You’ve got that Giving Feeling…
Often at this time of year, we find ourselves with a more giving spirit. This extends not only to family and friends, but to organizations that we recognize as doing great work in our communities. Most of us see and hear the bell-ringers at the Salvation Army red kettles on the street corners and outside the places we shop. We know from direct and indirect experience and from charitable giving reports that our donations are used for valuable and successful programs to help those in need. Here in Rockford, we know that the Rockford Rescue Mission also is recognized the same way. There are many churches and local non-profit service organizations that provide a wide array of other much-needed assistance to give those seeking help with food, shelter, clothing, healthcare and other life needs to sustain them through difficult times.
Over the past few years, panhandlers have become more prevalent on busy Rockford street corners. They tug at our heartstrings, making us feel selfish and uncaring if we don’t offer money to keep them warm and fed. It may seem like a very kind and generous thing to do, but it is strongly discouraged by those who work in services to the homeless population. Your money may be putting them at risk! You have no control over how that handout is used. We would like to believe it is used for food or shelter, medicine or clothing to protect them from the elements, as many of these folks are homeless. The cruel reality is that your generous donation mostly goes to feed habits: alcohol and drugs – not just baseline street drugs, but hard drugs. Panhandling in traffic also places them in jeopardy of injury and even death. It is a very rare person that can win a battle with an automobile or truck.
For more information, talk to someone from a local service agency. Please take a few moments to go to the link below in order to inform yourself before you simply hand over money:
Our recommendation to those of you who are in this giving spirit would be to offer a gift card to a restaurant close to that street and to set someone in the direction of local services, such as Salvation Army, Miss Carly’s, Rockford Rescue Mission, Shelter Care Ministries or Rockford MELD (for women and children). These have emergency services available and can personalize the assistance of the individual’s needs. Or if you feel exceptionally generous, the hotel down the next block might very willingly accept a donation for overnight lodging for some of those street folks! I would hope that these suggestions should keep both you and the panhandler at less risk.
Thank you, Rockford, for your generous spirit through the Holidays and during the remainder of the year!