Four Ways to Give the Homeless a Handout

By: Jodi Breuer

For locals and visitors alike, those that spend time in Saratoga Springs during the peak summer season will notice an increase in homeless and panhandlers on the streets.  This time of year always prompts the questions, do I give a hand out or not?handout

I’m here to offer 4 tips that I practice as a Saratoga Springs local. Again, these are my personal practices – not saying they are right or wrong – this is just what I choose to do.

  • I give food or water – if it’s a hot summer day, I’ll sometimes grab a little extra when I’m at Uncommon Grounds (or the like) especially if I’ve just walked by a homeless person a block or two away. Usually, I’ll just pick up a cold bottle of water and some ice.
  • I give a pair of socks – a colleague of mine who once lived in Minnesota mentioned that he used to carry packs of white sports socks in his car. When he would see a homeless person on the street, he would pull over and give a pair out. Socks are one of those basics things that have been listed by those who were formerly homeless as items that really make a difference.
  • I give a well wish – Sometimes I don’t “give” anything at all and that’s ok too. If I’m asked for spare change, I just say “sorry. But, good luck to you” and I head on my way.  I find it acknowledges the person and shows a little humanity.
  • I donate in a Broadway Dropbox – ever notice those decorative boxes along Broadway? Over $1,200 was collected last summer with all donations directly supporting homeless services from Shelters of Saratoga.  I especially like doing this because it offers me the immediate gratification of donating on the street corner where the issues are visible and the certainty that my money will actually go to help the cause.

I hope you find these tips useful. I wish everyone a safe and enjoyable summer in Saratoga Springs.

About the author: Jodi Breuer is a resident of Saratoga Springs and a proud volunteer for the Shelters of Saratoga.