On one hand, I’m far too trusting. Unless someone gives me a reason, I give them the benefit of the doubt. Usually. But I’ve seen the subject of helping ‘panhandlers’ out come up a couple of times recently, and both times have taken a long, hard look at myself.
Granted, I don’t see too many people holding signs out, but I’ve had some that approach me with a story. They’ve driven to my area from a distance of up to a couple of hours. It’s always to help out a family member or friend in need…and now they don’t have enough gas money to get back home.
I have a problem with that. Obviously started off knowing they didn’t have enough gas, nor the money to fill the tank once they got here.
If I were that broke, I’d probably have tried to help the person in need find someone in a better position to help them. If there was actually a person in need to begin with. But I certainly wouldn’t put myself in a position where I would have only two choices…be stranded, or start begging.
So yes, I’m cynical. I’ve helped enough people out in the past, only to find out later that I was scammed, and now I’m leery of helping anyone. And so I limit what I do to organizations.
At the top of the list is Hospice. This wonderful organization helps make dying people more comfortable. They provide medical care, either at the patient’s home, or a peaceful environment in nice home-like buildings. And many of them do it at no cost to the patient or family. They exist entirely on cash donations, or clothing, furniture and other household items donated to their stores.
They have given top-notch care to several of my dying relatives, including my dad and grandparents, and they will always have a special place in my heart.
I will also donate to food drives.
But I flatly refuse to give cash to strangers. The people I’ve known, the ones who don’t think twice about stealing from friends and acquaintances, are part of the reason. But reports like this don’t help either. The thieves look so genuine that you can’t tell that they’re doing a job.
What about you? If you see someone with a sign, telling about how down on their luck they are, or someone approaches you asking for cash, what do you do?