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New user
Somewhere near Washington, DC
77 Posts

Profile of andrew124C41
I fell upon this post and I thought to give a personal and professional opinion.

My undergrad and grad work prior to medicine was psych. I was also certified in addiction medicine. So, generally speaking, I know the drill.

Some of this has to do with where and when, that is to say some cities have more of one kind of homelessness than others AND after the 2008 business, there were a lot of folks who were definitely not alcoholics or addicts who were added to the homeless rosters.

By and large, most that I see in the DC area are the same type of people who were deinstitutionalized when the psych hospitals were emptied in the 70s. They suffer from various, serious mental illnesses. Often they are either beaten up or others steel from them when they wind up in shelters so they often refuse to go there. They are no paranoid in this regard. There fears are well founded.

But by the Grace of God Go I...

My wife and I generally give money or try and help them in some way.

Because they are all ready suffering, usually there is no place for humor or whimsy so no magic is in my opinion appropriate.

We just give them the money.
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Inner circle
Harris Deutsch
8810 Posts

Profile of harris
My thoughts are each should follow there own beliefs.

I have also been in mental health/addiction field for 30 years.
My clients ranged from street people to people whose family names were on city streets.
Some if the above were both.

Urban ministry has led me to
A. Provide food, clothes, and an ear
B. Musical programs
C. Family Fun nights at our City Union Mission.
(above included magic and puppetry)

Decades ago I was sharing at a "Juneteenth Event".
I was wailing the blues and doing a bit of ventriloquism".
I remember a man quipping DROP THE PUPPETS.
Harris Deutsch aka dr laugh
music, magic and marvelous toys
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Elite user
437 Posts

Profile of LeoH
I perform close-up or a local homeless shelter sponsored and located at a church. Local businesses furnish dinner for the "guests" and the employees act as servers for the dinner. For the homeless who attend. it is an experience like eating at a restaurant. The servers explain the menu for the evening. and the homeless order their meals and then are served by the volunteers. The diners set at large circular "10 top" tables with tablecloths. Two or three church members eat with the guests and engage the guests with conversation. The church tries to give this experience at the shelter once a month. Performing at a local shelter in a structured setting instead of the street may be a win/win for you.
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Loyal user
219 Posts

Profile of paul180
Having once been homeless myself this is kinda a touchy subject for me. To say that all a homeless person will do with money given is to use it on drugs or alcohol in not only ignorant but just plain wrong.

Having said that I do believe in a "hand up" not a "hand out". So giving money doesn't really address the underlined issues to a persons homelessness regardless of the reason. Disasters, Fire, gentrification, socioeconomic issues, mental health problems and more can all contribute to ones ability maintain residence.

The single best thing a person can do for one who is homeless is to CARE. I mean TRULY care, that a fellow human being be saved from the isolation and loneliness not to mention dangers present on the streets. Reaching out with a sandwich will feed our brothers for a day, reaching out with a way to help will hopefully, feed him for a lifetime.

I was through the good graces of people who cared that I moved from the streets to a home and I have never looked back since. But if my story isn't enough to convince you? Check out these once homeless people and tell me what you think?
A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a foolish man can learn from a wise answer.

Attributing negativity to a topic or post doesn't make the topic or post negative,
it shines a light on the negativity of the person or persons, making the attributions.

BEWARE these Debbie downers and anything they say. They simply lack the self esteem or good will, to be positive or productive. Your belief in self, is more
important and is all that matters, for your success to be glorious.
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New user
1 Post

Profile of HeyUTheClown
I might be a little late in posting this, but you could also try the "Teach a man to fish.." proverb. Instead of producing money to give him, maybe you could teach him a simple enough coin trick (or card trick, if you want to give him a deck of cards), so he might be able to perform for other people and in return people will give him spare change.
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New user
84 Posts

Profile of ryanshaw9572
I saw a homeless man performing magic outside my dorm, and he was a decent story-teller. If anyone is ever compelled to give to homeless people maybe keeping a few $5 gift cards to fast food restaurants would be better than cash.
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Veteran user
Michigan, USA
327 Posts

Profile of TomB

We have a lot of fake homeless people and they collect money and then go home. When I saw that guys coat, I thought it was too nice for a homeless person. My guess is if they followed him around some more, he would have went home.

I usually look at the bums shoes. If they are pretty beat up, they probably are homeless.

I use to give to homeless people when I saw them in downtown, but realized quickly most of them were driving to events to beg for money.

I would rather give money to food shelters where the homeless folks can go and get food. Churches historically have helped the poor too.

I use to be in favor of giving people jobs like cutting lawns or painting fences but too many bad things have happened in the world and I am less trusting to strangers now.

If I eat in a downtown area and take home a doggy bag, you would be surprised that bums turn down the doggy bag. I know its humiliating getting someone else's food, but if you are starving you would take it.

