Last week I was exiting 240 onto Lamar Ave when I saw a man asking for money. He had his cardboard sign up that said “homeless and hungry”. I am a sucker for giving into people who are asking for help; it pulls at my heart strings and I try and always provide them with something, whether it be food or a couple of dollars. However, this time as I was about to pull out my wallet the man saw a cop who was driving by and he quickly hid his sign and walked away from the cars in the street.
The next day that I was in class I brought this situation up and it was brought to my attention that panhandling is illegal in the city of Memphis. Call me naive, but I honestly had no clue. Before writing this blog I read up on the policies put in place to prevent panhandling and also a few site with statistics provided about panhandlers in general. I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt so when people are humbling themselves to ask for money or food I usually think that they are being real.
Now that I see the numbers that show the amount of times money given to panhandlers has been used to buy alcohol or drugs it really changes my outlook on the whole thing. I read somewhere that said if a person who is asking for money, food or help they are usually going to provide a service or skill along with them asking, such as: musical performances, shoe shining, selling newspapers and other street vending options. Most every article that I read wrapped up by invoking passion to help out in with the organizations that provide shelter and food to the homeless and impoverished so that they can help to the best of their abilities.
As I looked into some of the options and organizations that provide food and shelter for the homeless around the city of Memphis I saw many ways that these could be improved and promoted. I believe there needs to be more word out about numbers, facts, and information on how you can help out in a way you are passionate about while also finding a way to better provide services to meet needs in an effective and cost friendly way for the homeless community. I also feel that more awareness will instill moral in our community to help.