Stephen Thrasher, Comet Smasher

Giving to Solicitors

Sunday, April 13, 2008 by Stephen

This morning someone came to our church door asking for money for a bus ticket to Hyannis. We sent a deacon over who offered to go buy the ticket for her. Then she asked for money for breakfast while she waited for the ticket. He offered to buy her food. She finally left in a huff, saying we didn't really want to help her. Over the course of the 15 minute interaction, her story changed several times.

Whether it's the bus ticket or change for the subway or change for gas or whatever, like most people, I'm skeptical of solicitors on the street.

I think I have a solution: gift cards. But you have to be careful about gift cards. Grocery stores and drug stores carry Listerine, which might be too much of a temptation for the alcoholics out there. I purchased gift cards for Subway sandwiches once, and that worked well, but the local franchise doesn't sell gift cards, and I don't know if they accept them. Right now the best solution I've heard (thanks, Tyler) is Dunkin Donuts. Not the best food, but at least it will get them a donut and coffee, and they're everywhere around here.

Any thoughts on gift cards for panhandlers?


At Apr 14, 2008, 9:31:00 AM, Blogger The Urban Update said...

Would love to offer up a comment on this -
While it may not be the most efficient or the most time-sensitive way to go about 'handling' solicitors/panhandlers, it can be a very encouraging thing to really engage the person by taking them to the restaurant and purchasing food for them. Now, I know for a fact that not everyone who asks for money will respond well to this offer, a reflection, often, of what they really want the money for in the first place. Second, I know that we are often busy people and don't have much time to spare. However, I think there is something really beautiful about allowing ourselves to be inconvenienced for the sake of others, to see the poor cared for and loved well, in the midst of our own hectic and busy schedules. I think something about Jesus' heart for the outcast is reflected when we afford ourselves opportunities to engage a person beyond providing them with cash or giftcards. [although the gift-card idea does seem to be a much better alternative to giving actual cash money]

At Apr 14, 2008, 10:34:00 AM, Blogger stephen said...

Good point. Certainly I could offer to buy them food first, and if they refuse, a gift card could serve as backup.


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