Usually I seek out my beneficiaries during lunch time or on my way home but today I was surprised by an opportunity to help a young man with lots of needs. Sammy flagged me down on my way to REI to prepare for a hike this weekend. When he asked for help I almost got to ask him if I could buy him food before he asked me if I could buy him some sandwiches from the little grocery store behind him for himself and his family. Of course I obliged and followed him in. We filled a basket with things for his family, including his mom, brother and his brother's kids and then got some change so they could do laundry.
Sammy told me that he will be turning 18 on the 3rd, the same day he'll be able to get his food stamps. He actually offered to pay me back in food stamps. He was an interesting person to talk with; he had no problem taking advantage of the help I was offering as it quickly got pretty expensive, but he was also very thankful and kind of still awkwardly embarrassed about the whole situation...that is to say that he wasn't the same kind of embarrassed that I've seen from other folks, but can't really explain the difference. He was also a bit frustrated with people in general as he'd apparently asked a lot of people for help before I happened along. I got a hint of a mental sickness but it could also have been simply a lack of education or just frantic communication skills but he definitely cared deeply for his family and is willing to do what he needs for them.
The thought did cross my mind that the whole thing could be a ruse, if it was then it was a successful one as he got quite a lot of food out of the deal, but talking with him and listening to him tell me about his family and their need for diapers, food and general hygiene products and the fact that he mostly just wanted food helped me feel that he was being genuine. If I think about it now, even if it were a 50:50 likelihood or even greater that I was being put on by a twisted punk, I would still help every time I could because the benefit gained by the person or family in need is far more valuable to me than the money potentially lost on a loser after some petty cash. As it is, I'm pretty confident that Sammy is an honest young man who I'll be praying for to find a way out of his predicament into a comfortable life for him and his family.