I grew up in a home with seven siblings (including me). While growing up I remember there was always an uncle, aunt, cousin or family friend living with us. My parents were both generous, proud and loving individuals. They cherished helping others. I was about 11 years old when one day I asked my mother “why was there always someone living with us even though she had seven children?” My mother responded, “son, your father and I see it as our duty to help others. You have two hands, one to ‘give’ and the other to ‘receive’.” To date, I have lived my life with my mother’s principle indelibly memorized in my brain; I cherish helping others.
Then, why am I having angst about giving money to individuals begging on street corners and outside business establishments? I believe that 95% of the individuals with signs on streets corners begging for money are panhandlers. I also surmise that there is a difference between panhandlers and homeless individuals. The panhandlers seemed to stake out their turf where everyday at certain times they can engage their marks for money. I have heard of stories where some of these individuals (panhandlers) have cars parked blocks away where they change clothes after a day “at work begging.”
Most homeless individuals seemed to be very proud and rarely approach anyone asking for money. They know that there are several charitable organizations and homeless shelters available where they can get help. Panhandlers on the other hand – no pun intended – are all about obtaining money. In some areas, panhandlers can be seen on all four corners of busy intersections displaying their signs begging for money. In my opinion, it seems they have coordinated a plan to sponge off of us. I am not a scrooge, but I am one who has little tolerance for bad behavior.
I believe that those of us who are compelled to give panhandlers money, should pause and consider giving those funds to a reputable charitable organization or homeless shelter. These organizations – they are many – will accept your donation; no amount is too small.