Do You Give Money to Panhandlers?

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capitalhockey
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Do You Give Money to Panhandlers?

Post by capitalhockey » Mon Apr 15, 2019 9:53 am

Recently, I noticed that there are more panhandlers around where I live at (suburbs of major city). It seems like there is one at every big street intersection, especially on left turns waiting on green lights. I was wondering if folks here give money to panhandlers. I want to help and came up with an alternative approach. I donate money each year to a local food pantry and homeless shelter. I am hesitant to give cash directly to the individual for multiple reasons:

1) Don't Want Money Be Spent on Alcohol or Drugs. My donation are for places where I know they can only get food and shelter. There are also social workers at these places that will try to get folks the help they need like counseling or drug rehab. Hopefully start the process to get them back on their feet.

2) Avoid Possible Scams/Cons. I have been approached/witness multiple times by people who I am pretty sure is running a scam for money:

A) Rode in car with my friend and stopped by a gas station. An attractive young gal came over and asked for $20 for gas so she can get home. My buddy gave it to her. I told him to do an U-turn after we left gas station. We saw her go back to her car without getting any gas and give money to a guy/boyfriend/handler. She went back out to ask the next gullible guy. There is a similar scam I see at subway stations where people asking for money because they lost their train pass and needed money to get back home.

B) I was walking out of grocery store to my car in parking lot. A women was carrying a baby approached me and said her baby was hungry. I offered her my gallon of milk and loaf of bread from my grocery bag but she turned it down. She asked for cash.

C) My wife and I likes to go for walks in an area nearby our house that is also popular with tourists. Over the last 5 years, we see the same middle age man (decently dressed, well spoken) with crutches and a luggage. He would ask someone passing by to help him with his luggage and walk to him to train station around the corner. During the walk, he would tell his con story and ask for cash when they get to train station. Since we get tourists all the time, he has fresh targets every day. I was thinking about reporting this to a local police to protect the tourists but not sure if this is a crime since he is not selling anything in exchange for money. He is just skilled at getting kindhearted people to give him money.

What is your approach/philosophy to giving money to panhandlers?

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RickBoglehead
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Re: Do You Give Money to Panhandlers?

Post by RickBoglehead » Mon Apr 15, 2019 9:57 am

The experts tell you to never give money to panhandlers. Ever.
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dm200
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Re: Do You Give Money to Panhandlers?

Post by dm200 » Mon Apr 15, 2019 9:59 am

No - almost never.

We donate regularly to our place of worship, which has a generous program to help those in need - in way(s) that are much better, in my opinion, than what I can do as an individual

Dottie57
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Re: Do You Give Money to Panhandlers?

Post by Dottie57 » Mon Apr 15, 2019 10:00 am

Sometimes, but not often.

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TxAg
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Re: Do You Give Money to Panhandlers?

Post by TxAg » Mon Apr 15, 2019 10:01 am

I live in a big city. After learning what resources are available through the city and local churches, I came to the conclusion that panhandlers are panhandling because they want to, not because they need to.

Turbo29
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Re: Do You Give Money to Panhandlers?

Post by Turbo29 » Mon Apr 15, 2019 10:02 am

A friend of mine was riding with me one day when we exited the freeway near my house. There was a woman at the bottom of the off ramp. My friend wanted to give her money. I recommended that he not. I told him that I get off here every day on the way home from work and this woman is always here. The light cycles every two minutes and she never fails to get at least one person to give her money for each cycle, sometimes two or three people give her money. Let's say that she gets an average of $2 for each cycle, that's $60/hr, which is more than at least half the people giving her money make. Even if she only gets $1 that is $62K per year if she stands there eight hours/day. Probably tax free.
Last edited by Turbo29 on Mon Apr 15, 2019 10:04 am, edited 1 time in total.

delamer
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Re: Do You Give Money to Panhandlers?

Post by delamer » Mon Apr 15, 2019 10:03 am

Never — it reinforces the panhandling behavior.

