Steve Burger, Executive Director of the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions, one of the North America’s largest social service providers for the homeless, urges Americans not to give money to the homeless on the streets.

“If you give a dollar to a panhandler, often you are really funding the local tavern or drug dealer,” says Rev. Burger. “Most Americans do not know how to give effectively or wisely. I wish that people would stop giving spare change to the homeless because it can promote irresponsible and self-destructive behaviors. What the homeless really need is permanent change and long-term help; not spare change.”

Rev. Burger offers “sure fire” ways your contribution will make a real difference in the lives of homeless, women, and children in community.bridge

  • Don’t give money hand-outs. Instead purchase food items yourself, refer the person to an agency that can provide food, shelter, and other assistance, or give coupons to restaurants or grocery stores that can be turned in for food. Want proof that change given directly to the homeless does not go to meet their deepest needs. Listen to Verdan, a formerly homeless man from Los Angeles.
  • “People would drive up and give me a ten-dollar bill. When it should have been a blessing, it really was not a blessing because it was used to buy drugs.  People were trying to help.  They were being good spirited.   They were being good hearted in trying to help somebody less fortunate. But I used their gift to buy drugs.”
  • Donate food to a local agency. Food is usually in short supply at rescue missions, shelters, and other social service agencies. They especially need items such as juices, meats, soups, and stews.
  • Donate clothes such as jackets, sweatshirts, new underwear, socks, shoes, knit hats and gloves which are needed for men and women.
  • Because the fastest growing groups of homeless people is children and women with children, these is a need for disposable diapers, baby food and formula, clothing, and blankets.
  • Homeless children dream of new toys such as dolls, trucks, and games. These donations may be the only gifts they receive for a birthday or Christmas.
  • Soap, shampoo, toothpaste, hairbrushes, combs, and shaving lotions are always welcome.

“The holiday season, especially,  sparks an urge in many Americans to help the homeless, ” Says Rev. Burger. “By supporting your local rescue missions you become part of the solution to homelessness, not part of the problem. That’s because rescue missions are effectively transforming homeless men and women into productive citizens and successful in promoting personal responsibility.”