Beggars

I saw some today. I was driving down a main street to take the baby to the pediatrician and I saw a whole team of them. A “team?” you ask? Yes, a baseball team.

Little league, to be precise, according to their signs. The coaches and parents had their children out begging for money on a very busy road – running up and down the median and around traffic to collect spare change.

I have a problem with that. Well, two.

First, it’s not safe. It is three lanes up and three lanes down plus turn lanes with a narrow median. On Saturdays the traffic backs up and can be rather unpleasant. This intersection isn’t safe for adults to be running around on, let alone children. Particularly a very large group of children. But this scenario is not uncommon – I see it all the time, especially in this area, but that doesn’t mean it’s safe. I certainly wouldn’t want my eight or ten year old out there and I most definitely wouldn’t want the liability of having other people’s kids with me!

Second, it’s a terrible lesson to teach kids. You want a load of money for some project you have planned (to travel to a big game, in this case)? Then you need to put some effort into earning it. What happened to earning the cash – or at least a good chunk of it? There’s already such a culture of entitlement – among both big and little people and this only feeds into that further. What happened to bake sales, car washes, or even selling a product like candy bars or popcorn?

When I was 15 I wanted to go on a trip to Spain with the school Spanish Club. I think the basic cost was $1500 and then incidentals on top of that. My parents told me that if I earned $1000 they would chip in the rest. And I did – by babysitting kids at $2.50-$3.00/hour every day after school. I didn’t even question it, but was instead incredibly grateful that they offered to chip in at all.

I’m not only not inclined to give to a little beggar child, but I would be horrified if my child was asked to participate in such an activity and would absolutely refuse such a request.

It’s one thing to hold a carwash and accept a $20 instead of the $5 charged – that’s a donation, unsolicited at that. When the Girl Scouts sell cookies outside my local Kroger, I usually ask what their favorite flavors are and then buy a couple boxes FOR the kids selling – they get the money and the cookies. The look on their faces is priceless.

Or even to ask a company for a special favor, like a donation of a product that it makes. In fact I recall my own mother going around on behalf of our Scout Troop to McDonalds asking for pickle buckets for camp to store out food in (raccoon-proof).

But outright begging on the street? Oh, no – not my child.

However, this is far from the first time I’ve seen children out at this intersection. Sometimes they are groups that claim to be church youth groups or other small groups which would be hard to verify, but they are often well-recognized groups like this. Is this acceptable now? Do most people see this as a legitimate fundraising source? Mr. Lawyer, when polled, was as deadset against it as I, but I’d be interested to know how other people view this form of fundraising.

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