J.K. asks from Goodyear, AZ on September 22, 2012
Homeless People and Beggars
We just moved to the city and there are people who ask us for money everywhere we go. Going into Walmart people will tell their story about how they need help buying groceries for their baby and they need diapers and they're desperate. I have homeless people asking for money or food because they're starving. We are approached all the time wherever we go. I usually have my kids with me. I had a homeless man approach me and my children and ask if he could clean our windows and he had a crumpled up newspaper and windex. I didn't want him touching my already clean truck but I had no money on me at all, nor did I have a purse. In fact, I was at the store buying a purse because mine broke. When I said no thank you he yelled after me, "come on give a homeless man a break!" My girls felt so sorry for him because he was asking everyone to wash their car windows with windex and a crumpled up newspaper that they gave him $23 of their own money. That was the only time we have given anything. We don't have money or extra food. We have 5 kids of our own to feed and we have bills we have to pay. We try to ignore them but they are persistent. We suspect that there are druggies and scammers among them but sometimes I feel guilty. I don't know how to handle them or respond. My husband was waiting for me to run into Walgreens to pick up some cough drops and a kid approached our vehicle. He rolled up the window and started our truck. You can't trust people but you feel so mean at the same time.... at least I do. My hubby and I both grew up in Phoenix but we haven't lived here for many years. We lived in a city in the outskirts of Phoenix for the last 10 years. Phoenix was nothing like it is now. I honestly don't know what to do. I have a hard time completely ignoring or avoiding these people which is probably why they bother me... I had a woman with a baby ask me for food and diapers for her baby when I was leaving Walmart. I had food and diapers in my cart but I really needed them for my own kids. If I gave them to her, then what would I do? I told her that I know how she feels because I'm struggling to feed my five kids. She said I'm sorry. I do give to charity, my church and missionaries regularly. But even if I could afford to give to random people who approach me, how do I know it's legit. What if they're using my money for drugs, alcohol or criminal activity? What if they're just scamming us for extra cash for their party or something? What if they're trying to distract me to rob me or hurt my kids? These thoughts go through my mind. We've only been back living in this part of town for 2 months and I'm having trouble dealing with this part.... the constant begging. What would you do? I keep thinking that I should completely ignore anyone who approaches me and my kids. But so far I'm not doing a good job of it. I'm not used to having to do that. I know I'll get used to it eventually. Thank you.
So What Happened?™
A lot of great insight and ideas!! Thank you so much!! I really appreciate it. You've helped me a LOT!!
In the past, I've given to homeless on the corner of the freeway holding signs. I gave $20 and 1 gallon of water on two different occasions. I'm not heartless at all. I'm not comfortable being approached constantly with my kids. I don't know how to respond but your answers are invaluable!! Thank you!!
I really want to take a class or talk to the police. There is a lot in this neighborhood that shocks me. Our first two weeks here, we had a kid high on drugs, running from police try to get into our home when my kids were in the house. I had just walked outside to move a vehicle when he jumped the fence and ran towards my door. My son shooed him off of our carport and he wanted in the house. He wouldn't leave. The police helicopter was over head but there was no police and we had no phone outside. My husband drove up and waved the police who were at the end of our street down to our house and they arrested him on our front lawn but it was scary!! There are gangs, drug houses and lots and lots of registered child molesters in our neighborhood. I know God brought us here for a reason but I think I need to educate myself so I feel safe. My hubby's grandparents lived here since the 50's and we're buying their house.
I'm not in Goodyear anymore. 10 years living in Goodyear and we NEVER saw this!! Walmart at 35th and Bethany, Post office at 27th and Camelback and Pharmacy at 35th and Camelback are the worse. Fresh and Easy at 7th Ave. and Indian School too.
My heart goes out to a lot of these people, some make me suspicious, but my distrust comes from my past. My father was shot and killed by someone on drugs. He was volunteering for the police to help our community when my mom was pregnant with me. My sister was shot and killed when she left her 3 children home to pick up a friend who was drunk and needed a ride home at 1 am. Everyone was drunk and someone dropped a gun and it killed my sister. No good deed goes unpunished. Both of these incidents happened near my neighborhood so forgive my distrust. I give where I feel led by the Lord and I do give.
I'm pretty discerning so suppose I can trust my instincts a little bit more. Also, I thought about having a water bottle, a granola bar and a tract sharing about Jesus to give away. Maybe even a bible. I also like the idea of having resources to give out to help people in need or having quarters on hand. I also like the ideas of just saying, "no thank you" politely and confidently, no guilt and no apologies. :) You all had great things to say and I really appreciate you taking the time to write! THANK YOU SO MUCH!! ~ Blessings~
P.:. answers from Phoenix on September 22, 2012
I live in the Phoenix area but on the east side of Phoenix. I haven't seen beggers in years. I think several years ago a law went into affect that had to do with begging and shortly after that I noticed there weren't so many people on the street corners. I'm sorry to hear this, I would not be comfortable with it either. Can you call the police and tell them?
