We see them begging on the inner-city streets of New York and San Francisco, holding up signs that say, “Laid off,” or “Family in need of help.” But those two are certainly not the only cities in America that the homeless are seen in. On the contrary, homelessness seems to be on the rise throughout all of America and many people seen on the streets or holding up signs can even be viewed in small town America.
How many people are homeless, one might ask? That is a very good question, although the answer can never be 100% certain. The National Coalition for the Homeless reports that in any given year 3.5 million people will at some point experience homelessness. One of the reasons that the amount of homeless people can never be sure is because homelessness is generally considered to be a temporary circumstance. Yes, someone may be laid off from their job one day, but that same person may be able to find a good paying job somewhere else, resulting in a change in the number of homeless.
We have all experienced the same thing, however. A homeless person on the street either approaches us or asks us for money, or they just sit on the sidewalk or the edge of the street holding up their sign or small tin can waiting for someone to deposit a large chunk of change or cash into their donation box. That scenario begs the question, “Should I give them money?” A very good question, indeed, since the situation is usually an uncomfortable one. Or consider this: you are driving off onto the highway exit ramp and you get stopped at the red light in front of you. On your side of the road there happens to be a young woman holding a sign saying that she and her two kids need help because she has been laid off. Compassion overwhelms you and you feel uncomfortable as you do make eye contact with her, but regrettably, do not give her any donations, thinking to yourself that there is probably a homeless shelter nearby. But if there is not a homeless shelter nearby and no one else stops to give her help, then what is she going to do?
The question about whether or not to donate any money to homeless people is debatable and will be debatable so long as there continues to be homeless people in the United States. There may be a fear of the homeless person going to buy beer right after they receive the money, however unsubstantiated those fears may be. You won’t really know what they do with the money that you give them unless you ask them.
So how do you overcome those doubts about the homeless and what are some ways to give to them? There are many ways, in fact, in which you can donate to homeless people. One option would be to seek out your nearest homeless shelter and donate to them because they directly help the homeless with their shelters, food kitchens, and programs that they have. Another option would be to give to the homeless person that you come in contact with directly. You can either take them out for a dinner or give them a warm place to sleep for a night or two. Chances are that your contributions to the homeless will not go unwelcome. Homeless people all across America need a voice; yes, there are many organizations who do a wonderful job at this, but you can also be a voice for the homeless by either giving to them directly, the shelters and food kitchens that feed them, or standing up to help eradicate homelessness one person at a time!