Hi, You Don’t Know Me, But Here’s $10

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For some people, the recession has provided both the time and inspiration to take on some odd challenge or project—generally with a blog as the cheap, easy format for documenting it. Like a woman who asked for a discount daily over the course of a year, and an unemployed Oregon man traveling the country who invited all comers to take a Sharpie and write on his van about how the recession is affecting them. Here’s a new recession-related project called the Year of Giving.

Reed Sandridge, who lives in D.C. and lost his job at a non-profit last year, is handing out a $10 to a different person each day for a year. The Washington Post profiles Sandridge, who was inspired to become a small-time random philanthropist by the recession, along with the death of his mother.

In his blog, called the Year of Giving, Sandridge describes his different attempts to hand 10-spots to strangers (some don’t accept, many seem wary), and writes about all the people he meets. He’s on day 91 of the project right now. Where does the money come from? His savings account, which is supplemented by the weekly unemployment checks he collects.

What has Sandridge learned? Mostly that it’s nice to be nice. Sometimes, the $10 elicits little more than a smile and a kind “Thanks.” Other times, the money truly helps people out, per the WP story:

On his fifth day, in the middle of a fierce snowstorm, he met Davie McInally, a Scottish man with icicles frozen in his thick beard who was carrying his belongings in a backpack and trying to get to New York to enlist in the military. McInally hoped to serve on active duty and earn his citizenship, and the $10, added to his $14, made a bus ticket possible.

“I am sure there have been quite a few people now that those 10 dollars have really helped, or made their life or even their days a lot better,” McInally wrote in an e-mail.

And what makes Sandridge really happy?

His favorites are those (more than 30) who say they’ll use the money to help someone else: He likes to see the $10 snowball. A woman went to a homeless shelter the night after she met Sandridge and found someone who could use the gift. A Haitian man who had just learned that his mother had died in the earthquake told Sandridge that he was going to the island to look for other relatives and would put the money toward bringing satellite phones there.