If you're concerned about truly helping the poor you really should read Tocqueville's essay, the full title of which is Memoir on Pauperism: Does Public Charity Produce an Idle and Dependent Class of Society? He writes it after studying poverty in England, the most affluent nation in the world at the time.
Here are a couple of quotes. Talking about how poverty is a relative condition he writes that:
"...in the [medieval period] the number of those not totally absorbed in self-preservation was extremely small. Their life was brilliant, ostentatious, but not comfortable. One ate with one's fingers on silver or engraved steel plates, clothes were lined with ermine or gold, and linen was unknown; the walls of their dwellings dripped with moisture, and they sat in richly sculptured wooden chairs before immense hearths where entire trees were consumed without diffusing sufficient heat around them.That is orders of magnitude more true today of the people we call poor than it was in Tocqueville's day. Poor people today, at least in the western world, have every physical need met and have access to comforts and luxuries that would have been the envy of the richest aristocrats in Tocqueville's world. He also observes that,
I am convinced that there is not a provincial town today whose more fortunate inhabitants do not have more true comforts of life in their homes and do not find it easier to satisfy the thousand needs created by civilization than the proudest medieval baron."
"There are two incentives to work: the need to live and the desire to improve the condition of life. Experience has proven that the majority of men can be sufficiently motivated to work only by the first of these incentives. The second is effective only with a small minority."Finally, in explaining the difference between private and public charity and why the former is far better than the latter he says:
"Individual alms-giving established valuable ties between the rich and the poor. The deed itself involves the giver in the fate of the one whose poverty he has undertaken to alleviate. The latter, supported by aid which he had no right to demand and which he may have had no hope of getting, feels inspired by gratitude. A moral tie is established between the two classes....Every one of the Memoir's thirty six pages is laden with Tocqueville's wisdom borne of careful observation and is as relevant for our times as it was for his. I urge readers to give it a look if they're interested in an excellent primer on why public welfare does more harm than good. The sooner we end it, at least as it is currently practiced, the better everyone will be.
This is not the case with legal charity (i.e. public welfare). The latter allows the alms to persist but removes its morality. The law strips the man of wealth of part of his surplus without consulting him, and he sees the poor man only as a greedy stranger invited by the legislator to share his wealth. The poor man feels no gratitude for a benefit which no one can refuse him and that cannot satisfy him in any case."