What's the most you've ever given to a panhandler, and why?

What’s the most you’ve ever given to a panhandler, and why?

Whether or not I give anything to a panhandler depends entirely on my mood and what I make of the person handling my pans. When I’m in a bad mood, the Virgin Mary carrying the Baby Jesus couldn’t get a nickel out of me. Even when I’m in a good mood, it depends on whether or not I feel the panhandler is trying to scam me. If it doesn’t seem like he is, it then depends on the vibes I get from him. And of course, if money is tight, I may not give anything even then.

I was in downtown Atlanta (I forget why) and a lone squeegee man approached the pickup truck ahead of me at a red light. The guy in the truck seemed to be cussing him out. I looked at the squeegee man, and—I dunno—something just kind of clicked. The look on his face from the verbal abuse he was getting was heartbreaking, and he seemed to me like a regular Joe who was just down on his luck. The pickup roared off when the light turned green. I rolled down my car window, called the guy over, and gave him ten bucks. He apologized for not being able to clean my windshield, as there were cars behind me waiting to go—but you should have seen the way his face lit up when he realized he’d gotten a sawbuck. At the time, my mom was in the hospital with lymphoma, and the doctors had just informed us that her case was hopeless. Maybe that influenced my decision.

A few weeks ago, I was pulling up the off-ramp from I-285 to Covington Highway, and there was a panhandler with a can hitting up the line of cars waiting at the light. He was so skinny he looked like a concentration camp survivor. Any other time I might have written him off as a junkie or something and just cruised on past, but I guess the child-like delight he showed when the woman in the car ahead of me gave him some money broke through my defenses. When he got to my car, I rolled down the window, grabbed the first bill I saw in my wallet, and gave him a ten. I thought he was going to cry. He said “God bless you!” almost loudly enough to be a shout, grabbed my hand and kissed it, and held my hand to his cheek for a few seconds as he said some kind of prayer.

Hell, there’s plenty of times I’ve spent ten bucks and gotten a lot less.

So what’s your story? What’s the most you ever gave to a panhandler, and why?

$5. Because he was a backpacker drifting through town and one of the dead sexiest dudes I’ve ever seen.



$20.00. Because I believed him when he said he needed $40 to keep his family in their SRO hotel room, and I didn’t have another twenty I could spare.

On lower Greenville in Dallas there used to be this one panhandler that I would regularly give $5 to. But he worked for it. He was a talented poet. He must have had like a hundred of them memorized as I’ve never heard the same one twice.

Some times when I’m Downtown, I’ll stop by the Mcdonald’s and pick up about ten 99cent cheeseburgers. Then I’ll hand them out to whoever asks me for change. With out fail, I always give all the burgers away.

Ten bucks. The guy’s cardboard sign was really heartfelt, and I was feeling flush. The look on his face when I handed him the money made it the best ten bucks I’ve ever spent.

I don’t give money to panhandlers. I don’t think anyone should give money to panhandlers. It just encourages them.

A cup of coffee. Guy asked for money for coffee outside a McDonalds I was heading into I brought him a coffee on the way out.

I will under no circumstances give money to pan handlers. I am willing to purchase things for them. If they just ask for money I don’t even stop or acknowledge them. If they ask for money for food or something I offer to go into the store with them and buy it for them. That offer always gets turned down.

I passed a guy sitting outside of a department store downtown, in January, and when he pulled his hands from his pockets to hold them out and ask for change, they looked so red and chapped. I went into the department store, bought a pair of fluffy warm mittens, and gave them to him on my way back out. His eyes got really wide and he thanked me a dozen times as he put them on. Cost me under $10.

I made up a little Xmas bag one year, with the stuff I had learned the homeless want/need. There were Twinkies, juice boxes, emergency blankets, heat packs, and esp wool socks. I got a deal on a Lot of 2nds at eBay.

Socks are one thing the homeless really want and need. Goodwill etc gets very few and used socks are problematic.

