Happy Worldwide Day of Giving!!!
The Worldwide Day of Giving is fast approaching us. Once again on June 15th you can join people all around the world in a simple act of kindness. There are 3 simple ways that you can take part in this event:
You can volunteer with any organization. For those of you who are busy and can’t take off work, consider micro-volunteering on www.sparked.com. Many of the volunteer projects take 15-20 minutes. You can volunteer on your lunch break!
2. GIVE A STRANGER $10
So you’re old school? You want to celebrate the Worldwide Day of Giving by paying forward like I did for 365 days. It’s easy. Find a complete stranger. Approach them and tell them that you are participating in the Worldwide Day of Giving and would like to give them $10. The only rules are that you may not know the person and you may not receive anything in return for the $10 (aside from the rush of goodness you will feel).
Ideally you will take some time to speak with the recipient, find out what they will do with the $10 as well as a little bit about who they are. If you can take a picture or video, that would be even better – we would love to have you post that here.
3. DONATE $10
Give $10 today to your favorite charity. Don’t know who to give to? You can donate through the Year of Giving website to help some of the 365 recipients I gave $10 to in 2010. Click here to make a donation.
At the end of the day, share your giving stories on the Facebook Page and then sit back and start to watch the phenomenon begin. Stories trickling in from all around the world. Imagine the different reactions and stories that we will collectively have from Oconomowoc, Wisconsin to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Raahe, Finland to Montevideo, Uruguay!
Please pass the word around!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Continue Reading »
-Blog post by Reed Sandridge in Washington, D.C.
Seven years ago Winston Duncan started an amazing organization that would send bicycles to needy individuals in Africa. Now in and of itself this is a tremendous idea and a worthy endeavor, but what makes it extra special is Winston. You see he was only 10 years old when he started this organization. Seven years and four thousand bikes later, he continues on his mission.
I volunteered with Wheels to Africa on December 10th – the final outing of my Year of Volunteering. I arrived in the morning and volunteers were already hard at work receiving bicycles and making adjustments (removing pedals and rotating the handlebars 90 degrees) so that they would stack more efficiently.
A good bit taller than me, the 17-year-old is unassuming and quiet. He’s passionate not only about basketball and hanging out with his friends, but also about caring for individuals half way around the world who he has never met and probably never will.
Far outnumbering the adults, I was surprised at how many young people were volunteering. They seemed to have an almost magical feeling of empowerment. Nobody had to tell them what to do – they just stepped up and got the work done. Winston also had a little help from his mom, Dixie, who worked tirelessly on the project. I got to spend some time with her as we rode together up to Kensington, MD to pick up a U-Haul truck full of bikes and bring it back down to the main collection point in Virginia. From behind the wheel of her SUV she kept on working during the 35 minute drive; fielding phone calls from donors wanting information about drop off centers and making calls to volunteer leaders to make sure things were going OK at their respective locations.
Few volunteer opportunities that I have been a part of this year have touched me as much as this one did. The way so many people came together to help Winston in his mission. We worked well into the night; loading bikes from collection centers on to trucks and then driving them to storage centers and unloading them. You gain a new respect for the kind of effort that is required to pull something of this magnitude off.
Exhausted and sore from the day’s work of loading and unloading bikes, Winston laughed and nodded his head when I asked him if he ever wished that he had started a “Harmonicas for Africa” organization instead – it sure would be a lot less heavy lifting and shipping would be a fraction of the cost, but then again I doubt that harmonicas would have as meaningful of an impact on people’s lives.
This year there was no collection point in the District of Columbia and I hope that next year I can help Winston and Dixie establish one. Maybe you will join me? I hope that you check out Wheels-to-Africa’s website and drop by and say hello at next year’s event. In the meantime, Wheels to Africa not only needs your bikes, but they also need your donations to help cover shipping and other related costs to get the bikes to those who need them. So consider making a tax-deductible donation and help Winston fulfill his dream.
If you would like to see more photographs that I took while volunteering with Wheels to Africa, check out my Flickr account.
Also, I just checked and harmonicas-to-africa.org is still available so if you want to pursue that idea you better hurry!
One way that you can volunteer your time and expertise is to join your home-owners or community association. I spent the last two years as vice president of my condominium association.
This service typically takes a long-term commitment – at least a year. You get to be involved in a variety of activities. From shaping the rules that we all agree to live by to ensuring that the common facilities stays in good working order, you actively participate in the overall operation and management of the building. Meeting four times a year, and additionally as necessary, I got a first hand look at the finances of our association as well as the long-term planning that takes place to ensure that we have enough funds to cover large ticket items – such as replacing our roof.
Over a delicious espresso I recently shared with a friend that I was stepping down from my position on the board of directors. “Really,” she said, “I thought you enjoyed it.” While it is true that I enjoyed my service on the board, as well as getting to know my neighbors better, it was time for a break and I was very pleased to see some new faces on the board.
-Blog post by Reed Sandridge of Washington, D.C.
December 5th marks the United Nation’s International Volunteer Day – a day where people and communities worldwide come together in service. I agreed to join a group of volunteers from Meridian International Center (you might remember them from Week 36) who were going to plant trees with Washington Parks and People.
On the bus ride over to Oxon Run Park in the Southeast part of our nation’s capital my mind drifted back to the turn of the 19th century to images of Johnny Appleseed leisurely spreading seeds from a small leather pouch as he headed to the new frontier of the Midwest. Well not only is my mental version of Johnny Appleseed historically inaccurate, it couldn’t have been further from the reality that lay ahead.
Along the trickling banks of the stream bearing the park’s name, we were put into small groups and assigned about a half-dozen trees to plant in the lonely green clearing. That’s right, no seeds but 100+ pound baby trees. Each team was led by a graduate of the DC Green Corps – a city-wide program developed by Washington Parks and People that introduces participants to more than 50 different careers in urban forestry through an intensive three-month course.
I am not sure which part is more difficult. Digging the whole to put the trees in or schlepping the trees around. The next morning my forearms hurt so bad from shoveling…that movement that you make to leverage the shovel against the earth burdens muscles that I apparently never use.
When the day was over we had planted 61 trees according to the design plan that the Washington Parks and People staff architected. It took into account aesthetics and purpose – the trees would help keep soil in tact and reduce erosion and excessive runoff that causes flooding during heavy rains. The American sweetgums (liquidambar styraciflua) that I helped plant that day are native to the region and will dazzle local residents with its deep glossy green foliage which give way to beautiful purplish hues in the fall.
Before we left several volunteers named and hugged their trees. Despite being a self-proclaimed treehugger, I didn’t wrap my tired arms around any of my trees. Instead I took a moment to appreciate the beauty of our labor that day and firmly record the new landscape in my mind. I think I will make a pilgrimage to the area each year to find refuge from Washington’s sweltering summer heat and have a picnic in the cool shadows of the sweetgums five-pointed star-shaped leaves.
Click here for more photographs from this event.