A common sight now a day is a person standing on the street corner, or major intersection, asking or money. Most, with a cardboard sign that explains who they are, their need, and usually ends with ‘God Bless’. Is there compassion for these individuals? Or have they just become an annoyance for the general public? I see this as becoming a way of living for some, and for others, just a way to avoid the realities of life.
Grand Rapids has been a popular site for the homeless along with their attempt of panhandling. Their areas of can include: hanging out in a plaza, or walking up and down a particular block. So, what has Grand Rapids said about panhandling? According to a press release and story from WZZM 13, the law to stop enforcing panhandling was followed by this statement: GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — A federal judge in Grand Rapids says a Michigan law banning panhandling in public places “on its face” violates the First Amendment and the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause.

There is a couple near my hometown area, that has made it known that one particular intersection is theirs to claim. Their reason for being there was the wife is pregnant and both are jobless. I can’t justify her pregnancy because it clearly did not look like she was pregnant. But, then again, it’s not fair to assume when it may just be an early stage of pregnancy. If she is pregnant, and he is out of work, I’m pretty sure that a retail chain or even a fast food franchise would at least pay minimal wage. To me, it is at least providing for some necessary income. It may also be a real case of need and they have no other option because he could be on disability and the wife can’t work. Aren’t there a number of government assistance programs to help out those in a particular need? Pregnant with no income seems
like a match for assistance to me.

There was also a man who panhandled on the street corner of Pearl and US 131 in Grand Rapids. This particular panhandler was exposed by WZZM news and the radio station 97.9 WGRD, claiming to be a homeless veteran. When interviewed by WZZM 13, he came clean to say he was not a veteran, but what else could he say that would help him make money? A video that WGRD produced was quite funny, but it also shows the truth about the situation. The panhandler was approached with a sign that said “LIAR” which ultimately exposed him to the public that he was not a veteran. Did Producer Joe do a noble act of kindness to save the money of innocent bystanders that knew no different on who the panhandler really was? It turns out, the following morning; the radio station was back at the corner and constructed their own charity booth to raise money for the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans. What a great way to turn around a situation of deception into a positive ending with benefits towards real veterans.

Panhandlers are becoming so prevalent, that it’s becoming a common sight in the suburbs of Grand Rapids. I’m sure until the law changes, this stream of revenue, whether the individual is homeless or not, will continue to grow. Is this affecting your family in anyway? Is this movement changing your opinion on your giving habits? I truly believe that we as a community need to help each other. But, is giving money to those on the street the answer?

 Blog post by GRAPE Social Media Contributor Ryan Elwell