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June 06, 2008


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I don't carry cash anyway.

If they are old and frail - I do. If they are young I don't. This may not be the best approach , but it is what I do.

In the city where I live, panhandlers are legal as long as they register and wear a reflective vest. Our TV station did a report last year that indicated some of them were making upwards of $70,000 per year. Each day when I come home from work, I have to make a left hand turn at a major intersection of two highways and 80% of the time, there is someone panhandling. I have given money to panhandlers in the past, in other cities, but have made a conscious decision not to give to those in this city. I feel harrassed by the sheer number of times they are at this particular intersection. I just smile and shake my head no.

When I carry cash I will give them some. I once handed a guy a $10.00 bill simply because he really looked hungry. But I agree with Debra that they become overwhelming. Here in SA every corner has pan handlers, usually upward to 4 per intersection. After a while you start seeing the same people over and over again.

No way. They just buy crack with it. Trust me I know. I have a lot of police officer friends who tell me that's what they do. I don't even give them food because they will actually trade it for crack or sex. Plus I like them being poor. The poorer they are the richer I seem. (The last part was just a joke by the way).

I don't give to pan handlers. I work hard for the money I have, if I choose to give it to someone I want to know what it's going to be used for, so I give it to charities with a history for using their donations responsibly. However, street performers are a different matter. They are working for the money, so I feel that paying for a few moments of entertainment is worthwhile. (On the other hand my response to the college kids blocking the sidewalks trying to get me to sign petitions or something (Greenpeace and Save the Children are the worst) is "I don't give to panhandlers.")

I've actually personally known people who went out on corners as a second-job of sorts begging for money, and would drive away in their shiny new volvo when they were done... they made a killing doing it too.

Maybe I'm just a bad person for thinking this, but there is really no excuse for being in that situation. McDonalds, Target, Walmart, Chili's, etc. are always hiring. You may not be able to land your dream job, but there are ALWAYS jobs SOMEWHERE to earn money. I don't go to work to support someone too lazy or stupid to realize this. We're already forced to support our ridiculous welfare system; I'm definitely not handing out more money on the streets. If they came across a "bad patch" in their life and are addicted to something, or lost everything due to addiction/circumstance, etc... Well, I don't care.

But again, like I said, maybe I'm just a bad person.

I usually don't give. The panhandlers I see around here almost always seem very able bodied and theres plenty of charity help here too. I give to the food bank and mission.


I agree with Smart Saver. In Dallas they did a similar show. One of the news guys did for a a few weeks. If he did it for a year he would have made $60k tax free. Wow!!! add 25% to that and you're at $75k. I give to things like the diabetes foundation and big brothers big sisters. It's safer and I get a tax break.

I used to be a caseworker at a group home with men who were formerly homeless and were learning to reintegrate into society. What I learned from them is that as long as there are people who give them money and food, they will not do anything to change their circumstances. While everyone agreed that it sucks being homeless, there isn't motivation to change that lifestyle until the resources are cut off.

That being said, I often give a granola bar or a dollar to a couple of Vietnam vets who panhandle near my work because they are visibly disfigured and disabled and I feel bad for them. It's hard to be in the social services field and not feel bad for people in need.

I give only if I have food with me. My wife and I will keep no-perishable items in our car in the winter and will give these away. I never give cash. Ever. I'll give them a card with a church's name, or will point them to the food bank and other social services. But never cash. Ever. I've asked people what they want and gone through drive through and gotten them a meal, but no money. I am a pastor, and we as a ministerial association actually have developed a protocol for what to give when. The majority of the time, giving money is the wrong answer, though certainly not always. This is why we give via our benevolence funds through our church to those in need. We are better equipped to evaluate things this way rather than spur of the moment on the street with someone who may or may not make their living scamming people out of their money.

Big Chris


I won't give money, for the fear that they'll waste it, but I will give them my food leftovers.

I won't give money, for the fear that they'll waste it, but I will give them my food leftovers.

I'm usually leery about how they will spend the money that I give them, but last week I gave a pa-handler $5.00 and as I was driving away, he was already heading to MacDonalds for food.

I have no problem with people who think their money will go further if they give to the food bank, etc., instead of to panhandlers, but the faux compassion of people who say, "Oh, I *would* give, but there's a chance it might be *enabling* them" turns my stomach. You don't want to give them your money; you'd rather judge them. Don't dress it up as higher compassion.

Interesting discussion, I was considering sending an email to FMF about this topic.

My thoughts on pan-handling:
I generally do not give them money, but girlfriend does.
I prefer to give them food. I have gone through drive-throughs on numerous occasions in the past to grab some food for pan-handlers.

A couple of weeks ago, a woman asked me for money while I was exiting a restaurant. I gave her all of my spare change (building up in my car's ash tray) and she turned around and walked away! Not even a thank you... I was very irritated.

In Victoria British Columbia a local farmer tried to provide work to the panhandlers claiming they could not get jobs. He drove a bus down and offered them all jobs working on the farm for good money. NO ONE took the offer. These people don't deserve our hard earned money or pity. I saw a bum outside of a a restaurant one day begging for money "to buy food". I bought him a burger and gave it to him on my way out. The peice of #$%^& threw it back at me and said "I was asking for money a$$hole." I will never give a penny to the panhandlers again.

