How do you respond to panhandlers?

A campaign is underway in Minneapolis to discourage people from giving money to beggars. Today’s Question: How do you respond to panhandlers?

  • Clark

    Yes, I often do given them money. I would rather give them directly then have my wealth and income confiscated by our socialist president obama and the far left socialist congress.

  • Gary F

    When I used to work in north Minneapolis, I’d be waiting in my car at the stoplight while at Broadway and Washington, I’d offer the panhandlers some of my lunch, apples, oranges, cereal bars, and most of them wouldn’t take it.

  • Amy

    I don’t anymore. I worked in downtown St. Paul and often the same people I saw panhandling were the ones I saw passed out on the sidewalk in the mornings on my walk into the office. I would rather my tax dollars go to getting them help then my pocket change go to buying them booze.

  • Nellie

    When I was a kid, my dad always gave money or food to people who asked for it. In those small Range towns, most people had been down on their luck at least once, so it wasn’t hard to feel a connection with panhandlers. I understand that panhandlers can be aggressive and even frightening to people, but I generally feel okay doing what my dad would do.

  • Yes, a lot of the money goes to buy alcohol. And there are “professional” pan handlers out there that are annoying. But panhandling can’t be a lot of fun and there aren’t many people getting rich asking for handouts. They are doing it because they can’t find any better alternatives. So I give when the spirit moves me and politely decline when it doesn’t. You can always say “no”.

    Of course the reason for this organized effort is that being asked for a handout makes some people uncomfortable. Maybe it should. The anti-panhandling crusade just encourages the mean-spirited among us to be abusive to the down and out.

    I have seen well-dressed businessmen heaping abuse on pan-handlers, where the cops would be called if the panhandler had yelled at the businessman in the same fashion. I would love to see the police do a sting where they ticketed people who respond to a polite inquiry with a stream of abuse.

  • Julie

    I never give money to panhandlers. I do however keep fruit and bottled water in my car to offer them as I pass. Only once has someone turned it down, most of them are very grateful for it.

  • Linda

    I give what I can. I am old and haven’t alot of time left on this earth. There, but by the grace of Gol, go I.

  • Skye

    I rarely, if ever, give money to panhandlers. After traveling to several third world countries where panhandling can be more aggressive, I have become desensitized out of necessity and safety concerns.

    I would enjoy if the city sanctioned and licensed busking, as then there is somewhat of a “service” provided and still a way to earn a few dollars.

  • James

    I offer them a job so they can EARN some money.


  • Steve the Cynic

    To quote an old nursery rhyme:

    Hark! Hark! The dogs do bark. Beggars are coming to town.

    Some in rags and some in tags and some in velet gowns.

    And some in Armani suits. How about a campaign to get Congress to say no to corporate wellfare?

  • I don’t give money to panhandlers. I got turned off of even thinking about it when I saw a panhandler near a former workplace get picked up by someone driving a car that looked better than mine with a new “needy” person dropped off in their place.

    Instead I would give to organizations that help the homeless. Which, Clark, is a better way of keeping the government from “confiscating” your wealth since you can’t easily deduct gifts to panhandlers, but you can deduct charitable gifts.

  • Brenda

    I never give them money directly. I give my money to the organizations that can help them.

  • Kit Donnelly

    Panhandlers account for a small percentage of the homeless population. So when Minneapolis tries to discourage people from giving to panhandlers, it is not out of spite for the homeless. To the contrary, Minneapolis (not just the government, but also non-profits like The Office to End Homelessness) offers an enormous array of services for the homeless, including job retraining programs, public housing, meals, education, etc. From talking with friends who work for organizations that provide these services, it is clear that these programs work (maybe not perfectly, but they work) and are available to those who seek their services.

    This is why I do not give to panhandlers. There is nothing that you or I can give to panhandlers that they are unable to get elsewhere (food, water, clothing, shelter). Further, giving money to panhandlers might actually make it more unlikely that those individuals will seek the services offered by the city and non-profits. The result could be that these individuals will come to rely on panhandling as a means of support rather than seeking out help from other organizations that not only would give them the above-mentioned necessities, but put them on a track to be able to support themselves.

    That said, every once in a while I come across someone who is able to convince me, somehow, to part with a dollar or two. I usually walk away from those transactions with mixed feelings of satisfaction, guilt, and frustration.

