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My Year of Giving was a life-changing event. I could have never in a million years imagined before I gave away my first ten-dollar bill on Dec. 15, 2009 how the journey would change my life. One of the amazing 365 people I met during that year was Anthony. Our lives crossed paths on Day 67.

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Anthony & Me on our first day of our project. (Photo: Reed Sandridge)

In two weeks it will be three years since I started the project. A lot has changed. I am now employed, I can’t walk around my neighborhood without seeing somebody I gave $10 to and I have an entirely new perspective on giving. Life is pretty good.

Many of you have encouraged me to put this story into a book. I’ve started that – well, I am trying to do this at least. It’s harder than it sounds to dedicate time to writing – especially when you are often tired from your day job. But I am committed to finishing the book. But I thought I would enlist some help. That’s when I turned to my friend.

Anthony has been homeless for nearly 10 years in our nation’s capital. One of the first Street Sense vendors, vendor number 5 to be exact, Anthony doesn’t let the fact that he can not afford housing get him down. He works Monday through Friday at the corner of 19th and M selling the paper. But his dream is to have his own apartment and I have wanted to help him achieve that goal for some time.

Anthony offered to help me stay on track with my writing. You know, sometimes you just need someone to be accountable to. In return I am trying to help him get housing. If this sounds simple – keep in mind that I don’t know anything about helping someone get off the streets and Anthony hasn’t a clue about what it takes to get a book published. But that hasn’t stopped us.

We are working to achieve our goal by the end of 2013 – and with a lot of hard work, collaboration between Anthony and me, and possibly your help too – we just might make it! If you would like to follow our journey – drop by and say hello at AthonyAndMe.com.

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You never know how big a small act of kindness can be.

That’s a line from the upcoming play A Year of Giving that is based on the true story of my journey of giving $10 a day to strangers for a year after losing my job in the fall of 2009.

If you live in the DC area – you should come see this play! There is a lot of talent involved – Melanie Papasian did a great job of crafting the script, Patrick Miller from Rockville Little Theatre agreed to produce it and got the very talented Sasha Bratt to direct the show. This, plus an outstanding cast which includes me playing myself (harder than you’d think!) make it a truly memorable evening.

There are five performances…Saturday July 14th is the premiere and it runs through July 28th.

Show Dates: 7/14 6:15PM, 7/17 9:00PM, 7/20 7:00PM, 7/22 3:00PM, 7/28 6:00PM

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Patrick Miller and Reed Sandridge at rehearsal for A Year of Giving. Photo: Sasha Bratt

All performances are at the Goethe Institut at 7th/I in DC (1 block from Gallery Place/Chinatown Metro). Please note that the show is not recommended for those under the age of 14.

For more information, check out the Facebook page or the review on DC Metro Theater Arts website.

Tickets are available through the Fringe Festival.

If you are coming to the show, please drop me a note…it would be great to catch up after the performance. And don’t forget, somebody will receive $10!

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One third of the year is already behind us. Mild weather in the DC area made winter merely a memory of last year. My blog posts have become intermittent at best as I spend the majority of my time on some new projects, but from time to time it is nice to give pause and revisit some of the remarkable people whose stories became woven into the Year of Giving.

Photo: Jonathan Capehart

This last weekend I ran into one of my better known $10 recipients – Willie Geist from Day 317. Saturday night had become Sunday morning and the scene at the Italian Embassy where MSNBC was hosting their White House Correspondents Dinner after party was still going strong. My friends often refer to me as their mini-celebrity friend due to my 15 seconds of Year of Giving fame, but this place was full of real celebrities – where the heck was TMZ?!? Woody Harrelson sipping on a beer by the bar as Dave Chappelle checks out the D.J. booth – or maybe he was just checking out the cute young lady spinning the tunes. Across the room stands the much-thinner-in-real-life Jimmy Kimmel, surrounded by an impressive entourage, relaxing a bit after roasting President Obama earlier in the evening at the dinner. The stunning Rosario Dawson sends a smile my way – or maybe it was intended for Modern Family’s Eric Stonestreet who was standing behind me. In any event, you get the idea.

