It may be one of the most surprising stories to emerge from the recession — and a fascinating social experiment.
When Reed Sandridge, 36, was first laid off from his job at a D.C. nonprofit in Sept. 2009, he spent about a month sleeping in and doing all the things he didn’t have time to do when he was working full time. It wasn’t until his second month of unemployment rolled around that the stark reality of joblessness began to sink in.
“I realized that the average person was spending seven months or more unemployed, and that idea started to play a little bit on my outlook on things,” he told HuffPost. “I got a little depressed. I wanted a job, I’d been working since I was 13, so I really wanted some type of responsibility and also to connect with my local community.”
But, like millions of other Americans, Sandridge couldn’t find a job. So he decided to create his own sense of community and responsibility.
“I looked at my finances and realized I had enough savings that I could go about a year and have a little leftover,” he said. “I thought, why don’t I take that remainder and give 10 dollars a day to a person I don’t know? Get out of the house, engage with the community, and make somebody’s day?”
On Dec. 15, 2009, the anniversary of his mother’s passing, Sandridge began his $10-a-day giveaway project. The recipients could be anyone from a homeless person to a bus driver to a businessman in a suit, and Sandridge says he promised them all that he would not judge the way they spent the money as long as they were completely honest with him about where it was going. He looked at it as a kind of social experiment.
“I was really curious to know, what is the marginal propensity for people to save or spend money that is found?” he said. “Most people said they were either going to give it to someone else or use it to buy something for someone else. Coffee was another pretty common response. Alcohol was number four on the list.”
You can learn more at the link.
And you can also follow his journey on Reed Sandridge’s blog, in which he describes the people he met and what they did with his money.