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He wanted to do something beautiful for his dying wife. The Buy Nothing Project delivered.

People join for the free stuff, but they stay for the community.

He wanted to do something beautiful for his dying wife. The Buy Nothing Project delivered.

He wanted something beautiful to welcome his dying wife home for the last time.

When the man, who will remain anonymous by request, thought about bringing his dying wife home from the hospital, he wished for something beautiful there to greet her.

Hospital bills are pricey and he knew he couldn't afford to bring his dream to life. So, unable to make it happen himself, he posted his wish to a Facebook group in his local community.


And lo and behold, when the man and his wife pulled into their driveway, they were shocked and delighted to find that their neighbors had filled the porch with hundreds and hundreds of beautiful flower bouquets.

This photo, provided by the Buy Nothing Project, shows just a few of the bouquets that began showing up on the man's porch the day he brought his wife home.

The Facebook group that the man posted to? It's called the Buy Nothing Project. And it's so much bigger than just random acts of kindness and generosity.

Buy Nothing Project co-founder Rebecca Rockefeller says that the idea for the group originally started two years ago with something really simple: a bunch of green beans.

Rockefeller had a small yard with lots of shade, and was frustrated to find that the only thing her garden would grow was green beans. So she turned to her friend (and BNP co-founder) Liesl Clark, who offered to toss some of her own vegetables into a communal basket.

Soon other friends were pitching in, too. They traded bread for eggs, and vegetables for milk. But Rockefeller wanted to take it one step beyond trading. "I remember thinking: What if we did this not as a trade, but as a thing where literally anyone who comes to the local park can just grab what they need from a big table?" That was two years ago.

Today, the Buy Nothing Project is a worldwide social experiment — all about giving.

There are more than 1,000 Buy Nothing Project Facebook groups where 500,000 people offer up goods and services to their neighbors, all for free.

In this photo, a group of high schoolers joins a psychologist in a group bonding activity. The psychologist volunteered her time, through the Buy Nothing Project, to talk about difficult issues with the students. Photo via Liesl Clark.

Through the Buy Nothing Project, no money changes hands and people don't barter or trade.

Instead, they just give away things they don't need or services and skills they can offer.

"I remember thinking: What if we did this not as a trade, but as a thing where literally anyone who comes to the local park can just grab what they need from a big table?" — Rebecca Rockefeller

As Clark writes on the group's website, "[The Buy Nothing Project is] a Facebook group that'll give you a hands-on chance to take part in a social movement spreading across the country, enabling people and communities to commit episodic acts of daily good together."

Rockefeller says that people come to the Buy Nothing Project because of the free stuff ... at first.

"Let's be perfectly honest: Who doesn't like free stuff?" Rockefeller tells Upworthy, laughing. "They join because of the stuff. But then they stay because of the gratitude."

The Buy Nothing Project defines "giving" in broad terms and sees generosity in many forms. "It could be dinner, a class, even tree trimming," Rockefeller says.

Sometimes people give small things, like a salad dressing they bought but hated or a screw they found that doesn't fit with anything in their house. Maybe their neighbor wants the salad dressing! Or a friend might just happen to have a dresser that's missing a screw!

Sometimes people give big things, like this BNP group that came together to give a couple a wedding where almost every item came from their neighbors (for free!).

Yep, a free wedding! I know, I know. It's a thing of dreams. Photo via Buy Nothing Project.

Through BNP, people offer to teach new skills, like this local master chef who taught her neighbors to make a delicious meal.

Buy Nothing Project members take photos of the meal they prepared with the master chef in their community. Photo via Liesl Clark.

And people request acts of kindness, like this BNP member who asked for 100 birthday cards for their grandfather's 100th birthday.

"On January 13, 2015, my grandpa advances to the age of 100, and joins the centenarian club :') WOW! I'm borrowing an idea from my friend to get 100 cards to him before his birthday," a Buy Nothing Project member wrote. Photo via Buy Nothing Project Facebook page, used with permission.


Sometimes, the idea of giving is even a little more abstract and intangible, like a BNP group who enjoyed an hour of free ukulele music in Seattle.

Who doesn't love a good ukulele session? Photo via the Buy Nothing Project.

So what can we learn from the magic that is the Buy Nothing Project?

"Philosophically, we want to get people thinking differently about our stuff and our time and what we do with it," Rockefeller says.

She hopes people can learn to look at material goods as collective resources that can be shared when communities come together, rather than as commodities.

As Rockefeller explains it, this kind of communal sharing can only happen when people stop attaching their self-worth to what they own and start identifying instead with how well they give to their communities.

"To us, this whole thing is an experiment," she says. "We're watching it unfold and learning a lot about human behavior."

