Do You Give to Panhandlers?

With increased number of panhandlers spotted from Commack to Riverhead raising questions about scams, do you open your wallet or ignore them.


Panhandling, an activity common on many busy New York City street corners, has been increasingly common on Long Island triggering suspicion and cause for alarm. 

Patch reported in that a local blog "She Thinks That..."  gave detailed reports of panhandler sightings on Aug. 29 and questioned if Long Islanders were being swindled by the "not-so-homeless." 

Many reported seeing a family that moved from outside Target in Commack to Walmart in Setauket, and further east, where a man, woman and children were holding signs and asking passers-by for money. 

Patch readers responded with hundreds of emails and comments, with reports of additional sightings and their gut emotional response to these panhandlers. 

Some of our readers have helped and given to these panhandlers

"Yes, i have helped a family husband wife [supposedly] and infant and child in hand standing by exit door of king kullen st james ny with a sign in need of help [money] for food and rental money so they wouldn't be living on the street your article on this matter just confirms my belief in second guessing my decision to help when it is a scam it is sad that you want to help but am being taken advantage of," commented

Others reported sightings:

"Holy Cow! This exact same thing is going down right now at the Shopping Center I shop at in Yaphank! Guy with kids in tow holding a sign claiming he needs money for food & rent. What annoyed me was that he's standing in front of a store that has a huge "Help Wanted" sign in the window! Next time I see him there, you bet your ass I'll be calling the police," wrote 

Some believed if local residents stopped giving these panhandlers their hard-earned cash, they will go away. 

wrote," Come on people; stop feeling bad for these scammers. You work hard for your money. Stop handing it over to someone who should be doing the same! Instead of sitting in a shopping center for hours on end begging for money, they should be out all those hours looking for a job. I'm sorry but they get away with it because you are giving in and feeling bad. Well stop! Then they will go away!"

We'd like to ask, do you give to panhandlers? If so, are you more likely to give them cash or donate food/clothing? Do you refuse and point them towards local nonprofits? 

Tell us in the comments below. 

anthony saponaro September 12, 2012 at 02:43 AM
I would take the most miniscule job before ever even thinking of asking anyone for anything. I have no problem helping someone out though,it is pretty easy to tell who is in need and I could never just walk away a few bucks out of my pocket isn't going to hurt me and it might help someone eat that day
John K Massaro September 12, 2012 at 02:59 AM
Anthony - I don't think that. Not at all. I actually would love to be in that field. My father was a framer for 40-something years. I was actually referring to entry-level positions, go-fers, cleanup guys & such...
LivingSmall September 12, 2012 at 08:00 PM
Just a few bucks out of your pocket won't hurt you. That's what these scammers count on. They need you and many more like you -- $5 here, $10 there -- and it adds up to a tidy sum of tax free cash.
Bill Lynch September 13, 2012 at 09:50 PM
DO THE MATH. If the scammers put in a 4 hour shift in the target parking lot and find only 4 people to give them 5 bux. Not including the $1 dollar bills you know some good hearted people are going to give. Not a bad tax-free shift pay.
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