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Would you tell him your story for $10?
April 21, 2010 5:32 PM   Subscribe

Giving away $10 every day to a different stranger for a year isn't as easy as it sounds, but Reed Sandridge is attempting to do just that, for a project he's calling "The Year of Giving." He then documents their stories and what they plan to do with the money on his blog.

Mr. Sandridge was recently laid off from his job at a Washington DC non-profit. But being unemployed hasn't stopped his modest philanthropic efforts.

The Lend-a-Hand section of his blog lists those he's given money to who are still struggling, and suggests how others might be able to help them further.

Twitter / Facebook:
"I started the Year of Giving on Tuesday, December 15, 2009 at 3:30 pm. The concept is simple. I will give $10 to a different person every day for a year. I will write about the people who I intersect with as well as the truly altruistic experience that I am sure to have!

I recently lost my job at a nonprofit organization due to the economic climate so taking on this endeavor may not seem fiscally prudent. However, I think it is exactly these times that we must focus on helping others.

I started the Year of Giving on December 15th in memory of my mother who lost her long battle with heart disease on this day in 2006. She was a true altruist. She always thought of others before herself.

My goal is not to change the lives of those with whom I come in contact. Let’s face it, $10 dollars is not going to change someone’s life in and of itself. I do believe, however, that the act of giving will hopefully inspire others to pursue the ideals that the French philosopher Auguste Comte envisioned when he coined the term “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.

I hope that you find yourself inspired today to do something special for someone. You would be surprised at how even something as simple as a smile or a thank you can make the difference in someone’s day. And remember, “happiness [is] only real when shared.”"
posted by zarq (33 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Missed a link: this story was also covered on NPR's Weekend Edition last week.
posted by zarq at 5:38 PM on April 21, 2010


A write-up in a major paper, a feel-good topic, and enough time to build a large audience. My bet: His story is optioned before the year is over. (and good for him)
posted by Doug Stewart at 5:42 PM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh damn! And NPR coverage. I'm doubling down on my bet now.
posted by Doug Stewart at 5:43 PM on April 21, 2010


It would have been altruistic if he didn't blog about it.
posted by TwelveTwo at 5:43 PM on April 21, 2010 [15 favorites]


Random anecdote: there's a guy in Portland who handed out $10,000 dollars in hundreds to the people hanging around the homeless shelter here in Portland, ME. Nobody knows who he is—or they do and are respecting his desire to remain anonymous (I believe he had his son do the actual "handing out" while he watched from a distance).

Supposedly he was inspired by Larry Stewart who handed out an estimated $1.3 million in $100 bills over the course of nearly 30 years disguised as Santa.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:48 PM on April 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


It is a sad reminder of the current horrible time of year that my first thought was "how the fuck is he going to get documentation for all this charitable giving?"
posted by elizardbits at 6:19 PM on April 21, 2010


Would you tell him your story for $10?

Sure. Heck, I'd tell him for free.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:26 PM on April 21, 2010


I was going to say something about the anonymity inherent in "mitzvot," which I thought meant good deeds; then I was sucked into the vortex of googlepedia and who knew? 613 laws?

Ten years of Hebrew school in my tender years and surprises like these still lie in store? No wonder so many of us enter the law . . . don't rag on me now, I'm just sayin'

http://www.jewfaq.org/613.htm

p.s. I'm all for random redistribution of wealth, and I try to participate whenever I can.
posted by emhutchinson at 6:34 PM on April 21, 2010


Sorry, here's the link proper
posted by emhutchinson at 6:36 PM on April 21, 2010


He could give $10 a day to me for a year.
posted by stormpooper at 6:37 PM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


about the closest I get to it is randomly plugging parking meters, especially if they are close to running out.
posted by edgeways at 6:44 PM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


This beats my idea of handing out photocopies of Julia Child recipes for a year.
posted by storybored at 6:53 PM on April 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


I wonder if his publisher advanced him the money? /snark

:-)
posted by Decimask at 7:04 PM on April 21, 2010


Sure. Heck, I'd tell him for free.

I was all prepared to snark until I read a few entries and found that several of the people he gave the $10 to planned to pass it on to someone else — either as an extra tip to a waiter, or to someone else in more need. I understand the sentiment totally.

