Event in Joplin aims to find different ways of helping panhandlers and people living in poverty

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JOPLIN, Mo. (KSNF) — If you’ve driven around the Joplin area recently, you’ve probably noticed people begging for money at intersections.

What’s the best way to really help a man begging on the street? Is it to roll down your window and give him the money he’s asking for? After all, it seems the most compassionate thing to do.


But James Whitford, the Executive Director of Watered Gardens Ministries says you may be hurting him more in the long run by doing that.

We have a lot of people in our city but actually in our nation as a whole who think that social justice is about the transfer of wealth to another person, it’s some sort of a hand out or a program that just gives you something, but in fact, we know that it takes a lot more than that to actually help somebody who’s struggling in chronic poverty and all of the related issues to help them up and out of that,” said Whitford.

He says you must get to know the person on the corner and find out what event or events that occurred to cause him or her to end up there in the first place.

These and other complicated poverty-related issues are among the topics of discussion at this year’s True Charity Summit.

Nathan Mayo, who lived in Haiti for two years, claims the same direct financial handout approach to helping the poor in developing countries doesn’t work either.

“And a lot of times they don’t work because we assume the poor need stuff, from us, and in reality what they need from us is not stuff but they need access to opportunity,” said Mayo.

COVID-19 caused the True Charity Summit to be canceled last year.

It will continue though Wednesday at Forest Park Baptist Church with more guest speakers.

If you, your business, group, or church would like to learn more about the True Charity Initiative, follow this link.

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