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Sandra Wright
Star Contributor

Arlington, VA
USA
2087 Posts

Posted - 05/31/2011 :  06:35:36 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
With the economy getting worse it seems that in my urban area there has been a profusion of panhandlers. In certain spots especially metro stations(Subway) its not uncommon to see half a dozen panhandlers at work. Do you walk by and look straight ahead? Do you shake your head no? Do you say get a job! I find being from a small town I sometimes marvel at so many persons out and about looking for your spare change. A neighbor of mine says she can tell who really needs it and gives them money. I myself hold to the notion that some can be dangerous and I don't interact with them. A few times when I was younger a few asked for food and I went as far as saying lets go to the store and I'll buy you food. My offer was flatly refused. It seems now almost everywhere I go someone is holding out a styrofoam cup for spare change.

Sandy C

Jnanne
Star Contributor

LA
USA
3043 Posts

Posted - 05/31/2011 :  10:26:47 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
We have an agency called Centerpoint that acts as a hub, keeping track of all the agencies in the area that offer services. I give people the phone number, website, and address of Centerpoint--and let them know that the reference desk at the library will help them use the computer if they need assistance. Centerpoint is open 24 hours and their search engine is amazing. They are also very good at determining who needs assistance and who is using the system.

By having one agency that oversees what is available, they are able to track the whole community regarding what people need (based on what people are applying for) and who is trying to get the same services from more than one source.

Jnanne
Silver certified
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Sandra Wright
Star Contributor

Arlington, VA
USA
2087 Posts

Posted - 05/31/2011 :  12:33:14 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Not a bad idea.

Sandy C
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JudyK
Star Contributor

Eau Claire, WI. 54703-1729
USA
1349 Posts

Posted - 05/31/2011 :  2:21:50 PM  Send JudyK an AOL message  Reply  Reply with Quote
Although we have MANY homeless, individuals and families in our city, we rarely see panhandlers unless its close to the interstate in the mall area. In that case, we know these people are from out of town. Many get ignored by passerby traffic, while others, will hand them cash. Our city has determined that panhandlers locally make more money in one day, than most workers do in a week and try to discourage residents contributing. Our city has many organizations that serve three meals daily, provide a places to sleep and, or clean up. When room runs out, there is another place open all night long, but does not allow sleeping there,they do supply hot coffee, and warmth one could want on a cold winter night. These people occupy the time playing cards or games all night. There are also organizations that provide FREE clothing and other needs, while other organizations people donate goods to, will charge for these items. Ive quit donating to those places and now take all unneeded items to the FREE organization. There are also several places these people can go to receive free food for the week/month plus get sleeping bags, tents, and cooking utensils for outdoor use. There are always some that fall through the cracks, but the city tries to reach as many as possible through local news media so theyre aware of available resources.
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Sandra Wright
Star Contributor

Arlington, VA
USA
2087 Posts

Posted - 06/01/2011 :  05:54:37 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
The problem is all these folks are not homeless. John Stassel did a news report where he followed some of the panhandlers around. One went to her house and did a quick change out of her begger clothes and hit the mall shopping. My neighbor who helps them even said she was peaved when one who had been posing in a wheelchair regularly was spotted walking around just like everyone else. Some of this is laziness and a scam. I realize their are some truly in need. My take is not to hand them money but let the pros help them out. The better money spent might be donating to your local shelter.

Sandy C
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SJones
Star Contributor

USA
3121 Posts

Posted - 06/01/2011 :  06:52:42 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Jnanne, we have a similar organization in our town. It does make it easier to pinpoint those who really need help. It also allows for a more targeted approach as resources, funding, staff, volunteers... are all combined. Of course it also helps to identify those who just work the system.

I don't give panhandlers money because there is enough help available to them. And they usually know where to get it. The panhandling is extra cash for alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs which is of course not provided to them by the charities. I give them food from the FF shops. Most don't want it except maybe for the soda. Go figure!

And yes, there are some who see this as a good source of income and great way of life. I don't have to contribute to that either.

I rather provide to those who are truly in need by providing the resources rather than the cash.




Susanne
MSPA Silver Certified!
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JuanitaJ
Star Contributor

Houston, TX
USA
1082 Posts

Posted - 06/02/2011 :  07:55:55 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
In Houston, TX, this is a big, big problem. There are sometimes panhandlers on almost every corner. I just look straight ahead. If they come up to my window, I just shake my head "No."

Some of these people might really need help. Maybe they are trying to get home (out of state) and have no money. But I think for a big part, it is a huge scam. And there is no way to tell that I know of.

