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What''s your panhandler policy?

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JulieN

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My official policy is that I don''t give out money, and I will generally go buy you food if you personally ask me, instead of asking every car or person that passes.

I was in McD''s today, and a guy asked my BF for money. He said no, and then another customer yelled at us.
 

vintagelover229

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We dont give out money either. I just dont know how safe it is for me personally to do that. I feel bad as well, but I''d be broke living in the Houston area and giving everyone who asked for it a buck. The one guy we almost gave money to had a cardboard sign that said something along the lines of "Please help, I need a beer." The funny thing was is my honey had just bought beer, but we were already past by the time we realized what it said, lol.

Your not horrible, lots of people dont give money, some people do give money. I read somewhere there was this lady in NYC who was panhandling out on the streets, would go a few blocks away, change back into her normal clothes, and head back to her NYC apartment that was SUPER nice. I mean, she made BIG BUCKS doing it.

Do what makes YOU feel comfortable. If you dont feel comfortable doing it, there isnt anything wrong with that.
 

Circe

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I give on a case by case basis. I''m generally more prone to give to people who are doing something more than panhandling (busking, etc.), but I make exceptions to this all the time depending on how I feel about the individual person asking. I never, ever, ever pull my wallet out in public - why tempt fate? - so I always try to have a couple of singles or some spare change in an accessible pocket. And I think it''s asinine and inappropriate to berate anybody for the circumstances under which they choose to give or not give. Ugh!
 

luckystar112

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Date: 2/7/2009 5:37:31 PM
Author: redrose229
We dont give out money either. I just dont know how safe it is for me personally to do that. I feel bad as well, but I''d be broke living in the Houston area and giving everyone who asked for it a buck. The one guy we almost gave money to had a cardboard sign that said something along the lines of ''Please help, I need a beer.'' The funny thing was is my honey had just bought beer, but we were already past by the time we realized what it said, lol.

Your not horrible, lots of people dont give money, some people do give money. I read somewhere there was this lady in NYC who was panhandling out on the streets, would go a few blocks away, change back into her normal clothes, and head back to her NYC apartment that was SUPER nice. I mean, she made BIG BUCKS doing it.

Do what makes YOU feel comfortable. If you dont feel comfortable doing it, there isnt anything wrong with that.
LOL I saw a guy with that same sign a couple of months ago. He was at the Richmond and Fountainview intersection, I think. Wonder if it was the same guy.


It REALLY depends for me. One time I was at the drive through of McDs and a guy approached me and asked for some food. I bought him some. One time it was raining pretty hard out and I gave a guy an umbrella. Actually....it was night and traffic was moving so I sort of "tossed" it at him.
I hope he appreciated the effort.

But I absolutely don''t like when I''m at an intersection and someone starts washing my windows. It is so awkward for me because I pretty much never have cash on me and I''m left feeling like I owe them money, even if I tried to decline the washing. So if I see up ahead that someone is doing that, I''ll get over in the other lane.

I grew up pretty sheltered. Never saw a homeless person until I was 14 and on a class trip to D.C. This one made a big buck off of all of the students in my class....he told some sob story about how he was in Vietnam. Later on the bus driver told us it''s a complete scam and he even knows where the guy lives.
 

luckystar112

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Oh, when we were visiting the Vatican in Italy I was amazed at home many panhandlers there were. A lot of them were females with babies too, totally broke my heart. Then our tour guide (who had lived in Italy her whole life) told us that a lot of those women drugged their babies to make them sleep through the day while they panhandled.
 

cara

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I used to never give money but would give things like a transit card to some that asked for "bus fare" or a McD's coupon to someone that asked for a dollar to buy fries - this on the off chance that the person actually did have need of bus fare or food and in the interest of slowing down their immediate conversion to drugs or alcohol if not... but the reaction of a few people (disgusted look, immediately tossing it away, or "what am i going to do with this, b$%ch?") convinced me this was a waste of my resources, and even a bus card or coupon can be traded for drugs at an appropriate discount by someone desperate enough.

