Even though some communities are doing their best to stamp it out, panhandling exists anywhere you find people in poverty. Some folks will give to a panhandler; I do, if I have cash and it won’t compromise the person safety (like making them cross several lanes of traffic). Others don’t and the reason I hear most often is “What if I give them some money and they don’t use for the reason I gave it to them, you know, food or shelter?” If that’s how you feel, listen to what homeless advocate Aaron Reddin has to say:
“Stop giving Christmas gifts. Stop giving birthday gifts. Stop helping your kids with their first car. And certainly stop helping them pay for college!! Just stop it!! Stop giving your teenagers lunch money. Stop giving people directions. Stop giving things to people! I can’t stress it enough!! Because the risk is very high and chances are that those Christmas or birthday gifts may be sold, returned or even RE-GIFTED!!! There’s a good chance that after you buy your kid a car, they’re going to break the speed limit with that gift! They could even get a ticket! And if we’re really honest, they’re probably gonna have sex in it!!! OMG!!! And college? Don’t you know what happens there? I’m not going to help somebody pay for college if they’re gonna go to drinking parties and maybe even be exposed to marijuana or something like that! What if they tried it! I’m not contributing to that! And that lunch money you’re giving your kids? Probably buying baseball cards or maybe even a buddy’s dad’s old Playboy magazine that buddy stole!! I’ll have no part of that. They can find a way to get food on their own!! And for the sake of all that is good and holy, what about those HOMELESS people?!?!?! What if God decided to never give me another blessing that He knew I would turn around and use for something I shouldn’t?? Or maybe He just suspected that I MIGHT use it for something I shouldn’t? But He gives to me still. Abundantly. Knowing that with most of the blessings He has given me in my life I will turn around and break His heart with in some way or another. I’m glad He never stops giving. Never. Who are we to determine the condition of someone’s heart when giving? How are we even justified in calling it a gift if we attach strings and conditions?
Jesus says to “give to anyone who asks.”
I don’t think He was joking. And I don’t think He gave us a right to give based on our perception (or prediction) of one’s heart and/or actions.”
I’m with Aaron, I don’t think he was joking.
If you’re interested in doing more than giving panhandlers a couple of bucks now and then, check Love Wins, The One or Greensboro Urban Ministry. Or, take a few minutes and find someone doing this work in your own community.