Give to those who need it

‘Tis the season to be charitable, right?

Obviously it is always nice to give to others, but since it is now the time of year that most are inclined to be giving, may I offer some advice?

If you do feel inclined to give, don’t give money to random people on the street. Give food or give to charitable organizations that will ensure that what you donate will go to the right people for the right reasons.

My reasoning for this suggestion lies behind an experience I had while shopping at one of the downtown malls.

I was crossing the street in pursuit of material happiness when I saw a man sitting on the sidewalk. He had one of the cardboard signs that read something like, “Look at me, I have it way worse than you and your credit card. If you don’t help me out, you’re a soulless bastard.”

As a little girl, I would cry when I saw people like this (yes, I cry).

I wanted a different life for people like this and felt that if I could take one person, give him or her a shower, some new clothes and help him or her find a job, I could be a positive influence in that person’s life.

Most have a tender place in their hearts just like this.

So, on my day of shopping, I walked up to the man and gave him all the cash I had.

Being a product of my generation, I only had $20 and a credit card, so I figured I would do my holiday shopping with the latter.

When I had finished for the day, I went back outside. On my way to my car, I saw that the “homeless” guy was still there, so I smiled at him, wondering if my money would help him at all.

That is when I heard it-a horn. I looked to see who wouldn’t stop honking, and it was a nicely dressed man in a new Saab.

At that same moment, my charity case got up from his spot.

Even though the crosswalk changed, I stood where I was to make sure that what I thought was going to happen actually would.

It did.

The guy hopped in the Saab with his buddy and drove off.

He didn’t need my $20. He was cruising around in a freaking $40,000 sports car.

Since then, I’ve stopped giving money.

That doesn’t mean I don’t give, I just give food or I donate money to local homeless shelters.

If you think about it, that’s the more responsible thing to do.

If you donate money, it goes to a shelter full of people trying to change their lives, and if you give a guy on a street corner a sack of food, you won’t be furthering a bad habit by enabling him to run to the liquor store for what may as well be rubbing alcohol.

It will also ensure that people who really do need help get it, instead of it going to people who have Saabs half the time.

So, ’tis the season to be charitable-just as long as your charity is dispensed responsibly.