I was a young woman living alone in a large city for several years, and panhandlers made me very uncomfortable.

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samsoes
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Re: Do You Give Money to Panhandlers?

Post by samsoes » Mon Apr 15, 2019 10:04 am

I give 4-figures annually to the local food bank, which my Megacorp matches.

Agreed that a direct handout is not a good idea. How about a small supply of $10 Subway (sandwich) gift cards at the ready in the car, and give then out one at a time as the situation arises?
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OldBallCoach
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Re: Do You Give Money to Panhandlers?

Post by OldBallCoach » Mon Apr 15, 2019 10:07 am

Well I am guilty of giving a guy a few bucks, I usually like to offer to buy them a meal or a new jacket, ect.. most always turned down. One time I was approached by a guy that asked for money for food...as luck would have it there was a market on the corner...so I said sure...lets go shop...the guy seemed amazed and we went in an bought 100 bucks worth of spam, cheese, some bread and a gallon of orange juice and some fresh fruit.we also bought 10 pairs of socks.....he told me he lived around the back block and he would show me where he and three other guys lived..two were homeless vets...hungry...and frankly I believe mentally ill. They had made a shed out of tarps and wooden skids...they were surviving not living...anyway...I had 600 bucks on me, I gave it to them and thought as I walked away, there but for the grace of God,,,am I a sucker? yea...most likely I am...would I do it again...yea...is it right? It was for me that day. I am sure most panhandlers are pros...its a job to scam people...I say do whatever YOU think is right...

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capitalhockey
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Re: Do You Give Money to Panhandlers?

Post by capitalhockey » Mon Apr 15, 2019 10:07 am

I was also thinking of giving them the business card to the local food pantry and homeless shelter. I am sure if this is helpful to them or make them mad.

sil2017
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Re: Do You Give Money to Panhandlers?

Post by sil2017 » Mon Apr 15, 2019 10:08 am

Sometimes- But never to someone who is close by an alcoholic /drug anonymous meeting place.

There was a fellow in a coffee shop , about 20 years old, asking for someone to buy him food but not to give him money. He asked several people , all said "no". When he asked me, I told him " yes". I walked to the counter with him and offered to purchase something for his breakfast. He asked for a cinnamon roll and hot chocolate with lots of whipping cream. I offered to give me some money afterwards. His reply was " no thanks, thanks for being kind to buy me breakfast"

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Re: Do You Give Money to Panhandlers?

Post by jbranx » Mon Apr 15, 2019 10:09 am

{I removed an off-topic comment. Moderator Jbranx.}

ohai
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Re: Do You Give Money to Panhandlers?

Post by ohai » Mon Apr 15, 2019 10:11 am

No, if you want to help homeless, go donate food to the shelter or something. Get people off the street and help underfunded organized programs operate with better capacity.

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arcticpineapplecorp.
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Re: Do You Give Money to Panhandlers?

Post by arcticpineapplecorp. » Mon Apr 15, 2019 10:12 am

no, never. I work in the system where benefits (food stamps or SNAP, cash assistance, etc. are provided for those who are eligible). For a while I've had people on the street ask for money for food so I would ask them if they were getting food stamps and if not, showed them how close they were to the county assistance office.

Other times, they would tell me they were staying at the city's mission. I know the mission provides meals (even providing a bag lunch for those who would work. When I started employment, one of my coworkers who was also new was living at the mission temporarily until her paychecks started coming in and she could afford a place of her own). Needless to say, I was not inclined to provide money for food when it was already being provided.

I would also give them a printout I have of the nearby churches that provide three meals a day for free (two on Sunday).

After that they started saying things like they needed to catch a bus or some other story (get to rehab, etc). Walking on the way home from work I overheard one woman ahead of me talking to her friend about where the best places were to ask for money.