About the only thing I still feel OK giving directly to a panhandler is actual food. Leftovers from a restaurant, or a snack bar, or some item from my groceries, to a person that says they are hungry and looks it. And I have bought food for or given food to people outside fast food joints. Usually this has been well received but I'm sure one day it will be thrown back at me!

ETA: Obviously this is for the US. I'm not sure its the right policy for other countries that might have different populations of beggars and different expectations of proper behavior for those with change to spare...
 

strmrdr

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no cash
sometimes buy them things
if they ask for a smoke they get one.
 

oneandahalfrock

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Date: 2/7/2009 5:52:47 PM
Author: cara
I used to never give money but would give things like a transit card to some that asked for ''bus fare'' or a McD''s coupon to someone that asked for a dollar to buy fries - this on the off chance that the person actually did have need of bus fare or food and in the interest of slowing down their immediate conversion to drugs or alcohol if not... but the reaction of a few people (disgusted look, immediately tossing it away, or ''what am i going to do with this, b$%ch?'') convinced me this was a waste of my resources, and even a bus card or coupon can be traded for drugs at an appropriate discount by someone desperate enough.


About the only thing I still feel OK giving directly to a panhandler is actual food. Leftovers from a restaurant, or a snack bar, or some item from my groceries, to a person that says they are hungry and looks it. And I have bought food for or given food to people outside fast food joints. Usually this has been well received but I''m sure one day it will be thrown back at me!
I''m the same way- I never keep cash on me anyways, but will be happy to give leftovers, a small grocery item, etc, but I just can''t do cash.
Oh well. I feel bad for them, but at the same time, isn''t there something more productive to do than begging for money? *sigh!*
 

purrfectpear

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I live in urban downtown. I see homeless people all the time. Ours don''t actually panhandle (at least I''ve never been approached and have lived here for 3 years now).

I try to pick out someone who looks needy and just walk up and hand them a $20 at least once or twice a week. If they buy food, great. If they buy booze it''s not up to me to tell them to get straight. I can afford it and it just makes me feel good to share the wealth. The look of joy and relief on their faces is far greater than the $20.

There is a restaurant that I frequent that''s next door to a church that allows homeless to camp out. I''ll often double my takeout order and just hand someone food as I walk to my car.

Sure some of the downtown homeless are just shiftless bums, but the majority of them are ex vets, or mentally ill people who were released during the Reagan era. I had quite an interesting conversation with an obvious schizophrenic last week while walking my dog. It was strange because he had a very high level vocabulary so clearly he was an intelligent person before his illness took over. He made perfect conversation, it just didn''t jell with a lot of coherence


Before anyone starts in on how dangerous this all is, I''m not intimidated by anything, ever (risk is an acceptable part of my life). This is all taking place on a very busy downtown street with hundreds of cars and people near by, not in dark alleys
 

mia1181

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I always give if they are doing something or if their sign makes me laugh or put a smile on my face. If they just ask the answer is almost always no.

I think SF has some of the best homeless people in the country. I see funny signs all the time "Let''s face it, I need a beer," "Help they are holding my wife for ransom -99cents." I''m sure there are more I just can''t think of them right now. I also enjoy street performers. In San Francisco, the bush people by Pier 39 are hilarious to watch so I''ll give them money. They hide behind a bunch of tree branches and jump out at tourists, I could watch all day!
 

JulieN

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Circe- what does busking mean? And I have never even thought about the safety issue...hmm. They are pretty tame here, though.

luckystar112- that's pretty funny about the umbrella. and I remember a lot of beggars in Rome, too. In Rome, they seemed so much more destitute than here in LA.
 

cara

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Busking is to play music or perform for money... you know, the guy playing sax in the subway with his case open. Very different than panhandling in the usual way.

Here's an interesting article:
Joshua Bell busking

I think part of the reason I got into trouble giving transit cards is that I would have to get out my wallet... people thought they were getting the $$ and would then be disappointed/mad with what I produced. And danger is certainly an issue, best not to get out anything wallety or go in your purse.

ETA: Definitely don't feel bad about your BFs action this morning. That other customer should feel ashamed, if anything. There is a reason its called 'giving' and not 'extortion'!
 

