Hip SF Guy Gives Panhandlers New Signs

Anthony Bustos tries to help homeless with better signage

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 4, 2014 3:50 PM CDT

(Newser) – Would you give change to a homeless guy carrying the shabby sign, "Poor, hungry"? San Francisco social entrepreneur Anthony Bustos saw such a man and "had no inclination to give alms" to him, he says—but realized he might feel differently if he'd seen a better sign. So Bustos created new signs and drove around town giving them to panhandlers, CBS San Francisco reports. Among his messages:

  • "Law School Isn't Cheap"
  • "Someone Thinks You're Sexy"
  • "Hogwarts or Bust"
  • "The Government Stole My Sunscreen"

But giving away the hip messages isn't always easy: "The reactions have been mixed and have taught me a lot about homeless culture, and the individuals that are behind the signs," says Bustos. Some get the joke, while others are mentally ill, belligerent, or proud of the sign they already made. "They don’t want a sign that I made, because it doesn’t represent them as individuals." Others are thankful, and one said the new sign has attracted photo ops with tourists, KLTV reports. Now Bustos' friends are getting involved by making their own signs or phrases: "We don’t always have to change the world," Bustos says. "We can do something small to make a small difference, and that’s OK." (Read about a man who posed as homeless and gave away $1,000).

A panhandler at work.
A panhandler at work.   (AP Photo/The Brownsville Herald, Jason Hoekema)
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