This past holiday season my partner's company gave us all $50 gift cards for Circuit City, right before all the CCs in Houston went out of business. I went into one store five or six times, checking out all the redline merchandise, but could not find anything to spend my $50 on. There was simply nothing I wanted, and nothing I was willing to spend extra money on in order to use that gift card. And believe me, I LOOKED HARD. That free $50 was not gonna be wasted.

The last weekend the store was in business I went back in and looked one last time and still couldn't find anything I needed bad enough. I was all set to walk out and cut my losses when I saw an older couple at the cash register counting coins. They were talking with each other and trying to decide which of the redlined cables and replacement parts in their basket to put back.

I cut in line in front of them, apologized, and explained that I had a $50 gift card I couldn't use and I wanted them to have it. It was an on-the-spot decision that I gave almost no thought to. The frickin' woman started crying right there, and her husband tried to hug me — I am not a hugger and I had to just stand there briskly. But it was seriously the most awesome feeling ever to hand that card over to them, and if feeling that way is self-centered, then put me in front of a pond and call me Narcissus cuz I'd do it again in a heartbeat if I had the chance.
posted by Brittanie at 7:10 PM on April 21, 2010 [39 favorites]


I really like this. The "Internet Asshole" in me is quelled for another day. Thanks for sharing this.
posted by Kskomsvold at 7:48 PM on April 21, 2010


Awhile back I had this weird string of luck where I kept finding wads of cash on the street. Seriously, just sitting on the sidewalk, or abandoned on a picnic table. Once it was a bunch of cash and an American Express card (I called and had it cancelled). I gave most of the money away as generous cab tips.

One afternoon I found $90 and that night I went to a club where I tipped $20 on a $2.50 beer. I was so psyched -- I was going to be this VIP known as an incredible tipper! The very next day the club went out of business.

After a minute of harumphing I realized I felt great, because the act ended up being entirely selfless.

(Until now. Don't you think I'm a nice person?)
posted by nev at 8:05 PM on April 21, 2010


If he's got three grand he doesn't need, I can certainly help him out there. It'll be mutually beneficial and everything.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:06 PM on April 21, 2010


On a Sunday afternoon in December 2006, my husband took our daughter to our city's Contemporary Arts Center. As our daughter sat down in the kids' section to create her own artwork, a man in his 60s, dressed in a suit, approached my husband and asked him, "Are you enjoying your day at the museum?", to which my husband replied, "yes" (he thought the fellow might have been a manager of some sort). Then the gentleman pulled an envelope out of his coat pocket and handed it to my husband and said, "Happy holidays from my family to yours." Then he turned and walked away. There was $1000 cash inside.

This was right after Oprah had announced her "Pay it Forward Challenge", so we thought the dude might have been inspired by that, but who knows. It was such a strangely wonderful experience, and we ended up sharing the story with anyone who would listen. And I still am, three and a half years later.
posted by shannonm at 8:40 PM on April 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


I really like this. The "Internet Asshole" in me is quelled for another day. Thanks for sharing this.

You're very welcome! :)

And thank you for saying so. I was beginning to think every comment here would be cynical.
posted by zarq at 8:54 PM on April 21, 2010


And Brittanie, that was completely awesome of you! :)
posted by zarq at 8:55 PM on April 21, 2010


And thank you for saying so. I was beginning to think every comment here would be cynical.

for the record, mine wasn't cynical, it was entirely sincere.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:56 PM on April 21, 2010


for the record, mine wasn't cynical, it was entirely sincere.

Okay. Cool. :)
posted by zarq at 9:03 PM on April 21, 2010


I'm involved in a similar project, except rather than giving out money in the form of actual money, I'm actually monetarising charitable obligations and distributing them to the poor/needy consumer bracket as collateralised charitable obligations (CGOs).

Each CGO is actually a bundle of charitable obligations drawn from a variety of individual charitors. Say you're feeling pretty charitable toward the third-world poor: that sense of obligation to (say) furnish a live goat for a Somalian village is a pretty well-regarded entitlement in the charity marketplace (a "triple-A rated" good deed, if you will). But you're also just so-so about giving money to (e.g.) Chesapeake Kitten Hospital - because it's a charity for wieners. Here's the magic: the lower level of charity you distribute toward the pussy home can be bundled with the goat-for-Africa, and units in the resultant bundle can be distributed for value greater than the sum of the parts!

