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Do You Give Money to Panhandlers? [POLL]

panhandling man

I am beginning to wonder if I have a sign on my forehead that says “sucker.”

Over the past six months, I have had several incidents of panhandlers approaching me for help. In each case, I’ve done what I could do to help.

I usually don’t carry cash, but Tuesday night I did have a $5 bill in the console of my car. After pumping my gas at WalMart, a man approached my car. I rolled down the window and he said “Ma’am, I just got out of jail and need bus fare so I can go see my kids.”

I looked in his sad eyes and realized this man has had a tough life. I dug through the console and found the $5. I also found a restaurant certificate I was planning to use later. I handed them to him.

Then, I asked him if he had little boys. He told me he did. So I handed him some jackets my boys have outgrown that I was about to drop off at Goodwill. I drove off with very mixed emotions. I felt bad that I only had $5 to give him. But I also wondered if I’d just been scammed and if he was probably using the cash to by alcohol.

My brain wanted to tell him to get lost and go get a job, but my heart wanted to help him if I could. Did I put myself in jeopardy? Maybe. But I knew Walmart has a zillion cameras and this guy would have to be pretty bold to commit a crime in such a public place. Do you give to panhandlers?

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