Do you give money to beggars?

Old May 3rd, 2006, 11:47 AM
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No, never.

There are more than enough charities and social welfare programs in Europe that can (and in some cases have to by rule of law) take care of the truly needy.

That being said, I sometimes give fruit to the drug addicts. And they accept politely and say thank you.

If some begger *ever* used a baby or child to try to extort money from me here where I live (Norway), I will call child protection services immediately.

Also, if they *ever* touch me, they're going to get decked.
PrincessOfPenguins is offline  
Old May 3rd, 2006, 11:51 AM
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Heh, we have this one beggar here from Romania that the media has dubbed "Parkinson Man"...

He's all shakey and stuff with his crutch and cup while standing at his corner... and has been spotted several places, usually pubs, walking, laughing etc. with his mafia pals... no crutch, no shakey shakey...
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Old May 3rd, 2006, 12:12 PM
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Toronto had a woman dubbed "Shakey" by the press who did the same thing and I believe she was Romanian. A reporter followed her one night and found her son picked her up in a late model car and took her home; she walked to the car despite the sign around her neck saying "please help me, I am crippled - I will pray for you". When she saw the reporter following, she attempted to hit him with her cane. Using some scam later on, the reporter got into their home - they had a big screen tv among other expensive consumer goods. Last we heard she was spotted in Montreal.

Sunday at the bus stop, a drunk (who was badly in need of a shower) asked me sadly for bus fare - I said no and when the bus came, he hopped on and paid with his own money.

SallyCanuck is offline  
Old May 3rd, 2006, 12:19 PM
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I usually don't, only because I don't want someone to use begging as a "job" and an incentive not to work. However, I do donate to various charities, and several of those include food pantries and kitchens that feed the homeless.

tcreath is offline  
Old May 3rd, 2006, 12:22 PM
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By the way, I remember watching a news program (Dateline, perhaps) about 6 or 7 years ago and the topic was the homeless. One "homeless" woman who lived in San Francisco was interviewed (her face blackened out to remain anonymous) said that she made over $60,000 a year by begging, and that she obviously wasn't homeless at all. She would use her daughter or her dog to gain sympathy, both of which I find utterly pathetic and horrifying for the child and (as an animal lover) the dog! Now whenever I see beggers I can't help but think of this story.

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Old May 3rd, 2006, 12:29 PM
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This is one of those questions that you can only answer for yourself, what you do, what you feel is right (it is like discussing religion imo).

I would like to add that beggars (actively or passively asking for money), homeless people (they do not have shelter may or may not panhandle), and street performers (busking) are not in the same category to my view.
suze is offline  
Old May 3rd, 2006, 12:34 PM
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Yes, I do give money to people that are homeless or asking for change.

Having been in that situation when I was a child, I know how hard it is. The kindness of others definately kept me and my family fed.

Sure, there will always be some people abusing the kindness of others. And true, I don't give money to every homeless person I see, and yes, I do prefer to give money to women and those that are disabled or very elderly. I simply cannot afford to give every homeless person I see money. And sometimes, instead of money, I buy them food.

I am glad that because of my experiences, I have never developed a calous attitude towards those in need. I hear sooo many people make assumptions about people "choosing" to be homeless. It is very sad.

I realize that while there are some homeless that are using drugs, or drinking, etc. it is not ALL the homeless that do this.

A great website for more information on the true plight of the homeless is the National Coalition on Homelessness.

They have an excellant argument regarding minimum wage and the working poor.
ilovetotravel29 is offline  
Old May 3rd, 2006, 12:35 PM
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If I have enough money, I will generally give money to beggars, mainly because I'm betting on the off chance that they might actually need the money. I realize that most beggars in many cities don't need to beg, but since I cannot be sure, I'll give them something, anyway. If they are lying, the loss is theirs, not mine.

However, these days, I don't have enough money to give much of anything to anyone, so I haven't been giving money to beggars.

A problem with beggars is that the people who beg the most are not necessarily the people who need to beg. Sometimes a person who truly has no money will die quietly in a vacant lot without ever having asked anyone for money, whereas other people with plenty of money or the means to earn money will nevertheless beg for money because it's easy or because they enjoy taking advantage of other people.
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Old May 3rd, 2006, 12:37 PM
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No, I don't. But I hate having to explain to my kids why not.
missypie is offline  
Old May 3rd, 2006, 12:40 PM
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Here is a great can read the facts and statistics....

It is sad that people take the bad apples and make them indicative of the group as a whole. I think that if you have not experienced it, you may not really fully understand the horrors of it or why it happens.
ilovetotravel29 is offline  
Old May 3rd, 2006, 12:48 PM
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They have some pretty colorful beggars in Rome. We were strolling in Villa Borghese park on a drizzly Sunday and there was an old gypsey woman on the path to the gallery, bent over on the ground in a supplicating position with a cup in front of her. We could see her from far away as we approached and she didn't move a muscle. When we finally got to her my husband dropped some coins in her cup. She didn't look up but muttered a long string of Italian.

