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gard May 3rd, 2006 12:16 AM

Do you give money to beggars?

My hometown Stavanger is quite small and in the past there has been no beggars around. Well, occasionally I would run into a drunk that would ask for money for the "bus" but apart from that there has been no beggars. All of a sudden there are about 10 beggars in town and people are a bit shocked. People suspect that it is organized since they all come from Hungary and Romania. The worry is of course that the money that are being given end up in the organizers hands and not in the pockets of the beggars. Do you give money to beggars in your home town? Do you give money to beggars when you are travelling? I have heard horror stories about beggars in Rome and how they use small babies to claim that they have no money to eat or how they "kidnap" kittens to gain sympathy.

Gard - trip reports and pictures

Flyboy May 3rd, 2006 12:40 AM

I almost never give money to beggars and the reason is that it contributes to making this "line of work" into a more viable option. Whether it is organized or not, contributing to it just increases the incidence of beggars.

sheila May 3rd, 2006 12:47 AM

Depends. I do more here than whilst on hols, mainly because I know the bullshit issues here better than on hols.

CotswoldScouser May 3rd, 2006 12:56 AM

There's really no point trying to be consistent about this.

The standard - and officially recommended - answer most of us give to this answer in Britain's bigger towns is "no, but I buy The Big Issue". Just like Sheila, I think I can recognise the con merchants at home. And I'm pretty confident about the "beggars" in a lot of tourist hotspots.

But I don't know for sure. And, ultimately, what's worse: that someone who really does need a pound or two that I can afford doesn't get it? Or that I give away a pound or two that I can afford to someone who's part of a professional ring?

No-brainer. Use your head by all means. But ultimately, we're on this earth to help ewch other. If in doubt, give.

Mary_Fran May 3rd, 2006 01:27 AM

Yes, I do. While I am not a religious person, I do believe that "There but for the grace of God go I." And it is hard for me to ignore Christ's admonition in Matthew 25: 35, 40, "“For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in...Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

I don't mean to be preachy, but that line of thought was drilled into me growing up. There are times I don't give - when I am pressed for time or when I feel intimidated. But most times, if I have it, they've got it, more so when I am traveling and feel it would be shameful for me to enjoy luxury while there are poor people doing without.

Heimdall May 3rd, 2006 02:49 AM

Why not donate to a shelter for the homeless instead of directly to the beggar? That way you know your money will go toward food and lodging rather than alcohol or drugs. A quick Google search showed many charities for the homeless who would welcome your support.

Mary_Fran May 3rd, 2006 02:56 AM

I remember giving money to a guy outside the grocery store near my sister's home last summer. It was sweltering hot, and he looked much the worse for wear. Looked like he could have been a Vietnam era vet and looked like he was hoping to buy a drink. I was glad to help him out. Had life turned out differently, that could hat could have been me.

I do give to programs for the needy. However, it is important to me to feel that direct connection with another person on the street, one human being helping another, face to face, making no judgments, not trying to evangelize him, not trying to decide how he ought to live, but just sharing his pain for a moment.

Worktowander May 3rd, 2006 02:59 AM

No -- unless they have a dog, and they are sharing a blanket or pillow with said dog. Then I just can't help it.

Those kittens that are clearly not comfortable with their "owners" makes me literally sick to my stomach. I've never figured out how to snatch the kitten away without getting killed or arrested, or just what I'd do with the kitten once I'd rescued it. Any ideas?

Rillifane May 3rd, 2006 03:09 AM

There but for the grace of God go I...

But then, as Ogden Nash observed, it is equally true that there but for the grace of God goes Jimmy Durante or Aimee Semple MacPherson or Dr. Wellington Koo...

Carrybean May 3rd, 2006 03:15 AM

Never, ever.

Carrybean May 3rd, 2006 03:17 AM

Meant to add that most of my charity donations goes to my local, non-government funded animal shelter & other animal charities.

Ida101 May 3rd, 2006 03:30 AM

No, since in almost any country in Europe anybody can get wellfare who really needed.

Kate May 3rd, 2006 03:36 AM

I very inconsistent about this. Living in London, I'm often confronted by beggars and most of the time, I admit, I'm pretty cold hearted about this. Perhaps it's my 'commuter' frame of mind, so mostly I walk past, grumbling to myself that there's plenty of work in London (legal or otherwise) for anyone prepared to work.

I also admit that I'm particularly hard hearted about the eastern european beggars who have appeared in recent years, begging on the Tube whilst carrying a baby. Using children to coerce people has the reverse effect on me.

But I meet the odd beggar who's so nice and charming, and polite even when people ignore them, that I can't help but dig out my purse. And I don't care if they spend it on drink. Life needs some small pleasures.

Tulips May 3rd, 2006 04:02 AM

We have about the highest income tax in the world in Belgium, and a good social security system. There is no need to beg on the streets, and I believe giving money only encourages more beggars.
I do support local charities, especially those for women and children.

laclaire May 3rd, 2006 06:26 AM

Never, and once I made that decision, my life did, indeed, get a lot simpler.

Guy18 May 3rd, 2006 06:38 AM

I have, on occasion, bought a sandwich for a beggar.

Makes much more sense to give one's money to shelters and such.

That said, I think that ragged, filthy women with babies or crippled elderly people on subway steps in Mexico City are heartbreaking. I really don't know if the institutions to help the many thousands like them are in place in the "developing world". I doubt it...

Robespierre May 3rd, 2006 06:40 AM

I wonder what a beggar's view of "the grace of god" might be.

basingstoke1 May 3rd, 2006 06:43 AM

Last December in Prague it struck me that there can hardly be any line of work that would be more difficult on a person than begging there. The beggers there are prostrate face down on the ground and stay in that position four hours on end (In the Prague Pictures posting there was a picture if you haven't seen them). It was cold in the evening and they were lightly dressed. Some were obviously shivering. They can't be doing it because of laziness. It didn't seem to be lucrative either.

sweetbippity May 3rd, 2006 06:47 AM

I'm inconsistent on this as well. A few times, I've offered my extra doughnut or other item of food and been refused. I think that's soured me a bit.

If I'm out for an evening of fun and drink, I'm usually feeling pretty generous and will give to anyone who asks, hehe.

GSteed May 3rd, 2006 06:47 AM

Begging is a business. A Warsaw, Poland paper reported: Currency dealer amazed at the size of coin exchanges made every Monday by male 'Gypsies'.

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