What would you have done?

A couple weeks ago this lady came to our house and asked for some "juice". This isn't the first time someone has come asking for food or money, but it had been a while. She told me she lived in the apartments south of our house, was out of food stamps, and didn't have anything but marinades in her fridge.

I only had homemade grape juice and was not about to share any, so I grabbed her a box a Pop-Tarts. That night, I fielded a barrage of questions from Rachel including "Why doesn't she have any food?" "Why did you give her our food?" "Doesn't she have a job?" "How does she live without money?" and my favorite, "Why was she wearing so much jewelry if she doesn't have any money for food?"

I was okay with my loss of Pop-Tarts, but I decided I should have asked her a few questions myself, like "Do you think it's appropriate to ask your hard-working neighbors for their food when you are already receiving government assistance?" and "Why exactly are you buying marinades?"

Since then, I have noticed this lady waddle down the street almost everyday. And everyday she is carrying a different purse. (For the record, I own two.) At a neighborhood barbeque on Sunday, I also found out that she asked another neighbor down the street for a ride to the Bishop's Storehouse to get some food. Hmmmm.

So, try to forget the last paragraph that contains information found after the fact and tell me:

What would you have done?


blakeandcourt said...

I am a sucker for those kind of people. I have a problem saying no. I draw the line at money, though. I probably would have grabbed some OJ concentrate out of my freezer for her. I think what you did is just fine.

Kristin said...

I would have given her food, for religious reasons. Even though it's hard because it's the natrual way to be, I think the scriptures say that we are suppose to give even if they create their own situation. I think you did the right thing by sharing so you can feel good about it, if she is taking advantage of a situation or usuing it unwisely then that is between her and Heavenly Father...that's my opinion. But I think you did the right thing by giving it to her.

Stephanie said...

I would have done what you did. I don't think I could have turned her away. If she comes back asking for more handouts, then you could be ready for your questions. I think you set a good example to your girls. They saw a problem, asked a question, and saw their mom make a good choice. I just hope it doesn't turn into a habit for her to stop by.

Kacie said...

I would have given her some food we wouldnt really have missed....not any of our $7/can beef. I think I would have felt too bad not to but if she started coming back frequently then I would rethink that.

Man...a poptart sounds really good right now. Got any more?

@udj said...

Homless travelers used to ALWAYS stop by my Great Grandmothers home but no one elses on her street. She always fed them, and often had them do a small chore for her (not such a safe thing these days). Anyway, she always wondered why, then one time she asked someone, and found out that "they" had put a mark on a tree that was in her front yard, the mark was to let others know that this was a good place to stop and ask for food or help. My Dad related that story in a BYU devotional he gave about kindness once. I can't judge people on goverment assitance because I have no idea where they are coming from. One line comes to mind, "...feed the hungry..." be it poptarts or whatever. I'd give poptarts to my neighbor that has 100 purses and she even has a bigger house than me, so why not a lady that chooses purses over food. Good job Em.

Lori said...

I agree with everyone else. Props for giving her food. I'm sure it is frustrating and you know she is most likely abusing the situation, but say for some strange reason you needed food one day and went to someone's house you'd hope and pray they'd give you some too. Pop-tarts or juice. :)

10 points for you.

Steph said...

You know the old saying..."give a man a fish....or teach a man to fish." I would not have given her food. She has two legs, she can walk, she has the audacity to beg...she can work like the rest of us. It's not my job to feed those who are lazy. Now if she would have had a hungry child, I would have fed the child. But not a grown woman who is wearing jewelry and carrying a purse. Sorry if that sounds harsh but i don't take kindly to beggars because the majority of them have learned how to manipulate and lie to get handouts (they have made it their job and decided to remain drop outs in society and live off of our hard earned money). If you are truly hard up and truly want more for your family, you will go seek a shelter, a church, or other resources to do something like say...get a job. If I was in that predicament the last thing I would do is knock on people's doors for handouts. I would be much more strategic and resourceful. If a person has time to knock on people's doors for handouts, they have time to go look for a job. If that woman came to my door...i would give her some options on where to begin looking for a job....teaching her to fish per say.

Steph said...

oh and one other thought. It's kind of like the signs in Yellowstone Park that say "DON"T FEED THE BEARS". One, you don't want to have them coming around more and more and more. And two, you take away their instinct for survival if you make hunting and gathering so easy. In the long run, is feeding the beggar (or giving money) the best thing for them?

