Nice cans.

Sunday, May 9, 2010
I do not like dealing with homelessness.

It's not because I think I'm above a homeless person. I'm not.

It's because you don't know who legitimately needs help and who doesn't.

Several years ago I saw a guy panhandling for money outside of Crossroads Mall. He had the typical beard and old clothes and sign saying he was a homeless veteran, please help, god bless, etc.

About ten minutes later, I saw the same guy walking through the mall, talking to somebody on a Bluetooth headset.

I once had a guy approach me for money to replace a broken fan belt for his car. I knew there was a Checker Auto Parts just a block away. I offered to walk up there with him and buy him a fan belt. He declined of course, he just wanted the money.

And then, of course, there are stories like this:

Bottom line: I don't give money to people who claim to be homeless. I much prefer to give to organizations like The Road Home who can put the money to use for people who actually are in need of it.

This last week, however, I did meet a person who I felt genuinely needed help.

I had just gotten home from somewhere, and he was walking down the street. He was going through all of the recycling dumpsters in the neighborhood and collecting all the aluminum cans from them and loading them into a huge plastic bag on his bicycle.

I knew I had a ton of cans, so I started pulling mine out of the dumpster and crushing them for him. He made it to my house and helped me round up the cans I had crushed. I chatted with him for a little bit. Said he had a few medical problems, a few thousand in bills to pay off. I wasn't sure of his housing situation, but you could tell his need was legit. And you know what - he was actually doing something about it by rounding up cans for recycling money.

I gave him all the change I had on me and told him I would set aside all of my cans for him in a separate bag from now on so he didn't have to go rooting through my dumpster. I do really hope to meet him again and find out more about what his story is. I hope it will eventually end up with a happy ending.


Brein said...

I don't know how people live with themselves! It's really sad because so many of the people giving are probably worse off then some of the people taking. I'm glad you posted this, I'm not giving my money to that guy in the mall parking lot anymore! Lol! Once we took some homeless people with signs on the corner some food from mcdonalds and then watched them stuff it in the nearest garbage can as quick as they could. I guess holding food probably didn't look good if they wanted cash. :P

Anonymous said...

Haven't seen you in quite a while, decided to drop by. Great post...I live downtown and see both sides, the professionals and the truly needy. These things have to be handled on a case by case basis, but I agree with your analysis of the situation.
Hope all is well----duckspeaker

Kellie & Cody said...

Dave, you are a neat guy for helping the guy that is truly in need! I'm with ya on the rest! I always offer to buy them dinner or refer them to Community Action and the local food bank. Most walk away...

Janelle said...

I usually try not to give them money, but just food. I usually have food in my car, and if they are truly hungry, they will appreciate it and take it.