Recent headlines from Charlottesville, Las Vegas, and New York City have focused a lot of attention on negativity and hate.
WUSA9 decided to set out on a mission to find out what would happen if we approached strangers in our community with a simple act of kindness.
We sent WUSA9 anchor Lesli Foster out into the community with a stack of $100 bills.
Her mission was to find a stranger to give a $100 to and then ask that stranger to give another $100 to someone else.
The result of our social experiment are the following stories that reminded us of what the word humanity really means – it is compassionate, sympathetic, generous behavior and we found the DMV is brimming with it.
Lesli approached Ryan Mannion outside a strip mall in Hyattsville, Maryland. She handed Ryan a $100 bill. She then asked Ryan to take another $100 bill and find a stranger to give it to. Ryan walked to a nearby dry cleaner where he found Tonya Cooper. He gave the $100 to Tonya and said, “So they just gave me $100 and the thing I have to do is give $100 to someone else.” Tonya stared back at him. “Is it real? Is this April Fools?” she asked. Tonya told us she would be giving the money to her daughter for her to pay for college. Ryan was so moved by Tonya’s story that when we asked him what he would do with his $100 he said, “I’m going to give it to her. If it’s going to go to her daughter’s education. That’s better than what I was going to do with it.”
Lesli found Ruby Downing outside a CVS store and surprised her with a $100 bill. Ruby said she would use the money to buy herself lunch and dinner from a nearby church. When we asked Ruby who she would like to give $100 to she chose Darlene Phimpolt. Ruby and Darlene had met just a few minutes before walking from a nearby hospital. Ironically, they told us they had discussed the amount of bad news going on in the world. Ruby told us, “You look at Puerto Rico, Florida, Texas, we need a smile on our face. We need unity.”
We found a group of good Samaritans trying to help a young child stuck on a 4th floor balcony of an apartment complex. The child was screaming and crying. They spent about 25 minutes trying to calm the child and contacting other neighbors who could help. Once the child was safe, we decided to reward the folks who jumped in to help. Jennifer Moore was one of those people – a step-mom of three. Leslie presented Jennifer with a $100 bill. When we asked Jennifer who she would like to give $100 to she immediately pointed out Tiana Smith. Tiana, a single mother of two, through tears told us she was struggling financially and that this money would help her provide her children with a good meal.
Goodbye Sad Day
It was Artis Grandison’s first day on the job at pidzza. He’s an IT student at Career Technical Institute. Lesli presented Artis with the $100 bill and he said, “I just wish our country could get back to the original point. Not all this drama.” When we asked who he’d like to give $100 to Artis rushed outside and found Bertha Thomas. Bertha said her day had been a sad one before she met Artis. “Is this real?” she asked. “Oh thank you Lord Jesus I got a blessing I needed this!” She proceeded to hug Artis, Lesli, and our unsuspecting cameraman.
Paying it Forward
Selvi Cropal is a mother of two who told Lesli that today was her husband’s birthday when she was presented $100 bill. When we asked her to give another $100 to a stranger she immediately presented it to Bill and Joanne Bannon. Bill and Joanne said, “We want to share this. It’s a wonderful act,” They approached Dale Ashdown with the $100 bill who immediately decided to also pay it forward by flagging down a nearby driver. The driver was Christian Todo, a senior at Richard Montgomery High School who told us he will use the money for college. “Today’s day and age people aren’t really friendly,” he said. But this act of kindness certainly changed his opinion on that.
That’s a Lot of Diapers
Joe and Christina Chochrine have three children, all boys and all in diapers. “That’s a lot of diapers,” is what they told Lesli Foster when she gave them a $100 bill. When asked to surprise another person with $100, they decided to randomly surprise Robin Ausberry. Robin was looking at the map at the mall trying to find the restaurant where she was planning to meet friends for lunch. Robin said she’d have a great story to tell her friends today and was very grateful for the surprise.
Dad and Daughter Day
Patrick Wyman and his daughter Brogan were enjoying Patrick’s day off from his job at the FBI when they were surprised by Lesli Foster with a $100 bill. Brogan is 10 years old and she was excited to help us find another stranger to give $100 dollars. She spotted Elaine Pitkin and said she looked like a ‘nice grandma sitting at a table with no one with her.’ Brogan gave the $100 bill to Elaine. “Oh my goodness”, she said. “To me? I was just going to sign a lease on an apartment.” Elaine says she has no grandchildren but Brogan warmed her heart. “I can’t believe this. It is like make believe! We need a little more love in this world.”
Cathie Lane and her friend Ann, a couple of retirees were out mall walking when Lesli Foster surprised them with a $100 bill. They wanted to give the other $100 bill to a mother. They found Lauren Hickerson at the mall with her daughter Hannah, because it was a teacher work day and gave her the $100. Cathie then decided to give the original $100 away as well to Ana Romera who was sitting nearby.
When the WUSA9 team approached Germain Winstin and Danielle Harrelson with $100 bill, the young couple said they would use it for Christmas shopping. Germaine found Kathy McDuffie who was getting a gift wrapped for her anniversary. “I get to keep it for real?” Kathy asked. “There should be more of this in the world today!” Kathy shared with us that she has nine brothers and sisters who she likes to give things to often. Germain said it felt good to give Kathy the money and added, “I’m glad we could make her day and we hope we can keep giving. It’s a wonderful thing to do.”
The DMV Veteran
Kevin Melgares was at the DMV trying to get his car registered with his dad, Omar when the WUSA9 team surprised him with a $100 bill. It was his first day back after four years serving in the United States Air Force. He was station in Georgia. He was penalized with a fine at the DMV for not having his emissions inspection. “These 100 dollars made my day,” Kevin’s dad said. “It’s an excellent idea. Helping random people you don’t know, it’s great.” Kevin decided to give a second $100 bill to Misty Wolf. She was also headed to the DMV. Her 15-year-old daughter was going to take her driving test. Misty’s husband spent 12 years in the military as well. “That’s awesome! Thank you for your service!” Misty said. “I love the idea. I think it’s great and I’m going to pass it on!”