JulieN

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OK, thanks everybody! I have been feeling weird since the breakfast incident. Clearly, she was a little bit off, but it still bothered me. We have a lot of homeless vets around here (I live like half a mile away from a Veterans'' Administration Center) that I feel pretty bad for...not to pit one person''s misfortunes against another''s, but this guy was definitely not a veteran.
 

E B

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Sometimes I do.

About two years ago, I was walking into Subway and a man outside asked me for a sandwich. I asked him what kind he''d like, and ordered him his tuna on wheat. Every now and then, if I can, I''m happy to do something like that.
 

Kaleigh

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I do like giving food rather than money. But have given money too. Depends I guess.

When hubby and I were in Paris. I will never forget a little boy that was all by himself. He was playing with a dirty piece of string. Just stting there leaning against a building. We watched him for quite a while. Wondering what to do. No one was looking after him. I asked him in French if he was hungry. He said yes, and gave us a smile. He took my hand and off we went to give him a nice lunch. We were told there was nothing more we could do, and to drop him off where we found him. He had the most precious little face, he gobbled the food like he hadn''t eaten in a long time. He was sooooo dirty. Broke my heart. I can still picture his little face.
 

tlh

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Nope. I am a tiny female. I was taught not to open up my purse for people begging for money. So when I am heading downtown where we are bound to see street performers, or panhandlers, I keep a few dollars in my pocket just for that case. But I might be a cynic... I only give money to people that amuse me... ie play an instrument, dance, sing, something. We just have such a meth problem here that I don''t like to give my money thinking it will be used for drugs.

I had a former coworker who is a lot more trusting... she brought in a homeless man for christmas. Gave him dinner, a shower adn a place to stay for a couple of days. She also buys beer at the liquer store anytime she passes a panhandler on the street. She says that she asks them if they want a sandwich or booze, and they tell her booze. She smiles and says, heck I love being drunk too! She was an interesting co-worker....
 

snowflakeluvr

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i saw a man in our previous downtown area with a shopping cart collecting cans-dirty, no teeth, ragged clothing. it was morning, i was kind of nervous but i drove quickly to a tim horton''s and bought him coffee, a breakfast sandwich, and two donuts. i drove back and he was gone! my adrenaline was kind of pumped and i know that my dh would have been angry with me but i drove around and around a little and finally found him. i put my car into park, jumped out, and said, "you look like you could use some breakfast" he said thank you. I said, "God bless you". i felt good about it all day but it is a little scary/intimidating to me to do this. when the kids and i lived near cincinnati and we''d go to a Reds game, i''d take bottles of cold water in backpacks and we''d hand them to beggars as we walked from parking to the stadium. i always felt bad, especially with us going into enjoy a sporting event and them outside....back in the olden days, when my mom was little, i guess beggars used to come to the back porches of homes. her grandmother, who lived there also, would always sit them down on the stoop and feed them. she told my mom, "never turn anyone away because you never know when Jesus is going to pay you a visit." i''ve always remembered that fondly, but i think giving like this is up to an individual.
 

MichelleCarmen

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I don''t give out money. About six months back, I was in a parking lot walking toward my car (about 100'' from it) and there was a guy casing out my car, checking the inside and then when he saw me (not knowing it was my car) asked me for money. What would have happened if I had taken out my wallet? He would have grabbed it and ran!

My contribution to those in need is giving food to the food bank and giving clothes and books to children.
 

VRBeauty

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Sometimes yes, sometimes no... I usually have bus tickets with me and almost always offer that if someone asks for change to catch the bus, even when I know they''re just scamming. I think my scam meter is pretty finely tuned, but I also know that thinking is more than a little delusional!
 

MishB

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It doesn''t happen that often here where I live, but if I have money on me, I usually do give it. I can afford it, I''d rather give a little to someone who may need it and go without one cup of coffee or a trashy magazine I will flip through and throw away.
 

strmrdr

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I have done a lot of volunteer work at a homeless shelter.
They strongly recommend against giving cash.

