I think in this economy it is hard for everyone in the working class. If you need a little to get past Christmas from a family member. I think that might be ok. But if its going to be something that's going to happen often then its time to cut somethings out or get a second job.
I suppose it depends on who you're asking and how you ask. If one is simply looking for free money from strangers - forget it. There are scammers with sad stories everywhere who are bringing in more dollars than the average working person. It's what they do for a living - and they usually start of with something like "You look like a caring person to me". - then give you a lot of crap about how they have hit hard times and need your help. It's too bad, because you can't really tell the difference between the scammers and the sincere. I give to the Salvation Army, Red Cross and the DAV - since I know that the funds are going to a good cause.