Are Oklahoma Panhandlers Stealing Charity from the Needy?
For as long as I can remember, there have been people begging for money at nearly every major intersection in Oklahoma City. They hold signs about someone being sick or perhaps they're stuck miles from home and just need gas money.
As is often the so-called "Oklahoma standard," people are more than willing to offer what they can in a pinch. Specifically, people from the smaller communities of the state find themselves in OKC for any number of reasons.
Travelers pull up to a stop light, look around while waiting, and spot the hand-made cardboard signs that tend to pull on our heartstrings just enough that we pour our empathy out into a collection cup.
It's almost always a scam, and the smaller communities in Oklahoma are now learning this big-city lesson to the tune of emotionally moving music.
For the last couple of months, social media posts have caused quite a fury online. Pictures and videos of panhandlers standing in busy parking lots. One person holds a sign denoting their need for money, another pretends to play a violin to grab the attention of passersby.
There's a young man and woman standing by Ross and the young man is playing the violin and sounds amazing!
Simply amazing! Give what you can to help these talented people out!
Anyone else see these guys playing today? If you know them, tell them they made me smile real big today.
This trend of faking the violin to entice people to fork over cash exploded all over sites like Reddit about a decade ago, and has been spreading across the nation like wildfire. I'm actually surprised at how many people didn't recognize it as a scam, but small towns with big hearts like Lawton made for easy pickings...
While plenty of people on social media called out the scam, most posts devolved into a heap of emotionally-charged debate until Lawton PD released a scam alert on the topic.
If you were one of the unfortunate people that fell for the gag, no worries... we've all been there before.
I was walking through a Walmart parking lot in OKC one time when this poor old lady walked up to me asking for gas money so she could get back home. She had two kids with her. Since nobody carries cash anymore, I offered to fill up her vehicle and did.
The same woman asked me again at the same Walmart two weeks later. Lesson learned.
I really feel bad for the people that actually need a little help these days. For every twelve panhandlers begging you for their BMW payment, there's probably one that will probably be going to bed hungry because my momma didn't raise no dummy.
While it may be an oversimplification on the matter, simply put, scammers and panhandlers are stealing money from those who actually need a little help these days.
Even worse, the thought of being taken advantage of is enough to keep people from even trying to help anyone.
What's the solution?
Like most complicated issues with real depth, there is no solution. As long as people give others will take. Some will need it and others will not.
If you choose to give, do so freely without expectation. Also, don't go humble-bragging about it online. If you make your charity about yourself, it's not charity. And regardless of your empathetic posts, there's always going to be at least one person that'll convince you that you're an idiot for it. Instead, take solace in knowing that at least you tried.