Woman Gives Homeless Man Her Credit Card

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Self-proclaimed "eternal optimist" and Manhattan advertising executive Merrie Harris recently made headlines when she let a Soho panhandler borrow her American Express Platinum Card. An act of kindness or stupidity? Harris thinks it's the former and talks about why she did it. (Published Friday, Aug 13, 2010)

    Talk about a heart of gold.

    A Manhattan businesswoman lent her American Express Platinum Card to a homeless man who asked for money -- he then bought a Vitaminwater and a pack of cigarettes, then returned the card ten minutes later, the New York Post reports.

    Merrie Harris, a director for the JWT advertising agency, was at a party at La Esquina on Kenmare Street -- the Post doesn't specify the date or time -- when she stepped outside with a friend, and a homeless man approached them.

    "He asked me if I had any money," she told the Post. "He said he just wanted to get a Vitaminwater. I said, I don't [have cash] -- I only have my credit card."

    Harris, a volunteer with the Coalition for the Homeless, handed him the AmEx and watched the man walk down the street.  Her friends told her she'd made a big mistake.  Harris also told the Post she'd previously had a margarita at the party, but added "I don't think that was it. I'm eternally optimistic."

    She returned to the party, and sure enough, ten minutes later someone said "He's back!" Harris went out and met the same homeless man, charge card in hand.

    "This guy just seemed totally trustworthy," she told the Post.  "He was very specific about what he wanted.  I gave him a hug.  I said, 'I knew you were coming back.'"

    To which, Harris said, the man responded: "Of course. I'm an honest person."

    "People kept coming up to me saying that's the best thing that ever happened," Harris told the Post.  "I just really believe in the good nature of people."