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*almost starts to cry* My faaaaavorite place is Highland Park... its the most notorious neighborhood in my town, and last year over Spring Break I went on a college-sponsored service-learning trip down there. The "learning" part of the trip certainly happened for me. I don't think I've EVER learned so much about humility and not judging people as I did that week. I've been back since then, and each time I just want to hug the kids who come to the outreach center, and I don't want to let them go. Especially 7-year-old Paris, her 9-year-old sister LaLa, and their 12-year-old brother David. They're not homeless, but they're certainly living in the red-light-and-food-stamps district. Certainly I am inadequate to fix all problems, but I intend to do what I can.

I've never given money to a homeless person. Most of the time when I see homeless people in my town, I'm in a vehicle going somewhere. I remember being shocked as an 11-year-old visiting Washington D.C. and being asked for money. My parents always ignored them and walked on.

My dad was on a business trip to Cincinnati a few years ago (we lived there 15 years ago), and he told me this story when he got back. He walked out of the conference center, and this man was sitting on the steps to the center. This man was unkempt in appearance and had a brown paper bag with what appeared to be a bottle in it. The man asked my dad for money, and my dad asked the man what he would do with it. The man said he would buy food, and my dad asked him if he was sure he wouldn't buy beer with it. The man lifted up the bag and said, "No, I wouldn't buy beer. See, I already have some." My dad asked him if he would like to go eat lunch at a nearby restaurant, and the man said, "No, just give me money." He didn't get any money out of my dad.
 

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Soilman,

I know, my dad's great most of the time. I'm proud of him. :)
 

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LF,

That happened to me in DC, too-- the beggers were wearing some name brand clothing. Sure, they might have been donated items, but not likely.
 

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Mushroom,

Hold on there... I AM proud of my dad most of the time, but it doesn't have a whole lot to do with his approach to giving money to homeless people. The way I heard it from my dad, it sounded like he had done right. Why would the homeless man NOT go and buy more beer? My dad said this man appeared drunk, and its not beyond reason to think that a drunk would lie about wanting only food in order to get money for beer. My dad is not in favor of enabling an evident addiction, and that's why he offered to give him a meal. Can beggers be choosers? Sure, a meal with a stranger may not be all that great, but what other favorable options did this man have? Perhaps alcohol was clouding his mental processes.

My mom was approached by a woman wanting money downtown, and this woman DID take her up on the offer to go to a nearby restaurant. My mom had the then-four-year-old twins with her, so perhaps this woman felt more at ease with a mother and her daughters. Maybe my mom wasn't right to put my sisters "at risk" by being around this woman; maybe my mom should have bought her a month's worth of groceries. Maybe I'm grateful I have parents who genuinely want to help people, even if you disagree with their methods.
 

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Nothing like forced removal to tell people, "We're ashamed of you; you don't deserve us."
 
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