Source: sinkfloridasink, “Feels good to help people.” Imgur. 5 October 2014
On 4 October 2014, Redditor SweatyCoffee asked, “Formerly homeless redditors, what’s the best way to go out and do a nice thing for homeless people?” Here are some replies:
1) Franco_DeMayo wrote, “If they’re legit and not just flying a sign? Socks and toiletries. If I only had enough for one or the other, I’d buy the bottle that let me sleep in a park over a tube of toothpaste. Priorities are different when you’re on the street, and not always for the reasons you think. I was never ungrateful for food, but, there were two major issues. The first being that if you pick a good spot, you’ll get multiple food offers every day. I can eat only so much, folks. The second being that if you just give me food, I now have to safely store it. I’m fucking homeless, not gonna waste the sh[*]t. So, now I add it to my pack. If it’s perishable, I have to eat that day-old sh[*]t before the hot meal the next day. Still grateful, btw. But, also hoping that it doesn’t get me robbed or something when I squat for the night. Being homeless can be like surviving the wasteland in that way; maybe that’s why I’m so good at Fallout.
“Before this turns into an essay, I’ll say just talk to them. Ignore anybody with a sign and no pack; they’re doing this shit by choice, ie, scamming. But, if you see someone, just set your limits and ask what they need. Be open to reason (storing and carrying food, for instance.) If you approach a legit person in need, it’s just about understanding.
“One time I asked a guy if he could spare any change. He said he wouldn’t give money, but he’d buy me something I needed. So, I checked my pack, and found myself ok. Not that I couldn’t have used more, but you can carry only so much. So, I tried a compromise. I told him I was well equipped, but the truck stop up the road had showers. So, I asked if he could spare a ride and $2 in quarters. He thought about it for a sec, probably decided I couldn’t get high on $2, and agreed.
“I got my first hot shower in months, and he made it happen by being willing to look past (at least somewhat) his initial assumptions/priorities. To this day, I have never enjoyed a shower more. And yes, that includes copious amounts of shower sex; never even came close.”
He added, “What I do now, having been there, is buy a this or a that. And then, when they’re legit thankful because I bought them deodorant? That’s when I give them a few bucks. Anybody who is thankful, truly, for anything from a dollar store deserves a warm bed. I’ll just spend it on beer or something else I’ve learned to take for granted anyway.”
He also added, “If you just come up on [a homeless person who is proud and declines to ask for help, bring stuff in advance] and say, ‘Hey, Xmas in October! I’m gonna give you a present. Is that cool?’ It almost always is. Presents calm people the f[**]k down when they don’t expect them.” […] “Resist the urge to watch him open it; that really drives the charity aspect home in an odd way.”
He also recommended giving packages of dehydrated soup and Ramen noodles. And multivitamins.
2) Jesc651 wrote, “My dad would always give money to anyone who asked who was in need if he could spare it. There was a woman he ran into who was asking for bus fare to get to her son’s funeral that she couldn’t afford to pay for. My dad purchased her ticket and the next week saw her again with the same story. I asked if he was mad about seeing her again with the same story and he told me no. He said he did his good deed by helping her, it was on her for being dishonest. He said the same for giving people money. He said that he does his good deed by giving them money [and] what they choose to do with it, is their choice [—] he wasn’t one to judge. I pretty much do the same now.”
3) lardmanpo wrote, “I was homeless from age 18-19 and I remember always wishing I could just have a smoke with someone. I lived in a shelter, so I had as much food as I wanted, so that wasn’t an issue. However, I was a smoker and wasn’t able to come by my own smokes a lot of the time. So I’d see someone smoking and casually ask them, “Hey, man, can I bum a smoke?’ People are generally cool with that. Then I’d get to have a quick chat with someone while we had our cigarettes together. It may sound weird, but it means a lot to just be able to exchange a few words with a stranger when your whole life is up in the air and you can’t decide if it’s better to stay alive or just end it because your friends have drifted away from you since you became a hobo. Now that I’m not homeless anymore, I try to offer a smoke and a chat or some fast food or something. Because I remember always wishing somebody would stop and talk to me.”
Source: SweatyCoffee, “Formerly homeless redditors, what’s the best way to go out and do a nice thing for homeless people?” Reddit. 4 October 2014
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