Beggars Can’t Be Choosy

April 6, 2007

I was driving home yesterday when I saw a man with one leg — no, this is not a joke ;-)

He was standing at the corner of a busy intersection holding a sign that said . . . unemployed, homeless, hungry.

How sad.

I really wanted to help him by giving him some money but who knows what he’d do with it. Instead, I gave him my lunch I bought from McDonalds. (Yes, I eat there even without my kids. Their fries rock!)

I’m not sure what he was expecting but he didn’t look too thrilled. Maybe he’s watching his cholesterol? In any case, beggars can’t be choosy, right?

What do you do when you see homeless people begging on the streets? Do you try and help?

  • BTW, I’m off to Maui for an Easter weekend with the in-laws. Yay (insert sarcasm here). Wordpress will be automatically posting for me and I’ll catch up with everyone when I get back. Hope you all have a wonderful and safe Easter celebration!


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Aloha from J-Maw, Holly Schwendiman, Modern Mami, Write From Karen, Katkat, Melissa, Renee, Dana, BeachMama, Waya, Grace, Sparky Duck, Rach, Debby, Monkey Giggles, Karen, Yoshi, Ma, Tracey, Irish Church Lady, Twisted Cinderella, Pamela, Jenn, Karen is Thrifty, and Maria

25 Comments on “Beggars Can’t Be Choosy”

April 6, 2007
7:38 pm

maria said: laws are in laws, but one should NEVER place sarcasm when referring to going to Maui…it makes the mainlanders cringe! :)

April 6, 2007
7:59 pm

Karen is Thrifty said:

Sometimes we help and sometimes we don’t. When we lived in Greensboro, NC there would be someone at about just about every interstate exit ramp. They’d be out there smoking cigarettes. In my opinion, if you can afford cigarettes, then you don’t need my help.

Last year, we were in Asheville, NC and some people were parked at the exit where you get off at the Billy Graham center. When we went up to the next exit, they were already there. Then we saw them back at the Billy Graham Cove exit again, all of the people together. They had their “people” at each exit. I think they were preying on the generosity of the people going to the cove. Crazy thing is, about a month later we drove to Asheville for my husband’s birthday and saw the people again at a gas station!!!!

It is so hard to tell who really needs help. I’m like you, I’ll give them food, but I don’t want to give them money to support an alcohol problem or something other problem.

April 6, 2007
8:09 pm

jenn said:

I will also give food, but not money. I also don’t do it very often. Usually I see men standing with a sign, not women and we have a very, very good men’s shelter in our area.

They will help you find employment and have many other programs to help get you back on your feet. I have let them know of this resource before, even offering a ride to the shelter. If you won’t help yourself though, then I don’t have much sympathy. Maybe that’s the wrong attitude, because I don’t know their situation, however we can’t continue to help people that aren’t willing to help themselves.

Have a fun weekend, in-laws or not Easter is always fun.

BTW - did you go back and get more lunch for yourself?

April 6, 2007
8:42 pm

Pamela said:

I did exactly the same thing once (at Dairy Queen) … with my kids in the car.
The guy took the sack and scurried very fast around behind the building. So I odn’t know what he did with the food.

You know… some beggars make a very good living. Last year I read about a woman in NY living in a townhouse or something.. paid for by beggin. IT was her JOB!!!!

April 6, 2007
8:51 pm

Twisted Cinderella said:

I wouldnt give money either, but food I would.

April 6, 2007
10:05 pm

Irish Church Lady said:

It depends on the mood I’m in. Sometimes I give money. Sometimes nothing. I’ve never been fortunate enough to have food with me to give that to them. I think the street people who live down town are close enough to the food shelter that they can get a hot meal there so I don’t think that is what they are looking for, just money for booze.

Sad I know. You know what really breaks my heart, is when I see a street person with their dog. I’m such an animal lover that I actually feel sorry for the dog more than the person. The dog is totally dependent on the person. The person has choices to make. The dog doesn’t. That’s why I feel sad.

LOL, now that I write this if I went by a street person with a dog I would probably find a store to buy some dog food and then go back with the dog food to him.

