PERSONAL NOTE: I keep a few dollars in my cupholder to hand out to panhandlers at a red light. I “tip” panhandlers on the street better than I tip the waitstaff when I go out at night. And when I don’t hand out money, I try to smile and say hello. So all this below is my confused — and confusing – attempt to try to understand this “Know Before You Give” campaign. Geez, people!
And if you feel like giving a few bucks to a panhandler on your way to drink beers with your friends, go ahead. Throw a few at the valet and the bartender, while you’re at it. Why not? Those guys could use a beer, too!
Wait. What I meant to say was, don’t give money to the panhandler, who probably has to sleep under I-35 (and who will probably just spend the money on beer).
The best way to help him is to give to a charity like Front Steps. Front Steps is a nonprofit that operates ARCH, the homeless shelter. The City of Austin provides the building and a grant to Front Steps to operate the shelter.
So if the city’s giving to Front Steps and you’re giving to Front Steps, these poor bar and club owners won’t have to worry about people outside their doors asking for money — and they can get more of your money inside!
Uh, and what I meant by that was that we should support local businesses and work together to keep downtown safe AND help the homeless. (Except that… well, studies have shown that most panhandlers aren’t homeless, and most homeless people don’t panhandle.* Hmmm.)
Anyway! That’s why we’re asking you, Austin partiers and beer drinkers, to take more responsibility. Know Before You Give partners created this campaign, now it’s your turn: Stop feeding the cats! They’ll just keep coming back! If we stop feeding them, maybe they’ll just go away!