When people on the street ask for a handout it can feel cold-hearted to say “no.” Yet many homeless agencies and food pantries encourage that response in hopes that those individuals will use local services instead. All too frequently we’ve heard stories of how folks making those requests are actually buying alcohol, drugs, making a living, etc..
An experience years ago has helped shape an approach our family members sometimes take. When our older son was an early teen, we were walking towards our Shakespeare Theater downtown after a nice dinner together. Along the way we encountered a woman who told us she was hungry and asked for money for a meal. Instead of sharing cash, we took her to the pizza place a block away and paid for her order of a personal pan pizza and salad. We sat and chatted with her while she waited for the pizza. That experience made a nice impression on our teenager and opened the doors to conversation on many fronts.
For those of us who want to help out but NOT give cash to that person requesting cash, here are some possibilities…
- offer to take the person to a local restaurant and pay for their meal
- carry soft, easy-to-chew, snack/breakfast bars you can share
- carry gift certificates/cards to a local grocery store (ideally, designated “for food item purchase only”)
POTENTIAL ACTION: Next time you know you’ll be in an area with people asking for cash, put a few soft granola or breakfast bars in your backpack, purse or briefcase to give to folks. This gesture will not always be met with appreciation, but it’s the thought that counts, right?!?
Enjoy the day, filled with the Spirit!
Lectionary Texts for Sunday, August 30, 2020:
- Exodus 3:1-15 and Psalm 105:1-6, 23-26, 45b
- Jeremiah 15:15-21 and Psalm 26:1-8
- Romans 12:9-21
- Matthew 16:21-28
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