I gave a homeless girl $5 today.
I used to not give money, not ever. T. and I have even discussed this before, and with all the stuff I have seen, I felt like I couldn't bear to throw my money into the void of the drugs that eat up the lives of so many people.
Then I heard someone talk about how long he panhandled to try to get money to feed himself and his wife, and how hopeless it felt.
Today I came upon a girl crying on the sidewalk. "I'm just so worn out," she said, when I asked her what was wrong. "The [denomination] church gave us permission to sleep in their doorway last night, but it turned out that the doorway we were sleeping in didn't belong to them and the cops came at 6 am and kicked us out, and I'm so tired. I've been asking for money all day and all I got was $9, and I need to buy food for my dog* because all of the places that give dog food out for free give out the kind that has grain in it, and my dog's skin gets all scabby when I give him that food. This is all I have left."
She pulled out a ziplock bag with a bowl or so of dog food.
Is she going to buy dog food with the $5 I gave her, or is she going to buy drugs?
I don't know, and I can't really worry about it. I helped someone who seemed to need help. Hopefully that counts for something, whatever the result. I'm letting go of the result.
* For everyone who is thinking, "DOG FOOD? You gave her money for DOG FOOD?" let me just mention that if I were a woman living houseless on the street, I would want a big dog, too. There is no one to protect you but yourself, unless you have a dog. A dog is companionship, yes, but it is also some little measure of safety.