Do you give to beggars?

Aug 14th, 2003, 06:38 AM
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Sue: Well said. Reading the responses made me think about the issues you addressed. "Need" is not easily defined. An elderly or disabled person may not be needy, and an addiction can be debilitating. I think I will continue to leave the judgment call regarding "need" to the professionals (i.e. social service agencies and charities). Similarly, it is probably fair to say that a larg percentage of the homeless or other panhandlers are not the best money managers. Again, I think I will leave that to the professionals. That said, a quarter or a buck here and there doesn't hurt me, so why not give it out? I think I have come to the conclusion that our collective giving to beggars on the street unnecessarily attracts a criminal or fraudulent element (while not necessarily addressing those truly in need).
Bitter is offline  
Aug 14th, 2003, 06:38 AM
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Indirectly,yes. My taxes go to unemployed immigrants,welfare abusers,drug addicts,and all those that abuse the system. So I guess I give alot to beggars.
RNC is offline  
Aug 14th, 2003, 06:45 AM
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I typically don't give to beggers, especially if they appear able to work. However, in Peru, kids will shine your shoes for a small amount. In Egypt, kids will carry your luggage for a small amount. That's okay because they're working...not begging. We give if it appears they are working, or there is not way they could possibly work. Otherwise, we give to legit charities, soup kitchens, dissaster relief, shelters, etc.
Scooter is offline  
Aug 14th, 2003, 07:26 AM
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I don't like the organized crew of workers/volunteers/beggers in orange vest asking for contributions at intersections. I also think it is dangerous (even though they are wearing the orange vest). They walk through traffic with their buckets outstretched to the cars and some of these people have attitude problems if you don't give.

I have nothing against giving money for Jerry's kids, firefighters, etc. but please don't push your bucket into my face while waiting at a red light.

Yes, I do donate money/time/items to charities and the library, but I want to be in charge of when and what I donate.
ncgrrl is offline  
Aug 14th, 2003, 08:09 AM
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I don't believe the panhandlers are as incapable of work as do many posters. They are certainly capable of going where the giving is good. If one location is not profitable, they soon move to another.

It follows that if you give them something, you can expect to be approached again and again in that location.

I think they have found that panhandling is the easiest way for them to make a living.

Years ago the charities ran wood lots, and the beggars had to do some work for their shelter. Now somehow they have some sort of right to beg, and it is unfair to expect them to do any work.

Perhaps I am jaded, but when I was young we moved to the suburbs, and there was a bus stop at the end of our street. Four or five people would regularly park near our house and take the bus downtown. One in particular had a fairly nice car, certainly nicer than ours. Imagine my surprise when I went downtown and found that person, apparently blind, at his regular begging station. I could never figure how he was blind downtown, but could see well enough to drive out in the suburbs, or maybe I could.
clevelandbrown is offline  
Aug 14th, 2003, 08:41 AM
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When I lived in San Francisco, I'd often buy little Mac Donald hamburgers at lunch or muffins and milk in the morning and hand them out. I was reluctant to just give money.

Now I live next to the church (I'm a pastor) in the country and often men down on their luck will come and ask for some cash and I try to send them to a cafe or grocery store or gas station (and have them send me the bill) rather than giving cash- it's just not safe for people to know you have cash. It's a shame, but that's the way it is. It's also sad that you can't even give them odd jobs to give them a little pride - too many liablity and tax laws!

Joelleinitaly04 is offline  
Aug 14th, 2003, 11:08 AM
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We gave a generous donation to a young woman playing her cello in the Lonon underground. She was playing Elenor Rigby on the cello. It was one of the most haunting sounds I have ever heard. I was so greatful because it inspired my daughter and I to start practicing again!
Calamari is offline  
Aug 14th, 2003, 08:16 PM
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I don't feel street, metro, subway performers are beggars. They're entertaining and working. Some performers are fabulous. There's one in a metro in Paris on the Champs. He's and elderly gentleman and fabulous. If I enjoy them I give them money.
Ann1 is offline  
Aug 15th, 2003, 07:43 AM
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"Do any of you give to beggars they see on the street?"

I_am_anonymous is offline  
Aug 15th, 2003, 09:52 PM
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Do I give to beggars? Yes and no, depends. I think Scooter did a good job of differentiating between someone eager to offer a service for a cost, even if it's not a service you thought you needed, and simply begging for change.

So many people who really have just an observer's perspective, but believe they know why other's are what they are, or at least appear to be. Without the detail - I did over a year's outdoor time in a large US city when I was younger. Stupid thing, that. But the people I knew were there for a lot of reasons. Some begged. Some, like myself, looked for ways to pick up a few bucks and refused to take handouts like shelters and welfare which also shows a lack of sense really. Others, those who begged, often weren't half bad people but I don't know anyone who was made to be more motivated to save themselves through begging. I don't know if there's a right answer, having been on both sides. Just do what you find best for your own mental health.
Clifton is offline  
Aug 15th, 2003, 10:24 PM
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On a street in New Orleans a group of college boys were walking in front of us, when one of them passed a beggar about their age he said "sit, rollover, beg", and they all laughed and left the beggar stunned.
I have always remembered this as part of my New Orleans memories.
nocinonut is offline  
Aug 24th, 2003, 10:45 PM
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Thanks to this thread, I gave a lot of thought to my feelings about charity, and the process made me determine to more closely follow my gut insticts and my training, which is to be compassionate and nonjudgmental. My dad used to say "But for the grace of God..."

