Do you give to beggars?


Aug 13th, 2003, 12:37 PM
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Not always, but once in a while.

I will never forget two looks I got, both from grizzled old men. One was sitting on the sidewalk on Boulevard St.Michel in Paris and the other was walking slowly along the Borgo Pio. In both instances, I initially passed them by but then returned, giving them a few coins. What I saw in their eyes was not a thank you for the money, per se, but for the kindness of paying some attention to them, if only for a passing moment.
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Aug 13th, 2003, 12:44 PM
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"Do you give to beggars?"

Only if they're relatives.
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Aug 13th, 2003, 12:52 PM
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Dear ThinG

You have an honest argument for some third-world countries. However, this is the Europe forum, and in Europe beggars are not in that situation.

A person I know told me that he made about $40,000 per year begging in NYC. That's tax free.

I don't give money to beggars, and when they throw their babies at me I don't try to catch them.
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Aug 13th, 2003, 12:54 PM
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Street musicians and performers are NOT beggars. They are often skilled if not gifted people who practice their profession when and where they can. Few ask for money.

The wonderful players in the ?pit? at Covent Garden are talented performers who definitely are delighting the crowd and never beg for anything. Now, if you want to make a contribution?

Another thing that bugs me, particularly in London, are the beggars with multiple piercings, tattoos, smoking a ciggie, and generally packing around a poor dog for the animal sympathy vote.

But I will give money to the elderly without thinking twice.
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Aug 13th, 2003, 12:54 PM
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ThisGorjus, you surprise me. I thought you were better traveled than that. To indicate that somehow most of those charities for homeless are a US thing is off. Where I've seen the most signs against begging is Italy, where there are many organizations offering shelter and meals for the poor and homeless. And walking along the Thames in May I was overcome with the most wonderful smell of fresh bread and an amazing food smell. Turned out to be a soup line, offering free food to all those homeless who lined up. Yet only a few blocks away were people still begging for money for "food". I actually told one about the line we had just passed and guess what he said?"I don't like soup".
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Aug 13th, 2003, 12:59 PM
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I only give money to people who ...juggle,mime,play an instrument, or perform whatever talent they may have. I give to charities when I want to help. Obviously if someone doesnt like soup...they arent that hungry.
AS my parents used to everything on your plate there are people starving in east Oakland!
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Aug 13th, 2003, 01:01 PM
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I have a hard time giving something to a panhandler that is aggressive, impolite, or pushy. That said, in some cities it is tough to give to everyone - San Francisco for instance. Too many of them. I did give a dollar to a guy that was holding a sign that said "I'm not going to lie, it's for beer."
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Aug 13th, 2003, 01:04 PM
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Yeah Bird, I know what you mean, if a person can put a smile on my face, however briefly, when I'm in the middle of some tedious Tube journey, they deserve a few coins even if it's for the booze!
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Aug 13th, 2003, 01:09 PM
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How about borrowing a page from the SUV owners playbook and ask...

Who are you* to judge whether someone needs something or not?

(* not directed at anyone in particular here)
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Aug 13th, 2003, 01:16 PM
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O.K. ThinGorjus- you and I were in Agra much the same time so I know who you are talking about. I also heard that trip that the same very unfortunate lad had one of the largest houses in the area paid for from his "donations".
I am not passing comment on this, I don't know whether it was true but I am passing on that it was said.
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Aug 13th, 2003, 01:20 PM
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This is going to be quite a long answer, so please feel free to pass on by now.

When I was at University, I joined an organisation called the Cyrenians (after Simon of Cyrene) which exists to provide shelter for those with nowhere to go. In those days- 30 years ago nearly- we had a Model Lodging house in Aberdeen. The most God-awful place, except for a prison, I've ever been in. Right next door was the Cyrenian's night shelter- essentially a shed. The Shelter took people the Model wouldn't take; those who didn't have the 40p it cost; who missed the curfew; who'd been drinking; who had a record of misbehaving in the place. We are talking the lowest of the low. Many of them were mentally ill.

It taught me that everyone deserves a warm dry place to sleep.

As an adult I became involved with a Housing Association which specialises in housing the single homeless. When you say that most people think of down and outs; but most of Langstane's client group are the poor, single parents, ex-offenders, alcolholics, the mentally ill. The association (it's a voluntary body, largely funded by the state) was aset up by a man driven to finding proper housing for EVERYONE so that the Model could be closed down (and what a party we had the night that happened.

So, if I pass a beggar I ask them if they have a bed for the night; and if they don't, I ask them why they can't get into one of the hostels. And, because of my background, I KNOW if the answer they give me is likely.

I don't judge the alcoholics, the drug abusers, the glue sniffers. They need somewhere to stay too. And if I believe their story I will pay for a night in a hostel or in a low cost B&B. Because little can be worse than sleeping on the street in Aberdeen in winter.

Having said that, we also have an organisation here called the Big Issue Homelessness is the big issue)which publishes magazines and employs the homeless to sell them. They get commission on the sales.. So giveing to Big issue salesmen is an easy choice. They're definitely trying to improve themselves and they will always tell you, that a kind word and conversation is worth as much to them as a sale.Because most people pass them by as though they weren't there.

