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Celina Timmerman-Girl In Winter Hat In The Snow
Celina Timmerman-Girl In Winter Hat In The Snow
Celina Timmerman / Her Campus
Life > Experiences

It’s Cold: Don’t Ignore People in Need.

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Utah chapter.

We all can acknowledge we have seen a homeless person begging for money or simply walking down the street with an array of items. In addition, some of us have acute memories of a time in which we experienced an encounter with a homeless individual.  A memory of mine was seeing a play at the Capitol Theater when I was about ten years old. It was winter and obviously very cold. A homeless man stepped into the theater and looked confused. He was shivering and had very little warm clothing on. I thought he might have been a victim of mental illness due to the fact he kept talking to himself. It seemed like I was the only one who noticed him because every adult looked away or simply passed him by. He wet his pants and still stood there still looking confused until security escorted him back outside. When we left the theater he was outside, freezing and security there making sure he would not come into the building again. That moment I understood what it meant to feel real sadness and guilt. What it really meant to feel like a person who believed in something and stood for nothing

Here in Salt Lake City, we not only know of homeless individuals roaming the streets, but we see them every day. The first thought we all may think is “is this person really homeless, or just asking for money to feed an addiction?”  Then, we continue on our way. Then you have a few who stop to listen and hear their story. Nevertheless, in the end we justify either why we walked away or gave them the money in our wallets. In truth, we treat homeless individuals differently than others and we justify our actions and behaviors. There are times where we try to help and do the right thing; however, we never know whether our help really did anything.  There are ways, though that we can help and actually feel that we are helping in a positive and productive way. Helping in a way that we know where our efforts are going as well as knowing that these homeless individuals are getting the right kind of help. In addition, many resources are available in Salt Lake that are there for homeless individuals as well as volunteers wishing to assist.

What really makes us skeptical of homeless individuals, is that we do not understand how they got where they are. Another element that does not help homeless individuals are panhandlers. Because a homeless person can be very different from a panhandler. I am not saying homeless people do not ask for money, but I observe that homeless people usually use many of the resources out there (or try to).  Panhandlers usually do not use the resources, and may be individuals who really do need money or just people who need money for a specific product and are not actually homeless. That is what makes it hard believing who is homeless and in need vs. individuals who are not. 

One way I have always experimented to see if they really wanted money or help was giving them food or a supply kit. Usually, the individuals that are in need of it are very thankful and the others look at it in confusion. In addition, yes I have experienced individuals who are upset because I did not buy them the right type of food or beverage and demanded money instead.  With this, I felt I made somewhat of a choice that helped me decide if I was helping or not.

In the end, I always think of ways I could help, and it seems to get harder and harder. With everything going on in one’s life, it is hard to find the time. However, with the holidays coming up I find myself wanting to help in some way, even if small. Moreover, I think many others want to as well. What I hope to find is the same happiness and thankfulness that many give you when you give them simple things. So please think of simple things that you would make you happy and try giving them to people who may not have them.   

There are many resources and one resource is the Good Samaritan Program in which the Cathedral of the Madeleine supply food. A majority of homeless individuals usually rest and eat the food provided. Moreover, I am sure they are always looking for volunteers and supply. Another is the Salt Lake City Mission or the Road Home. All are beneficial in giving and receiving support to our homeless community.  

Her Campus Utah Chapter Contributor