Driving to work this morning, there was a panhandler asking for money at an intersection. His sign stated "Hungry, disabled, please help." When a woman offered him a dollar out of her car window, he stood up from his wheelchair, ran to get the dollar, and when he turned back he took a bite of something that was behind his back.
He was neither disabled, nor hungry.
I had a lady with crazy eyes ask me for money in a grocery store parking lot. I told her no money, but if she came inside I would buy her food. She wanted hamburger for her 6 month old grandbaby.
6 month old babies do not have teeth and cannot eat hamburger. She refused the help and ran away.
Another guy asked for food, and when we got inside the grocery store, he fessed up that he had lied to me and really wanted cigarettes instead.
Not even taking into account all of the criminal aspects of the situation, stories like this are all too common. It is no wonder that we have doubts about people's sincerity when asking for help, and then wonder if the money was used on something else instead. All too often homeless people become angry and confrontational when they are denied money. I don't know about you, but I am not equipped to deal with situations like this.
The best answer (in my opinion) is to let the professionals do it. There are homeless shelters around that you can contribute to, that are trained and equipped to feed large amounts of people on economy funds. They take donations and glean grocery store day old goods to make the best out of their limited monies. They understand the difference between a mental health problem and a drug problem. They know when someone needs professional help, rather than just a meal and a shower. If you don't know where they are, Google search "Feed the Homeless in (your city)" and see what comes up.
Here in Sacramento, California, we have the Salvation Army, the Union Gospel Mission, Loaves and Fishes, and Lutheran Social Services, among others. I even know of a program here in town that a number of churches are involved in rotating responsibility, but bringing in homeless and needy people to feed and allow to sleep in the church facilities overnight. Then they are released in the morning with a bag breakfast. These entities also take volunteer help as well. We can be the Good Samaritan in this day and age, but on a different level. In the Biblical story, the Samaritan took the injured man to a hotel. A place that specialized in hospitality of strangers. He paid for the man to stay, and came back to check on him later.
We can carry McDonald's gift cerficicates with us. If someone is truly hungry they will take them, and find a McDonald's somewhere. You can also carry directions to the closest homeless shelter, and a phone number. I would even pay for bus fare for them to get there if they need it too. It's important to remember that we don't always know what is best for us, especially if we do not have God in our lives. Sometimes the people that are asking for money, do not really need money after all, but help on a much larger scale. So directing them to the higher level of help is actually helping more than the dollar or two that you give them.
We are to be good stewards of our money, time, and talent. "Seek help from the wise" Proverbs advises. The wise are those who know the best and are trained to help the most - a lot more than my single dollar can buy. But my dollar combined with a single dollar from 100 other people, can buy some much needed help for a lot of people.
Be a Good Samaritan, but also be a Smart Samaritan. Give where we can do the most amount of good.
Until next time:
Peace to you and yours,
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Iconic Author Harper Lee dies at 89!
I have always heard of the acclaimed book To Kill A Mockingbird, but I have to admit I have never read it. Recently there was a sequel released titled Go Set A Watchman. I think it is high time I read these books.
The writing world has lost a gem today. Well done, Harper Lee. Rest in Peace.