The biggest lesson so far? Whether it's salad dressing or flowers for a dying woman, giving can make us feel a lot more connected than receiving.

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Judy Vaughan has spent most of her life helping other women, first as the director of House of Ruth, a safe haven for homeless families in East Los Angeles, and later as the Project Coordinator for Women for Guatemala, a solidarity organization committed to raising awareness about human rights abuses.

But in 1996, she decided to take things a step further. A house became available in the mid-Wilshire area of Los Angeles and she was offered the opportunity to use it to help other women and children. So, in partnership with a group of 13 people who she knew from her years of activism, she decided to make it a transitional residence program for homeless women and their children. They called the program Alexandria House.

"I had learned from House of Ruth that families who are homeless are often isolated from the surrounding community," Judy says. "So we decided that as part of our mission, we would also be a neighborhood center and offer a number of resources and programs, including an after-school program and ESL classes."

She also decided that, unlike many other shelters in Los Angeles, she would accept mothers with their teenage boys.

"There are very few in Los Angeles [that do] due to what are considered liability issues," Judy explains. "Given the fact that there are (conservatively) 56,000 homeless people and only about 11,000 shelter beds on any one night, agencies can be selective on who they take."

Their Board of Directors had already determined that they should take families that would have difficulties finding a place. Some of these challenges include families with more than two children, immigrant families without legal documents, moms who are pregnant with other small children, families with a member who has a disability [and] families with service dogs.

"Being separated from your son or sons, especially in the early teen years, just adds to the stress that moms who are unhoused are already experiencing," Judy says.

"We were determined to offer women with teenage boys another choice."

Courtesy of Judy Vaughan

Alexandria House also doesn't kick boys out when they turn 18. For example, Judy says they currently have a mom with two daughters (21 and 2) and a son who just turned 18. The family had struggled to find a shelter that would take them all together, and once they found Alexandria House, they worried the boy would be kicked out on his 18th birthday. But, says Judy, "we were not going to ask him to leave because of his age."

Homelessness is a big issue in Los Angeles. "[It] is considered the homeless capital of the United States," Judy says. "The numbers have not changed significantly since 1984 when I was working at the House of Ruth." The COVID-19 pandemic has only compounded the problem. According to Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), over 66,000 people in the greater Los Angeles area were experiencing homelessness in 2020, representing a rise of 12.7% compared with the year before.

Each woman who comes to Alexandria House has her own unique story, but some common reasons for ending up homeless include fleeing from a domestic violence or human trafficking situation, aging out of foster care and having no place to go, being priced out of an apartment, losing a job, or experiencing a family emergency with no 'cushion' to pay the rent.

"Homelessness is not a definition; it is a situation that a person finds themselves in, and in fact, it can happen to almost anyone. There are many practices and policies that make it almost impossible to break out of poverty and move out of homelessness."

And that's why Alexandria House exists: to help them move out of it. How long that takes depends on the woman, but according to Judy, families stay an average of 10 months. During that time, the women meet with support staff to identify needs and goals and put a plan of action in place.

A number of services are provided, including free childcare, programs and mentoring for school-age children, free mental health counseling, financial literacy classes and a savings program. They have also started Step Up Sisterhood LA, an entrepreneurial program to support women's dreams of starting their own businesses. "We serve as a support system for as long as a family would like," Judy says, even after they have moved on.

And so far, the program is a resounding success.

92 percent of the 200 families who stayed at Alexandria House have found financial stability and permanent housing — not becoming homeless again.

Since founding Alexandria House 25 years ago, Judy has never lost sight of her mission to join with others and create a vision of a more just society and community. That is why she is one of Tory Burch's Empowered Women this year — and the donation she receives as a nominee will go to Alexandria House and will help grow the new Start-up Sisterhood LA program.

"Alexandria House is such an important part of my life," says Judy. "It has been amazing to watch the children grow up and the moms recreate their lives for themselves and for their families. I have witnessed resiliency, courage, and heroic acts of generosity."

via US Secretary of Defense / Flickr and The Today Show

As the nation braces itself for the verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial, President Biden has embraced the family of George Floyd at what has to be an incredibly stressful time.

Following closing arguments in the Chauvin trial on Monday, Judge Peter Cahill has sent jurors to deliberate. The verdict is expected to come in the next few days.

"He was just calling," George's brother, Philonise Floyd, said about the president. "He knows how it is to lose a family member, and he knows the process of what we're going through. So he was just letting us know that he was praying for us, hoping that everything will come out to be OK."

Biden lost his wife and one-year-old daughter in a tragic car accident in 1972 and his son Beau to cancer in 2015.

