Howard Wu launched, on Facebook, the campaign “Give a Stranger 10 Bucks Day” on 10/10/10 inspired by Reed Sandridge. Howard lives in Seattle, WA, works for T-mobile and runs the nonprofit Bean, which connects young professionals from all around the world. Reed is the creator of Year of Giving, a project that consists of giving away US$ 10,00 to a stranger every day during one year – and this is what Reed has been doing since December 2009. Howard’s campaign for last Sunday has called my attention especially because I participated in Reed’s project three months ago.
It was the height of the World Cup 2010 when a couple of Brazilian friends and I met Reed wearing a Brazilian jersey in a pizzeria in Arlington, VA. We were watching Brazil’s match against Chile. Since Reed had lived in Brazil for three years, we started to chat in Portuguese, and he told us about his project of giving away US$ 10,00 daily for 365 days. Guess what? We were Reed’s chosen ones for day 196; he gave us US$ 10,00, and we decided to mail it to a random address in the suburbs together with some information about Year of Giving.
So, Howard’s campaign on Facebook made me curious about how Reed’s project was evolving, and I thought it would be “good” to tell Reed’s story and how his project has impacted people’s lives by fostering the act of giving through a domino effect. Reed had just been laid off by a nonprofit hit by the economic crisis when he decided to start giving. It’s not the most prudent thing to do when you’re unemployed, but Reed said on his website, “it is exactly these times we must focus on helping others.”
So far, Reed has met hundreds of people, and every day he has an interesting – sometimes touching – story posted on his blog and less US$ 10,00 in his pocket, taken from his savings. The reward? The priceless experience of getting to know some very interesting people and their life stories – often lessons – and, of course, inspiring others to pursue altruism. “Whether that comes in the form of someone who reads this blog and wants to embark on their own Year of Giving or someone who uses the $10 to help someone else out, the specific results are less important than the overall good that we can achieve together.”
Year of Giving has its own Facebook page and, so far, 4,455 people have liked it. The project has inspired people from the U.S. and from countries such as Brazil and Saudi Arabia to do the same. “Others have decided to volunteer a certain amount of their time every week for a year,” says Reed. On his blog, there are testimonials from people who started giving, for instance, by dropping coins in parking lots, toy stores, and grocery stores; or leaving bills behind on different spots. And if you wish, you can always help people in need who Reed has met along his way through the link Lend a hand.
About the future of Year of Giving, which is supposed to end within two months, Reed is not sure. He’s thinking about the possibility of turning the project’s concept into a nonprofit. “I do not know for sure what will happen when I finish my 365 day commitment, on December 14th, 2010. What I can guarantee is that the giving will continue in some form. What started out as a personal endeavor and a blog turned into an international movement.”
You see? Do not underestimate your ability to generate and motivate good deeds.
“Almost everyone – regardless of income, available time, age, and skills-can do something useful for others and, in the process, strengthen the fabric of our shared humanity.” William J. Clinton
“Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Winston Churchill