But now these homeless invaded cities have a new problem. There is something that happens after they eat. It's a really messy situation.
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Regular user
107 Posts

Profile of walidosama
It true that they need money but they need to have fun also so I think that if you take a 5 min of your time performing for them and just fenish your simple routine with a money and give it to them
Mick Ayres
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Special user
Hilton Head Island
998 Posts

Profile of Mick Ayres
On May 20, 2017, Tim Snyder wrote:
On May 15, 2017, Mick Ayres wrote:
On Feb 17, 2017, Tim Snyder wrote:
Coincidentally, earlier today I was reading Mick Ayres' column in the Feb issue of MUM. He was discussing the difference between a successful and unsuccessful beggar (not sure what the politically correct term for such a person is). Successful beggars use theatrics to create an emotional response. Ayres then applies this idea to performing magic.

For the record, my column was about buskers, Tim. Thank you for reading it, though!


You made me go back and reread you article, "You Sell It -- They Will Buy It". When I wrote my comment it was from memory and I didn't remember the term you used to describe the young fellow in ragged clothes who asked for spare change, Walter who held out a cup for donations, and Donna who pretended it was her birthday at truck stops so the truckers would pay for her meal. You referred to them in the article as "grifters". Yes, your article was about much more than just beggars and I recommend everyone read it; but since a quarter of the article discussed the techniques these grifters used, the begging aspect stuck in my mind when I responded to this post.

Hi Tim,

For the record, you made me go back and reread my article, too! Smile If you get the chance, look up Utah Phillips on YouTube and listen to some of his songs and stories about his life as a hobo riding the rails. There are lessons buried there that so many can benefit, most are funny.

THE FIVE OBLIGATIONS OF CONJURING: Study. Practice. Script. Rehearse. Perform. Drop one and you're done.
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Inner circle
Warning: We will run out of new tricks in
4279 Posts

Profile of 1KJ
Here we are in 2020 now, I posted this three years ago. Covid has really changed things, but Covid will pass. However, the handling, covid has decimated small business, and the homelessness that came from the 2008 economic collapse will likely be small compared to what this economic collapse is in the process of creating.

After three years, I still stand by my original comments about livening up a person's day with a little magic production of coins. I see so much homelessness that is a result of economic hardship, it is getting worse and worse.

I have come to the point where I don't really care what they are going to spend the money on. We are talking about a few quarters.

Also, the entire "Magic show" takes only five seconds, and I have done it many times and it has always been well received.

I pick when and where I do the trick. Typically I do it when a homeless person asks, and they are outside a dollar store or perhaps a fast food establishment or grocery store. What I do now is I have four quarters palmed and when they ask, I do a mini "misers dream" show, giving them four quarters. I simply say: "Get yourself something to eat, and God bless you", and I move on. I don't worry about what they do with the money. If they get food, fine. If they get something to self medicate, so be it.

I don't really worry about whether I am doing the perfect thing for them or giving them the perfect item.

It pleases me, and in 100% of the times, it appears to REALLY please them.

So, good enough for them, and good enough for me.

John Long
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Inner circle
New Jersey
2826 Posts

Profile of John Long
I've asked them what they wanted it for. If they say booze, I say no.
If they say to buy food, I may offer them an extra sandwich that I carry with me when I go into NYC.

Once while in Pittsburgh, someone came up saying they hadn't eaten in days and wanted money for food. I offered to go with him and buy him something at a nearby restaurant. He then back peddled and said that he wasn't hungry right then. Hadn't eaten in days, yet not hungry? Hmmm. Sorry.

A couple of years ago I was waiting in Penn Station (NYC) for a friend, and I made eye contact with a homeless person walking my way. He asked for money or food(I don't remember now), I offered him a peanut butter and jelly sadwich.. He got irate, I didn't know if he would act out on that anger, so I just calmly looked at him as he ranted. He eventually walked away, still complaining. I breathed a sigh of relief.

If you take this approach, you need to be ready to do/give what you offer.
Breathtaking Magic;
Not Breath Taking
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Inner circle
Spokane, WA
2653 Posts

Profile of critter
I also carry water bottles and sometimes snacks but I also know that if I give someone money then anything they buy with it might make their life a little easier to cope with. Even people who don't live on the streets might have a couple of beers after a hard day, so what if everyday is hard?
"The fool is one who doesn't know what you have just found out."
~Will Rogers
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New user
Detroit, MI
64 Posts

Profile of jsbosco
I am for simply giving people money when they ask for it. Want to see something really magical? Try to give yourself broke. I'll bet you can't.

As for folks who are unwilling to give money but are willing to purchase food: If a person is living in poverty, chances are they will be able to spend the money you give them far more efficiently than you could even with the best intentions. Imagine being hungry day in and out, and a person spends 5 or 10 dollars to buy you a sandwich. Yes, the food will be nourishing, but imagine how much more that money could have bought!

I keep half dollar coins on me in general, and sometimes a five or two ones folded for a bill switch. Usually I am asked for bus fare, which is 2 dollars in Detroit. Handing someone two dollar coins or four half dollars is in itself a magical moment for many folks.

I work with the homeless, and many know that I practice magic. I am far more often asked for bus fare than I am for a magic trick. But sometimes I get to do both, which is great fun.
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