Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Homeless or not

Our nations homeless population numbers are astronomical, my heart breaks for those who are forced to live on the streets depending on the generosity of others for their next meal, I really get ticked when I see people abuse them by cursing at them or looking down on them as something subhuman, but what makes me even more furious is when someone takes food out of their mouths by pretending to be homeless and making people even more reluctant to help out for fear of being scammed.

I don’t think it is our responsibility to support each and every person on the street, and I know there are those who choose to live on the street for some unknown reason because this is what they want to do, the ones I worry about the most are those who have no other options and would do anything for a good hot meal and a bath.

Cindy and I help where we can, we have bought many meals for people and handed out a few dollars when we see someone we feel could use a meal, we have been scolded for doing this by some “Don’t give them your money, they will just use it for drugs” or “you know they are just scamming you” well folks I know that I have been scammed in the past, but I would rather lose a few dollars once in a while to someone who really doesn’t need it than pass up buying a burger for someone who is actually hungry.

About a month ago I saw on the news a “Homeless” pregnant woman standing on side of the road with her son panhandling with a cardboard sign, she had collected money from several people when she was spotted climbing into the passenger seat of a Mercedes and driving away with her husband and son, she was dropped off at another location and started her pitiful routine over again with her son by her side. Needless to say she was caught on camera and made the evening news, I can’t say if she was really homeless or not but it sure looked like she was doing OK driving away with her family in an expensive car.

A lot of people have lost their job and homes and are forced to live in their cars, and with this said how do you know who really needs your handout and who is just there to take advantage.

Our daughter came to visit for Christmas and while running around town she asked if we could stop by Starbucks so she could grab a coffee, the drive through was packed so we parked and she went inside, standing at the edge of the parking area was a man wearing a dirty torn jacket and a stocking cap, he had a backpack and was shivering in the cold and really looked worn out, this man was the epitome of homelessness, Cindy’s dad was looking at him and we were all deciding what we should do to help this man.

About this time a customer coming out of Starbucks stopped in front of him and pulled a handful of cash from his pocket and handed it to him, the man continued looking at the ground until the good Samaritan got into his car and drove away, this is when we noticed a miraculous transformation in our “homeless” soul.

With a spring in his step he went across the parking lot to a car, removed his backpack and jacket, threw them along with his stocking cap into the back seat and placed a new looking ball cap onto his head, he and a friend drove away and was flashing the cash and smiling at us as they passed by.

Cindy’s dad looked at me and said, “You know that really pisses me off”

As for giving to people on the street you have to go with your gut, we normally buy food and give to people and for the most part have been given many thanks for doing so, this was the first blatant display of greed that I have witnessed and shame on this man for taking funds away from someone who really needed it, and bless the giver who thought he was actually helping someone in need.

How do you react to those you see who are begging on the street?

19 comments:

  1. Yeah, that's why I don't give cash to the "sign holders". We have a couple of shelters and soup kitchens that we donate regularly to. I see a lot of homeless people when I go into the city and wonder where they spend the night.

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    1. We have a row of offices near the hospital, a lot of specialists and such, early mornings on the way to the lab I have seen people sleeping in the doorways here.

      Donating to the shelters and soup kitchens is an excellent way to help out.

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  2. i'm so sorry folks are so low to impersonate folks who truly need help. when i commuted into dallas, i often gave a few dollars to those i saw on the streets. even if they were scamming, their day was worse than mine. and whether they used it for booze or drugs - their day was still worse than mine.

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    1. Amen to that, their days are indeed worse than ours and like you said no matter what they use the money for their day was still worse, I don't much worry about what they are going to do with the cash, once it's out of my hands it is no longer my decision.

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  3. I don't like seeing panhandlers. In Oregon it's illegal to beg with children, but I notice a lot of these people with puppies begging for food for their little dog. It's such a scam. In our town we have food banks and shelters and all kinds of provisions for the needy. Like you, I sympathize with those unfortunate souls caught in a bad situation, but I do believe there's help for those who truly need it.

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    1. I do think there is help for those who truly need it, but don't you think those running these scams make it harder for the ones truly in need to get those resources?

      Begging with children should be illegal, it's hard enough being a kid without being used in a scam situation like this.

