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Dirty Beggars and The Filthy Rich

Updated on January 10, 2013

Some call it panhandling, others consider it asking for charity. Which every term you choose simply describes a person who survives by requesting money from strangers. At one time they were known as beggars. This term now seems derogatory and shameful. It defines a person by just one aspect of their existence; their lack financial resources. Unfortunate but true, begging can be personally degrading yet many people, millions around the world in fact, are unable to live without begging for help. How do you feel when you encounter someone asking or begging you for money?

There can be anxious and uncomfortable feelings when approaching a panhandler. It occurs while walking down an urban city street, waiting at an intersection, or even stopped at a highway on-ramp. There you encounter a person begging for attention and help. They tightly clutch cardboard signs which read funny little sayings like “why lie I need a beer”. Others tell of their plight: ”unemployed and disabled.” Often they include a “God bless you”; hoping to share their sense of morality, or cause you to consider the ‘goodness’ in giving charity.

When you help the poor you are lending to the Lord--and he pays wonderful interest on your loan (Prov 19:17)

But if someone who is supposed to be a Christian has money enough to live well, and sees a brother in need, and won't help him--how can God's love be within him ? Little children, let us stop just saying we love people; let us really love them, and show it by our actions. Then we will know for sure, by our actions, that we are on God's side, and our consciences will be clear, even when we stand before the Lord. (I John 3:17-19)

Some wealthy or fortunate people speed quickly by with intense straight forward gaze, trying desparately not to make eye contact. Others study the poor closely as they clutch their purses or instinctively check for their wallets or cell phones, just to make sure they are secure before moving far away from the person begging. Others are completely oblivious, they neither see nor care about the person behind the cardboard sign.

Can we blame people for feeling uncomfortable in the presence of a person asking for charity? It can be over whelming. We are surrounded with those suffering. It reaches via street corners or even frequent television commercials showing faces of starving children, homeless and hurting. We want to lend a hand, but there are so many needs it would be impossible to help every one.

"For the poor will never cease out of the land; therefore I command you, You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in the land." (Deuteronomy 15:11)

What is the answer? Governmental assistance? Giving to every request for charity? Or shall we simply shut our eyes? One humble answer is this...Give when you can, pray when you can't, but care all the time.

Lets Be Honest Though: There are also people who may use your kindness and altruism for less than honorable means. Some individuals who have found themselves in desperate situations due to addiction, criminal activity, or refusal to maintain responsibility over their own lives. Providing money can help them continue in unhealthy and unwise circumstances.

Here are a few tangible suggestions that can also provide an answer:

Try carrying a a zip-lock baggie with the following items:

  • Fast Food Certifcates: $1-$2 dollar gift certificates from any fast food chain, for a warm meal.
  • Phone Cards: Carry disposable cards with $1-$2 dollars for an emergency call to family or friends when someone is ready to reach out for help.
  • Resource List: Printed list of a few shelters, agencies, churches, runaway help and addiction contacts
  • Donate: Give time or finances to a local shelter, food pantry, rent or utilities assistance fund.
  • See The Need: Remember kindness and mercy for all human beings despite financial status.

While these items do not heal homelessness and poverty in themselves, they provide immediate help and resources for people caught in grips of crisis. Your small offering of alms for the poor may just help open the door to a different future for someone else.


Consider this…

  • Of all the richest nations in the world, the U.S. has the greatest amount of people living closest to poverty. 1
  • Households with children have greater risk for food shortage and hunger than homes with no children.2
  • Over 3 million people will become homeless in the U.S. 3

Growing financial insecurity and personal debt means more people are experiencing real financial struggles. Citizens of one of the wealthiest nations in the world are faced with a new reality; the people behind cardboard signs are not very different from ourselves.

There are good reasons to help. Whether poor, wealthy, or just making ends meet, it is good to help other fellow human beings. Helping others has been linked to better mental health, lowered stress, and increased quality of life4. It's good for you, and good for others too.

May you always have more than enough, and some left over to give.

Please take a LISTEN...

