Friday, June 25, 2010

School Sanctioned Begging?

Regularly in front of the CVS where I frequently shop due to its proximity to my apartment there are two or three possibly middle school aged kids clutching a laminated piece of paper and asking for money for new baseball/football/basketball uniforms. They are there all the time, but it is never the same kids (at least I don’t recognize them). It’s possible they rotate between drugstores. These kids are hard core about it, i.e. they don’t seem to be kids embarrassed to be out shilling for money. I had one chase me across the parking lot the other day. (I wasn’t even going into CVS; I was simply cutting through the parking lot.) Ignoring the “ma’am, ma’am” didn’t help me at all. (Note to kid: If you want money, do not call me ma’am.) He ran right in front of my path so I had to stop and talk to him.

Sports uniforms are the type of thing for which I would have no problem donating money. Yet every time one of these kids comes at me, I wonder whether they are for real, or if it is a scam. Call me cynical, but are schools really sending kids out simply asking for donations? That seems odd to me. Back when I was in middle school and high school and we needed funds for various sport related things, we had a car wash, or we sold candy at school, or we sold other crap, or we did other types of fundraisers. We actually did something for the money.  We never stood out in front of a store and simply asked for money, with the only proof being a laminated (yet still crinkled) sheet of paper filled with misspellings that purports to serve as the proof of officialness of the endeavor.

I suppose I could stop, write down the name of the school, put a call in, make sure it is on the up and up, and then make a donation through other means, but this seems like a lot of work on my end to make a donation I had no intention of making prior to taking a trip to CVS. And frankly, I’m tired of being asked for money every time I leave the house. There was a woman in front of the Walgreen’s by my office yesterday sitting on the corner with her daughter, who appeared to be around 7, asking people for money. She had brought a chair with her and everything. Ten feet beyond her there was another guy holding out a cup. Ten feet beyond him, another. I am not making this up. Visit the Loop during the day and you’ll see what I mean. It simply gets exhausting to deal with, and honestly I barely hear them anymore.

But back to the begging kids. I never know what to do with these guys. Even if they are scamming, I give them credit for standing out there all day. But if they are scamming, I don’t want to give them money. If they aren’t, I do want to give them money. Unfortunately, an attempt to find out all of the more official information could (a) piss the kid off if he isn’t on the up and up; and (b) take some time. Neither option is particularly appealing. So, what do I generally do? Generally (and I’m being honest here) I tell the kid I’m sorry and go on my merry way. Occasionally (i.e., if I’m in a really good mood), I might give him a buck or two.

But seriously, schools, if you are sanctioning begging you should be ashamed of yourselves.  Make these kids do some work for their money. 

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