When my husband Dave encounters someone on the street asking for money he almost always stops to chat with them and then gives them some cash. This is exactly what the Pope recently recommended we do during Lent. The pontiff urges us to smile and talk to beggars and homeless people and then give them money. He says we are not to worry what the needy person spends the money on. He stresses the importance of making a personal connection with them.
Pamphlets available at various downtown Winnipeg businesses suggest a different strategy. They say we should donate to local charities like Siloam Mission and the Salvation Army and then refer panhandlers to those places.
I often encounter four or five people asking for money on my way to work downtown. Since I’m usually in a hurry I give the first one I encounter coins and then say ‘sorry’ to the others.
My husband’s strategy and the one the Pope suggests are probably more compassionate and in keeping with Christ’s example. Perhaps I should try it during Lent. If I make sure I leave in plenty of time for work I’d have enough minutes to stop and say hello to each person I meet who is asking for money. It certainly wouldn’t hurt me financially to give everyone I meet some change. I could even make sure I have change in my pocket each time I leave the house to facilitate this. I’m going to try and get on the same page as my husband and the pope.