Let me start off this little rant by stating that I am all for helping anyone who actually needs it, but, just because someone appears to be in dire straits and is holding a sign that says "God Bless," does not necessarily mean they actually need your hand out. This may make people mad at me but panhandling in Texarkana is out of control and it needs to stop. What can we do about it? Let's find out. 

I will begin this story with an experience I had while living in Arlington, Texas a while back.

There was a woman who worked a corner very near my house, she was there almost every day and looked quite needy. I felt sorry for her and wanted to help as much as I could so, on a few occasions, I gave her some money. One day, I was waiting in line at a convenience store nearby when she drove up in a late-model SUV that cost almost as much as my house. She purchased a couple of cartons of smokes, paid cash, got back into her giant SUV, and drove away. I stood there and watched this scene unfold before my eyes and realized what an idiot I was for believing her.

From that day on I swore off giving money to panhandlers for one main reason, I don't know who really is in need and who is playing me for a sucker. That bothers me, a lot.

The thought of contributing to an able-bodied person who refuses to work was just too much, and that's exactly what we see here on our street corners every day. As far as I know, there's only one surefire way to stop it.

Freeloaders Panhandling Video - John Stossel / YouTube
Freeloaders Panhandling Video - John Stossel / YouTube

What Do We Do?

Short answer, stop giving them money. Stop giving in to the crazy stories and the cardboard signs. Stop saying to yourself, what's a couple of bucks, it's no skin off my nose. By doing that you are perpetuating the problem, every time we roll down our window and hand them some cash we are making things worse.

Americans are, by far, the most generous people on the planet. These people know it and they take full advantage of it, making anywhere from $30 to $100 a day, sometimes even more. They take those, "couple of bucks" you gave them, along with the rest they received that day, and buy drugs or alcohol, maybe a little food, get up the next day and do it all over again. All they take in is tax-free, which means they are not contributing to the society that's contributing to them.

The sad part is this is a never-ending cycle of dependence and entitlement for some.  It also seems to be generational in some cases, am I the only one that has noticed what appears to be an entire family working our corners here in Texarkana? Am I the only one who has seen them get into a mid-sized SUV at the end of the day? The only way to stop it, is for us to stop giving them money.

John Stossel did a great video on this problem several years ago where he actually dressed up and did a little freeloading on his own, it's very informative.

Help Hands - Canva
Help Hands - Canva

But I Want To Help!

Where do we go when we want to help those that really need it? You give to those who do it for reels every day; Churches, shelters, charity kitchens, and food banks. We have several great charitable organizations here in Texarkana that need your donations so they can help as many people who really need it as they can.

If enough of us stop giving money to the hustlers on the street corners will they just move to the next town? Maybe, but maybe some of them might find out that true self-worth, dignity, honor, and self-esteem come from an honest day's work. There are many who legitimately need the help, including children, veterans, the mentally ill, and even families. Those who really need it should be helped, but let's let the experts figure out who that is.

Not just my opinion mind you, this is the same advice that comes from the folks that work with the homeless all the time. Have you seen this sign from the Texarkana Homeless Coalition?

attachment-TXKHC Panhandling Sign

Please stop giving to panhandlers on the street. Let's give people a hand up, not a handout.

Haunted Crescent Hotel and Spa - Eureka Springs, AR

Cross of Our Lord Ministries

If you look up Route 66 destinations, this is definitely one of them. As to your desire to stop and see it, that may be up to your religious beliefs, but as a Christian, it was a great destination for me. You might say, I most highly recommend it.

Mid America Flight Museum - Mt Pleasant, Texas

Open: Saturday from 8 AM until noon.
Admission: FREE
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