Living in Victoria I see so many of them it is ruining our beautiful city. There are Help Wanted signs in the windows of the stores the panhandlers are sitting in front of. COME ON ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!! and people still give them money. Ok thats enough of that for me I don't want to go on a tangent.


Depends on how I'm feeling at the moment- on occasion I will give if it feels like the right thing to do.

Funny story- when I was living in Baltimore I gave a homeless guy a banana and he got really angry with me and ended up throwing it at me. I could never understand the reason but my sister told me that homeless people hate to eat fruit or anything with a lot of fiber because it's not convenient to take a crap and the extra fiber is going to make them go #2 more often. I never considered this angle.

So please, give a homeless person a low fiber meal.


If you go to the actual video clip from the Salt Lake TV stations, what's interesting is that the mother of the woman who get exposed as a phony basically was aware of her daughter's surreptitious life, but was unable or unwilling to do anything about it.
So the panhandler was enabled not just by people giving her money under false pretenses, but also by family that, unlike some true homeless where there is no family to rely on, passively encourages this behavior.

No. Never. There is no excuse for it! I mean, cmon people, what country do these people think they are living in??? Myanmar?

This is the U.S. of A. people! Opportunities are everywhere... just look. That's all they have to do.

They don't want to. THAT'S the problem! And if they don't want to, that's their problem... not mine. Everybody's already made some really great points in the above comments... nothing more really to add.

No I don't. I have seen the same pandhandlers standing here every day on salt lake city utah corners for the past 2 years. It's always the same story "I'm just trying to get a bus ticket" or something like that. We gave one of them that we regularly see some food, and she got mad at us! I give my hard earned money to my church who has set up an incredible local and worldwide welfare system I know that my dollars are going to help when I donate that way. Plus, I never have any cash on me.

As Americans, let us count our blessings! I have travelled to mexico, england, france, italy, greece and turkey within the last few years, and our panhandlers aren't NEAR as agressive as those in other countries. A few times I was scared for my safety!

No. My feeling is that (if abled-body) these people are like spoiled children. Why work? if parents are handing out the money. If they are visibly disabled and selling items/candy, I will definantly buy from them. If they are young and abled-body, then I may/maynot buy from them. I perfer to donate to charities.

Nope. Piss on 'em.

I give them something when they ask in the name of God. Otherwise, I give to the blind or the disabled.

Though I am also sure there is a racket going on with shady characters using these people as tools, my wife and I tell ourselves that this little donation is just a way of giving thanks for the facilities we have been given.

The younger way. I just avoid them when I see them.

To reader above who has travelled to other countries, you've not been to downtown San Francisco or Washington DC I take it? The panhandlers there are very aggressive shouting and chasing people for money.

Here in Bangkok the panhandlers are actually managed by the local mafia who take most of their 'earnings'. Many of them are physically disfigured / crippled / missing limbs / etc and are brought into the streets to work certain shifts. I find it disgusting that the mafia wants to exploit these people and take a portion of their meager earnings but hey, welcome to Thailand.


I don't give to people begging. I walk past several on my way to and from work every day and have never really considered giving money to them. There are permanent secure donation boxes for Shelter, the English homelessness charity around the city and I put money in them from time to time. I also buy the Big Issue (magazine sold by homeless people as a commercial enterprise). Not perfect, but a good start.

I remember giving a dollar to a man in a wheelchair about 25 years ago and after he took it, he started saying rude things about my skirt and how it looks like it came from a thrift store, which didn't bother me but I was stunned by his lack of appreciation. Needless to say he never said thank you.

The thing is, there are food pantries all over most cities and there is no reason for anyone to go hungry. The Salvation Army or many churches help homeless people with toiletries, etc., so why do they need to beg for money?

I have been one of those "pan handlers" And I really needed the money, I was not given a family or much support and I still happen to be young, so people just have really bad luck like me and find it very hard to have anything, like a job or a home cause they will loose it all the time, most of the time due to mental distress. A lot of this has to do with mental problems and the world is not easy on people with mental problems or people who are "different" and are not given much chances. Most people with mental problems are on the streets cause family and loved one's abandon them due to them being such heavy weight. There are a lot of factors. Sure there are some people who are just dishonest, but that's everywhere. anyway. I am currently struggling really bad now cause I got laid off my job and I'm don't have any money right now or family I was a foster child. I didn't have much choice. So I may very well be on the streets. And I'm only 25.

There has to be a better way though Kitty, as there are just too many on the streets begging and many that are driving on the roads feel your pain but cannot support everyone that is begging.
They give to organizations that disperse foods and shelter...and help those who are truly in need.
Too many panhandelers think of begging on the streets as a full time job that pays better then if they went to work washing tables, sweeping or mowing lawns ...shoveling sidewalks ect.
Some more ideas for them to make a living ...we need pickers for fruit farms ect.
There is always work if one wants to work.I know as I have taken many jobs when I was young and cleaned apartments for my landlords to make ends meet. As far as clening crap off the walls that people threw before they left. I could go on and on. But it is enough and you all get the idea .

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