Speaking of which, my very own panhandler is still hanging around, demanding my time and energy. I wish this fever would GO AWAY. (Although he does slink off now and then.)
Did you see this newspaper article, about a reporter who offered street beggars prepaid credit cards? Most used at least part of the funds for food, although liquor store bills often showed up as part of the transactions. (J.D. Roth commented on this story in his Get Rich Slowly blog today -- the real value in his post, though, are the reader responses.)
Castle Rock, our own town in Colorado, has no street hucksters -- the city council passed ordinances against them after one too many eager guys insisted on walking out in the street. (We used to have guys in white uniforms soliciting for 'youths against drugs;' turns out this was a 'pay-me-first' scam, where nearly all the funds collected went to the guys in uniforms -- who, based on their comfortable girths, weren't hurting.)
Denver, on the other hand, practically has a person on every corner, and they're all asking for change. Often the signs stay the same (or similar), though the face holding them is different. Daughters once saw what they described as the "shift change:" Panhandler #1 gave his sign to Panhandler #2, who took up the station. Person #1 then drove away in his vehicle, parked nearby -- a Cadillac!
I've given away granola bars, bottles of water and juice. And I've also brought meals back; one hungry-looking guy said, after receiving his McDonalds sack, "For me? This is for me?" To watch his pleasure in that hot meal on a cold, drizzly day was much more delicious than any burger I tasted that night.