Happy Easter Kailani to you and your family. How cool is that that you can post your wordpress posts ahead of time in a time delayed manner?

April 6, 2007
10:21 pm

tracey said:

When we vacationed on Kauai, there was the same homeless man on the same corner of the main street around the island. On our last day, my husband made me pull over and he gave him $10. The man was totally shocked and extremely grateful. He said he rarely got hand-outs. I can only imagine that being homeless and unemployed on an island would be extremely hard. I mean, in Illinois, if you can’t find work, you have the option of many other states and cities to look in. On an island, if you’re broke, you can’t even leave the island!

Very good of you to give him your lunch!

April 6, 2007
10:35 pm

Ma said:

I try not to pay attention to the panhandlers. There is just too many of them. I won’t give them money, but I’ll get them something to eat.

Happy Easter to you and your family. I’ll be home in 3 weeks. 2 weeks from today I’ll be in LA. Can’t wait to go home and eat some ono kine grinds! Bar B Q kai, here I come!

April 6, 2007
10:35 pm

yoshi said:

I’ve given food as well at one point in time. It’s the best you could do.

Have fun on holiday!

April 6, 2007
10:42 pm

Karen said:

Hey, I’ve seen those bunnies somewhere before! ;) That’s my favorite secular Easter greeting! :)

As for the in-laws—I’d love to stick them on an island somewhere! HA!

April 7, 2007
12:10 am

Monkey Giggles said:

We give food or offer to go buy food for them…on a VERY RARE day we would give a small amount of money,

April 7, 2007
1:32 am

Debby said:

My friend used to keep bags of nuts in her car to give to them for a little protein, but they kept throwing them at her car so she decided to stop. Apparently all they really wanted was money for other things.

April 7, 2007
1:42 am

rach said:

Have a nice and safe trip to Maui. Wishing you a lovely Easter ahead.

Regarding your question, I’ve given food to beggars before and most of them are thankful. It is common for beggars (mostly children) to knock on the window of the car when the cars are at a halt when the stoplight is red. The government has advised motorists not to give money to these people to discourage them from doing this dangerous act. There have been some reports of accidents on the highway because of begging on the road. Admittedly, there are a few times I still give money to road beggars because I feel so sorry for them. But whenever I have food in the car, I give it to them instead of money. My husband is more firm. He said we can always help but not that way because it only encourages them to risk their lives begging on a busy road. I take my husband’s advise into consideration and try my best to think that it is for their own good.

April 7, 2007
4:12 am

Sparky Duck said:

Easter in Maui has to be good, even with the wicked laws.

The homeless guy by my inlaws who begs for food for his dog breaks my heart.

April 7, 2007
5:56 am

grace said:

no beggars I encountered while in Japan for 10++ beggars here in Dubailand too..but when I see one, I’d surely give other things than money. I think giving money is like affirming their begging…

April 7, 2007
11:34 am

Waya said:

OMG Kailani, I did the same thing a looong time ago when we were still single, visiting friends in NY and I gave my sandwich to this homeless person who said he was “hungry”, and then when I turned around to see him off, he threw the sandwich in the trash!! What the heck?!

April 7, 2007
12:00 pm

BeachMama said:

I don’t give money. I have seen too many beggars that actually live in a nice house and don’t even live on the street. My Mom gave a guy $5 one time (when I was with her), the guy kept asking for more (holding my Mom’s arm)and another man stepped in to break it up for us. The next weekend I was in the same area alone when this well dressed man grabbed my arm and said “bet you don’t know me, eh?” I knew exactly who it was, the beggar.

I don’t appreciate people begging at street lights, it makes me feel unsafe in my vehicle. I used to drive a convertable and was always afraid they would grab my bag from the seat next to me, now I get nervous because J is in the car.

I am sure I should do more, but I just find it too hard, I served many a drunk as a bartender over the years, so I know it doesn’t go to food.

April 7, 2007
1:37 pm

Dana said:

It is so funny Kailani….cause I have an already written “draft” post about exactly this subject…so when I post it later on, don’t think I copied you!!! ha ha. The same thing happened to me…the guys/girls are on the corners by our Walmart here in town very frequently…and its been a dilemma for me.

