1. Never give cash.
Much of the time, well-intentioned cash gifts are used to feed drug and alcohol addictions, or for other unanticipated purposes. Even when a panhandler’s “hard luck” story is true, he or she may not be telling you the whole story – and what they’re not telling you is often at the heart of their request.
Because money is susceptible to abuse, it’s important to give in small quantities, and give only what is immediately necessary. If a person is hungry, buy them a sandwich and a beverage. If they say they need shelter, give them a Rescue Resource Guide that directs them to agencies that can help.
2. Speak with respect.
Treating a stranger with respect and kindness, and taking time to talk to them in a friendly manner can mean a lot – and help restore their sense of pride and dignity. For someone struggling with isolation, depression or paranoia, a positive interaction can also provide a much-needed moment of peace.
3. Think carefully.
Understanding the truth about panhandling is important when assessing a stranger’s request. You may be surprised at what is really behind a panhandler’s “hard luck” story. When it comes down to it, your single act of generosity is unlikely to make a long-term difference in someone’s life. Meeting a chronic need (such as poverty) with an emergency, knee-jerk response (like giving spare change) often does more harm than good.
4. Share God's Love.
Rather than give someone money, give them something much more powerful – the gift of redemptive grace and unconditional love. By acting as a living example of Christ in every interaction, you’re sharing His love and showing that your heart is open to those in need.
5. Offer real assistance.
As the saying goes, it’s better to teach a man to fish than to give him a fish. Real Change means helping people get back on their feet, become rehabilitated and gain education and skills – so that they can eventually support themselves. Local programs and organizations like The Rescue Mission are specifically designed to do just that.
In the moment, someone may be asking for money, but what they really need is a chance to transform their future. Directing panhandlers or homeless individuals to our shelter by giving them a Rescue Resource Guide connects them with agencies that can help them rebuild their lives.
6. Support The Rescue Mission
When you support our efforts, you’re joining a team of individuals, churches, businesses and organizations committed to eliminating homelessness in our community. Our programs are Christ-centered and give real, future-focused help to those in need, rather than becoming a temporary crutch. To find out more about donating or volunteer opportunities, call (260) 426-7357 or visit therescuemission.net.