I was driving on South 1st Street in Abilene recently, and saw a familiar scene:  A panhandler, holding a cardboard sign asking for help. Every time I see this, I ask myself, “What can be done to help?”.  And I often ask myself the moral question “What am I willing to do to help?”.

On that particular trip down South 1st, the van in front of me at the stoplight remained stopped into the green light. As I watched through my windshield, I saw an arm extend out through the driver’s side window, with the hand at the end holding a gallon-size freezer bag. I could see that it contained a bottle of water, and what appeared to be a packaged snack, and a few other small items I couldn’t make out. I could see a few words were exchanged, and the panhandler reached out to accept the gift.

It dawned on me that this wasn’t an impulse decision made by somebody driving by. This van left the house prepared to hand out these care packages to the people who regularly populate busy intersections of Abilene. I thought that was pretty cool that someone took the time and consideration to intentionally help a brother out, by giving relief aids on a hot day in west Texas. I’d never thought to do this before.

Seeing this van handing out care packages made me wonder just how many people help the panhandlers of Abilene, and how they choose to help.

I’ve talked to coworkers about this, and one told me he once gave away a free meal card to a nearby restaurant, only to have it thrown back in his face, and was told “I need cash!”. Another coworker gave a man $5, and saw him a couple minutes later buying lottery scratch-offs. I have another coworker who occasionally gives cash to a particular couple of panhandlers, knowing they will spend it on alcohol.

What about you? Take a second to answer this poll, and let me know if you do anything to help. Maybe you have a different opinion or idea that you can share.