When you're desperate, anything helps. 

For a man who appeared able-bodied and in his mid-thirties, it couldn't have been an easy thing for him to do.

Like countless homeless locals had before him, he approached the row of cars on the corner of Milwaukee and Fairview, head down and humble.

The sadness in his blue eyes was impossible to ignore. They told all of us waiting for the light that he'd lived a harder life than most. Still, I sensed a friendliness and determination in his demeanor.

He was probably 10 feet away when I made out the writing on the weathered and limp cardboard sign pressed to his chest.

Homeless, but employed and struggling to feed my children. Anything helps.

A sandy blonde with shoulder-length hair, he was tall and much thinner than a man with his frame was meant to be. I'd never seen a man who looked as hungry as he did in that moment.

His children were hungry.

All at once, my heart broke and my mind raced thinking about his little ones. When was their last meal? How old were they? Where are they right now? Just thinking about their empty tummies made it hard for me to breathe.

As I rolled down the window, he mumbled an apology and said, "I have two jobs, ma'am. I promise you this is for my kids." Without thinking, I smiled and softly said, "Homeless and hopeless aren't one in the same, and I believe in you." Just before the light turned green, I shared whatever I had in my wallet and never saw him again.

Could it have been a scam?

Maybe. I'm the first to say that my read on his situation could've been off, or he could've been lying. But what if that weren't case? What if his story is more common than most of us realize or care to acknowledge?

People could go round and round for days with assumptions and judgements. But I think it would be wonderful and better for humanity if instead people helped when they could and treated the person behind the cardboard sign with compassion and dignity.

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