I have seen the impact heroin has had on people in my community. I have seen a woman passed out in her car outside my place of work (I knocked on her car and she awoke and said she was waiting on a friend). People are trying to get money in many cases to get their next hit. I'm not being judgemental. It's a reality.

There are people who hold up signs saying they were a veteran and are out of work. I'm pretty sure not all of them are vets. We have an employment center nearby and if people are on food stamps (which they should be if they're panhandling) they either have to have an exemption (disability, in which case they should have applied for SSDI) or will have to participate in work requirements (seeking employment, retraining, etc) through our employment center or will lose food stamp benefits after 3 months because they are considered able bodied adults without dependents.

If you want to help, direct them to the resources that exist in your community. If you don't know what/where they are because you've never had to utilize them, consider yourself lucky. But get to know them so you can pass this information along to those less fortunate. Some of these systems are complex and sometimes redundant but people down on their luck may or may not even know they exist.
Last edited by arcticpineapplecorp. on Mon Apr 15, 2019 10:15 am, edited 5 times in total.
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YttriumNitrate
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Re: Do You Give Money to Panhandlers?

Post by YttriumNitrate » Mon Apr 15, 2019 10:13 am

I never give money to people who are flat out begging, but I always give $2 bills to those that are making an effort to be street performers ... even the homeless trumpet guy who only knows the first 10 chords of the Star Wars theme. :happy

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Re: Do You Give Money to Panhandlers?

Post by OldBallCoach » Mon Apr 15, 2019 10:15 am

YttriumNitrate wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 10:13 am
I never give money to people who are flat out begging, but I always give $2 bills to those that are making an effort to be street performers ... even the homeless trumpet guy who only knows the first 10 chords of the Star Wars theme. :happy
I pay more for a certain fight song...LOL
:happy

SuperGrafx
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Re: Do You Give Money to Panhandlers?

Post by SuperGrafx » Mon Apr 15, 2019 10:16 am

I never give money to panhandlers, street performers, etc

Not my job to support these people.

stoptothink
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Re: Do You Give Money to Panhandlers?

Post by stoptothink » Mon Apr 15, 2019 10:16 am

I did once, when I was 16 and putting gas in my car. Watched the guy take my money and walk directly into the mini-mart and buy cigarettes. Didn't even attempt to hide what he was doing. Never again.

When we first married, my wife worked helping find underemployed individuals (disabled, homeless, etc.) jobs. While going for walks around the neighborhood with our daughter in the stroller, we would often be approached by panhandlers. My wife would tell them that she could help get them a job and would give them her card. The individuals would usually become irate and hurl obscenities at her. Several of those times, she probably would have been assaulted if I was not there. Not once did she ever get a call from anybody she had given her card to.

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Re: Do You Give Money to Panhandlers?

Post by Calico » Mon Apr 15, 2019 10:20 am

I give to a charity that helps the elderly poor. I don't give money directly to individuals.

I have offered to buy food. When panhandlers ask me for money, I ask why. If they say they are hungry, I offer to buy them a meal. Most refuse (I think they are professional pan handlers). Only twice did two take me up on the offer for food instead of money. I think those two men were probably really homeless and really wanted some food.

Turbo29
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Re: Do You Give Money to Panhandlers?

Post by Turbo29 » Mon Apr 15, 2019 10:20 am

I had two other experiences that taught me that many panhandlers are just scamming.

A man with a cane was walking with a noticeable limp. As we approached each other on the sidewalk he asked for money. I replied that I had no cash. As he passed I turned around and looked at him. He had picked up the cane and was walking along at a brisk pace with no limp.

Another time in the same well-known Northern California city near a famous bridge a man came up to me and said that he had just arrived from Oklahoma and had everything stolen. He went into this long tale of woes. I didn't give him anything as his story sounded suspicious. Several months later the same guy came up to me at the same intersection and told me the same story. I looked him in the eye and said, "That's horrible. You know what the worst part of it is?" He looked at me and asked, "What?" I replied, "The exact same thing happened to you six months ago." The look on his face was priceless.

