Yep. I saw you dart your eyes when a homeless person approached for your help—and more specifically—your cash? I watched many of you do it. I’ve done it myself. But I am left feeling guilty afterward. Shame in that I didn’t help a person experiencing hard times like so many of us have had.
Recently, I was confronted by a man and woman with a baby when leaving the grocery store. They weren’t begging but they were selling goods in the parking lot trying to make a quick dollar. I approached the woman and asked what they were trying to earn. She said they needed money for a hotel stay and they had nowhere to go. They had $25 and had $40 more to go. I rarely carry cash on me but was glad to have a $20 to give to her.
Please hear this loud and clear: in my opinion, what she did with my money was none of my business. The joy was in giving her a chance to do it. It’s essential that we know we can change someone’s life, even for just a night, by being mindful, everyday givers.
Here are helpful tips to give small with huge impact:
- Remember your humanity and theirs. Every opportunity you have to interact with another human being is an opportunity to learn or teach another life lesson. If you choose to walk away next time think, what does it say about me that I can so easily and completely ignore another person in need? I am not suggesting that you should feel obligated to give but I would encourage you to at least acknowledge that person. You could look them in the eye, smile and say whatever is on your heart. Just your acknowledgement and your time will be appreciated regardless of your gift—I’ve done it. If my heart leads me not to give or I truly do not have the cash on me, I look the person in the eyes and simply say, “I’m sorry.”
- Use the heart test when giving. Let’s face it, you never really know what someone will use your money to buy but that’s shouldn’t be the point. Take a deep breath, look into the person’s eyes and decide how you might assist, if at all. Don’t try and analyze how the money will be spent but rather how the act of giving it makes you feel. Know that it’s as much about you as it is about them.
- Offer an alternative to cash. If you don’t feel comfortable giving cash, offer something else. If the person tells you they need cash to buy food then offer to purchase a meal for them instead.
- Consider the uplift impact. Although some may use your donation and buy that liquor or purchase drugs with it, that’s beyond your control. Even if this perceived “misuse” of your funds happens, consider what the gesture alone means. Your smile, your donation may show someone that they still matter, that someone cares and could be a little ray of light in an otherwise bleak and self-destructive day. Perhaps, your kind words or kind gesture could be exactly what a person needs to make another choice. What one does with your gift is separate from your momentary expression of love.
How do you give in mindful and simple everyday ways? Leave me a comment.