The panhandlers will be out in different "categories." One day most of them might be veterans who are missing limbs and in wheelchairs. They wave tattered flags. (Someone had to drive them to the street corners. Some had no hands.) I have seen women on the corners pregnant with small children (not just one but many here and there on a particular day). Then another day it might be extremely old people with long beards.

I can just picture in my mind a group of these people living in a group house somewhere. Each day the leader of the team gathers a bunch in his van and drops them off at various corners, varying the trying circumstances that they are in...veterans one day, women the next, etc.

One day I saw a young, healthy looking man pushing a very old, disabled man in a wheelchair toward one of the busy intersections. I recognized the old man as one I see on the corner very often.

If I really knew someone needed a little money to eat that day, I would probably give them something. But I got burned out a long time ago. I was at a rest stop coming home from Dallas. There was a car out front with a couple in it. Inside the restroom there was a handwritten letter begging for money to help this couple get home. They were out of gas, etc. I had never seen anything like this and went out and gave them $10. They sort of mumbled something but not a very hardy thanks. After that day I began reading of a scam where these people park outside these restrooms on a regular basis asking for money.

One time a couple was needing money to get to Dallas and we had to regretfully inform them that they were headed in the wrong direction to Houston.

Juanita
MSPA Gold Certified
Happily shopping the Houston, TX area.
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Meli
Valued Contributor

Houston, Texas
USA
129 Posts

Posted - 06/02/2011 :  1:11:34 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Like Juanita said, they are everywhere here in Houston, and can be VERY aggressive. They will walk up to your car while you are sitting at a light and either knock on or yell through your window. They will approach you in parking lots, always with a sob story, stating they need money gas/food/what have you to get to Cleveland, feed their starving children, replace their wooden leg, etc.
My personal favorite is one that resides around the Montrose district. He is blind, and that part is obviously not a scam as his eyes are clouded over. However, on more than one occasion I have seen him stop on the sidewalk and "drop" his cane into the street. He will then put on a whole act of leaning over, trying desperately to retrieve his cane until a passing car stops and offers help. From what I have seen, he is raking it in. I am assuming he has a spotter somewhere nearby watching, acting as his eyes, and they are splitting the take.

Because so many are dishonest, I refuse to give money to random people asking for it (well, unless I gave birth to them because those random people ask for it ALL the time). I will gladly donate to the Houston Food Bank or any other of the local programs that assist the homeless here but just hand over cash? No way.

Meli
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Bill Kapelli
Star Contributor

Kissimmee, FL
USA
281 Posts

Posted - 06/02/2011 :  1:29:08 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
The city of Orlando has gone to the ridiculous effort of installing "donation meters," which are simply parking meters that have been rebranded, so that passers-by can donate coins into the specially-designed "meters." There are also blue-spray-painted "panhandlers' zones" where it is theoretically legal to accost the taxpayers for money. I may sound hard-hearted, but I work too d___ hard for my money, and, as others have said, when you try to offer food to these bums, they don't want it--they want the cash. It is all about choices--to work or to not work, to abuse drugs and/or alcohol or to use them within moderation, etc., and I refuse to get sucked into this "feel-good" claptrap about helping those who refuse to help themselves.

Bill Kapelli
MSPA Gold Certified
Kissimmee [Metro Orlando], FL
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Jnanne
Star Contributor

LA
USA
3043 Posts

Posted - 06/04/2011 :  09:22:53 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
What I have discovered is that the people who truly need help go through legitimate means to get it and don't panhandle. And they are often very embarassed to have to accept assistance, so they don't stay on it any longer than they have to.

Jnanne
Silver certified
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LisaOV
Star Contributor

MN
USA
2659 Posts

Posted - 06/10/2011 :  08:04:42 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I once took the greyhound bus from St Paul MN to North Miami Beach - three and half days on the bus (I was 20 years old and had more time then money) I noticed as soon as we hit Indiana two things.....the bathrooms in the bus stations were horrible AND a lot of people would come up to me and ask me for money. I kept saying to them...."if I had any money you think I'd be taking the bus?" ...LOL...that happened all the way to FL and if I could have given them money I would have but I had nothing to spare.

Anyways...I always feel sorry for people who stand around with the signs. I think that's hard work in itself, especially if they are standing out in 10 below freezing temps (and I've seen that)...if I have a few dollars I'll give it to them. I also give a lot to the homeless shelters here in the Twin Cities. It's important to help the homeless and people in need - but everyone has to do it in ways that work for them.