Having said that, I did give a guy outside of a fast food restaurant $5. He looked genuinely hungry.
Last edited by Turbo29 on Mon Apr 15, 2019 10:22 am, edited 1 time in total.

Faith20879
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Re: Do You Give Money to Panhandlers?

Post by Faith20879 » Mon Apr 15, 2019 10:21 am

I don't.

Instead, I always carry a couple of McDonald's gift cards in my wallet and replenish when all gone. From time to time, one would tell me they don't like McDonald's food, I just shrug and move on.

I figured, I own DCD through VTSAX, there is no harm in bringing more business for them.

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Re: Do You Give Money to Panhandlers?

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Mon Apr 15, 2019 10:25 am

I'm too observant. Seems the ones standing at stop lights have a phone that's 4 generations newer than mine and wear sneakers that cost about what my phone did. And I've seen them change shifts. Yes. The one at the light when I stopped hands over his sign to the new one who shows up and off he goes. I wonder if they get shift differential.
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DrGoogle2017
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Re: Do You Give Money to Panhandlers?

Post by DrGoogle2017 » Mon Apr 15, 2019 10:32 am

In general no. But one time, we guy caught me at a good time and I gave him $20.

EnjoyIt
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Re: Do You Give Money to Panhandlers?

Post by EnjoyIt » Mon Apr 15, 2019 10:36 am

I never ever ever give money to pan handlers but will pay for a good music performance. I like the idea of [some fast food] gift cards. I might implement that in the future.

Years ago I stayed at a hostel in Europe where I met a street performer. He has been traveling the world doing magic and jugging. I honestly don't remember the exact amount, but he lived pretty well on just a few hours of work a day.

BeneIRA
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Re: Do You Give Money to Panhandlers?

Post by BeneIRA » Mon Apr 15, 2019 10:37 am

Turbo29 wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 10:20 am
I had two other experiences that taught me that many panhandlers are just scamming.

A man with a cane was walking with a noticeable limp. As we approached each other on the sidewalk he asked for money. I replied that I had no cash. As he passed I turned around and looked at him. He had picked up the cane and was walking along at a brisk pace with no limp.

Another time in the same well-known Northern California city near a famous bridge a man came up to me and said that he had just arrived from Oklahoma and had everything stolen. He went into this long tale of woes. I didn't give him anything as his story sounded suspicious. Several months later the same guy came up to me at the same intersection and told me the same story. I looked him in the eye and said, "That's horrible. You know what the worst part of it is?" He looked at me and asked, "What?" I replied, "The exact same thing happened to you six months ago." The look on his face was priceless.

Having said that, I did give a guy outside of a fast food restaurant $5. He looked genuinely hungry.
This made my day, thank you for sharing.

I have a similar story at Chicago's Union Station. Years ago, I took the train daily. There was a gentleman, usually by the Amtrak section, who would have a sob story every couple of days, usually on Fridays, about how his money was stolen and he needed to get back to Tennessee and to please give him however much money. I never saw anyone give him money until one day about a year later a gullible couple gave $40.00. When he walked away, more like speed walked away, all of the locals were laying into this couple about how this guy had been there forever with the same story. Poor couple. I saw the guy a couple of days later doing the same thing.

Separately, also a long while back, there used to be a tour in California by a homeless gentleman where you would go "behind the scenes" of the homeless population of that particular city. I had an acquaintance who went on the tour and the takeaway was that there is help for these people and the majority panhandling are doing it for, shall we say, extracurricular activities that a food bank would not assist with and to not give money to these people. Most of the others have a mental illness which is very sad. Take notice on how many of them are only out when the weather is good. It is because they go back to their shelter or dwelling when it rains, snows, or there is bad weather. It was pretty interesting.

Donate money to causes helping the homeless and mentally ill. Not to the panhandler.

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Re: Do You Give Money to Panhandlers?