Today, going into a shopping center in Spokane, I passed a man with a cardboard sign of some sort. He was on my mind as I shopped. I imagined myself as him, for whatever reasons, mental illness, most likely addiction...imagined myself in the hot sun, asking strangers for help...

I gave him $10. Meant no change in my lifestyle. I didn't care what he used it for. None of my business.

He thanked me and said "Pray for me." And I shall.

I can't help but be amazed that in a nation like ours, which touts itself as Christian, and attempts to impose those views on others, would find it so difficult to ask in cases like this, "What would Jesus do?" Try to apply many of the answers above to that question.
Mary_Fran is offline  
Aug 25th, 2003, 12:00 AM
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I used to give to beggars, but being in a large city I realized I just couldn't do it, every day, seeing some of the same people and then new ones, all just on the way to work. I tried to draw a line--if they asked for food or looked to cold, then I would donate, etc. It honestly got too difficult--I was passing these people constantly, I did not know how to best help them, and then I read somewhere that the best way to deal with it IS to give money to charities that you feel best handled. So I do that now. Every now and then someone will tug at the heart strings and get some extra $$ out of me, but not often.

Awhile back I had also read an article that judged the "friendliness" of different US cities. Nashville, I think, came in first, and of course NYC came in near the end. One of the criteria used was how likely a resident of those cities would be to give to a beggar. Someone from New York "recreated" and rebutted the study by having the Nashville people not just asked by one beggar, but many. By the third time being asked the Nashville folks became just as unlikely as the NYC folks to give $$.
allovereurope is offline  
Aug 25th, 2003, 02:14 AM
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Not all beggars are what they seem...not too far from where we live, we used to see a large man lounging on a bench by the bus stop. He asked every passerby for change. He was cheerful and relaxed despite his situation, so we gave him something about every third or fourth time we passed. Suddenly he disappeared.
A few months later, we were having drinks in a fairly upscale cafe when the man at a table near ours began talking somewhat loudly on a cell phone. We looked over and there to our surprise was our beggar! Much cleaned up and in very nice clothes, but still the same man. We couldn't help talking to him after he finished his phone conversation.
It turned out he was a policeman. All the money he'd collected had gone to a charity to help women who'd been tricked into coming to Belgium from Eastern Europe and had been forced into prostitution (instead of the jobs in hotels and restaurants they'd been promised).
BTilke is offline  
Aug 25th, 2003, 02:35 AM
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Well, he may have SAID that he donated all that money to those women, but wouldn't it have been easier just to actually tell people that he was collecting for that cause? Or work with an actual organization?

He is obviously very good at deception--sounds like he was pulling the wool over your eyes.
allovereurope is offline  
Aug 25th, 2003, 02:57 AM
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I have bought food for beggars in the States, and here in the UK I have given them clothing (an old jacket and a scarf).

However, when I travel, maybe I'm paranoid but I don't give anything to beggars. I guess I've seen one too many police programs where a team works together.....the beggar distracts someone and then a pickpocket gets the good samaritan from behind.

I do, however, give ££ and clothing to local charities.
BrimhamRocks is offline  
Aug 25th, 2003, 03:04 AM
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Allovereurope, he gave us his card after we chatted for a while, with a phone number and address for the police at our local commune (which was the correct phone number and address). We met him, you didn't, and we believe him to be bonafide.
BTilke is offline  
Aug 25th, 2003, 03:12 AM
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ok, then. That certainly is interesting way to raise funds, nonetheless.
allovereurope is offline  
Aug 25th, 2003, 03:56 AM
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I think you misread my post. He wasn't undercover to raise funds--he was posing as a beggar to provide undercover security for a building nearby (I don't know the reasons or which building--I didn't ask, he didn't volunteer). You can't pose as a beggar without asking for money! And he couldn't legitimately keep the money, so it had to be donated somewhere...
BTilke is offline  
Aug 25th, 2003, 04:33 AM
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Criticism can be valid, but it is most useful if it helps to better define the problem, or to point the way to a solution. When you tell me that neither you nor your father judge, this tells me something about you and your father, but rather less about the problem at hand. It is a fair cop for you to point out that the circumstances of people begging are rarely fully known to the casual passerby, or in other words that we lack information about them. However, it is precisely when there is a lack of information (as opposed to a lack of compassion) that many people find decision-making difficult.

Tolerance is easy when others choose to follow our own views, be these on charity or religion or anything else. It is not so easy when people choose the solution we would not have chosen, or even to choose not to take action at all. While charity might well be deemed a higher good than travel, I still hold that charity is a choice, not an obligation. For if charity is not a matter of choice, then compassion is rendered meaningless.
Sue_xx_yy is offline  

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