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Willie Geist talking to Jimmy Kimmel.

At some point my eyes lock on Willie chatting Jimmy Kimmel. The popular television host of MSNBC’s Way Too Early with Willie Geist and Morning Joe is pretty tall – so I spotted him pretty quickly. I waited around trying not to look like a stalker until he finished his conversation. He greeted me with his infectious grin and said that he remembered me, or at least politely pretended that he did, and we chatted for a while. I can’t really say that I know him but he seems to be a really genuine guy. He said that he’s been busy since we met. After churning out two books in six months he said he was just “lying low” for a while. I smirked a bit – the idea of being on television every day and also laying low seem to be mutually exclusive in my book. In any event, it was great to catch up with him.

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Lindsay Czarniak, me, Craig Melvin

I also ran into Today Show correspondent Craig Melvin and his wife Lindsay Czarniak who is a reporter for ESPN. Craig, a very likeable guy in addition to being a great journalist, did a story on the Year of Giving back in 2010 when he was a news anchor for NBC4 here in DC – where he met Lindsay. They married last fall and have since moved to Connecticut.

Click here to visit the original posting for my $10 encounter with Willie Geist.

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It’s funny how fast time goes by. It seems like just yesterday that I was unemployed and embarking on my year-long journey of giving $10 away to strangers. For those of you who have followed this adventure in giving you know for me it wasn’t about the money. Sure I needed the money and it might have been foolish to give away $3,650 while being out of work, but it was about something larger. It was about community. It was about kindness. It was about hope. And it was about the stories – the stories of a community of strangers that allowed me into their lives.

But it was also about time and how we choose to spend it. I discovered that we control very few things in our hectic lives but in the end we have the most control over our time and how we spend it. Last year I chose to spend my time volunteering at least once per week with a different organization. You can read about this amazing year of service here.

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That’s me in the middle with my brother and sister-in-law at a recent volunteer outing for http://www.yachad-dc.org!

But what now? Many people have written to me asking what I will do for 2012. Well, there are lots of things in the works…most of them are much less public than the endeavors of the previous two years. Here’s a look at what is keeping me busy in 2012.

Spending time with loved ones – Life is too short. I know that sounds very cliché but it’s true. Don’t forget to stop your busy life to spend time with those you care about. In the end, that’s what it’s all about.

Giving away stuff – I have too much stuff. Others need stuff. There seems to be a simple solution to both of these problems and I will give away one item per day. I’m not writing about this journey – not yet at (more…)

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-Blog post by Reed Sandridge of Washington, D.C.

Merry Christmas everyone! It seemed rather appropriate to make a post today – on a day that many of us associate with the spirit of giving. So now that your family room looks like a tornado went through it and destroyed an entire city built of wrapping paper, take a moment to enjoy a little update some holiday kindness investing.

At the end of December 2010 I stopped my year-long journey of giving away $10 a day. Well, sorta. I’ve found myself on many occasions giving a ten-spot away this year, I just chose not to write up the stories every day like I did last year. But this last week I did a little extra kindness investing.

I went out to meet up with a former colleague of mine, Jess, for lunch. I laugh because she say’s that I am one of two “famous” people she knows – the other is her brother who is an elementary school principal who is also a local legend singer/song-writer in Rochester, MN. Anyway, on my way over to meet her I decided to go run a few errands and I bumped into Kenneth B. from Day 30.

Normally I find him pacing back and forth hawking the Street Sense paper but this day he sat deep in a folding chair barking his familiar cadence, “Street Sense! … Street Sense!” I was in a bit of a hurry and didn’t want to be late to my lunch meeting but I did want to stop and wish Kenneth a happy holiday and give him a few dollars. As I left, I placed a twenty in his hand – $10 from a Year of Giving supporter in Havertown, PA which I matched with a ten of my own.

