What do you do when you see someone standing along your route of travel – backpack on the ground, cardboard sign in hand? This happened to me again today. I remember the first time someone approached me and asked me personally for money – a guy named Michael – in Dallas Texas. I was 19 traveling alone and wandering near the convention center. Michael wanted a dollar for a locker at the bus station, or laundry, or to make a call … all he knew is he wanted a dollar. I didn’t have a dollar. But I did have some bigger bills – a modest budget for a trip far from home. I bought us lunch from Burger King and asked if he’d join me. He was happy to. I got to know him a bit. After we ate – I gave him my brand-new, still-carried in the box, study Bible (the nicest thing I had with me) – and after a while returned to the convention.
I still buy lunches for people – but I admit it usually is because they hold up a bit of cardboard. I don’t usually get directly approached much anymore. But what do you do if you can’t? I’d love to hear what your solutions are – and here are some that I do …
1. There’s a local convenience store/gas station chain that sells gift-cards. If you cut the corner off this chain’s cards – they can only be used for food and gas. I like to carry one or two with me. A couple phone calls can get can you if there’s something like this at a store/chain in your area. If you’re gifted with the passion – you can maybe start the ball rolling towards a similar or better solution.
2. I keep a few $5’s with me too – because there are some things you just have to use cash for – like laundry, a shower.
3. Offer work – give them an address where help is needed – this takes some per-arrangement – but not that much. It could be your home, a business, your church … there are many options.
4. I have invited people to come help me – with my yard, garden, or whatever projects. I have offered a place to clean up, do laundry a warm meal or two, a room for the night etc.
5. None of the above are good solutions long time – but … until I have a better idea I will at least keep buying sandwiches and looking for better long term solutions.
6. I’m feeling convicted that I need to pull over, get out, and take over sign duty for a bit. Like you – there are good odds someone I know might recognize me holding up such a sign. But I’m kidding myself if I think I know what it’s like. A reality check would probably not only expand my idea list – but amp up my own drive and passion to do something besides driving on by with an uncomfortable “gosh – that’s terrible for them.” Truth is – it’s terrible for me too.
Here’s the article the picture above came from: http://www.parentdish.com/2011/05/24/will-work-for-food-sign-pays-off-for-unemployed-australian-mom/