I remember when I was a kid in Tampa and my family and I went downtown and all the people sleeping on benches in front of the downtown library scared me. My step father told me that they were doing nothing wrong and there is no crime in being poor. I've never forgotten that and I thank my lucky stars each day that its not me sleeping on that bench.
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PamInCa
Star Contributor

CA
USA
6556 Posts

Posted - 06/11/2011 :  06:20:03 AM  Visit PamInCa's Homepage  Reply  Reply with Quote
Lisa, thank you for that post. I do not concern myself with whether they really need it or not. I know that I feel better about myself when I give up a dollar or so to one of these people. I am not the most kind hearted of people, but I give and I always think, "Thank you God for not letting that be me."

Any of us are subject to be on that corner at sometime in our lives, due to causes beyond our control. I know that some are really lying and bringing in the money, but that is on them, not me. And since I am a firm believer in Karma, if I am ever in that situation, I hope others will look at me and know my shame without me having to say a word.

I see a lot of them here. I give when I have it with me and if I do not have it, I simply do not give it. I have learned that a lot of these so called help centers are not really about helping but about reselling the products we donate. That infuriates me more than the man or woman on the corner.


PamInCa
Author of: "The Essential Guide to Mystery Shopping"
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EllenNC
Star Contributor

Raleigh, NC
USA
498 Posts

Posted - 06/11/2011 :  7:35:58 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I am often in a quandry about panhandlers but I have one firm rule. I don't give crack addicts money, I'll buy them food but no money and if I smell liquor on them the same rule applies. A few weeks ago, I was touched by a particular one though. He was in the rain and still holding his sign. It was a steady, cold rain and he was still working. Our car was the first at the traffic light and we gave him money. The cars behind began to blow for him and as I turned he was smiling and running from car to car collecting from each. It might have been a scam but he seemed genuine and grateful and I felt good knowing that for a while he had money for a hot meal and a cheap room.

Ellen
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JuanitaJ
Star Contributor

Houston, TX
USA
1082 Posts

Posted - 06/14/2011 :  06:30:06 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
On a recent gas station shop I was able to witness from beginning to end what some panhandlers do with their money. It was about 10:00 am. A very pitiful old man in a wheelchair was wheeling himself from the corner to the gas station as I arrived. While I was inside the store, he purchased a beer. While I was outside, he was behind the building with a friend of his (pushing a grocery cart) and they split the beer. He then went back to the corner.

Of course, this is just an isolated incident but it is one that has stuck in my mind. I would much rather give someone a meal than money.

Juanita
MSPA Gold Certified
Happily shopping the Houston, TX area.
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SheilaC
Star Contributor

Philadelphia, PA
USA
274 Posts

Posted - 06/14/2011 :  9:49:26 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Living in a big city has been eye-opening to me!
There is one man who I often try to help but living in disability myself I am definitely not flush with cash! I felt good helping him initially but now he demands things and I feel heartless not being able to give it but I don't have it myself either!

Another homeless couple always hone in on a friend and me. He'll always give them a few dollars but I refuse. I've seen them with a $100 bill buying cigarettes! It's been an extremely long time since I've had a $100 bill in my hands!

I feel very awkward because I know a lot of my friends go out of their way to make sure I'm okay and I'd love to pay that forward but I'd prefer to do it in a way that I know my contributions are making a diference.... other than providing the "homeless" with a better living than I have!
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LAlao
Star Contributor

LA
USA
317 Posts

Posted - 07/09/2011 :  10:35:12 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I love when I can catch a group of "Gutter punks" (not MY term, just what they call the homeless youth here) sitting in the median after I've done a batch of fast food assignments. I hate to throw the food away and they are always happy to get it, even if it's not still hot.
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PamelaD
Trainee

Provo, Utah
USA
7 Posts

Posted - 09/14/2011 :  1:34:24 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I've learned from pretty much every adult in my life since I was a kid that you don't give panhandlers money. Two stories have always stuck with me...

The first I heard from my 6th grade teacher. He went to a local Burger King a couple of weeks before Christmas. While he was inside, he saw a panhandler out on the corner. He decided that, being Christmas and all, he'd go out and give the guy something when he was done eating. He said that in the half hour he sat there, more than a dozen people stopped to give the man money. As my teacher was about to leave, he watched a very nice sedan pull up. The panhandler opened the door, hopped in, and they drove away. I can do the math... even at a dollar a donation, he was making more than the kids inside the Burger King. And it was Christmas. I'm sure he was making a good bit more than that.