I then hopped on the Metro and headed downtown. On the train I started thinking that maybe it would be fun to do a little extra giving and I decided that I would give $10 to each person I passed that day who was asking for money. How much money would that add up to? I mean there are days that I feel like I am surrounded by panhandlers in this town.

As I reached the top of the escalators at Metro Center I saw a man with a plastic cup extended toward those exiting the station. I reached into my wallet, found a ten-dollar bill and handed it to him. “Thank you very much!” he said quickly as he tucked it into his cup.

Photo: Reed

After lunch I headed over to Macy’s to look for a gift I still needed to get. I was sure that I would give $10 to the Salvation Army bell-ringer – but to my surprise there was no bell-ringer in sight. But I did pass plenty of other people and before the day had ended I had passed nine more. One of those was Tommy B. – a Street Sense vendor who ended up being my $10 recipient on Day 155. He was doing well and was planning to head down to South Carolina the next day to spend Christmas with his sister. Like Kenneth, I gave him $20. This time I paid forward a $10 donation I had received from Marcio from New Zealand matched with $10 of my own. He was thankful and gave me a warm hug when I said goodbye.

It was a bit nostalgic giving away ten-spots for the day. Somehow it felt right given the holiday season – but as I have said before, it’s not just the holidays that people need help. They need it even on sunny days in June. So as we approach a new year I hope you will take a moment to think about how you might be able to help others and make a plan, even if it is just in your head, about what you will do. Nobody else needs to know, but it will help you stick with it. Drop me a note if you need some help.

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-Blog post by Reed Sandridge of Washington, DC

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David's hometown is near Kenya's Lake Victoria

I woke up this morning with mixed emotions. On one side, I am so excited that David will soon be reunited with his family in Kenya. The series of events that have come together to make this happen is extraordinary. Having said that, I am not very good with “good-byes” and am sad to see him go.

My focus today though is on celebrating this pivotal moment in his life. We will gather tonight to laugh together and look forward to the future. We are far from my goal of raising the $1,000 to help cover the expenses of David’s travel – but perhaps some more online donations will still come in today. If you haven’t donated and feel that you could spare $10 to help someone else out I encourage you to click on the yellow Donate button.

If you live in D.C. please join us tonight between 5:30-8:00pm at One Lounge (1606 20th Street, NW) in DC. It’s right near the North entrance of the Dupont Circle Metro stop. Here’s a link to the invitation – don’t worry about the RSVP – just show up!

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David’s farewell party

-Blog post by Reed Sandridge of Washington, DC

I wanted to update you on the latest news about David Ger – the charismatic young man from Kenya that has touched the hearts of so many followers of the Year of Giving.

You can read a more detailed chronological narrative of the sequence of events leading up to now, but basically David was my $10 recipient on Day 258. Through getting to know him I discovered that he wanted to try to find a cousin of his who was last known to be living in Poland. I Googled his name and posted it on the Year of Giving hoping that someone would know him, but no luck.

I snapped this photo of David on a recent visit we took to the Kenyan Embassy to make arrangements for his travel.

But then six months later I got a call from David’s cousin in Poland! I connected him with David and now they are closer to being reunited. After months of discussions and raising money to help pay for the costs, the day has finally come where he will be flying back to his home near Lake Victoria. It’s been nearly 15 years and along with the excitement must come a lot of anxiety too.

I will be sad to see my friend leave, but I think this is an amazing opportunity for him. I am throwing a little going away party for David this Monday night at One Lounge (1606 20th Street, NW) in DC. It’s right near the Dupont Circle Metro stop. Please stop by between 5:30 and 8pm to meet David if you haven’t already met him and wish him luck on his journey. Here’s a link to the invitation. We will also be accepting donations if you would like to help cover some of the costs. I’m hoping to raise $1,000.  If you can’t attend but still want to donate – just click here!

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