  • Danielle Larson

    If confronted with a panhandeler and asked for money I say, “not today sir or mam'”. It acknowledges them as an actual person, and is a nice way to let a panhandler down. By calling a panhandler sir or mam, it gives them a certain level of respect that you are not talking down to them or ackwardly ignoring them and wishing they didn’t exist. I have used this myself when I used to live in Atlanta, and have always had a positive response.

  • My frist instinct is to avoid eye contact when I notice someone on the street looking for money. When approached, I tell panhandlers the simple truth, that I do not carry cash and have nothing to give. However, I am reminded of a story my Grandpa told me. Some years ago, in Grand Rapids, MI while staying at a hotel, my Grandpa was approached by a homeless man looking for money. My Grandpa didn’t want to give this man money because (a devout Christain and staunch Republican) my Grandpa wanted to make sure his money would go to the “right place.” Instead, he offered to meet this man at McDonald’s and buy him a hamburger. Not sure if the homeless man would show up at the agreed upon time, my Grandpa went to the McDonald’s as promised. To his astonishment, the homeless man came to collect his burger.

    I’m touched by this gesture, but I’m not sure if I totally agree with what my Grandpa did for this man, because in talking to my friends who work at homeless shelters, many of the homeless (in this particular Michigan city) have access to so many handouts (many of them not very nutritious) that they are overweight.

  • Jesus taught to “give to everyone who asks of you,” so I try to give whenever I am able. However, I don’t give money, but I offer to go with the person to a nearby restaurant to by a meal. Most of the time, people just say, “No, I just wanted the money.”

  • Rick

    I too have offered food (granola bars and pieces of fruit). I have yet to find a panhandler who does not accept my offer of food. Once I gave a fleece jacket and the recipient was quite grateful. I do not give cash, but if the person is panhandling, they are less fortunate than me. I feel ignoring the individual is not the best solution.

  • Joe

    I used to but don’t anymore. A long time ago I had a part time job and a guy I worked told me his brother could make like $10 an hour panhandling which was pretty good aroung 1980 or so.I have also given food before. In Los Angeles one time someone asked for money to get some food. I didn’t my lunch that day and offered it to him but he declined the offer.

  • Rose

    I always say, “Don’t give change, make change”. I agree with all those who have already commented and suggested giving money to organizations or shelters that can help eradicate homelessness. I take it one step further, though, and sometimes ask which shelter the person goes to or which food kitchen they usually use, and then try to donate to the organization they suggest.

  • Dawn

    I am reminded of a time when my husband asked a panhandler for change for a dollar. The guy was incensed at the idea that my husband was asking him for money. He said incredulously, “You’re asking ME for money? You’re asking me?!”

    My husband said back with equal fervent tones in his reply, “Yes, I’m asking you! You’re a person. I’m a person. I’m late for a meeting and I need change for this parking meter. I have a dollar. Do you have change for a dollar?”

    The guy realized that my husband was treating him like a human being and quickly changed his tone and said, “No man, but you can get change at that convenience store.”

    He hugged my husband like they were old buds.

    This happened in downtown Minneapolis, November 2009.

  • Roxanne Johnson

    I really appreciate Danielle Larson’s comment about saying “Not today, sir or ma’am”. I think that’s really nice to say, no matter what people are doing they don’t deserve to be disrespected. Sometimes I don’t know what to say to panhandlers so I will try to remember Danielle’s phrase, thanks.

    I have definitely become somewhat desensitized to panhandling. The freeway entrances/exits by Augsburg College usually have a couple panhandlers every once and a while. And everyone is probably familiar with panhandling on Nicollet Mall. I normally don’t even carry cash with me so I usually don’t give money to people. A couple quarters here and there, sure.

    But to those who suggest “giving to charity” as an alternative (which is a great alternative), I think back to what my mom would always quote from the Bible “Don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” In other words, don’t talk about the good deeds you’ve done, just do them and don’t expect to be thanked!

    A funny story about panhandling and my sweet, sweet Grandma Joanie. A man was panhandling and my grandpa was most likely driving, they were stopped and my grandma handed the man a $20 bill and said, “Sorry, this is all I have.”