Post by Nowizard » Mon Apr 15, 2019 10:42 am

Not directly often, but in Nashville, homeless folks have a newspaper they sell on the street for a small amount, and they have been vetted. Also, there are other situations where people sell the local paper in Memphis on Sundays for $1. I purchase one and will occasionally buy them out if it is raining, but leave the papers since they often want to stay in the rain and sell them for what amounts to the second time. These folks are probably not homeless but looking to make a few bucks. There are a couple of men who are near homeless that we give money to for Thanksgiving or Christmas holidays, but they are not panhandlers.

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Re: Do You Give Money to Panhandlers?

Post by Trader Joe » Mon Apr 15, 2019 10:46 am

capitalhockey wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 9:53 am
Recently, I noticed that there are more panhandlers around where I live at (suburbs of major city). It seems like there is one at every big street intersection, especially on left turns waiting on green lights. I was wondering if folks here give money to panhandlers. I want to help and came up with an alternative approach. I donate money each year to a local food pantry and homeless shelter. I am hesitant to give cash directly to the individual for multiple reasons:

1) Don't Want Money Be Spent on Alcohol or Drugs. My donation are for places where I know they can only get food and shelter. There are also social workers at these places that will try to get folks the help they need like counseling or drug rehab. Hopefully start the process to get them back on their feet.

2) Avoid Possible Scams/Cons. I have been approached/witness multiple times by people who I am pretty sure is running a scam for money:

A) Rode in car with my friend and stopped by a gas station. An attractive young gal came over and asked for $20 for gas so she can get home. My buddy gave it to her. I told him to do an U-turn after we left gas station. We saw her go back to her car without getting any gas and give money to a guy/boyfriend/handler. She went back out to ask the next gullible guy. There is a similar scam I see at subway stations where people asking for money because they lost their train pass and needed money to get back home.

B) I was walking out of grocery store to my car in parking lot. A women was carrying a baby approached me and said her baby was hungry. I offered her my gallon of milk and loaf of bread from my grocery bag but she turned it down. She asked for cash.

C) My wife and I likes to go for walks in an area nearby our house that is also popular with tourists. Over the last 5 years, we see the same middle age man (decently dressed, well spoken) with crutches and a luggage. He would ask someone passing by to help him with his luggage and walk to him to train station around the corner. During the walk, he would tell his con story and ask for cash when they get to train station. Since we get tourists all the time, he has fresh targets every day. I was thinking about reporting this to a local police to protect the tourists but not sure if this is a crime since he is not selling anything in exchange for money. He is just skilled at getting kindhearted people to give him money.

What is your approach/philosophy to giving money to panhandlers?
No I never do. Not one penny. I ignore them completely.

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Re: Do You Give Money to Panhandlers?

Post by LiterallyIronic » Mon Apr 15, 2019 10:50 am

Turbo29 wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 10:20 am
Another time in the same well-known Northern California city near a famous bridge a man came up to me and said that he had just arrived from Oklahoma and had everything stolen. He went into this long tale of woes. I didn't give him anything as his story sounded suspicious. Several months later the same guy came up to me at the same intersection and told me the same story. I looked him in the eye and said, "That's horrible. You know what the worst part of it is?" He looked at me and asked, "What?" I replied, "The exact same thing happened to you six months ago." The look on his face was priceless.
Heh, reminds me of this lady that went door-to-door selling bread she had made. I was living in some college housing, so there was a lot of turnover every semester. But she'd come by every six months or so to say that "she was raising money for her son who was on a Mormon mission." As it happened, I lived in that same college apartment for four years. After she had come by a number of times, I was like, "Should't he be done by now? It's been a few years of you coming by trying to sell this bread." She then "clarified" her story to "Yeah, but now I want to go visit him." I never saw her again after that incident.