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2020 was difficult (to say the least). The year was full of life changes, losses, and lessons as we learned to navigate the "new normal." You may have questions about what the changes and challenges of 2020 mean for your taxes. That's where TurboTax Live comes in, making it easy to connect with real tax experts to help with your taxes – or even do them for you, start to finish.

Not only has TurboTax Live helped millions of people get their taxes done right, but this year they've also celebrated people who uplifted their communities during a difficult time by surprising them with "little lifts" to help out even more.

Here are a few of their stories:


Julz, hairdresser and salon owner

"As a hairdresser and salon owner, 2020 was extremely challenging," says Julz. "Being a hairdresser has historically been a recession-proof industry, but we've never faced global shut down due to health risk, or pandemic, not in my lifetime. And for the first time, hairdressers didn't have job security."

Julz had to shut down her salon and go on unemployment benefits for the first time. She also had to figure out how she was going to support herself, her staff and her business during this difficult time. But many other beauty industry professionals didn't have access to the resources they needed, so Julz decided to help.

"My business partner and I began teaching basic financial literacy to other beauty industry professionals," she says. "Transitioning our business from behind the chair to an online academy was a challenge we tackled head-on so that we could move hairdressers into this new space of education, and create a more accessible curriculum to better serve our industry.

Julz connected with a TurboTax Live expert who helped her understand how unemployment affected her taxes and gave her guidance on filing quarterly estimated taxes for her small business. "I was terrified to sit at a computer and tackle this mess of receipts," Julz says, so "it was great to have some virtual handholding to walk me through each question."

In addition to giving Julz the personalized tax advice she needed, TurboTax Live surprised her with a "little lift" that empowered her to help even more beauty professionals. "When my tax expert Diana surprised me with a little lift, I was moved to tears," says Julz. "With that little lift, I was able to establish a scholarship fund to help get other hairdressers the education they deserve."


Alana, new mom

Alana welcomed her first child in 2020. "I think my biggest challenge was figuring out how to be a mom, with no guidance," she says. "My original plan was to have my mom by my side, teaching me the ropes, but because of COVID, she wasn't able to come out here."

She was also without a job for most of 2020 and struggled to find something new.

So, Alana took it as a sign: she decided to launch her own business so she could support her new baby, and that's exactly what she did. She started a feel-good company that specializes in creating affirmation card decks — and she's currently in the process of starting a second, video-editing business.

TurboTax Live answered Alana's questions about her taxes and gave her some much-needed advice as she prepared to launch her businesses. Thanks to their "little lift," they provided her with a little emotional support too.

"I got my mom a plane ticket to finally [have her] meet [my daughter] for her first birthday," Alana says. "I was also able to get a new computer," which helped her invest in her new business and work on her video editing skills. "It's helped my family and me so much," she says.


Michael, science teacher

When schools shut down across the country last year, Michael had to learn how to adapt to a virtual classroom.

"As a teacher, I had to completely revamp everything," he says, so that he could keep his students engaged while teaching online. "At the beginning, it was a nightmare because I had no idea. I had to go from A-Z within a couple of weeks."

Michael's TurboTax Live expert answered his questions about how working from home affected his taxes and helped him uncover surprising tax deductions. To top it all off, his expert surprised him with brand new science equipment and supplies, which allowed him to create an entire line of classes on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. "Now I can truly potentially reach millions of children with my lessons," he says. "I would never have taken that leap if not for the little lift from TurboTax Live."



Ricky, motivational youth speaker

As a motivational speaker, Ricky was used to doing his job in person, but, he says, "when COVID-19 hit, it altered my ability to travel and visit schools in person [because] schools moved to fully virtual or hybrid models."

He knew he had to pivot — so he began offering small virtual group workshops for student leadership groups at middle and high schools.

"This allowed me to work with student leaders to plan how they would continue making a positive impact on their school community," he says. He wasn't sure how being remote would affect his taxes, but TurboTax Live Self-Employed gave him the advice and answers that he needed to keep more money in his pocket at tax time — and the little lift he received from them has helped him serve even more students.

"[It] has been a major blessing," he says "There will be multiple schools and student groups from across the country that I can hold leadership workshops with to empower them with the tools to be inspirational leaders in their school, community, and world."

Plus, he says, it was great knowing he had an expert to help him figure out how being remote affected his taxes. "I felt confident and assured in the process of filing my taxes knowing I had an expert working with me, says Ricky. "There were things my expert knew that I would not have considered when filing on my own."

Filing your taxes doesn't have to be intimidating, especially after a year like 2020. TurboTax Live experts can give you the "little lift" you need to get your taxes done. File with the help of an expert or let an expert file for you! Go to TurboTax Live to get started.