In response to Jake Laird (letter, Dec. 4) and others, including Salena Maazaoui (letter, Dec. 5), some people do get “down on their luck” and need a helping hand.

I am all for that, which explains why I spent a year of my time feeding and talking with those seeking help at the City Mission.

I do get weary of being berated for seeking the heart of any matter, though, and to me, being poor and destitute is a spiritual matter, causally, and expecting change from people is to me, logical.

However, many down and out people do not want to change; they want a handout. That’s why the staggering numbers.

I hope that I am wrong and that these people seeking help at the Mission are desperate for a new life and they get the help they need.

“Give a person a fish, they eat for a day; give them a pole, they eat for a lifetime.” I believe the City Mission has always tried to do this, and as long as they continue to I am in favor of it.

Laird refers to “Christian charity.” I have offered my car to homeless people to sleep in, bought gift cards and donated money to some of the needy here. But I no longer give, however, to “cardboard carriers.”

Just recently I recognized one I had given to before.

I stated to him, scrutinizing his handmade sign and scruffy appearance, “I’ve given to you before, talked with you and shared the Gospel; you are a professional bum. It’s time for you to get things right with God.”

Is that cruel? Is that not love? I say it is love.

Ultimately, we can’t really help anybody until they want to change. And maybe, just maybe we are not allowing people to reach that state of desperation as we attempt to do them good.

I agree that we need more housing for the homeless. This has been a great burden to me for a long time. But love thy neighbor means allowing people to face their truest need, too, as well as their present predicament.

Finally, Jesus, the righteous judge, will judge the truly poor, and all of us, righteously.

Deborah Peterson