Friday, June 25, 2010

Folks on the Street Corner

Have you ever stopped and given some sort of help to a person standing on the side of the road holding a cardboard sign (Hungry Kids at Home Any Help Appreciated God Bless You)?

There are certain spots along my usual route that seem to be regularly populated by sign-holders. I inevitably feel a twinge of sadness and pity for them, but don’t stop and often try to avoid any sort of eye contact.

My rational behind not offering anything runs along the lines of, I won’t give them money because I figure they’ll misuse it and I don’t have any food to offer them, so I guess I’ll sort of pretend they’re not there.

Several years ago, when my sister and her husband lived in Florida, I went for a mid-winter three week visit (it was a blast!). The three of us planned a weekend camping trip, but while driving to the campground a storm started blowing in and we decided to abort the trip. On the return trip we passed a guy asking for help. We hollered across a couple lanes of traffic while at a stopped light, asking if he’d like some apples. We gave him chocolate milk and apples and the look of utter gratitude and the way he immediately bit into an apple, was heartwarming.

For several years I’ve figured it wouldn’t hurt to occasionally buy some non-perishable food items and keep them in my car to hand out. But I never remember that plan until I see another person holding a sign.

At New Years as Jeremy and I drove home from family Christmas celebration, we passed a man asking for help. I had a little food with me and I asked Jeremy if we should ask the guy if he’d like an apple (what’s with apples coming up every time?). Jeremy rolled down the window and asked. The guy said no, that someone else had already given him an apple. This sort of floored me that he was turning down food, but that was his prerogative. It was bitter cold out and it was nearing evening, so Jeremy asked if the guy needed a scarf, and the man once again declined.

That whole experience left me befuddled and wondering if all the cardboard holders are that picky.

What’s your take on it all? Have you ever interacted with any of these folks before?


Amanda said...

I usually feel guilty offering money to people who may abuse it, but Kyle and I did so recently in Chicago at Christmas time. In response to my query that the money may go toward ill purposes, my wise husband responded, "Sometimes that isn't up to us to decide. We are called to reach out to those in need."

P.S. I do usually try to pick up a gift card to a common restaurant when visiting places such as Chicago. It has seemed to work well as a strategy for giving.

Pam-Mom said...

This happens often in our big city. I know how you feel, because I always have the same feelings. Once downtown we gave a homeless person food we were carrying out from a restaurant meal and he was very grateful. I have tried to hand people food before and been turned down which makes you wonder how needy that person really is. However, I would rather offer to someone who really needs it and be turned down than not to offer. When it comes to giving money to people standing on a corner with a sign, I do not do that simply because (as we have read in the newspaper) many are con games. I would rather give something else usable. I like the gift card idea though. That gives them something they can get that they need.

Copyright Facts, Facets, Fancies, and Fairy Tales 2009. Powered by Blogger.Designed by Ezwpthemes .
Converted To Blogger Template by Anshul . Premium Wordpress Themes | Premium Templates | Blogger Template