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  4. As you said... "I would rather lose a few dollars once in a while to someone who really doesn’t need it than pass up buying a burger for someone who is actually hungry." My sentiments exactly, Jimmy. God bless and here's to a happy and healthy new year for you and yours!

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    1. Thank You Jim, and God Bless you with a happy new year also my friend.

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  5. Living in a city, I see this kind of thing a lot. And when I say a lot, I mean A LOT. So, I go with my gut, and if something tells me to give money, I do. But if I don't get that feeling, I won't. Overall, I would rather give of my time for volunteer work, or give money directly to charities I feel drawn to do so.

    Wishing you and Cindy HAPPY NEW YEAR! And I look forward to blogging with you in 2015!

    Cheers, my friend!

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    1. Living in the city I imagine that you do see a lot more than we do when it comes to people both homeless and panhandling, you have to go with your gut and if in fact you help one person then you have succeeded, volunteering and donating to charities that you are drawn to is admirable and most times the safest way to assure that your donations actually help those in need.

      Happy New Year Buddy!!

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  6. It's a difficult decision...how do you judge who is truly in need and who is just greedy? I have to admit that most of the time, I look the other way when I see someone begging for money at a red light.

    And then I feel like crap, because I had a co-worker once who had a middle-class family, a middle-class car, a middle-class job, and owned her own mobile home...and within the course of just a few weeks came so close to being homeless that it really shook me up. Before that, I had never realized how fast homelessness can happen...

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    1. It is scary how quick people can lose everything and find themselves on the streets, I'd like to think if something like this happened that I would have family that I could go to, but a lot of folks don't have that luxury I suppose.

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  7. Unless I go into a city, I don't see it, but my spouse does everyday, working downtown. He said he often sees what you saw.....panhandler who hops into a BMW in the parking garage. As a female, I wouldn't feel safe handing cash out on the street. Better to donate to a shelter or volunteer at a soup kitchen.

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    1. Handing out cash on the street would not be the safest choice I suppose, and with that said I have to agree that donating to a shelter or volunteering at a soup kitchen would be the wisest choice.

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  8. I never see anyone begging and I wouldn't know the right thing to do if I did. Where I live there are out of work people who earn money by singing or playing an instrument etc, and others who are 'employed' to sell a magazine called The Big Issue, which we buy. It's our way of helping them. I used to see a woman and baby in Italy who sat and pleaded for passers-by to save her baby from starvation... yet she had a great car parked round the corner.

    Happy New Year to you and Cindy, oh and thank you for all your lovely comments on my blog. Stay well.

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    1. Hi Valerie, Seeing people singing and playing instruments for tips is a good way for them to earn their money in a sense, and would make you more likely to give, the woman you described is the type that gets to me, using her child in this manner is a shame.

      Happy New Year to you also my dear friend, I do appreciate you.

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  9. I'm pretty much like you on this subject. I'd rather error on the side of giving money to someone that doesn't really need it, than to not give it to someone who really does. My problem with the whole thing is this... Back in the day, if you saw somebody that was homeless (called hobos back then) they were almost always down on their luck, or homeless by choice. That has all changed. A large percentage of the people out there now are mentally ill. Another thing that has changed is it seems that many people would rather help animals, than other people.

    The so called "wars" in Afghanistan and Iraq cost us more than 6 TRILLION dollars. Harvard University said that six trillion dollars is equivalent to giving each and every American household seventy five thousand dollars. Based on what is now happening in both those countries, I believe that money was wasted and could have been put to better use (like taking care of our homeless problem. We are living in scary times and (IMHO) our system is broken.

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  10. Oops! Happy New Year to both you and your lovely wife!

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  11. I wrote a similar post over 3 years ago. Skim it if you'd like. http://btdas.blogspot.com/2011/11/panhandlers.html
    Looking at the comments of your readers, I see that people are still divided on this issue. I haven't given in quite a while. (I used to be a giver; though a very small amount.) Actually, after I wrote the post, I slacked up. (Cathartic perhaps?) Also, I seem to be in a hurry when I'm out and don't take the time to "think about" it - giving or not.
    Your example is sad. Sometimes I get mad at people like that, but mostly I feel pity for them. I wonder why their self-worth is so low and if they even realize it.

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