One thing that has become mentally draining while out doing my normal things, such as studying at Starbucks; grabbing food; driving my car; or heading to school whether its walking to the train station or riding the train to school, are panhandlers! For those that are unfamiliar with what a “panhandler” is; a panhandler is an urban beggar who typically stands on a street with an outstretched container in hand, begging for loose change; or a bum, per Your Dictionary.
Don’t get me wrong, I love to give, and I give when I can to those that really are in need, but when you are out every day with no mental capacity to get help yourself, its mentally draining to deal with. My theory is, if you can sit, stand outside or walk a strip for many hours; even when weather is bad, and ask for money, then you can physically work a job. I do understand that some suffer from mental health issues; some may be drug addicts; or some may need information to agencies that do help, but something must give, because this is not a healthy way to live.
The least we can do, instead of giving someone that lives this lifestyle cash to buy God knows what ever, is to refer them to get help, or maybe even call an agency in front of them so that they speak to someone that can help them. Someone that has quick access to a shelter that provides counseling, treatment, health care, education, life skills, job training, and affordable housing. If they choose not to take you up on the offer of referring them to an agency, then I would just let them be, and donate elsewhere to maybe a charity or agency that takes donations. Keep in mind that you may be contributing to whatever drug or alcohol addiction they may have, if they even have one or they may just be swindling local pedestrians.
Note that there are many places out there like the Salvation Army that provide meals, or temporary shelter, so what is the purpose of giving to a panhandler with services out there like the Salvation Army? If someone is panhandling just to buy a meal, they can get that meal from a Salvation Army or a homeless shelter. One priority that I have made is to refer/hand out A Safe Haven Foundation cards to local businesses, or to those that are in need. A Safe Haven Foundation provides with individualized case management, shelter, food, treatment, education, job training, access to employment and affordable housing. I would like to hand them out while running, cycling, heading to school, or while floating around in my neighborhood. It is the least I can do, instead of helping temporary or contributing to possibly an addiction by giving money versus going the distance, and referring to an agency to get help.