In my own little world it hardly ever rains
I've never gone hungry or always felt safe
I got some money in my pocket shoes on my feet
In my own little world, Population me

I try to stay awake through the Sunday morning church
I throw a twenty in the plate but I never give 'til it hurts
and I turn off the news when I don't like what I see
it's easy to do when it's, population me

What if there's a bigger picture
what if I'm missing out
What if there's a greater purpose
I could be living right now
outside my own little world

Stopped at the red light, looked out my window
Outside the car, saw a sign, said "Help this homeless widow"
Just above this sign was the face of a human
I thought to myself, "God, what have I been doing?"
So I rolled down my window and I looked her in the eye
Oh how many times have I just passed her by
I gave her some money then I drove on through
in my own little world there's, Population two

What if there's a bigger picture
what if I'm missing out
What if there's a greater purpose
I could be living right now
outside my own little world

Start breaking my heart for what breaks Yours
give me open hands and open doors
put Your light in my eyes and let me see
that my own little world is not about me


1Retrieved from:

2Retrieved from:

3Retrieved from:

4Retrieved from:


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    • Kenja profile image

      Ken Taub 

      5 years ago from Long Island, NY

      You obviously care a great deal Steff; surely enough to write this piece. I do like the practical idea to carry food coupons and charity assistance information. Very sensible. Cheers, blessings and best wishes. Ken

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 

      5 years ago from Texas

      This is so true all of it. Thank you, for being you.

      voting ABI.

      I love the motto in your hub: Give when you can, pray when you can't, but care all the time.

    • steffsings profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

      Thank you Storutellersus for the encouragement to not back away from the truth! YES, poverty is real and hurts no matter which country you hail from. It's nearly impossible to convince a hungry middle school latch-key child 'there is no hunger here'. Especially if they know mom does her best, but her paychecks from Jack N The Box never bring home enough to provide food to last through the whole month.

    • Storytellersrus profile image


      6 years ago from Stepping past clutter

      Don't back down, steffsings. American Romance is the one with the rhetoric, talking about relative poverty.

      But there is a very real poverty in this country. Children in this country go hungry every day. More than one in five children are at risk of hunger-- more than one in three for Hispanic and African American populations.


      Never apologize for stating truths, especially when your antagonist has a full stomach and little compassion.

    • steffsings profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

      American Romance, you have touched on a difficult point: Our 'poor folk' cannot compare to the poverty stricken in 'under developed' countries. This certainly cannot be denied. Ever heard the saying: U.S. poor have homes,even their cars have homes-/garages/). However, I can't help saying a hungry & home-less child in the U.S. is just as demoralizing as one across the seas. Thank God we have resources & the kind generousity of neighbors. Thank you for commenting.

    • steffsings profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

      Hi Clairemy. Unfortunate but true. People are often dishonest, including the most poor. In fact, if you google "Lifestyles of the Rick and Homeless" some very surprising true-to-life cases will surprise you. However, as you have noted, some are genuine and need the help of a fellow human. It will always remain a dilemma I'm afraid. Thank you for commenting.

    • American Romance profile image

      American Romance 

      6 years ago from America

      hold the phone! The US has the largest amount of people living below the poverty line? See that is where democrats love to spout rhetoric! Look anywhere in the world and our "poverty stricken" folks live better than they do! According to the govt. the poverty line is somewhere around 24 thousand dollars per year! We have over 60 million recieving up to $36000 in welfare each year so I guess that puts our poorest ABOVE the poverty line! I saw a statistic once that said on average those below the poverty line have 2 TVs, a car and a house! That doesn't sound like poverty to me!

    • clairemy profile image


      6 years ago

      Its hard to ignore someone begging, but I know from experience that some are not as they seem. Then the problem is do you give money or not. I do but only to the ones i now know are genuine.

    • steffsings profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

      Hello Maxoxam41. Agreed, we cannot close our eyes to these issue. Thank you for your comment and example of meeting the needs of others.

    • maxoxam41 profile image


      6 years ago from USA

      I can't ignore beggars. I tried once and I had to go back to him to give a dollar. Yesterday, I gave $5 as I met a woman begging when leaving a restaurant. How could I ignore her after a copious meal?


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