If there is a time that you have extra money and you want to give to help people stay off the streets, find an efficient charity. That way you know the money you give will go to the people you designate.
GUEST'S ANSWER: Matt Price, Features Editor: This can be a tough situation for people who wish to be charitable and compassionate. However, Oklahoma City actually has a law against aggressive panhandling, which includes continuing to beg or solicit from a person after the person has refused. So your best response if you don't want to contribute is a firm “sorry, no” or, if you are in your car, just continuing to look forward. Many people don't wish to give to panhandlers, as there are concerns about how the money will be used.
If you do want to help, but don't wish to give cash, there are two programs in Oklahoma City designed to assist panhandlers. Homeless Alliance Executive Director Dan Straughan made two suggestions in an October 2012 story in The Oklahoman: the City Rescue Mission's Compassion Card and the Homeless Alliance's Real Change voucher.
Here's more information, from the story by Leigh Anne Manwarren:
• The Homeless Alliance's voucher program costs $1 per voucher, which pays for a person's bus fare to the Homeless Alliance's three multipurpose shelters. Go to www.homelessalliance.org/?page_id=37
• The City Rescue Mission's Compassion Card program is a card with the shelter's phone number so a volunteer can pick up a person in need, and the card is free. Go to http://cityrescue.org/learn/services-and-programs/compassion-card-project/