Yesterday, Katrina Fernandez wrote some advice to a reader who asked about giving to the homeless or whether it wouldn’t be better to donate directly to a shelter, since we are not certain what the homeless people will do with our donations. As always, Katrina had sound advice:
If you have to rationalize your lack of charity by assuming you know what that homeless person is going to do with their money, then you are doing charity all wrong. Giving the homeless a handout should not put you in the superior position of judgement. You give alms because you are supposed to — it’s right to care for the poor and we have a responsibility to help when asked. Charity should be given out of love for God and our fellow man. When you start adding conditions and stipulations to your charity, you’ve failed.
It is understandable that we might want to be sure that the money is going toward something that can truly help the people we donate to. If I give someone 10 dollars to help them survive and they go and blow it on booze or drugs then the gift that was meant to help has enabled hurt. But it’s also important to remember that the poor are human and deserve the dignity of being able to make their own choices of a gift freely given. What do you think?