To answer OP's question, though, no, I do not. It's a misdemeanor in my city to exchange items, including money, between a driver and a pedestrian. Both parties can be cited with the misdemeanor. To stay within the bounds of the law, you'd have to pull over, get out, and hand the money to the pandhandler. And that's way too much work.

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dm200
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Re: Do You Give Money to Panhandlers?

Post by dm200 » Mon Apr 15, 2019 10:57 am

One city we visited (Nashville, I think) had signs in one area where panhandlers frequented. The signs advised not giving to such panhandlers, but rather put coins in these meter-like devices and all such coin donations would be used to help the homeless.

I am "acquainted" with several such homeless folks who regularly panhandle. These folks get regular, modest income each month from pensions, disability, retirement, etc. It is gone for drugs every month within a week or two. Our place of worship has helped one such woman man, many times to set her up in an apartment of other housing -- BUT she refuses to stay. Now back on the street, drugged up and panhandling.

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Re: Do You Give Money to Panhandlers?

Post by OldBallCoach » Mon Apr 15, 2019 11:01 am

EnjoyIt wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 10:36 am
I never ever ever give money to pan handlers but will pay for a good music performance. I like the idea of [some fast food] gift cards. I might implement that in the future.

Years ago I stayed at a hostel in Europe where I met a street performer. He has been traveling the world doing magic and jugging. I honestly don't remember the exact amount, but he lived pretty well on just a few hours of work a day.
So learn how to juggle and do magic and you too can share in the cash...

I hear the same kind of statements made about NFL players salaries...they make 200K for one game? or more? thats insane...its not insane...its market value...same thing with a street performer...they have a skill that you cant do...LOL...so throw them a few bucks...

Knglou
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Re: Do You Give Money to Panhandlers?

Post by Knglou » Mon Apr 15, 2019 11:01 am

I never give cash I have bought food for several only been turned down once since they didn't like that brand of burger

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midareff
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Re: Do You Give Money to Panhandlers?

Post by midareff » Mon Apr 15, 2019 11:06 am

I never give money to panhandlers or beggars. I do leave donations at churches and temples, synagogues, wats and so forth when we are traveling. I also donate about 3% or so of AGI to a combination of charities that help needy children medically, such as Fred Hollows Foundation, Operation Smile, St. Judes, UNICEF and Ronald McDonald House, and Wounded Warriors for our hurt Vets.

Tdubs
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Re: Do You Give Money to Panhandlers?

Post by Tdubs » Mon Apr 15, 2019 11:08 am

Yes. If I have any cash in my wallet and don't have to cross three lanes to get to them, always.

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Re: Do You Give Money to Panhandlers?

Post by barnaclebob » Mon Apr 15, 2019 11:10 am

Never.

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Re: Do You Give Money to Panhandlers?

Post by JTColton » Mon Apr 15, 2019 11:15 am

Never

ohai
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Re: Do You Give Money to Panhandlers?

Post by ohai » Mon Apr 15, 2019 11:18 am

Ok, for me, the exception is for street performers, as some of them are pretty good actually. Like in Central Park, there are a bunch of black guys who do acrobatics, and it's pretty impressive. I wouldn't really say they're panhandlers though.

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dm200
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Re: Do You Give Money to Panhandlers?

Post by dm200 » Mon Apr 15, 2019 11:20 am

Tdubs wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 11:08 am
Yes. If I have any cash in my wallet and don't have to cross three lanes to get to them, always.
There are several places I drive regularly with a median always with one panhandler there. Never zero, never two or more! Always just ONE.

These guys/gals apparently have an effective scheduling system to staff those spots so very well.

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Stinky
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Re: Do You Give Money to Panhandlers?

Post by Stinky » Mon Apr 15, 2019 11:21 am

Never.

I see the same people, with the same signs, at the same street corners day after day after day. Several folks are at the exits to the local Walmart, which I expect would be interested in hiring them if they chose to apply.
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Re: Do You Give Money to Panhandlers?

Post by prudent » Mon Apr 15, 2019 11:25 am

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