This I Believe

Kelsey - Denver, Colorado
Entered on October 22, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
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What Do You Do with Spare Cents?

My family and I visit San Francisco at least once every year. My extended family lives there and it’s a great break from boring Denver, Colorado. While I am there one of my favorite places to visit is down town because the air is charged with excitement; yet I am struck by the number of homeless people on the street. I see them sitting there dressed in rags with a shabby sign asking for money, and nobody takes a second to drop their spare change into the cups. This is because they do not trust these strangers to make the right decision with the money they are given. Even though I walk by many homeless people, I’ve only seen one person drop their extra cents into a cup. This small seeming insignificant action showed me that there still are people who are willing to trust others in this doubtful world.

Ever since I was little, I’ve been told not to give money to the people with makeshift cardboard signs that read “Need money for food.” My parents instructed me to do this because, like most of the society, they feel the homeless are more likely to buy drugs or alcohol with the money they receive.

For years I’ve seen the homeless people staring hopefully up at passersby, but I’ve only seen one person pause for a second, reach into his pocket, and put his spare change into a coin cup. As I saw this I realized that as that person placed his spare change in that homeless man’s cup, he was actually trusting him to make a good decision with that money. This sort of trust is practically unheard of these days, but seeing this extremely small, effortless action restored my hope in this mistrusting society.

I believe that in this society full of doubtful individuals, there are still people willing to put confidence in total strangers. I believe that it is individuals like these who will restore faith in humanity and create a more trusting environment.

As I walk down the streets of San Francisco, I occasionally peer into the homeless people’s coin cups and see only a couple of pennies, probably saved from the day before, at the very bottom. And I think to myself, if only there were more people who could put trust in strangers. Including me.