Everybody likes chocolate-Right? I assume everybody likes chocolate because I like chocolate. But my kids tend to lean more towards the gummy things and the skittleish stuff. And I will eat a Swedish Fish if someone pressures me.
I was recently in Saratoga Springs with my wife and kids to run some errands. We finished what we had to do and decided to take a stroll down Broadway. Somehow we ended up in front of a candy shop that specializes in chocolates and fudge. They even have a big window in the front of the store that looks in on the confectioner as they are making the chocolate or fudge.
While we were in the candy shop getting our treats for the day, I saw a basket of chocolate Mrs. Claus candies going 2 for a $1.00. I snagged two of them and dropped them on the counter to add to our purchase. My wife asked why I was getting them and I said they were for someone outside.
Sitting across from the big window where you can gaze in at the chocolate being made was a guy with a sign that said “Homeless Not Helpless-Peace”. I had not been to that candy shop for several months and I think I remember him sitting in the same spot the last time I was there. He had what looked like a coffee canister filled with a mix of dollar bills and coins next to his knapsack.
I never know what to do when I see a homeless person with a money jar next to them. If I give them money and they spend it on substances, am I partially to blame? If I just walk on by and ignore them, am I turning my back on a fellow human?
I am also curious and have questions. What led to them sitting there across from a candy shop on Broadway in Saratoga Springs? Mental Illness? Substance abuse? Maybe just a bunch of bad breaks along the path of life?
Someone once told me that you should give a person with a homeless sign food or something that they can use that is not money. When I worked in Downtown Albany there was a spot as I got off the highway that often had a person with a homeless sign. I would try to give them a piece of fruit or a candy bar if I had one in the car. One time I gave a woman $20 worth of McDonald’s coupons.
I didn’t ask the guy across from the candy window any of my curious homeless questions. I just handed him the two chocolate Mrs. Claus’ and said “Happy Thanksgiving”. He looked up, took the pieces of candy, and said “Thanks, Man.” He stuffed them in the pocket of his parka and went back to holding the sign. I guessed that he was going to save them for later. Or he was going to throw them away because he is more of a Swedish Fish guy.