For us it was a form of entertaining, more busking than begging.
LAwoman is offline  
Old May 3rd, 2006, 03:13 PM
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As many on Fodors have pointed out the beggars are professionals. I have given many times but never again, except for the quadrapledic in a Riga market recently. I didn't have any cash when I first passed him but I went back and put some money in his cup.

A few years ago a fellow came running up to me in Amsterdam Centraal Station asking for a Rijksdolar so he would have enough to buy his ticket back to Ireland. He had gone to Amsterdam and had run out of cash he said. So I gave him the dollar. The next day I was passing through the station again. The same guy come rushing over and started his spiel, but stopped a yard short and turned around when he recognized me.

Begging is a profession. The beggars are actors who try to extract the maximum empathy from their victims. The haggard look and a dirty baby are among the best costumes.

hopscotch is offline  
Old May 3rd, 2006, 03:24 PM
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We don't see the beggar with a baby thing very often around here, but did notice it in Rome. Our tour guide (a Brit) noted that for all those women with the babies, she had not once seen any of them cry or move. Did give some change to a woman in Rome on crutches going through the street who had only one leg. No fewer than three shopkeepers on the same street did the same.

There is a fellow who sweeps the street near Fenway Park and has a cup out. He'll get some $ from us now and then. I don't consider him a beggar, but rather one who is doing a public service Other than that, the answer to the question "spare change?" is "no, thank you."
cantstayhome is offline  
Old May 3rd, 2006, 04:02 PM
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Well, Italians have told me that the beggars with babies and small children on their laps have drugged the kids. I can't understand why some child welfare service doesn't step in for the child's health sake.

I was also told that while you are reaching for your money to give a beggar someone else is watching to see where you keep your money.

SeaUrchin is offline  
Old May 3rd, 2006, 04:22 PM
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My daughter's school in Perugia told the students emphatically not to give money to the beggars.
Maire is offline  
Old May 3rd, 2006, 04:39 PM
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I'm with Maryfran, having been raised by the same compassionate father, who often said, "There but for the grace of God go I," and who lived out that philosophy.

I live in Spokane, Washington, and I see few beggars here, but when I do, I often give them a buck. I've got it, they apparently need it, so I share. If a guy buys a bottle of wine with it, I guess that was his priority. After I give it, it's his, and it's not my business what he does with it. I sometimes give to beggars in Europe, but that's case by case.

I also donate to Union Gospel mission, Second Harvest, Salvation Army, and Catholic Charities, all of whom work with needy people.

However, I realize that I might feel differently about beggars if I lived in a city like San Francisco where there are many beggars...

Pegontheroad is offline  
Old May 3rd, 2006, 05:04 PM
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This probably sounds strange but I have to see something in a beggars face or eyes. Something has to speak to me so to say. I have even made my husband turn the car around to go back to give someone money. But I have also learned some lessons that way. One cold day my daughter and I were driving down the street and it was snowing and this man was huddled against a building wall in the downtown of our small town. We saw him and decided to go back and give him $10.00. We got back just in time to see him lighting a joint! Needless to say he didn't get my money. But I have never given to beggars or gypsies in Europe, I guess they don't speak to me!

By the way, until last month my unpaid permanent job was working with the homeless.
hester is offline  
Old May 3rd, 2006, 05:11 PM
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I very much agree with Pegontheroad's philosophy (and I live in Seattle). If you choose to give money, I don't believe it is your business what happens to it after that. Give freely without imposing your own opinions or don't give. Heck I have a bottle of wine that I can well afford in my grocery sack, who am I to say "now be sure to spend this on food" if I hand out some cash on the way out of the store?
suze is offline  
Old May 3rd, 2006, 05:16 PM
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I did only once and that was coming out of the St Pete Times Forum after a hockey game (we lost) a guy was holding a sign that said "NEED A BUCK FOR A BEER" I thought OK...that's honest so I game him a buck and so did my friend....

otherwise I try not to even look at them and this is stupid even think that if I don't look at them somehow they don't exist...but they make me very nervous. I usually don't see too many, only in europe when I am traveling in Metro's and stuff. I saw a lady with a baby sitting next to a little florist place in Italy once and my hubby gave them some Lira...this was back in 1997
TheVagabondLady is offline  
Old May 3rd, 2006, 05:40 PM
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No, I don't give. I have a 16 year old son who is the best beggar I know and I am trying to teach him lessons about being industrious. I expect him to work for what he has and feel that giving beggars money would be hypocritical.
I was in Arles last Saturday. They have the full spectrum of beggars from the clean and well dressed able bodied student type to the raggedy prone woman moaning about her circumstances. Wow!
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