4 moms found this helpful
P.W. answers from Dallas on September 23, 2012
Carry a pocket full of quarters and give one when you feel like it.
Better to lose a couple of dollars than worry you let someone down.
3 moms found this helpful
D.F. answers from Boston on September 24, 2012
When I worked in Boston If I went out to eat I used to get a second meal to go and give it to a homeless person outside. I never gave money.
1 mom found this helpful
C.O. answers from Washington DC on September 23, 2012
I am truly sorry. It's sad when you see homeless people and do not know if they are "for real" or just doing it for the "tax free" money.
I have had people bash me for keeping $5 McDonald's gift cards on me. I did usually keep several on me until last year when my husband lost his job of 9 years...
I will tell you a story. I used to work in Washington, D.C. during lunch, I would walk down to one of the bridges and eat my lunch on nice days...there were a LOTS (and when I say LOTS - I mean dozens) sitting there "begging"...one was a veteran (and I'm a softie on Vets), I would always make sure I had money for him...winter came and he wasn't there for 3 weeks, I asked one of the other guys what happened to him...he said "he went to his home in Florida for the winter" when he got back in the spring? I berated him...he wasn't POOR BY ANY STRETCH OF THE MEANS...the man made AT LEAST $200 a DAY tax free by begging...he wasn't homeless....
Then WJLA did a story on homeless here in DC...there was a woman who was begging WITH HER KIDS by the Rosslyn (lots of business people) metro and then spotted a few weeks later at Dupont Circle (lots of "rich" people)...so they followed her for 10 days ...she got about $400 one day...$200 another...and at the end of the day...she got in her car (a BMW) and went home to Woodland Park (by the National Zoo)...and walked into her home...she wasn't homeless...she did it for the money. Now I admit I'm jaded to "homeless" people.
For your situation? I would contact the store manager...most stores do NOT allow panhandling in their parking lot. Start getting it enforced.
I admit - I will help out when I can - I believe in paying it forward...yesterday when we went into DC a man and son were going to the Nationals game and having trouble with the fare machine...I gave him one of our extras (yes, it had $22 on it) and he stood there amazed...he found us on the platform and said - "do you realize this card has $22 on it?" We said "yes"...he said - "how can I repay you?" I said - by paying it forward, have a great time with your son today at the game - he said will do.
So I'm not completely heartless like some people think...I will give people items they request - when I go grocery shopping I buy extras for the donations basket they have by the exit.
you can follow your heart and still stay safe...
1. NEVER turn your back
2. EYE CONTACT is important...do not look down or away..
3. NEVER open your wallet in front of them
when you know you will be around beggars, keep a few one's in your pocket to hand to them...
4. Offer food instead of cash (if you are going grocery shopping) and tell them to wait outside and you will bring stuff back..
5. IF you cannot help them? A FIRM Sorry, can't do it. USUALLY works...
Hope this helps!!!
8 moms found this helpful
S.T. answers from Washington DC on September 23, 2012
i try to keep some extra singles on hand, and change is better than nothing. i also don't feel obliged to give to everyone. i don't get assaulted to the degree that you do, but if i did i'd still handle it the same way, i think. a smile and a 'sorry, not today' to most, and a single to some, and very occasionally, when moved, more.
your girls are wonderful. i myself would NOT give money to someone who yelled at me.
i don't get caught up in the 'what will they do with the money?' thing. it's none of my business. there are scammers in all places, from the highest levels of government to panhandlers, but there aren't many people who are actually living large by doing this. there's desperation behind most of it, and it makes me sad that there is such need in our country. the real parasites wear expensive suits and carry briefcases.
and if someone is so hard up they're begging, it's not the end of the world to me if they enjoy a beer. in fact, my husband was so tickled by one guy's sign saying 'i just want a beer' that he gave him $20. maybe the guy spent it on crack. not mine to solve. my only decisions are whether or not to give and how much.
in your case you need to refuse to allow yourself to dissolve into free-form guilt and make a game plan. tell the girls before you go out that today you will give $2.50 (or whatever) split between 3 people. maybe let them pick the ones, but you give the money. and often you'll need to have a brisk 'we're not giving anything today', to be delivered to yourself, your kids, and anyone who asks. and don't feel badly about it. it's your responsibility to do what you reasonably can, not fix the world.
naturally a 'hermes bless you!' when you distribute the funds is always a good idea.
