Living near a large city, we encounter panhandlers from time to time. I don't usually carry money with me, but I don't want to ignore them, either.
Twice a year (Summer and Winter) we make up bags to give out whenever we meet someone in need. We keep one in each car, and a few spares to replenish them.
Here's what we have in our Winter bags this year:
- Gloves, Hat, and Scarf (we get these from the thrift store because one gentleman told us that he couldn't accept nice leather gloves because someone would beat him up for them)
- Warm socks
- Hand warmers
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Emergency blanket
- Crackers and cheese packages
- Trail bars
- Christmas candy
I had a friend that founded a homeless shelter and I asked her what she did when she met a panhandler. Her answer surprised me; she said the best thing was to look at them and talk to them if you were able. Essentially, treat them like a human being because the cost of being looked through all day was very high. Obviously, use prudence, but I must say I've never had a problem.