Modern Day Street Urchins

Street CollectorOn any given day on my way home, if I take city streets I pass three to eight intersections with various people collecting money from the raised concrete medians and spreading out like ants among the cars at a red light. What else would you call these people collecting money for ambiguous or unknown “charities?” This man looks quite official compared to most of the urchins in Tampa, despite his ambiguous identification.

We are not talking about firemen with boots, nuns in full regalia, or a big Ronald McDonald. We know about Salvation Army standing outside Wal-mart at Christmas and the Girl Scouts selling their cookies. Those are established charities who have earned the trust and recognition of the public and do not (most of the time) approach you or attempt to overtly solicit your funds.

Almost all of these urchins’ actions convey that they think that merely wearing a button-down shirt and tie in the hot summer heat with a box or bucket gives them the right to incite guilt for not rolling down your window. Looking the other way doesn’t work — they will enter your line of sight. I have seen them walk up to cars with open windows and convertibles with the tops down and try to persuade the drivers.

Here are a few of the examples of charities and “beggars” I have witnessed:
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