There are many scenarios in which a stranger may ask an individual for money – simply being short a dollar in the grocery store or at a restaurant, or maybe needing a few extra dollars to get from point A to point B on a bus. Most people, when asked whether or not they would give money to a stranger, think of a very stereotypical scenario where an individual asks for spare change on the street or on public transit. Is it acceptable to give these individuals the spare change in your pocket? And if not, is there something else to be done, or should they simply be ignored?
We live in an age where it is all too common to see individuals on street corners holding signs asking for money, food or work, or all three. If one of these people approaches you, and asks you for money, should you give it to them? When pondering the question, one is forced to think of what will happen if they do, and what will happen if they don't. If they do, will the problem be solved? Or will it only promote a trivial solution for that moment? P. J. O'Rourke once said "You can't get rid of poverty by giving people money." If that is the case, then why would someone give money? And if that isn't what fixes it, what will?
When asking most people if they would give money to a stranger if they ask, they will say they would not. If you ask the same people why, the responses tend to all be along the lines of trust, vulnerability and work ethic. People do not want to just give money away, but they do want to help. People generally assume it will go to alcohol or drugs, no matter what they claim to be asking for. Others think that the individual should be responsible for themselves and not begging, but out looking for a job. People do not trust strangers; they do not want to feel like all of their hard work is going to waste on someone who isn't trying.
Nowadays, there are several ways to help an individual in need other than simply giving them the 50 cents in your pocket. There are hundreds of shelters that provide food and clothing, and just as many programs to help reinstate these individuals into an economically steady lifestyle once again. What most people don't seem to realize is that there aren't just people in need and people who aren't. The people in need are made up of individuals who maybe even a month ago had a house and a steady salary. In this economy, thousands of people may be only a few paychecks away from living in poverty, and that is why it is best to be more supportive of people in need. Show support through assisting to find a location of a shelter. Assist in finding the proper resources (libraries, charities, etc.) needed to help themselves become a steady member of society once again.