Initially, I was going to write about the socioeconomic aspect of homelessness but it ended up being too complex and there were too many problems, without enough solutions, for me to write about.
Lately, I've been encountering a lot of homeless people asking for money. The issue with me is not that I'm a cheapskate or aloof on the matter of homelessness, but rather that I can't tell if he (I'm going to use he, his, him instead of he/she, his/her, him/her throughout this blog) is deserving of help or if he is going to buy alcohol with the money (my main concern). Well, I think that no matter what the person's walk of life, he deserves to eat. So, I was wondering how I could give homeless people money and guarantee that it wouldn't be spend on alcohol. At first I wanted to take the person to lunch myself and get in a conversation about how he ended up on the streets. But, that might make him feel ridiculed and he probably would rather not eat than have to tell someone about his life. After some tossing and turning at night I finally came up with a solution that I think makes sense: $5 gift cards from McDonalds.
Yesterday I went to McDonald's to pick up gift cards that I could hand out to homeless people so that I could make sure that my money was going towards feeding them instead of to alcohol. I can't stand the sick feeling of lying and saying "I don't have any change" when I really could have helped that person out. I want to kick my own ass every time I insincerely say "Sorry ,man", when I really want to say "Sorry, I don't trust that you'll spend it on food and I'm too stupid/lazy to think of a way to help you".
I can see how gift cards might not be something that everyone wants to adopt because $5 is a lot to plop down for a single donation. I wanted to get $3 gift cards, but the minimum amount is $5 on a card. Additionally, they have to scan each (blank) card and write in the value, which took about 15 minutes to complete. Still, I recommend that if you feel that this society has given you enough for you to give back, please go pick up a few gift cards.
We need to take advantage of the fact that there is a McDonald's in every neighborhood. What I'm going to do is to write an e-mail and send in a letter (better option). I'll post with the contents of that letter. Basically, I want McDonalds to start carrying $1, $2, $3, and $5 pre-valued cards so that anyone can buy them and use them as money for homeless people without using cash. It would be ideal if there was a website where people could order these gift cards and have them mailed to their houses. It's a win-win-win for donaters, homeless people, and McDonald's. The donations would also be tax deductible, so that everyone can be sure that the government helps out on this too.
If you believe in this idea as much as I do, please follow suit and e-mail and mail a (signed) letter to McDonald's. All you'll need to do is copy and paste what I'll post in my next blog. Details on what to write and where to send it will follow.
Change three: help the homeless.
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