With sophisticated charitable products like these, redistributed wealth-creation achieves maximal growth over the medium-to-long term, value-adding itself all over the destitudinal market segment and giving the poverty-rich a swift kick up the triple bottom line. All I need is one goat to pitch this thing and we can all kiss paracharitable pooricity goodbye FOREVER.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 2:26 AM on April 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


It would have been altruistic if he didn't blog about it.

OK, it's altruthyistic... halftruistic... alt-truistic... ?

Oh, come on. No act is altruistic if you count the good feeling you give yourself by doing something good for someone else.
posted by pracowity at 5:37 AM on April 22, 2010


come on, pracowity. you don't see a difference between this & brittanie's story? or shannonm's story? and you can't distinguish between feeling good about yourself & seeking out others who feel good about you?
posted by msconduct at 5:48 AM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


WWHKD?

What would Holden Karnofsky do?
posted by ericb at 5:52 AM on April 22, 2010


I was going to say something about the anonymity inherent in "mitzvot," which I thought meant good deeds; then I was sucked into the vortex of googlepedia and who knew? 613 laws?

Paraphrased from here.

There are eight degrees of charity, according to Maimonides, and observant Jews are required to support those in need.

The degrees, from highest to lowest are:

1) Helping another Jew by "giving him a present or loan, or making a partnership with him, or finding him a job in order to strengthen his hand until he needs no longer [beg from] people."

2) Giving money or assistance to the poor anonymously, where neither the benefactor nor the recipient know each other.

3) Giving to someone, where the recipient does not know his benefactor, but the benefactor knows the recipient.

4) Giving to someone, where the benefactor does not know the recipient, but the recipient knows the benefactor.

5) Giving to the poor before being asked.

6) Giving to the poor after being asked.

7) Giving to a poor person gladly and with a smile.

8) Giving to a poor person reluctantly / unwillingly.


OK, at the risk of editorializing too much in my own post....

This doesn't exactly map well onto what Reed Sandridge is doing. He's not giving anonymously, and he acknowledges that he's not really giving enough to help anyone substantially. He's not just giving to the poor, either. He's choosing to give money to people he thinks may have interesting stories, as well as those who may be in need.

But he is raising awareness of the need for charity, and of small, random acts of kindness, by setting a positive example and encouraging others to do the same. Obviously, he doesn't have to do so and it's even kind of counterintuitive, since he's unemployed and could probably use the $3K he's giving away.

I can't speak to his motivations or if he's trying to leverage this into a book deal, although I bet that's likely down the road. But speaking purely for myself, I found the stories interesting and think it's nice that so many of the people he's giving money to are giving it away to others who just might need it more.
posted by zarq at 7:43 AM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Heh, wonder if I'll run into him. I heard the NPR story last weekend. Scanned the blog but didn't see anyone I know as recipients. However I saw a lot of local establishments I'm pretty familiar with - Bob & Edith's! Columbia Pike represent!!
posted by smoothvirus at 7:55 AM on April 22, 2010


and you can't distinguish between feeling good about yourself & seeking out others who feel good about you?

Oh come on, can't you distinguish between a publicity hound and someone who is trying to inspire others to altruism by serving as an example and talking about the difference even small acts of charity can make, and how they can multiply and help others?
posted by LooseFilter at 11:36 AM on April 22, 2010


Oh come on, can't you distinguish between a publicity hound and someone who is trying to inspire others to altruism by serving as an example and talking about the difference even small acts of charity can make, and how they can multiply and help others?

nope. not in this case i can't.
posted by msconduct at 11:44 AM on April 22, 2010


Hm, interesting. You and I had very different reactions to his stories then.
posted by LooseFilter at 11:47 AM on April 22, 2010


"If you do good, people will accuse you of
selfish, ulterior motives, DO GOOD ANYWAY" Paradoxical Commandments
Paradoxical Commandments

Side note: This is my first comment on MetaFilter :) I finally joined after years of reading MetaFilter.
posted by wherespaul at 12:53 AM on April 25, 2010


Metafilter: This is my first comment on MetaFilter
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:57 AM on April 25, 2010


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