Yes, I Can Spare A Buck

Rhode Island’s economy is awful. I mean really, really, awful. In fact, we have THE 2ND HIGHEST unemployment rate in the entire country at 10.9% (Nevada “wins” first place with 11.6)  So I guess it make sense that I’d see more people panhandling (is that the PC term?) than Ive ever seen anywhere else.

Every time I go to the mall or to Target or to run any other of my errands that involve spending money, I encounter someone with a sign asking for money.


I’ve never been one to open my wallet and my car window to a pan handler.  I usually look straight ahead and keep driving. But now that I have a child, I can’t help but think what a bad influence I’m being on her if I DON’T give a dollar. We don’t have a lot of money. I don’t work any more and we have bills to pay.  We are far from well off, but I buy Starbucks about three times a week.  If I can buy a $5 coffee drink, I can certainly spare a buck. What would I be teaching my daughter if she saw that I spend money on a coffee but wont give any to help a person in need?

I know that so many think “Oh they will just spend it on booze”  or “He’s there because he’s an addict” or some other stereotype (that I know is based on some reality)  But in this economy ANY ONE OF US could be out there, with a sign, asking for help. My neighbors were just foreclosed on. They have two kids. They aren’t drug addicts or alcoholics (and even if they WERE that does not make them worthless, they are still worthy of help!) They clearly fell on hard times.  Like so many Rhode Islanders and so many Americans. Of course I want these people to get jobs, but in Rhode Island, getting a job is a near impossible task (I know. I stayed in my awful job for 3 years, while sending out HUNDREDS of resumes and applications only to get 1 interview that didn’t result in a job.)

I’ve also heard about pan handlers who make a pretty amazing living off of begging for change, but I think those guys are few and far between. I’d rather give a man a dollar and have him use it on alcohol, than to assume he “doesn’t really need it” and have him go hungry.  But that’s just me.

But, honestly, who cares what he spends it on?

Next time you see someone pan handling just remember- that could be ME, it could be YOU it could be a member of your family.  Wouldn’t you want someone to help?

I hope that by seeing me “spare a buck” Avery learns compassion for all people, and carries that through her life. I want my daughter to be generous, and caring, and she needs me to teach her how.


  1. Liz {Learning to Juggle} says:

    Thank you for doing this. While I was a college student my father found himself to be homeless, it was an awful time for all of us and it was solely on the kindness of others that he was able to find a safe place to live (for the record he is not an addict or an alcoholic, he was an unemployed man who worked hard his whole life to raise his kids, as a single parent for a good part of it). What a wonderful lesson you are teaching Avery, no one, regardless of their situation, is NOT deserving of compassion, and sometimes the people who appear to “deserve” it the least need it the most!!

  2. Sarah says:

    Thank you for sharing, Liz!!! I hope people can see this and realize that the guy on the corner is someones dad (or son, or brother, etc) and help.

  3. When the Kids Go To Bed says:

    I agree with you Sarah! I don’t always give but more often than not I do. I just think…what if they’re doing this for their kids? It’s brave of them to ask for help in the first place. I passed a gentleman about twice a week taking my son to preschool and felt guilty every time. So one week I got preparred and bought a gift card for Dunkin…I gave him that knowing there was one right by “his spot” and it would be used on food and a hot coffee.

    • Sarah says:

      That’s awesome! I always think about grabbing an extra sandwich or something at Wendy’s and handing them that, but a gift card is even better. Even just $5 goes a long way when you’re starving!

  4. Sarah {Soxys Diamond} says:

    This is great!! There is one guy I would always see with a dog that broke my heart. I started giving them bottled water and a bag of dog treats or food when I saw them. I saw some people were making “kits” and keeping them in their car – a bottle of water, some snacks, a toothbrush, etc. Adding a gift card would be a nice idea too.

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