Should We Give Spare Change to the Homeless?

I had lunch recently with an old friend from high school. We covered a lot of ground, but mainly discussed unorthodox methods for fighting cancer. Like so many families, we have loved ones who are afflicted with this disease and are open to trying different options. In the middle of our discussion on medical marijuana and the ketogenic diet, a young man in his early twenties hesitantly approached us. He was polite and asked if we could give him any money to buy some lunch.

For years, I haven't been giving out any spare change to people who ask. Part of my justification is that since I'm working in downtown Portland, I get at least three requests a day and I also don't want to "reward" panhandling. My friend Chris, however, pulled out a five dollar bill and handed it to the grateful lad.

I liked what Chris immediately said next: "Yeah it's likely he made some bad choices to get to this point. And he may use my money for something other than lunch. But the guy is still hungry and still cold."