Tuesday, November 27, 2012

30 Days of Thankfulness - Days 26 & 27

I am thankful for the ability to provide for my family.  Every day I see homeless or less fortunate people walk by my window.  While I'm unaware of their situation as to how or why they are where they are, it still breaks my heart to see them in the sad shape they are in.  I have a tendency to be a skeptic and assume they are begging for money to support a habit, or not using the money wisely, but I need to learn to help in other ways.
A few days ago, I witnessed a guy in a wheelchair begging for money.  As I looked up from my desk, I could see that he was putting on an act of being mentally challenged and perhaps he wasn't even wheelchair bound.  I heard him change his speech to that of a retarded person and yet, the man continued to listen.  He didn't give him any money - and I was relieved.  Instead, he walked next door as planned and got his lunch.  But what he did next was heart-warming.  He not only bought himself lunch, he bought the guy in the wheelchair a sandwich.  As he left the restaurant, the guy in the wheelchair was still begging for money on the same corner.  The guy stopped and gave him the sandwich.  I know he had to feel a sense of pride that he had helped someone less fortunate out.  
Sadly, that's not where the story ends.  The guy in the wheelchair suspiciously looked in the bag, folded it back up, shoved it in the back of his seat, and went right back to begging for money.  A fellow street person walked by about that time and the guy in the wheelchair had miraculously lost his slurred speech, regained normal use of his previously crippled arm, and seemed bothered that someone had bought him a sandwich instead of giving him money.  My faith in humanity is often tainted by scenarios like these.  Too many times I've heard of people trying to take advantage of other people's generosity and it just sickens me.  I want to help those truly in need and it's becoming increasingly hard to distinguish.  
I have supported local food programs in the past for this very reason.  As much as I'd like to heal the world all by my lonesome, I've learned to support those larger organizations who have taken on the full-time job of doing the same thing.  They are able to hold individuals accountable and can better regulate who receives their services.  So as a Part 2 of this post, I am thankful for food banks and other agencies trying to nourish those that want to be nourished.
Lexington Rescue Mission

God's Pantry



  1. Great post.

    It is so hard to tell. Our local news did an uncover investigation about begging...turns out dressing homeless with a sign can yield around $20/hour! They interviewed one guy who bragged about his lifestyle of over a decade. When asked why he didn't get a "real" job, he replied that he already had one... That this "job" gives him the ability to live tax-free and travel the country with his dog. I've never looked at someone with a sign the same since, even though I'd like to give people the benefit of the doubt.
    And then there was the time this summer where I was swindled $20 when someone told me what they needed to stay at the Salvation Army per night. A later call to the Salvation Army helped me to learn that the amount was actually much less and I felt duped.

    I don't want to overlook those with serious needs though because I became cynical. Mark and I talked recently about creating envelopes with contact information about local charities/food banks/shelters with a few dollars for transportation to the sources that can be given out when we pass someone. I guess I should make it a map in case they can't read writing.

    Food banks are such a great place for meeting real needs. I recently found out about some volunteer opportunities in our town with the food bank. After seeing their operations and clients, I feel so guilty that it has taken a period of intense suffering in my own life to prompt me to action in relieving suffering in other people's lives outside of writing a check. It is embarrassing to admit that I have lived in such a bubble of comfort!


  2. This makes me so sad and mad at the same time. I remember once a similar thing happened to me outside that Kroger on Euclid, there was a homeless man asking for money for food, so I bought him a sandwich on my small college-budget and gave it to him on my way out. Instead of being thankful, he looked pissed that I didn't give him money. I was approached by someone on the way to my car after a work event last night and I thought to myself how a few (or many!) bad apples have ruined it for the many that truly need help.