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Facebook community split over personal panhandler policies

The Library of Congress
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New posters in downtown Ann Arbor businesses will ask visitors to stop giving money to panhandlers.  The effort by the mayor's office and businesses asks people to give money to local resources for the homeless instead. 

Yesterday, we posted this question to the Michigan Radio Facebookcommunity:

“What is your policy on giving to panhandlers?”

Readers jumped at the chance to share their stories and “personal policies.”

Charles–I used to run the old laundry mat on Broadway & Maiden Lane in Ann Arbor & used to have to deal with panhandlers, daily! After awhile you can figure out who really needs some help and those who were just mooching a free ride. $5 was the limit I would give to those who were not just gonna drink it away, but, you never know, do you!

Angie- We were dining in A2 a couple of years ago, and my daughter was being nice and felt sorry for a beggar. When we left the restaurant, she offered him some take-out in a container and he got all annoyed at her and said "I dont want that" >:(

Tom- If someone asks me politely, I'll give them whatever change I have in my pocket-- sometimes it's more than a dollar; sometimes it's 10 cents. But I won't open my wallet in front of a panhandler. My policy prevents me from having to make a decision each time I'm asked. I've never had anyone be anything but grateful.

But some givers have been jaded by negative experiences.

Adonis- I used to be more giving but experience has made me more cynical toward panhandlers. Now a days I tend to just say no.

Andrea- My husband always used to give at least a dollar to anyone that asked, but he quit doing that after one woman he gave to yelled at him "A dollar? Just a dollar?”

Several commented that they prefer to offer panhandlers donations other than money, while some fund social welfare programs instead of direct donations to panhandlers.

Tim- I make a split second judgment about whether the person really needs it. Sometimes, instead of money, I offer to pray with the person, which is probably better than a dollar.

Nathan- I've been asked for money on numerous occasions. When I've responded by offering food instead panhandlers tend to get angry. Give your money to a charity that actually helps the homeless rather than directly to the homeless.

A couple commenters pointed out that they are or used to be panhandlers themselves.

Ally-I give my change if I have any and some times buy them food or drink.....I was a homeless teen way back when. Just the act of human kindness means so much. Judge not lest ye be judged.....besides, it is a mitzvoth.

Click here for more information about the Ann Arbor mayor’s office’s campaign.

-Elaine Ezekiel, Michigan Radio Newsroom

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