I don’t give cash.

I’m hesitant to hand out money to panhandlers or beggars, though much less so if they’re playing a musical instrument. Even if they’re doing a bad job of scratching out something on an old violin, I’ll toss in whatever change is in my pockets.

I don’t mind the food thing. I’ll always find someone to give the rest of my lunch to if I have a sandwich left at the end of the day. I usually pack 3 or 4 and there are times when I’ll only have 2, so I figure someone else might want a bite. I picked this up from my best friend, who has been doing it for years and years.

We once picked up a half a dozen ‘Hot and Ready’ pizzas from Little Caesars on a really ridiculously cold winter day (in Calgary), went down to the line-up outside the Mustard Seed and handed out slices of pizza to whoever wanted some. I don’t know if this is the sort of thing the Seed normally likes us to do, but we got a lot of really heartfelt thanks and it felt like a great way for each of us to spend 15 bucks.

My Mom “hired” a large panhandler to run interference for her downtown. She had to run the daily gamut of some pretty aggressive beggars, so she simply made an arrangement with the biggest one. IIRC, it was $15/week. I believe this works out roughly to 750/year. I don’t know if this counts for the OP, because it was spread out over time.

Me? I’ve filled up a few gas tanks over some convincing sob stories; I guess about 40-50 bucks. I don’t do it often, tho’.

Encourages them…to be homeless?
As to the OP, I have bought people food on many occasions, but I rarely give out money. But I don’t say “fuck 'em” and walk away either, regardless of the circumstances that got them there, these are still human beings you’re looking at, they deserve at least your sympathy even if you’re not inclined to help them. I regularly drive past a homeless encampment underneath an interstate, the other day I drove by and several of them were standing around watching a guy get the shit beaten out of him. I called the cops, but I can’t imagine they’re really quick to run over and break things up. Most of them are dealing with severe untreated mental illness. It’s still sad.

One cold Sunday morning, when most of the shops were closed, I passed a homeless lady who had clearly slept in a doorway and was just waking up. She wasn’t asking for anything, hadn’t even noticed me. But as I was getting fresh hot bagels for myself, I decided to get one for her too. I walked up to her, greeted her and asked if she wanted a fresh hot loaf of bread. Her whole face lit up and with a very raspy voice she thanked me profusely. Felt very good.

This year, once again I made three X-mas bags for poor Romanian villagers. A charity where my co-worker in participates gathers the X-mas bags/boxes and takes them to the villagers. Each bag cost me about 30 bucks to fill, with coffee, chocolate, things to bake, canned meat and cheese, candy, little gifts, etc.

20 dollars. A tired-looking girl was just sitting on the ground next to her dog. The dog was clean and well-cared for. She wasn’t begging, but she was definitely homeless and down on her luck. I was touched by the way she petted her dog and by how well she took care of him in spite of her troubles. I myself was going through a rough patch, so I didn’t even stick around to hear her story, I just said hi and gave her the money.

20 dollars.

Had made my biggest commission check ever, and was in a celebratory mood.


I don’t often cross paths with panhandlers, but when I do, generally give as much as I can.

The reason that I try to be generous with panhandlers is that I would hope that were I ever in a similar situation that a complete stranger would help me. IMHO it’s just the right thing to do.

Monday evening my husband and I were out running around and we stopped to get gas. Some woman came up to my husband and asked for $20 for gas in order to get to a nearby small town. He refused. I told her that I’d pump and pay for $20 in gas, but I wouldn’t give her money. She glared at me, called me a bitch, and stomped off. I notified the station attendant that there was a panhandler working his lot, so I guess that I’m a bigger bitch than she thought.

And that’s why I won’t give money. I HAVE purchased food or gas for a couple of people, but mostly they want money, they are not really in need of food or gas or whatever just at the time…they are playing on the sympathy of passersby.

Partly, yes. It encourages them to be beggars and moochers. It removes any incentive for them to improve their lives.