    I don’t know if she meant sorry as in I don’t have change, or sorry, I don’t have more. If more people were like her this world would be a happier place.

  • Sally

    I do not give to panhandlers because 1) I work for a non-profit organization that serves the homeless and others on the margins and 2) I can’t be sure the panhandler would spend my contribution on food.

  • Margaret

    Honestly, I consider the panhandler’s age first before I consider being charitable. From the station to my workplace (down one street, a span of five blocks), I come across the same beggars each morning, most of them in their forties and older, but one or two of them seem to be in their twenties and also seem to be “mentally fit.” I can’t help but get mad when I see them sit with eyes closed and hats upside down in their laps while the McDonald’s around the corner may have an open position. Of course, I can and will never know the life roads these homeless youths traveled to find themselves on those curbs, but I do know that they have age on their side and this time can’t be wasted. My offering of food will go to the older folks and those with mental disorders first. Young panhandlers will remain deaf to my internal shouts of “Get up!”

  • Gerald Myking

    I often give a token but there are times I ignore them because of their behavior or there are just too many of them. I do not usually judge them and I am not concerned how they spend my little donation. I do discriminate a little. I did not give a handout to a young man last Saturday, he had a very nice bicyle, was wearing better clothes than me, talked on his cell phone while smoking a cigerette and wrote a sign stating, Paper money please, no change. He had a nicer guitar than I did and refused to play for anyone until they made a donation. What a character.

  • Rusty Hooks

    Get a small booze bottle and fill it with a like colored liquid. Next time one of them asks for a donation, offer $5 OR the bottle, if they take the bottle (and they will) know that you’ve just done both of you a favor.

  • Nicholle Lotfalla

    I give to them what i have and can afford. Especially children.

    I first experienced homelessness at 10, later as a teen.. and again now if it wasn’t for friends.

    I work, most times over 50 hours per week when employment is available. i was a trusting stay at home mom.. doing fair,started a buisness..i’m not stupid.

    but “he” didn’t like that.. ..

    i am a survivor.. i give to others trying to survive.. and bite me hypocrites.. you forgot the do not judge part and are blind to your own creations of black markets and oppression.. fairly selfish society reinforcing its own problems.. now there are thousands, and it wouldn’t take much to witness what we don’t want if we continue to neglect secure education ..but at that point what will a dollar be worth anyway

  • Jayne

    I resent being approached by panhandlers and wonder why I am being approached. Do they think I am a soft tough or easy mark?

    I actually never carry cash with me. However, the other day I was approached by a panhandler. He said he wanted money. Feeling friendly and open I asked him why. He then said he wanted a metro card and out of generosity I gave him mine.

    He then grabbed it out of my hands, didn’t say thank you, and then raced into a nearly convenience store. I expect he traded it for money.

    I have to say I was extremely bitter after that. I realized after he grabbed it, that i had no means to get home. He took my fare card. I ended up having to go out of my way to a different station and wait in line half an hour to buy a new card.

    I remember just giving him the card on reflex. Rather than be grateful, he asked how much was on it. I didnt’ know and looked — it was $10. I just gave a bum that much money and not even a thank you.

    That fare could have bought me at least 5 trips.

    Today when I was approached by a young panhandler. I told him no. He insisted and pressed — like a used car salesman, insisting that i give him money or a farecard.

    When I said, I don’t give to beggers, he kept pressing. I asked hm why he wouldn’t take no for an answer, he said I never actually sadi no….and then began attacking me for having a “bad attitude.”

    I almost felt like telling him — what? are you expecting me to cheerfully hand over my wallet?

    After the ungrateful panhandler….and the inconvenience caused to me, I have concluded that i need to look after myself and that these panhandlers are not my responsibility.

    Yes, many are conartists…Many earn more money a day that most people who work. You can collect thousands of dollars a day panhandling and not pay a dime in taxes. That’s why you see a lot of them being picked up in nice cars.

    Dont’ feel sorry for them. think of yourself. I regreted my sympathy and felt it was misplaced. The attitude of the younger guy reflecting the level of entitlement they have. They aggressively approach people and then act shocked when someone actually tells them no — and then will fight about it…as if youwere somehow expected to just turn over your money to a complete stranger for the asking.

  • Mateo

    Don’t hand out money to pan-handlers. Most are sub human parasites………