A man followed a homeless person with a hidden camera to see how he spent his money.

Recently, signs like this popped up in downtown Sarasota, Florida. They say "Don't give in to panhandling. 93% of the money you give goes to drugs and alcohol."


Shortly thereafter, this video came out purportedly showing how a homeless man spent $100 he was given.

It's a scene you've probably seen a gagillion times (which is a gagillion times too many). A homeless man is asking for help on the side of the road, and finally an empathetic passerby offers money. Only this time it's not just $1 or $2 ... he gives the homeless man $100!


Touched, the homeless man (whose name is Thomas) hugs Josh (the other dude) and they part ways.

Josh has his film crew start following Thomas.

(Which, for the record — whether or not this is real or staged — is super creepy and very exploitative, but the end result is worth talking about).

And they spend the day following him.

They follow him to a liquor/convenience store where Thomas purchases some goods.

When Thomas opens his shopping bag, he reveals food he purchased for other people in need.

He did not offer food to just one group either.

Finally, Josh lets Thomas know that he's been following him to see how he'd spend the $100.

(Again, creepy. But the overall point of the video is worth a conversation.)

Thomas explains that a couple of years ago he lost his job, he took care of his sick parents (who died), and then he lost his home.

He says many homeless people were working and for one reason or another, they found themselves on the street.

One of the most eye-opening parts of the video is at 3:20, when the homeless man explains what brought him to his circumstance.

We are only as strong as our weakest link. So let's empathize with each other.

Again, whether or not this video was real or staged, it's cold in many parts of the country right now, and if you see someone asking for money, maybe remember Thomas and the other men, women, and children who could use a boost. Let's not assume what someone is going to buy with our money, and let's not make it our responsibility to judge what people buy. It's a good time of year to be giving.

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Anne Hebert, a marketing writer living in Austin, TX, jokes that her closest friends think that her hobby is "low-key harassment for social good". She authors a website devoted entirely to People Doing Good Things. She's hosted a yearly canned food drive with up to 150 people stopping by to donate, resulting in hundreds of pounds of donations to take to the food bank for the past decade.

"I try to share info in a positive way that gives people hope and makes them aware of solutions or things they can do to try to make the world a little better," she said.

For now, she's encouraging people through a barrage of persistent, informative, and entertaining emails with one goal in mind: getting people to VOTE. The thing about emailing people and talking about politics, according to Hebert, is to catch their attention—which is how lice got involved.

"When my kids were in elementary school, I was class parent for a year, which meant I had to send the emails to the other parents. As I've learned over the years, a good intro will trick your audience into reading the rest of the email. In fact, another parent told me that my emails always stood out, especially the one that started: 'We need volunteers for the Valentine's Party...oh, and LICE.'"

Hebert isn't working with a specific organization. She is simply trying to motivate others to find ways to plug in to help get out the vote.

Photo by Phillip Goldsberry on Unsplash

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