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In the two years since he lost his job as a cook, Kevin Boudreau has learned the subtle art of how to ask strangers for money. But now, with winter approaching and an aversion to shelters, the homeless man with the grizzled goatee and skull tattoos covering both arms needs more than spare change reports The Boston Globe.

So Boudreau has traded his scribbled cardboard signs for a keyboard.

In recent weeks, in an effort to acquire warm clothes, camping gear, and other necessities for living outdoors, Boudreau has posted ads on Craigslist under the heading, “Help Me Winter in Woods.’’

The novel pitch for help is part of a new phenomenon among the homeless: digital panhandling.

Some homeless people now have blogs where they seek donations. There are web forums where the homeless exchange ideas, sites where people can donate money, and bulletin boards where penniless artists and foreclosure victims ask for cash.

On Homelessforums.org, thousands of people post questions and comments about everything from how to stay safe on the streets to where to camp for free. There are pleas for money on CyberBeg.com, which compares itself to a lottery, and Begslist.blogspot.com, which describes itself as a “source for free . . . e-panhandling, online donations, debt help, finding financial resources, and a great place to ask for financial help from the kindness of others.’’

Photo by wikimedia.org.

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Originally posted by Rich Whittle on October 28, 2009 in Ideas.

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