The other is about the events coordinator for a conference center in Salt Lake. He told me he hears all the time from panhandlers... how they have hungry kids at home... how they'll work for money... He always makes this offer; 'Go get your family. I'll treat you all to a meal at McDonald's. And afterwards I'll pay you and yours to help my crew set up chairs or whatever for an event.' He's only ever had ONE person take him up on the offer. The rest mumble something and walk off.

I have and I will offer to buy a meal for someone. I've given someone a bag of groceries before. But any money I want to help the homeless with, I give to the local food and care coalition.
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JuanitaJ
Star Contributor

Houston, TX
USA
1082 Posts

Posted - 09/23/2011 :  1:42:29 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Recently, at a fast food chain, I noticed a man and woman buying breakfast and then the man was thanking another woman and saying, "God will bless you for this" and going on and on about how generous she was. I could tell by the conversation that the man had persuaded the woman to pay for all or part of the breakfast.

When I was leaving, the man and woman came out behind me and the man called to me. I turned around and he asked, "Can you spare $1.75? We are a little short for the bus." I politely just shook my head and turned around to go to my car.

He called out and said, "Yeah. I love you too, you old hag." I think the woman was embarrassed and, as she passed my car window, she looked in and mouthed, "I'm sorry."

It's things like this that help give beggars a bad name. I had to grit my teeth to keep from saying something to this 50-ish bum. He gave me the impression he went from person to person asking for money all day as the need for money came up. What a loser.

Juanita
MSPA Gold Certified
Happily shopping the Houston, TX area.
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Sandra Wright
Star Contributor

Arlington, VA
USA
2087 Posts

Posted - 09/24/2011 :  03:39:57 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Juanita, I think that about sizes it up. I went to a carwash one day and a gentleman said he was about to run out of gas. I can't remember if I gave him anything. It was a while back. After the encounter I saw him go from person to person asking. It hit me that this gentleman most likely was a regular at this. I'm sure his ploy filled his tank or more then likely set him up in drink etc for a day or two. It looked like he got $10-$15 bucks making the rounds.

Sandy C
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JuanitaJ
Star Contributor

Houston, TX
USA
1082 Posts

Posted - 09/24/2011 :  2:38:01 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I just remembered some panhandling tactics from when I worked in a poor neighborhood. There was a pharmacy nearby and every time I went there, there was a man walking up to people with a pill bottle in his hand. He would give a sob story like, "I have cancer and I need to get my prescription filled but I lack $2.00." I saw him there quite often for a while. A couple of other times there was a woman doing the same thing.

Another couple of people used to come by our business. They had colostomies. They would say something like, "Welfare only gives me enough for so many bags each month and it's not enough, can you give me $20.00 to buy a box?" This one woman would always pull her slacks down slightly to try to show me that she did in fact have a colostomy. She was another regular at the business. One time my husband actually gave her $20.00 and after that she would come in and insist on talking to him. I thought I would never get rid of her. I would tell her that I sympathized with her situation but I could not afford to be buying her colostomy bags. And then for her to always need $20.00. It would not have seemed so nervy if she had just asked if we could spare some money to help her. But she needed $20.00.

One other time, and this is one my husband and I did not know what to think about. A young, very pretty, well dressed woman in a business suit and heels, walked up to my husband in a parking lot as he was exiting a store. The rest of the lot was about empty. She had a young girl with her about five years old. My husband was probably 20 years her senior. She asked him if he could spare $5.00 for her to buy a sandwich for her and her daughter. He gave her $5.00. He asked me later if I thought she might have been trying to proposition him. We both thought that was possible but why would she have a little girl with her. It seemed so out of place for this well dressed individual to be bumming money in a parking lot unless she was up to no good. There was no restaurant immediately nearby which made it even more strange.

The point is, panhandlers have many ways of trying to pull at your heart strings other than just standing on a corner with a sign.

Juanita
MSPA Gold Certified
Happily shopping the Houston, TX area.
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Sandra Wright
Star Contributor

Arlington, VA
USA
2087 Posts

Posted - 10/06/2011 :  04:26:00 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I was doing an assignment yesterday that took me through a highly populated area of our town. I had to pass several times. A man claiming to need help had set up camp in his wheelchair right in the main pathway. He was repeatedly saying he was hungry and did not want money but wanted food. It seems to me these guys would be great at passing out advertisements and holding up those signs they spin around advertising apartments for rent. This guy was really selling his cause but no one was buying. It just seems one can't go anywhere now with out being solicited by someone.

Sandy C
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