What Can We Do?

This was a tough post to give a title to?  Do we call them Beggers?  Street People? Homeless People? Con Artists?  I don’t know.  All I know is,  they are there.  Men, Women, young, old, all races and some are handicap.  It’s not pretty, no matter who it is.  It has really become more noticeable in the city I live in.  Several years ago, we never saw these type of people on the streets unless we visited a larger city.  Now, they are on almost every major street corner in my city.

It’s a normal day when  running errands and stop at a red light and look over and there is someone standing there looking at me as they hold a sign that usually says, “Homeless, need money for my family.  God Bless You.”  Whew!  It’s a killer.  Do I  look straight ahead and pretend they aren’t there?  Do I get mad, that they have messed their lives up so that I have to feel guilty and give them money to eat?  Do I have pity on them and go on about my way?  Do I give them money?  If so, how much?  A dollar?  Five dollars?  I don’t know.  If I do, will they just spend it on drugs or alcohol?

I was talking to a deputy in our city recently and she said to not ever give them anything.  They are mostly con artists.  Our local Sheriff’s department has food and toiletries that they give to people on the street.  Our city also has homeless shelters and organizations that help people in need.

I always feel compelled to do something.  I do feel that I am wise enough to know when it is a dangerous situation or a really dishonest person standing on the corner begging for money.  I recently have seen a certain man in different locations around town with a small oxygen tank and a tube in his nose.  I do know that those small oxygen tanks don’t hold enough air for him to be on the street all day.  Is that judging?  We recently had a lady that had one leg.  Her sign read,” I’m on my last leg.”  It does catch your attention, but someone told me that she walks on that one leg to her very nice car at the end of the day.  I don’t know….maybe someone loaned the car to her, maybe she is a millionaire, I don’t know.  All, I know is it’s hard not to have compassion on these people. One time I saw a young lady with a baby in a carrier with a sign that said, “I need a job to feed my baby.”  I called one of our managers at our place of business to see if they would like to check on her to see if she really needs a job.  They said they had already seen her and asked and she said, “No, I don’t have time to work.”  So go figure that one out.

I make large bags with toiletries and various items in them.  I keep them in a bag in my car and when I feel safe, I will hand one of my bags to one of the street people.  Recently, I handed one to a lady on the corner and she said “Thank you so much, I so hope there is soap in this.  I need soap so bad.”  As I drove off I thought, “how can this be?”  In the bags I made, I included  a list of local places to go to for help.  Maybe she will go to one of those places and be able to get clean.  I don’t know.  I then have to erase it all from my mind and not worry about her.

Another time,  I handed a man a bag and he said, “God bless you, thank you so much!  Be careful out there.”  He was telling me to be careful?  Wow, all I could think  was, “how do these people stay safe with all the cruel people out there?”

If you missed my post on how I made my bags, you can click here to read about it.

When I drive away from a street person, my mind is flooded with thoughts.  Here is a list of things going through my mind:

  1.  What would make a person be so low that they are on a street corner asking for money?
  2. Are they alcoholics?  Have they messed their life up on drugs?  Are they mentally disabled and don’t know any better?
  3. They are somebody’s son or daughter.  Where are their parents?  How were they raised?  Does their family know where they are?
  4. Do they have children of their own?  When I see an older man, I think, “He is someones Daddy.”  Heart wrenching!  How does that child feel to know their dad is out there begging?  Or do they know where they are?
  5. How in the world can they get a job?  No home, no car, no nothing!  How could they take a job anyway?  People complain that they aren’t working.  When they get that low, it’s a miracle if someone will take a chance on them.  What a terrible cycle to be in.
  6. As I’ve looked in the faces, I pray for them.  There have been many times I’ve driven off and actually cried.  I’ve even cried out to God asking, “Help them, Lord!  Send someone that can help them!  Keep them safe!”
  7. And finally, I think…..But…by the grace of God………I could be that person.  I’ve never thought of myself so highly that I don’t think I could have never been in that same spot.  When I look back on my childhood and where I’ve been and what I’ve seen…….I know that I could have easily went another way.  I praise my Savior every single day for making a difference in my life.   It didn’t look to promising  for a little girl who was obviously at risk.  He rescued me in the nick of time at the age of 14.   May I never think so highly of myself that I would look down on those that are caught in a horrible web of hopelessness.  Many times I see some situations and it breaks my heart that they would let themselves get into the situations that would cause them to fall to the bottom of the pit.

One more thing; the next time you pass a homeless person on the street corner, smile at them and pray for them as you pass by.  I have a feeling many of them never receive a smile in a day.  We all need a smile, don’t you think?  We all need someone to pray for us.  They especially need prayer.

I felt I needed to write this post for myself more than anything.  I do hope that it inspires you somehow, someway.  If it did, I would love to hear about it.

I also wrote a post about having compassion.  Click here if you would like to read that post.  I never want to lose my compassion for others.  I have a feeling you don’t either.

In this day and time, safety is very important.  Discernment and wisdom are needed, too.  I’m very careful who I give the bags to and I never put myself in a situation that would be dangerous.  Just felt like I needed to clear that up.  It’s never dangerous to pray for those you see on the street as you drive or walk by.  Anyone can do that, don’t you think?