This evening a male, with a crutch, walked between cars at an intersection asking for money. The man never walked near my car before the light turned green. It is a scene I’ve encountered before – should I give or shouldn’t I? I’m not cold-hearted but first, is the individual legitimately disabled or out-of-work? And, will the individual put the “donation” to good use – buy food rather than booze, cigarettes or drugs? This is why I prefer to give money to organizations helping the homeless rather than tossing coins into someone’s cup.

And less be frank, you’ve likely encountered someone asking for money who looks perfectly CAPABLE of working. I know I’ve thought (granted, pre-Great Recession) – why isn’t this individual looking for a job.

I tend to appreciate those able-bodied individuals who make an effort to “earn” a “donation” For instance, some may offer to assist you with carrying grocery bags to your car for a “donation.” Taking Metro in the Washington DC Metropolitan area, musicians (of varying levels of sophistication) will play music as riders enter and exit the metro station. These musicians typically have the case for the music instrument open to receive “donations.” Some musicians are so excellent that riders will hang around for a song or two to enjoy the entertainment.

I’ll never forget the most persuasive panhandler I ever met. He didn’t say anything to me or others to persuade us to give him a “donation.” He was pleasant, never rude. He just stood outside of church as parishioners exited the church and would kindly ask for a donation. Actually, a very clever panhandler. How can one claim to be a Christian, to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, but upon leaving church, walk past someone who seeks help.


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