It wasn't long after I first moved to Lawton in 2006 that I was approached in the Sheridan Road Walmart by someone asking for a little money. No big deal, people need help sometimes, and I was in a position where I could help with a few dollars. I had lived in a few big cities by that time so it wasn't out of the ordinary, but being in Lawton, panhandling comes at a disadvantage. It's not a big enough town to put down any real begging pressure.

Case and point, I felt bad for a lady asking for gas money, so I filled up her little truck so she could make it to some hospital to visit some relative that was in dire shape. Gas was under two bucks, what's giving twenty or so away on payday? Now I'm a creature of habit and routine, I generally shop groceries, do laundry, mow grass, etc on the same day at the same time each week. So when I went for groceries again that next week, and that same woman didn't recognize me before giving me the exact same story, I knew I had fallen prey to a bad person living off of good people... but that's not the bad part.

After years of callus beggar dealings, constantly with the "I don't have any" or the occasional "Who carries cash these days?" mentality, I realized something. It's those that prey on the good-hearted that cost others that need real help the chance to get that help. The worst of humanity causes the best of humanity to ignore the neediest of humanity.

After a year and a half of pandemic and hard economic times for most people, it seems that more and more people seem to be in and around Lawton asking for a little help at some of the busiest places in town. I don't think I've ever seen or noticed people standing around the busy intersections before, but there they stand. Cardboard signs in hand, looking like they desperately need a meal and a hot shower, but then the lady needing gas money story replays in my mind and I harden up.

Before you say it, I can hear my mother telling me "Never give money with expectations." What she means is, never give someone money and expect them to do what you want with it. It's their money, they can use it to fit their needs. My aunt might say something like "They'll spend it at the liquor store..." and my mom would reply that it was her deed and she enjoyed doing it. All the same, mom always says don't be a fool. So there's a disconnect between what you feel is right and what you suspect is wrong.

Still, I try not to think myself out of doing a good deed. In Lawton, especially downtown, there is a sizeable homeless and less fortunate community trying to get a hand up in life. They eat a few meals a day at one of the churches the next block over. Some people are at least trying still though. There are a handful of Blessing Boxes around town that contain stable foods and hygiene products for those in need... and on more than one occasion I've seen some nice-car-driving Karen hop out and take every last thing out of one... again with the worst of humanity taking from the neediest of humanity...It's hard not to posture yourself to intentionally ignore what you don't want to see.

At the end of the day, we're all expected to do what's right by ourselves. If you distrust the person asking for a hand out, there are other places you can donate whatever couple of dollars you may have for the needy in Lawton. With the Texoma Day of Giving coming up quick, you might want to give what you can and trust it goes to the people that actually need it the most.

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