A Gentle but Firm Reminder This Holiday Season…

If you go online, you’re going to see a bunch of stuff about ThanksGiving over the next two days, from events and info for parades and football games, to general information about what the holiday is about, to people who just plain want to talk about how they will celebrate and what they are thankful for. I’ll probably get around to what I am thankful for in another blog posting, but right now, I want to tackle an issue that I feel you should be aware of. Note that what I have to say is not meant to be mean or cruel, it is only fact based upon observance – it may not apply to your area, and you may not even need to worry about it.

You see, this time of year is when people try to show their good sides, by going and getting gifts for their families and friends, decorating and participating on Holiday events, and giving to people who may need a helping hand. This is the time of year where charities also come out of the woodwork to ask for help for various causes, the most popular being the needy and the homeless.

Anyone who knows where I live also knows that my area is a bad are in general. There are a lot of homeless, a lot of elderly people, and a lot of physically an mentally challenged people all scrunched amongst a bunch of troublemakers such as dope/drunk heads. You have Janet Wattles and Milestone – both here to help those with disabilities, and a Red Cross shelter and Rescue Mission, all within blocks of each other. Needless to say, there aren’t that many like me whose handicaps are fixable and who live down here either for convenience or for desire.

the problem I want to bring to your attention is not those who need the help but the people who choose to mix themselves in with them in order to get free money and services. There are those who come into this area, during all hours of day and night that neither live down here or are in need of any help. If you’re lucky, you can catch them in their act, possibly getting into a vehicle and driving off after conning a few people, or dressed in different (read: socially acceptable) clothing in other areas.

To make matters worse, some of those drunk heads and dope heads throw themselves into the begging mix, asking people for handouts in order to get money for their fix. These are sometimes easier to spot, as you can see it in their appearance, smell it on their breath, or hear it through their slurred words. These people tell you they want money for food, but in reality they’re only looking for their next big fix, and will sometimes offer to sell you junk either they owned and are willing to get rid of, or stuff they might have stolen from others.

I make it a general rule not to talk to that many people on the streets in my area, or to tell them “No” when they come up begging. It’s harsh, but it’s necessary: I used to be one that, when I had the money, I’d give to those I felt needed it. then I got suckered and conned a few times, and learned my lesson the hard way. I would hope to spare you my anger after realizing how naive and suckered I was. and to help you keep giving, keep wanting to give.

With all of these bad people mixed in with those who need help, how can a person best help those who need it?

Don’t give money out to anyone on the street. If possible, either offer them something you can go to and buy for them, such as the nearest McDonalds or Burger King, or tell them where there are services to help them. Don’t give money directly to them unless you absolutely know they really need it!
Donate to charities you actually know about. It’s easy to give the Bell Ringers money, as many people know what the Salvation Army does; it’s much more difficult when such and such agency is saying they do the same things. Again, use caution in who you give money and items to.
If you want to help the needy, call around these services and see where help is needed. Some organizations, such as the rescue mission, may have as many people to help as is needed for the day; Other organizations need some people to help them.
Donate at places where you know it’s going to be safe and delivered to the right people. Many jobs and offices put up donation baskets to get people at their jobs, be they employees or customers, to get things for the needy, such as food, clothing and – since Christmas is coming – toys for kids. Make sure you know of the organization you’re donating to, though: Toys for Tots is legit, where as Billy Joe’s toy Drive may not be.
Finally, get familiar with the services in your area, in case you are approached. There are plenty of shelters, churches and organizations that come together to help the less fortunate out during this time of year, and sometimes the only thing you can do is to point people in the right direction.

There is nothing wrong with helping people out; in fact, I hope and encourage you too, as you get an idea for what it is like to be a good person. I just hope you can avoid those who’d rather use and con you by giving you some helpful hints to prevent you from making some of the mistakes that have made me bitter. Thank you, and have a Happy Turkey Day!

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