6 moms found this helpful
J.W. answers from St. Louis on September 23, 2012
I like my daughter's take on this. Got it mom, you have it hard but have you ever lowered yourself to begging for food? Yeah, that's right mom so stop saying you actually have it as bad as these people!!
She is right, I may have had it hard for a while but I never had to give up my dignity to support my family. Just something to think about.
After reading Ephie's answer, yes, eye contact. I am always amazed with the people who tell me to ignore them, don't make eye contact. They are human beings!!!!
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❤.M. answers from Los Angeles on September 22, 2012
Here's what I do:
-I never help when my kids are around because I feel I'm an easy target and I will not put my kids in danger.
-If someone ask for $ for diapers, I offer to give them the few I keep in my car.
-I never turn my back or make myself vulnerable.
-I don't help at night.
-I don't trust anyone. If i can help, it's on my terms: "Stay here. I'll bring you a few diapers in a min if that's what you need. If not, sorry I can't help you."
-You do give to charity, church & missionairies but any religion will support that you help anyone in need.
Again, I stress, DO NOT make yourself vulnerable.
Only do what you can safely do w/i reason.
If someone asks me for $, I offer to give them something from my grocery cart I just purchased. If they are truly hungry, they'll take it. If not, chances are they want that $ for drugs & I won't support that.
Recently at a gas station, some young man asked for some $. I gave him $5 I had in my car. The very next week, I saw this same young man in the same car begging for $ w/the same story. I yelled out "Hey you gave me that same story last week & I gave you money." I never saw him at that gas station again.
Pick & choose carefully never putting yourself in danger. My rule is: I help out when my child is not with me.
5 moms found this helpful
M.R. answers from Seattle on September 23, 2012
We used to live in Phoenix and the Wal-Mart on Indian School is the worst.
One time a sweet Mexican lady approached me for $$ for diapers for her baby and I gave her $5, and moments later she was bragging to her family that all she had to do was ask for diaper $$ and people would give, and then a family member responds with a 'one up' story, of what works better and they were piling their groceries into their car. I felt so duped.
Yes, there are a lot of beggars with tricks in Phoenix in particular, compared to other places I have lived. I honestly thinks it a drug problem.
Do not feel bad for saying no. There are many charities and social services for people who are down and out, it's only because they do not want to follow the rehab rules that they end up on the streets.
One time there was a guy at a gas station asking for for just a few gallons of gas as he was headed home for funeral. This was in Quartzsite on the way to LA. And guess what, he was still there a few days later on our return.
What is sad is that there are people who actually do end up on the streets for a variety of reasons and these professional bums ruin it for them.
5 moms found this helpful
J.S. answers from Columbia on September 23, 2012
Once upon a time I went "homeless" for a class project.
I spent a couple nights at shelters, and in the morning people came with job offers.
Unloading boxes - $10 per hour.
Sweeping a warehouse - $7 per hour
There were a couple other offers.
Out of the hundred or so guys staying at the shelter with me that night - only one or two took the opportunity.
That said, I took note of one man who left with me later in morning. He was showered, had cologne on and was catching the bus to GO TO WORK.
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R.F. answers from Los Angeles on September 22, 2012
What I would do: Carry a list of local resources (church soup kitchens, homeless shelters) and hand that out. I've been meaning to carry such a list around.
Explain to the kids that YES you sympathize, but you do not hand out cash to homeless people out of principal because you don't know if their story is legit or not. Some are homeless due to drugs or alcohol or some become alcoholics and just use cash to buy liquor.
If I do give something out, it's a gift card to Subway or something. I've seen people hand out plates of food to people on the sides of highways. If I was homeless, the first thing I'd probably want is a plate of hot, fresh food. Followed by some human compassion.
I don't know how old your kids are, but if they are old enough, have them serve food at a local soup kitchen. I've done this. It's possible to get to know local charities, find out what they are doing so you can direct people.
In June my husband saw a young woman in front of our local supermarket with a baby strapped to her front begging for money, about 8 months old.
She had a sorry look on her face. He approached her and asked her if she was aware of the local services in the area to help her.
He said her changed to hard as diamonds in a flash.
As soon as he saw that, he said to her, "Get yourself to a meeting." (i.e. a drug rehab support meeting - AA) and then he asked her, "whose baby is that anyway?"
She hurled expletives at him.
Nice. She never returned to that supermarket. If she did, we would have called CPS.
I have noticed more homeless beggars in my area, where there were none before. That's why I need to start carrying info to hand out.
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V.W. answers from Jacksonville on September 22, 2012
I'm not sure what to tell you. It isn't that rampant here. Perhaps if you do some calling around and research where these people CAN go for assistance, that will/can weed out the legit ones from the scammers, you could print it up on some cards (or ask the place itself if they have some they could share with you)? Then, when you are approached, you could give them a card with the information on where to go for assistance.
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