How To Chicago : Panhandlers vs Homeless

6. Thrive.  Know the difference between panhandlers and the homeless. Both deserve your respect, but the homeless deserve your help.

Panhandlers often receive monthly Medicare or Medicaid dollars. They’ve got adequate food and shelter, but to feed addictions they find an exit ramp and launch into the ubiquitous turn my right foot inward limp, or as i call it, the panhandle shuffle. They use your donations for wants not needs.   Simply looking them in the eye while stopped at a traffic light should shock them enough that they turn away. Most people ignore them and pretend there’s not a human being trying to engage them. I’ve always found that very odd. Look at them and smile. They are not monsters. They will not hurt you. To fend off more aggressive beggars feel free to use this phrase- “good luck man”. It is like kryptonite. These people get so few well wishes that this simple phrase yields content and will end their interaction with you.

Now go out and find somebody that’s homeless that you can really help. Victims of domestic abuse or underemployment. Young adults that have aged out of foster care. People with family or relationship breakdown. Check shelters, food pantries and under viaducts. Donate money. Donate items. Provide food.

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