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Help Me I am Homeless: Are you the first to judge or the first to help?
Can I borrow a dollar?
The economy is tight. Ask anybody who has been struggling lately to try and make ends meet. Wages have been cut; jobs have been lost; gas prices have raised; food prices have raised. So a vast majority of us make less money than we might have previously, yet the cost of living has increased.
However, if you are still struggling to make ends meet, you are one of the lucky ones. If you still have food in your kitchen cupboard while complaining you need to go to the grocery store, you are lucky. If you can drive to the store because you have a functional car (or maybe just gas in the tank!), you are far better than others around you. If you can see your doctor and afford the medicine when you are sick, then you have a fighting chance to begin with.
These others might not be so fortunate. These others might be left to beg for food or money. These others are standing on the side of the road. These others are there as you exit the freeway. These others are standing right in front of you.
The question is... do you see them?
Raking in the dough
However... and there is always a however...
I am not a person to judge if people are begging for money. After all, I don't know their situation. Maybe they are hard on their luck; maybe they have applied for a million jobs and nothing is available. I have know people who have spent years on unemployment with no end in sight. I have also been known on more than one occasion to spare a few dollars or a few coins or sometimes some food when someone asks. What they do with it, I wouldn't know because I don't stay around long enough to find out.
Then the other day I read something interesting online. It was an article about a man who got arrested for soliciting at some store parking lot. To recap the story: This man was given a warning. He was told to leave the premise or he would be arrested. When the cop came back 20 minutes later, he was still there soliciting people for their money.
The story goes on. The man apparently admitted to being lazy, which is why he refused to get a job. However, he also admitted to raking in about $60,000 a year soliciting money from other people. That being said, is it really a case of being lazy? After all, if you are willing to put your pride aside while pretending to be homeless to earn that kind of living, you obviously know where your skills lay. Yet, this is not the only time I have heard this kind of story.
But still...I am not one to judge people.
Off to the store
I was on my way to Wal-Mart the other day, which is were this story begins. As a lot of other families, we are on a tight budget. But I still needed to run to the store to pick up a few select items to make it through until payday. Because of some unforeseen events lately, money is tighter than usual so I had to be sure to stick to a certain budget.
So, I went into the store. I went to all the spots I knew I needed to be to get what I needed to get to get me through until payday. I didn't browse - browsing gets me in trouble.
About $48 later, I had gotten myself a very expensive package of hamburger buns. Ok - so there was other things needed, but the main reason for going to the store was the hamburger buns. Yet I still successfully rushed the kids out of the store before they could get me to buy them something.
When I got them in the car and unloaded the groceries I let out a big sigh of relief. I had escaped Wal-Mart and spent less than 100 bucks. It was a miracle (and that rarely happens!)
Upon exiting the parking lot, I saw a middle-aged man with a cane standing with a sign:
"Help Me I am Homeless!"
It was hard not to see him as he was standing right at the exit; right where the stop sign forced me to stop and look both directions. But, to the best of my ability, I stopped, tried not to make eye contact, and drove away as fast as I could!
Got me thinking....
My conscious was eating away at me all day....
I got home and found I kept thinking about this man standing on the corner. He might have been hungry and I just ignored him. When I saw him, I was having selfish thoughts.
- "My husband's overtime got cut for the summer!"
- "I need to feed my own family"
- "We are struggling with money. I can't give any away! After all, I need to take care of my own bills!"
But would it have really killed me to have given him something to eat? Could I have spared a couple dollars? (Ok - I really couldn't have because I rarely have cash and I cleared out my change to the last people who begged for money!) Couldn't I have just done something to help this man out?
After all, I don't know his story. But it was "that" story I read on the internet a few days ago that kept haunting me. The one with the man who pulled in $60,000 a year begging for money and taking advantage of people's kindness. I don't mind giving charity for homeless, but when I hear stories like that, I feel I am being taken advantage of, and then I start judging other people. I start wondering about the homeless and whether or not their story is truly legit or are they just working the system. Then I start wondering am I a bad person because I didn't stop and help? The person I ignored might have truly needed that help!
How about you?
Would you help?
Do you know how to Help The Homeless in your Community. Check out these useful tips.
Would you help?
So naturally, as my conscious was eating away at me, I decided to ask others what they thought and the response seemed to be scattered.
While some stated it was their duty to help, others have obviously been a victim of bad experiences. After all, there is nothing worse than giving someone something to eat only to see them throw it away when they think you aren't looking. Or to give someone money for food and know that they just finished puffing a cigarette. After all, how can you afford cigarettes if you can't afford food? But, then again, who are we to judge. If we are willing to give them the money, then we have no say for what they use it for.
Sure there are people out there that abuse the system. Some abuse the system without even standing at a corner begging for help. And then there are others who have fallen on hard times. Maybe they are crashing at a relative's or friend's house. Maybe their car broke down. Maybe their kid is sick. We don't know there situation and they don't know ours.
There are so many different situations a person could be in that would effect their actions in this situation that this question becomes an emotional one. Hell, maybe you are one of those struggling, just not enough yet to be standing on the corner begging for help. Or maybe you have helped others only to have it spit in your face for it not being enough. Or maybe you help regardless because you used to be one of them.
Everybody has a different story. But the reality of the situation is we are all human and it should be in our nature to help others out. Sure, there might be someone out there taking advantage of your kindness. But then again, you might have helped the one person who truly needed it. You won't ever know, but it is one random act of kindness that could make all the difference in the world.