Many of us struggle with the presence of beggars (panhandlers, as they are called today). We all see them standing on the street corners in town holding their signs, appearing down and out on their luck, and attempting to get a sympathetic dollar or more from the working folksÂ driving by. Â
My own son and I were confronted byÂ oneÂ as we came out of church one morning. As we headed to our car in the parking lot, we were approached by a man who was asking forÂ any “spare change”Â so he could buy food and milk for his children. Poor man. But only a few questions proved to reveal that he didn’t actually have any children at all. In fact, he needed the money toÂ fix his car that had broken down.Yeah right.
Rather than giving him money, we offered to give him a ride to the Union Gospel Mission. They do a wonderful job helping the homeless by not only providing the desired needs but also requiring some responsibility. He refused, of course, and went on his way.
My son was frustrated at the incident because he wanted to do what was right and generous but didn’t want to be a fool either. Admittedly, this is sometimes hard to differentiate.
I calledÂ my sonÂ at two in the morning a few days laterÂ after IÂ had beenÂ called to the hospital to admit a heroin addict that had developed an abscess in his leg from injecting. You guessed it. It was the same man that “needed the money for his children’s milk.”
Just a few days ago, one ofÂ our city’s “notorious panhandlers” was found dead in his car with over $1800.00 in cash and over $80,000.00 in heroin. Go figure.
People, use some wisdom. Don’t feed the bears. Most of the panhandlers you see are not in need of your money. They are either just lazy scam artists or they need help that you and I are not usually trained to give. Instead, direct themÂ to ministries such as the UGM.