I generally do not give money to the homeless people and the people asking for money on the streets. I guess I just don’t have enough trust in them to believe that the money will be put to good use. I am scared, and I don’t like to fund another persons substance abuse. I would like to believe that the money will go to food, warm clothes, or spending the night at a shelter, but I also think that is far from a realistic picture.
Plus, even though I live a privileged life by many standards, we just don’t have a whole lot of extra cash. So it is a personal principle that I would rather give larger amounts of money to organizations than directly to the people on the street. (if anyone has knowledge that proves the opposite, I would love to hear about it. I just think that organizations will be better at making sure the money ends up the right place and gives actual help).
Besides – once I started, I would have a hard time stopping. How much to give? and how do you choose to help one poor soul over another one? I have often thought that I would much rather buy someone a sandwich or groceries than give the money directly. Or maybe take them to a concession store to buy a winter coat.
Anyway, I digress.
This past fall, I spent a lot of time walking around town with the baby carriage. Little Dude and I would often come across the same homeless musician. I took a special liking to him because he always played the guitar and sang by himself. He also seemed to have a liking for country music. It came to the point where he started to recognize me (or so I like to believe) and would smile (and occasionally wink, but shhh…) at us when we walked by. One day, I walked past him twice. The first time he was singing “Hey Good Lookin”; the second time “when you say nothing at all.” That day, I broke my principle and gave him some cash.
I haven’t seen him all winter though. Not since before christmas, and january was awfully cold. I know I can’t save or even help them all, but I hope my local homeless-country-musician is doing okay, where ever he is.