Mindy S said...

Well, I can tell you what I would have done. I would have given her my "Handout Form".

Then asked a variety of questions about her circumstances (they always seem willing to tell you all).

Then instruct her that they must fill it out in full, get it back to me, it will then be reviewed, a decision will be made and the person will then be contacted (allow 2-4 weeks) at which time if it is deemed that they will receive money or food from me, then they will get it minus a $1 processing fee.

I figured that if I have to fill out such forms for W-2's and a paycheck, and taxes and Student Loans, etc, the least they can do is to explain in writing why they think that I should just hand over to them money just for the asking.
Though if they seem really desperate -- on deaths door -- there are always saltines or oatmeal or ramen they can have. After all, that's the kind of food my student budget allows for.

Hmm, doesn't seem very charitable. I've probably been living in Ogden/SLC too long. But until I have enough money to just give away to people, this is how it is.

emily ballard said...

Very interesting. I read these comments last night and was a little surprised by the tone. I will point out that the last two ladies who have commented live in my neighborhood. Maybe we've been hardened. I do think we deal with this more than others in this area because of our location between the old Methodist Church (who used to give out sack lunches on Tuesday) and the apartments south of our home.

I felt like had been taken advantage of the second I said yes and turned to get her some food. Some guy (who had walked ahead of her towards her apartment) was yelling at her to hurry up. She tossed him her keys and told him to hang on. She just didn't seem to be very desperate.

I've seen beggars on the side of the road and outside of stores my whole life, but it's different when someone comes to your home. I still remember one of my first experiences. . . a Latino man came to my door and, in broken English, asked if he could pick our weeds because he was going to make them into food. They were Jed's weeds, not ours, and I ended up taking out some bags for him to use. A little while later I felt so incredibly guilty that I was letting this guy eat weeds that I packed two big bags full of food from our pantry and ran outside to give them to him, but he was already gone. I told Steve about it later and he told me I was NOT to be doing that because the LAST thing we needed was strange men coming to the door asking for food and money while he wasn't home.

There have been plenty of times we have given people money (like the man who came and asked if he could do some work for $1.50 so he could catch the bus to Salt Lake) and there have been plenty of times we have said no (like the time a guy came to the door after 10:00 pm and said he needed fifteen more bucks for rent or his landlord was kicking him and his family out of their apartment that night).

It always requires a judgement call, and some situations are tougher than others.

This topic came up in our Sunday School class because a woman had just been to the broadcast in Salt Lake and wanted to know what to do with all of the panhandlers there. Someone said that the temple workers are instructed NOT to give them any money because then they will just keep coming back.

My bishop made a comment in class that I really appreciated. He said that we are lucky to live in a day and age where there are so many organizations set in place to offer aid to people in need, whether it be food, money, or medical care. Our responsibility is to pay our tithing and contribute fast offerings. And then, instead of giving money and food to those who come asking for it, we need to educate ourselves about the resources available in our communities and then direct people to those resources.

Makes sense to me. I have been told that the Salvation Army has cards with community resources on them. I think I might go pick some up. . . and then I will wait for the next dilemma to show up at my house.

P.S. Neat story about your great-grandma, Audrey.

Steph said...

Mindy S that seriously cracks me up about making them fill out a form!

Mindy S. said...

It is a 50 question form - rather lenghty I guess.

In my opinion if they ask if they can work for money or food that's a different story, I'm willing to feed someone who will work for it.

I think the best bet is to be close enough to the spirit to know what you should do for each particular person since some truly need and some do not.

The Ballard's said...

All I am saying is that I had no idea I paid $7 a can for beef. I may have to start going door to door.

emily ballard said...

Gee thanks, Kacie. It was only $6.55. Remember the part when I told you that you were better off not knowing? The chicken was low and the beef was high, you just have to pretend that they even each other out.

Good news. Debra wants in next year and her dad is a butcher. Why didn't I think of that earlier?

Language Blog said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Molly said...

why juice??? and I am with you... no way would I hang out precious homemade grape juice. that stuff is like gold.

i would have given her a frozen piece of chicken for her marinades:)

Anonymous said...

I'd move.