With regard to people being homeless other times of the year, not just Christmas and Thanksgiving, I concur with Tash on it being a seasonal thing. Every year as soon as a cold snap hits, I weed out my under utilized winter clothes and make a trip to a shelter/donation center of some sort. I also live in the city, and homelessness is in my face, so it makes my bones cold to see someone outside and cold. Why should I keep a bunch of stuff I don't wear often in a storage box when temps are dropping into the 20's at night and the shelter is full. Shoot, my house is 100 years old (translation ~ crummy windows), it gets cold in there at night, I can't imagine what it's like on a park bench or on a corner, or under an overpass.
Catgirl67, I worked in Washington, DC right out of college. I got beat down by folks begging for coin every day, so I'd give a little here, little there, food if I had it, whatever. One afternoon coming out of the subway, I gave a guy the loose change I had in my coat pocket. Instead of thanking me, he picked the pennies out and threw them in the street. That started my "get a job" mentality. I hated to be like that and somewhere along the line, I started to realize that many people are about a paycheck away from the streets ~ including me.
Then when I moved to Baltimore, I changed my tune a bit. There are still the pushy panhandlers looking for "food" (their next bottle or rock). Then again, there's the guy who with the biggest smile on his face says to me one day, "Hey lady, can I get a buck so I can go buy a beer?" That guy got my money. He's not lying about what he's doing. Then there's the guy outside the Quick Mart who asked for a quarter and I pull the change out of my pocket to get that quarter and he sees the crumpled up dollar bill and says "well, how about that dollar." He got a quarter and "you asked for a quarter, shoulda asked for the dollar never know what folks got in their pockets" with a smile ~ not a kiss my a** smile, but a "hey dude....gotcha!" and he laughed.
I don't know really where I was headed with this, but I think I had some sort of epiphany. These people do need our compassion....and our money....and our used warm clothes and food. If you've got it to spare and someone needs it, homeless or not, share, you could be looking for a handout next winter.