More

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.

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

True

The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

This article originally appeared on 06.28.21


After Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed Black man, was pursued and shot by three white residents while jogging through a Georgia suburb, Ellen and Patrick Miller* of San Diego hung a Black Lives Matter flag in front of their house. It was a small gesture, but something tangible they could do.

Like many people, they wanted to both support the BLM movement and bring awareness about racism to members of their community. Despite residing in a part of the county notoriously rumored to be marred by white supremacists and their beliefs, their neighbors didn't say much about it—at first.

Recently, though, during a short window when both Ellen and Patrick were out of the house, someone sliced the flag in two and left the remains in their yard.

via Paula Fitzgibbons

They were upset, but not surprised.

Keep Reading Show less
True

When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."