Saturday, September 19, 2009

Micromanaging the Homeless - 9/19/09


I am a charitable person, though my resources are very limited. I am one careless night in a nudie bar from being homeless. In spite of my position near the bottom rungs of the economic ladder, I realize there are those below me. My heart goes out to those less fortunate than me.
Though I give for the satisfaction I receive in helping others (I wrote previously about my love of angel trees), I also want my gifts to be appreciated and used to benefit.
Once, as I was driving in Myrtle Beach, I saw a woman by the side of the road with a couple of kids (I am a sucker for dogs and kids) and a sign that said “we are hungry.” Well, of course I nearly crashed my vehicle going back to where they were standing. All I had in my wallet was a ten dollar bill, so I gladly gave it to the mother. She snatched it from my hand and didn’t say a word, not even a smile. I didn’t expect her to curtsey, but a “thank you” would have been nice, if only with her eyes. As I looked back, I saw her fold the ten spot into a large roll of bills that she removed from her tote bag.
I have given money to panhandlers that I am confident was instantly turned into crack or Thunderbird. So I have since changed my approach to philanthropy.
A man approached me Thursday night In front of the Food Lion (for northerners and foreigners that is a supermarket). He explained that he had been out of work for some time and asked if I could help him out. I asked him if he was hungry. I never want anyone to go hungry. He said no, he had gotten something to eat but needed some money to get a place to stay, gas, etc. I again asked if he needed something to eat, I would take him in and buy him some food. He declined and walked away. I had mixed emotions about that encounter. On one hand I felt that if I was destitute and someone offered food I would take gladly take it, even if I was not hungry at that moment. On the other hand, if I give him money, is it really any of my business what he does with it? Is the need for drugs or alcohol any less of a necessity than that for food? As I have never been addicted to either substance, I can never know.

I think instead of trying to micromanage the needy, I will limit my charity to organizations that benefit such people and let them sort it out. I will return to the angel tree this holiday season.

10 comments:

Tumblewords: said...

Stopped by. Read for a long time. Enjoyed.

linda may said...

G'Day Rick, I haven't been by for a while. Your writing as always is v.good.
I was asked a while ago for some spare change by a young bloke at Erindale shops. When I emptied the change out of my wallet into his hand he actually counted it and said he needed at least $10. I know where that money was going I reckon. Stupid me, I won't be caught with that again. You are right about letting the charities who cover such things do the sorting out.

keiths ramblings said...

There was a poll carried out recently in an English city. 20 beggars were interviewed and NOT ONE of them was homeless. Some were actually in employment and were begging to suppliment their income. One even needed a few extra pounds toward a new kitchen she was about to have fitted. I'll say no more!

Regina said...

About 20 years ago when I worked in my Dad's pharmacy, a local priest brought in a young man with some prescriptions and told us that he(the priest) would pay for them, and that he would be back to pick them up. Later, when he and the man came back, Father started to pay for the prescriptions, at which point the man cursed him out and left. Apparently he was hoping Father would be dumb enough to just hand him the money to pick up the prescriptions himself.
It really makes you lose your faith in humanity. I guess if we try to do the right thing and get fooled, we'll still get credit in heaven, right?

Anonymous said...

Give him the money Rick. I did and have done many times. Need I remind you of what B man did so many times, even though, inevitabliy it was my money?

myrtle beached whale said...

B man?

inlandempiregirl said...

I agree with your thoughts about donating to charity... let the charity sort it out.

Go Figure said...

Whale: I don't recall giving you permission to use my photo! I will sue you for Beer!

cricket51 said...

I have found it easier to give to charities. I feel they are better equipped to make my dollars go further. I did enjoy your post, you have a warped sense of humor, the kind I like! Although I did not write it for the SS "hungry" prompt, you might enjoy a fiction piece I wrote for Monthly Movie Musings. It is entitled The Bramble Bush Affair. I too have a warped sense of humor.

forgetfulone said...

Stuff like that makes me mad! I knwo someone at church who keeps water bottles in her car to give to panhandlers. I know another woman who offered a homeless person an apple (the homeless girl said she was hungry). She refused the apple. They want easy money. It's as simple as that.