no, I don't hand out money to complete strangers. The tipping point for me is when I saw a story on my local news about panhandlers and they actually interviewed some that actually were or had been people that begged and how they were just scamming people and made up their stories and used it for bad things. They didn't "need" money to get bus fair and once they received it got on the bus and went on their way, but they just asked for money kind of like it was their career. They got up and did it every day and all of their stories were lies.

There are so many charities in the U.S., food stamps, welfare, unemployment that accosting complete strangers on the street to get a dollar or two is extremely odd behavior.

I no longer will give out money. I donate to charities and work in my church but I don't give money to random strangers who just walk up to me and say give me some of your money. Like I said, I used to in the past.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/15/2015 at 9:45 PM, Buster Cannon said:

He tells me the price of a nearby hotel, and I offer to help him cover the cost, including a meal. I also offered to pray with him after giving to him, for which he was grateful, and with that he was off.

Wow that is incredible you offered to help cover the cost of the room! Thank you for sharing this and I will never forget reading this thread. Next time this happens to me, I will be more thoughtful about how I can be helpful to them. If the world had more people like you, it would be a much better place.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now