Sunday, May 07, 2006

Feeding the Hungry

So, you're walking down a city street, and are waiting to cross the street. On the other corner, you see a bedraggled, bearded man in dirty clothes seated near the stoop of a closed shop. What do YOU do?

Cross the opposite way to avoid the situation all together? Do you walk right by him, averting both eyes and conscience, or maybe pledging to yourself to give some money to the local soup kitchen? Do you give him some money, hoping that it doesn't end up becoming alcohol?

What do YOU do?

I'll tell you what I do once I see some conversation on this topic. Tell your friends, and have them chime in.

My Solution:

About 5 years ago, I was walking down the street, pushing my baby son in a stroller, and was approached by a homeless man. I saw him from a ways, before I got there, hitting up some other man for some money, so I knew what was coming. As our paths intersected, he said "Excuse me, mister.." , and I just looked straight ahead and kept walking.

Even as I was walking away, I just couldn't believe what I was doing. The internal debate raged.
"He's just going to use it to buy alcohol."
"Or, maybe, Jesus is hungry, and you just walked by him, you dick!"
"What am I supposed to do? I give money to the Matt Talbot Kitchen, and the People's City Mission. Isn't that enough?"
" Dude, you're rationalizing. The man was asking you for help, and you couldn't even LOOK at him."

I started buying gift cards. McDonalds, BK, coffee shops, and some retail places are all good, as long as there's no alcohol. I had to make sure that wherever I found someone and gave them a card, they wouldn't have to walk miles to redeem it. Our Church's school sells gift cards for all kinds of places, as a fundraiser, so getting some cards are easy as 10 minutes after Mass.

I keep a couple in my wallet, a couple in the car, and a few extras in my jacket, so that when I'm faced with that dilemma again, I can do something more that shrug and walk away.


Paul, just this guy, you know? said...

I hope I give him a dollar, but I probably avert my gaze and go the other way.

Athanasius contra mundo said...

Give him a dollar and two and be on my way.

Shelray said...

Probably due to a combination of guilt and charity, I would give him some $10 - $20 dollars (if I had it). If not, I would perseverate over it in my mind for the rest of the day. It would be well worth the money just to avoid the guilt, I think it's a flaw I have to work on.

CPT Tom said...

I've always given what ever change in my pocket or a one or a 5. I like the gift card Idea alot. It would also cheese off the professional beggers.

St. Jimbob of the Apokalypse said...

Yes, Tom, some beggars do turn them down, from time to time. It's hard to guess why someone would turn down a free meal, especially when the soup kitchen has limited hours.

Thank you all for participating.