I always suspected that not all the panhandlers (or beggars, whatever term you prefer) were in the situations they claimed to be in and had heard unsubstantiated stories about “professional panhandlers.” One rumour back in Pittsburgh was that a particular panhandler on Forbes near PITT owned an Escalade (this was something I heard eight years ago, before high gas prices) and was seen turning the corner and hopping in it after “work.”
Above is a local news report in Utah where CBS Channel 2 (after a commercial) watched some professional panhandlers at work. They eventually spent more time watching Megan Elmer (sp?) and interviewing her, learning of her heartbreaking story of moving down from Seattle to be with her boyfriend, only to have him break up with her. Now she’s just panhandling to scrape up a few bucks to get back home.
Except she’s a local and she’s not homeless.
Anyway, I thought the exposé was a little harsh (giving out her home address? was that really necessary?) but it certainly validated all the rumors many people have heard about panhandlers. They’re scammers, they’re frauds, they’re just preying on and taking advantage of your good nature.
I don’t give to panhandlers. I don’t because of the above story and because of other stories I’ve heard of people getting jumped when they reach for their wallets. Instead, we donate money to local food banks and areas that support people in need.
Do you give to panhandlers? If so, how does the report make you feel?