What is interesting is that panhandlers here are looked down on by the homeless themselves.
They consider them bums and full time panhandling is seen as beneath them.
Many draw the line at getting smokes.
It is rather interesting and rather sad how the dynamics play out in the homeless society.
And yes there is a society among them with rules and principles and they do form groups for survival.
 

cnspotts

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No, NEVER. And not just because my husband is a police officer but mostly because some of those panhandlers are making more $$$ than I do. They can get help if they want it, plus they don''t pay taxes and sometimes they get smart with those trying to help them. I work hard for my lifestyle everyday and I''m not enabling those that choose to for whatever reason keep themselves in the the position they are in that causes them to panhandle.

Recently a woman approached me at the gas station asking for money. I told her I dont carry cash (had my debit card in hand). She started yelling at me, all the while twitching (junkie itch) telling me that I could just go inside and buy her some cough syrup. (cheap high)

Another recent story from DH''s rookie was that he gave a guy a $1, who immediately sneared at him saying "don''t you have a 5?" He then grabbed the $1 back and walked away from the begger man.

COME ON....REALLY?????

Those are two examples of why I don''t give out money. I also don''t give out change to the people that work the intersections (unless it''s the Fire Dept''s "fill the boot") our city does NOT give out permits for the intersection charity drives but they always have some phoney made up permit on their buckets.
 

BooBearsMom

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I usually don''t give cash, but sometimes I will buy them food. I was walking out of Carl''s Jr. once and a homeless lady asked me if I had any money. I said no, but that I''d buy her a burger and a drink. I did, gave it to her, and she proceeded to yell at me. I couldn''t even tell what it was that she was saying. I figure she was just a little crazy, but hopefully she enjoyed the burger.

A couple of months ago, hubby and I were in San Diego and there was a lady at an intersection, holding a sign that said something like "Please help. Homeless and hungry." As we were stopped at the light, waiting to turn left, she kept looking at us. With the family in the car, we weren''t about to roll down the window and bust out our wallets. We headed to a nearby fast food restaurant to use the restroom, buy a couple of drinks, and let our pooch out to pee. A couple of minutes later we saw her riding a really nice mountain bike through the parking lot. She looked at us and smiled! Good thing we didn''t give her any money, she definitely wasn''t in need of it.

Anyway, Julie, that customer was out of line to yell at your boyfriend. Don''t feel bad honey.
 

mayachel

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My official policy is to only give food, not money. AND make sure I''m donating or giving back in other ways to my community, and hunger issues. Buskers are totally a different scenario, and I feel like they have worked for my money if they have entertained me.
 

Salix

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I don''t give out money. I am open to handing out the odd bus ticket, restaurant left overs and grocery items, but that depends on how sincere I gauge the person to be. I admit, I resent being asked for money. I work hard to survive as a poor student, and the fact that they are unwilling to take advantage of government resources makes me feel like they are undeserving of my help.

OP: I think it''s awful that you were chastised for not giving money! That is purely YOUR choice, and I would have told that nosy woman so.

The last time I was asked for money (the dude said he was hungry), I handed the guy a package of fresh hot cross buns (the bakery was having a two for one sale), he asked again if I had money and when I said no, he grudgingly took the package. As I walked away, I looked back to see him throw my $6.99 worth of food into the garbage can. I felt pretty stupid trying to help out.
 

oobiecoo

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If I have any leftovers or anything in the car then I''ll pass it along to the person. I don''t really give money though. I''d also be happy to buy anyone a meal or groceries but I''ve never been asked.
 

pennquaker09

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I rarely every carry cash, but I totally will buy food.
 

luckystar112

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I''ve always wanted to follow around the homeless people in my area and see where they go at night!
 

JulieN

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eee, the homeless around here sleep in freeway overpasses, randomly on the sidewalk, and the empty land around the freeway on/off ramps.
 

jewelerman

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Date: 2/7/2009 5:31:35 PM
Author:JulieN
My official policy is that I don''t give out money, and I will generally go buy you food if you personally ask me, instead of asking every car or person that passes.

I was in McD''s today, and a guy asked my BF for money. He said no, and then another customer yelled at us.
I dont give money.I read an article in the paper about the city I live in...employed people panhandling on the streets after work or on weekends...some people admitted to making a couple hundred dollars in a weekend.since the artlcle i dont give money,but offer to buy food...no one has ever said yes to food....and they dont ask for spare change anymore...they ask for ones or fives!
 
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