Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Giving Money to Strangers.

My husband showed me this video a few weeks ago and I haven't been able to shake it off. Perhaps that's because he sent it right around the New Year and I had resolutions on my mind? Perhaps it's because I'm hormonal or an overly sensitive-type person? For whatever reason, the video confirmed something I'd suspected all along.

It's better to help than not to help.

I know we all have reasons for not helping. Too busy. Don't want to cause a ruckus. Don't like strangers. Don't know what someone is actually going to do with the money. Etc. I've had all of those thoughts go through my head when confronted with someone asking for money or donations of any kind. Every time I say no or pass them by, it nags at me.

I'm not gonna lie.

It just doesn't sit well with me.

Ever since I've watched this video, I've decided to say yes to everyone. If you've got a cup, I'm putting money in it. If you want canned food for the homeless, I'm going to buy a can. Although I've only had two opportunities to give people money and one opportunity to donate food, it feels good that I've said yes three times rather than no.

The two men I helped were both standing on the side of the road, on different days. The first man was easy to help. He was standing outside on a frigid day and I waved him over to my car. When I gave him the money he said, "Bless you."

The second gentleman was a little more out of my way, but I decided that annoying the cars behind me was more important than passing up another opportunity to help. That, in and of itself, is outside of my comfort zone.

"You're a lifesaver," he said and our eyes locked. I was caught in a moment of raw humanity. I was not staring into the eyes of a junkie. I was not staring into the eyes of a conman. I was looking into the eyes of a fellow human being who was suffering and who was grateful for my small gesture.

It almost crushed me.

To think of all the people I'd said No to because I was afraid they might be drug users, alcoholics, conmen, lazy and whatever other negative connotations I could come up with to excuse my inhumanity. But the fact remains — not giving people money always makes me feel bad.

But giving never makes me feel bad.

I feel more connected.

I feel more human.

And it just feels right.

Maybe giving to others is actually a selfish act? In trying to help others, I actually end up feeling better about myself.


  1. The cool thing about this is that you can always imagine what your act does to their lives after you leave. I like to think anything you give will make a world of difference.

  2. This is inspiring. Count me in! I'm going to start saying yes, too.

  3. Great post. The video made me cry, too. A few years ago, I posted about Random Acts of Kindness...but your post is more powerful. Thank you.

  4. You are very correct. As a result of some strange experiences i've had when giving, I was being very reluctant to do it and when I did, it certainly felt good. The thing too is that in NYC is supposed to be illegal to do so especially if you are on the train.

  5. I can't get on board with it being a selfish act even though it makes you feel better. For some reason giving just can't = selfish for me. I feel like reading this post has given me permission, in a weird way, to give to people rather than thinking it's enabling some bad habit. So terrible. Do you happen to be watching "A Path Appears" on PBS right now? Tonight's episode was all about poverty and it hit me hard. I always end up going the anonymous donor route, but maybe I'll start following in your footsteps and actually looking people in the eye. Congrats on getting this post on HuffPost, btw!

  6. I tend to give a lot, too, and then our local news will show a segment where they followed the people standing at intersections asking for money and filmed them getting into BMWs and driving away and I think "yeah, I never liked the BMW crowd much" and then I end up giving again the next day anyway.

  7. I feel like I'm giving money to strangers every time I pay a bill. : )

  8. If I don't feel right about giving money, then I try to give something else, likely just as valuable. Food, time, a listening ear, a word of advice from my point of view, prayers at the very least, but something.... Giving never makes you feel bad.