Drug money or scheme? Why you simply can't give freely to panhandlers

A WHIO news story about a man who claims to have paid two homeless men to have sex with each other in an alley was the saddest thing I saw last week.

As proud as a pig covered in filth, the man allegedly taunted the homeless men, recorded the sex act on a cell phone and posted the results of his work on Twitter.

I can say a lot about a coward who would degrade other human beings for pleasure, but why bother.

A panhandler working the intersection of Keowee and Wayne Ave. gets a donation from a motorist waiting at the light on 06/02/11. Staff Photo by Jim Witmer

The system will decide if he will be charged with a crime.

Most people who frequent the Oregon District would recognize one of the homeless men even though WHIO blurred out his photo.

I’ve seen him do all sorts of things over the years: dance like a madman at festivals, urinate while walking down the street, lick a street lamp post, hound people for money and be chased off by shop owners.

He’s asked me for money several times over the years and I’ve had many conversations about him and why he is the way he seems to be.

Many in the Oregon District speculate when he disappears for a while.

Is he off getting help? Is he in jail? Did he die?

I know virtually nothing about this guy even though I’ve seen him for years and he has been apparently been around forever.

I do know that he’s a human being and deserves compassion even though he’s one of the reasons I rarely give money to panhandlers.

This doesn’t mean I don’t give.

Like many, I choose to donate to agencies and organizations that will help needy people or causes I care about. There are many, many people who are in need in the Dayton area.

The St. Vincent De Paul shelter in Dayton alone serves 300 to 400 men, women and children daily with meals, showers, clothes, personal care items, mail and messaging service and case manager.

About 4,000 people go to the agency for shelter every year.

The Map the Meal Gap — an annual study — says 130,200 Miami Valley residents didn’t have enough to eat in 2015; an increase of 4,500 more people from 2014.

When I was a kid, I’d reach in my pocket and give what little money I had to any seemingly less fortunate person that asked.

It was the Christian thing to do.

Living in and working in and around downtown Dayton stripped me of that giving nature long ago.

It is a small inconvenience of living in an urban area, but hearing the same old horribly uninspired sob story over and over again and watching as the same people work has a way of hardening you.

It is equally annoying to see panhandlers with signs near highway on and off ramps in the suburbs that read: “Homeless, please help,” “Will work for food”…

I might be jaded, but I simply don’t believe their stories.

Are you really needy? Are you planning to use my money for drugs? Is this just part of a scheme? Do you drive a BMW?

The in-person pleads are even more tiring.

“My car just broke down on 35 with my wife and kids in the car. Can you spare any money?”

“I need to catch a bus. Do you have a dollar?”

“I ran out of gas. Do you have any change”?

The liars, users and fakers hurt people who really need help and steal the attention away from the real issues.

Community can help community.

It is a shame that I am not that same kid who would give freely to anyone who asked.

Note: A version of this column first appeared in the Dayton Daily News on Aug. 22.

See something, say something. Contact this blogger at amelia.robinson@coxinc.com or Twitter.com/DDNSmartMouth

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