I had an opportunity to verify(somewhat) the data I talked about in the last real life story. When I was talking to one of the panhandlers she said that she might make 50 dollars in a day, and couldn’t afford even low income housing. I visually got to verify this as there was only one donation in an hour period, and it couldn’t have been for more than six or seven dollars at the most.
Drawing that back to the title, the donation was once again from one of the more disheveled cars at the intersection. To add to that, there were three panhandlers at the intersection, and while I was talking to one of them, another went and gave her lunch to the third. She’s surviving off the kindness of strangers, and she readily gave up a meal to somebody else.
It kind of makes me feel inadequate somewhat, because it’s easy for me to give. I’m not struggling financially, so going out and giving some food to a few panhandlers is really no big deal, but that lady might have given up her meal for the day, or at least that meal represented a much higher percentage of her daily income than what I give. I don’t want to give numbers about what I make, but suffice it to say I can live by myself without much difficulty. This lady on the other hand, probably makes between 50-100 dollars in a week, so that one meal was likely 5-10% of the money she made that week. To say nothing of the fact that she could have saved a few dollars by eating that meal, and used the extra money to buy an additional blanket.
Speaking of blankets, next winter I think it might be a good idea to hand those out. They’re not terribly expensive, and they’d help out with sleeping in the cold. It got down to almost freezing that night, and two of the panhandlers were going to be forced into sleeping outside in a local park. Writing this up makes me feel a little silly for feeling cold on my forty foot walk from my nice warm house to my soon-to-be-warm car.
Something that always makes me feel awkward, is when I got out to talk with panhandlers, and they thank me for coming out. What they do for each other requires far more sacrifice than what I do for them, and it’s really inspiring to be a part of. I heard a quote the other day ‘the poor are first to suffer, but also first to help’, and it’s absolutely true. Makes me feel a bit more secure about myself. In the extremely unlikely even that I’d ever be in their shoes, I’d be around plenty of people who were eager to help me. They might all be other panhandlers, but that’d be just fine.
As always, would love to hear you guys’ stories, and shout out to /r/homeless.