How to Help Panhandlers

When you drive on any major street in Bellingham, heading home or to your favorite coffee shop, you’ll see a panhandler.  Oftentimes you see the same person in the same spot for years.  Their signs talk of being homeless, hungry, or having a family, but how do you know if that’s the truth?  The next time you reach for your wallet to give someone money, ask yourself:

Will giving them $5 change their situation?
Will it solve any drug or alcohol abuse problems they might be facing?
Will it help them find employment, provide needed counseling, or offer other skills?
Will it help them face and overcome obstacles that have defeated them in the past?
Will giving them money enable them?

The reality is that giving money to panhandlers is more about how it makes us feel than about bringing lasting change and restoration to those who are struggling.

In place of money, we suggest that you hand out a bottle of water along with a Drop-In Center Referral Card (download here or pick up at the Mission).  This will meet an immediate need while giving them information about the life-changing services that are offered at Lighthouse Mission Ministries!

Keep the referral cards in your car’s glovebox or in your wallet, so the next time a panhandler approaches, you’ll be ready to respond.  And if you feel comfortable, enter into a conversation with the person who is panhandling.  If you want to know more about the Mission, please contact us to set up a tour.

The Mission offers three free meals and 24/7 safe shelter every day.  It’s available because of the generosity of people like you!

Another thing you can do to encourage them to go to the Mission is to hand them a referral card:

For more helpful tips on how to help people who are homeless, visit What You Can Do.

Please contact us at (360) 671-1562 if you would like to pick up referral cards or you can print them at the link above!

Pictured: One side of the referral card