It's never good to generalize any group of people.
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.