Panhandling


page-image-panhandling.jpgThese days, we see them on an almost daily basis. Men and women standing by busy streets holding up signs that usually state they are in need, homeless and would like your help.

If you're like most people, when you see a panhandler you have lots of questions going through your mind. Many of you are unsure of whether you should help them or not and if you decide to help, you aren't sure how.

The Facts on Panhandling

The facts are that there aren't any conclusive facts on panhandling.

Many people wonder whether or not the panhandlers they see are homeless or just scamming people. At the moment there are no statistics on the panhandlers of Tri-Cities, and there is no way to know. 

Another question that is asked a lot is, "Will the panhandler spend the money I give them on drugs?" Again, there are no conclusive stats and no way to know. Yes, some panhandlers will take the money you give them and spend it on drugs or alcohol, but some will actually buy food.

You probably don't feel any closer to getting your questions answered, but we do want to provide you with some helpful hints and tips on how you can handle panhandlers in the future.

What To Do

  • Give a "Rescue Card"
    If you are hesitant on giving money, you can always give the panhandler a "Rescue Card" These cards tell the panhandler where they can find the Mission and if they are truly in need, once at the Mission they will be cared for. We provide printable Rescue Cards for you to use.

    Rescue Cards (with lines for those manually cutting cards)
    Rescue Cards (for printing on standard business card stock paper, i.e. Avery's) 
     
  • Give a "Homeless Pack"
    If you are worried that the panhandler will spend the money on drugs or alchohol, you can always hand them a "Homeless Pack", a gallon ziplock bag with some helpful items in it. Below are some examples of things that can be put into a "Homeless Pack". (many of these things can be bought at a local dollar store)
    • Pair of socks
    • Granola bars
    • Toothbrush
    • Bottle of water (or more on hot summer days)
    • Bible track (if they don't know Jesus, we sure hope they will)
    • TCUGM Rescue Card (if they are homeless, they can come to the Mission for help.
       
  • Pray
    Even if you decide not to give to the panhandler you drive by, it's always good to pray for them. The Lord knows the person, and knows what they need. Pray that the Lord would look after them, and save them if they don't already know him. 

  • Support your local Mission
    If you want to give money, but worry about what will happen with it, consider donating to
    Tri-City Union Gospel Mission
    . We have been helping the homeless since 1954, and are blessed to be able to continue helping the hopeless and needy of the Tri-Cities through your generous donations.

What you do in the end is up to you, and we encourage you to listen to your heart and trust your "gut". If you do decide to interact with a panhandler, always treat him or her with love, as Jesus would, but also be careful when dealing with anyone you don't know personally. Don't allow yourself to be caught in an unsafe situation.