I think I would not give them money, ever, especially after reading your reader’s comments. If you give them food and they throw it away or act like they are ungrateful then they aren’t validly needing the money or the food ya know? It is sad that people prey on others. what is really sad too are the probably very few of those people that DO need our help but they don’t get it because the crooks and scammers ruin it for the “valid” beggars. I just hate it though cause you don’t know…..

Hope you have a Happy Easter!!!

April 7, 2007
5:48 pm

Renee said:

I usually ignore the pan handlers. There was a law passed here that they aren’t allowed to do it, but no one inforces it. But I’ve heard too many stories of them getting into nice cars and driving off to give them any money. And I wouldn’t give them food either because too many of them aren’t looking for food.

What we always wonder is “Where are they getting the markers to make their signs?”

April 8, 2007
4:08 pm

Melissa said:

I have such a hard time knowing what to do… I believe that it is our responsibility to help who we can. Their responsibility is what they do with that help. JMO, ya know? But how to help is where I get caught.
Oh, and I would give ANYTHING if my in-laws lived in Maui! :) That’s a trip I would make any day of the week :D

April 9, 2007
1:26 pm

katkat said:

Every Friday a group of my friends and I go and give out lunches around town. We tell them about homes that can help. Hand out clothes and blankets. However 9 out of 10 have told us they like the streets.
Most are kind and wonderful people I wish I could do more to help and keep trying everyweek.
What you did was wonderful, did you have a fish sandwich…cause I would of turned my nose up to that too. lol

April 9, 2007
2:34 pm

Write From Karen said:

This reminds me of a story - and this also reminds me I need to blog about this.

The hubs and I were at Wendys, in the drive-thru lane, the other day. Across the street, on the corner of the Wal-Mart parking lot, were a man and a woman holding a sign. The sign read, “Stranded. Out of gas. Need money to get home.”

I thought, how sad. I mean, this happens, right? Gas is high enough as it is and maybe they didn’t anticipate having to pay this much in their travel budget.

Well, the line was long and it took us a while to get through. But before we moved forward, the man and woman tucked their sign up under their arms and walked back across the street to their car they had parked in the Wendy’s parking lot. They threw their sign into the trunk of their car, got in … and DROVE OFF.

Wait. I thought these people were out of gas and desperate? Granted, maybe they had just enough gas to get to the next corner? But I can’t help but be skeptical. Ever since we saw this special on 20/20 (or some such show) about how “beggars” actually stand around with signs for a living, we’ve been suspicious of “desperate” people ever since.

And I’ve never understood people with signs that read, “Will work for food.” Then work. Get a job. It just seems so counterproductive to be willing to beg but not be willing to earn a paycheck.

Granted, there ARE people down on their luck - bad stuff happens. But that’s what organizations like the Red Cross are for, to help people get back on their feet.

Anyhoo, I’d like to help these people out, but how do we know they aren’t going to take that money and pay bills, or buy liquor, or something worse?

Sorry for the rant, but this is a sore spot with me.

I hope your weekend went well, REGARDLESS of the in-laws. *grin*

April 9, 2007
7:35 pm

Modern Mami said:

He looked disappointed? Really? That is even more sad than him standing there with the sign! And, so nice of you to share your lunch.

Modern Mami

April 10, 2007
5:40 pm

Holly Schwendiman said:

Okay, I’m totally late getting caught up on blog posts over the weekend and end of last week but I just had this same experience last week. Unfortunately I didn’t have anything on me to give to the man but it made me sad because he was a well-groomed senior citizen whose sign simply read “Need help - rent & bills.” We always give something when we have it. My husband would give his own shirt to someone in need…oh wait, he’s already done that. I think it’s our place to help when we can, it’s easy to judge but that’s not our place.


April 11, 2007
4:27 am

J-Maw said:

One time I was riding the bus up the Pali and right when you turn off of Kamehameha Hwy onto the Pali I saw one guy goin’ up the Pali, on crutches, with only one leg. I remember first thinking, “Wow Guy!” then “I have alot to be grateful for”. Have a good one. Aloha!

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