There. Help the homeless. The lesson for today.

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Aug 13th, 2003, 01:29 PM
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To Thin: How about the fact that I saw a beggar sitting in the doorway of Santa Maria Novella in Florence. I took note of her face. She had a little dog with her. The next day she and the dog were sitting next to us in a restaurant. Or the beggar in Rome that had no legs. There were no prosthesis to be seen. How could he get there? He got there with the prosthesis he had hidden in the roll behind him. He took them out when it was time to go home. I saw it. People without legs go to work. Especially if they have prosthesis.
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Aug 13th, 2003, 06:38 PM
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Yes we give to beggars. A lot of homeless have mental illness. The only time we don't give is when it appears to be a youth with a drug addiction. Not saying that we give to each and every person but if they appear espescially sad or have some type of physical handicap we give. We always buy flowers, newspapers and such when we don't need them to help out a little too. I have volunteered at shelters and know just how hard people have it. Agree with Shelia's response 100%. It is a sad situation.
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Aug 13th, 2003, 06:51 PM
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Aug 13th, 2003, 07:01 PM
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Thank you sheila for putting it so well. If I give someone money for food or shelter and he does buy booze or drugs with it, what really did it cost me? But if I don't give someone in need, what does it cost them?
I would rather be thought of as a schnook who gets conned by a homeless person than think of myself as pitiless or without care.
(When I saw the kid on the street in London, all I could think of was that I hoped if that ever happened to my child, someone would be kind to him)
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Aug 13th, 2003, 07:02 PM
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I work in downtown Chicago. If I gave money to every beggar I saw, I'd be doing so for an hour a day. Instead I donate to charities who better distribute and utilize the money.
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Aug 13th, 2003, 07:34 PM
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I live in a neighborhood where there are dozens all over the main street near the bus stop, there's a half way house and a soup kitchen, but like Sheilas home we have a newspaper that the homeless sell called "spare Change" we often but more than one copy because there are several in different spots selling them. You get used to telling who the phonies are from the needy when you live in this kind of area. No one should brag how much they give, the quiet ones are usually those who give generously from pocket and heart.
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Aug 13th, 2003, 07:57 PM
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I pretty much avoid giving to street beggars, especially in Europe. I give generously to legitimate local and international charities and Peter's Pence. The one exception was in Venice, near the Frari Church when I saw an older man kneeling on the cobblestone sidewalk with his hand outstretched. When I passed the same spot nearly an hour later the man was kneeling in the same spot, looking like he had never moved. I thought of how much pain he was enduring kneeling on the cobblestones, and I just had to give him several coins. Aside from that I pretty much brushed aside any other beggars I encountered, but still felt bad later. Just an aside, many years ago in Phoenix, a local television news station got a tip about a "Will work for food" type guy who daily frequented a busy intersection with his cardboard sign. They watched him for several days. At the end of the day he always walked away from the intersection into a residential area. The TV crew finally caught him getting into his Land Rover which was parked several blocks away and driving to his home in an affluent part of the city. Makes you wonder doesn't it?
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Aug 14th, 2003, 06:20 AM
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This begs the question (sorry!) of what does a 'need' consist, and of what does 'help' consist. If the problem(s) and the solutions to same were obvious, we wouldn't be having this discussion.

For example, an addict will go into withdrawal if he detoxifies quickly, which he is likely to do on the street. Withdrawal is as much an enemy of sleep, both his and others', as is the lack of an adequate habitat. If the addict gets high, i.e. addresses his addiction under uncontrolled conditions, his sleep and possibly that of his fellow shelter residents could also be adversely affected. Thus, ensuring someone gets a good night's sleep isn't just a matter of my 25 cents. Moreover, I can't hold an addict to a promise that he'll use my money to go to a shelter, because if he were able to keep such a promise, he wouldn't be an addict in the first place. It's a question of his ability, not his integrity.

Similarly, I don't expect someone in poverty to be able to administer his or her own capital funding drive so that he can get training and a job, not to mention food at bulk discount prices.

In other words, I see the problem in business terms; I know that many dislike the impersonality of such an approach, but I find it difficult to both refrain from judging character and to be personal, simultaneously.

I give money only to businesses with fixed addresses. This goes for nonprofit businesses whose business it is to address complex social problems. And no, I don't discount the giving simply because such business or charity is associated with elected representatives, i.e. is a government in charge of local and foreign aid.
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Aug 14th, 2003, 06:32 AM
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Variety of points of view. Just one other thought: perhaps some prespectives are affected significantly by how often you're around the homeless (where you live, whether they're easily avoided). For those who live outside a city, in stable and well off suburbia, I could almost think you'd pass many days and not see a single one. Since some of what's been posted is anecdotal, I sense bumping up against the homeless hasn't happened more than once or twice, and that will continue to be the pattern. If they're sort of out of sight - does that encourage a more generous attitude? Just a thought.
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