Tulsa Mission Provides Compassionate Response To Panhandlers

Wednesday, August 29th 2012, 10:50 pm
By: Tess Maune

A Green Country group is doing its part to help decrease a growing panhandling problem in Tulsa.

It's a little green card, sending out a message of hope that's packed full of compassion.

Robert earns his living carrying a cardboard sign, hoping someone in a long line of cars will roll down their window with money in hand.

Reporter Tess Maune: "How often do you do this?"
Robert: "About once a month, just enough to get 25 bucks to keep my phone going."

In five hours, Robert said he pulled in about $4.

"I'm gonna buy a pouch of tobacco today, but like I said, I wanted to get my phone fixed, and I've got two more days to do that," Robert said.

Reverend Steve Whitaker, with John 3:16 Mission, is the man behind the compassion card.

"We're offering to meet the needs of those folks that are on so many corners, asking for help," Whitaker said.

Whether it's a warm meal, a cool place to sleep or something clean to wear, if you call the number on the card, Whitaker says someone with the mission will always be there help meet your needs.

So, by trading hard-earned cash for a compassion card, Whitaker is hoping to reach those who truly need the help.

"We'll find out about it, we'll do the case work, we'll spend the time with them. If they can be restored and if they really want to change their life, we'll do it for you," Whitaker said.

In the past six months, Whitaker said the number of panhandlers in Tulsa has grown exponentially.

And the sad part, he said, is the majority are begging for the wrong reasons and likely aren't homeless, at all.

"They're using, they're drinking, they're doing stuff they shouldn't be doing—they're feeding a habit," Whitaker said. "For the most part, in my opinion, those guys are hucksters and shysters, and we as a community need to do something about it. Please use the compassion card."

Whitaker said giving money only encourages more panhandling, while the cards could help people get lasting help.

To download and print free compassion cards, visit the John 3:16 Mission website.