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Photo courtesy of Tim Sharpe.

Goethe-Institut – Gallery

Remaining Performances:
Saturday, July 28, 6 p.m.

They say: “How far can $10 take you? Join the inspiring journey of an unemployed DC man who spent a year giving away $10 a day, uniting 365 strangers, sharing their stories and changing lives.”

Lindsey’s Take: Back in 2009, Reed Sandridge was out of a job. He was tired of describing himself as “in transition” as he went on interview after interview. But he had the luxury of time, he realized, and enough savings to devote himself to something meaningful.

“Everyone has a story,” his mom used to say. Sandridge describes her as a woman who knew what a difference a bit of kindness could do, and his actions are, in a large part, dedicated to her. He heard quite a few stories that year, as he gave away $10 to a total stranger each day and wrote about his experiences at www.yearofgiving.org.

This performance shares many of those true stories, of people suffering from loss, substance abuse, depression, and other illnesses—-and others for whom $10 is little more than a reminder of the good that one person can do. He asked each person what they might do with that money, and he got answers ranging from trivial to life-changing; buy someone a sandwich, buy a bus ticket, buy a drink, a burrito, a cupcake. Send a care package to soldiers in Iraq in memory of a recently fallen husband. Find a long lost family member. Help people in Haiti after the earthquake.

Sandridge plays himself and narrates throughout the show, as three other cast members rotate throughout the roles of the people he met. They re-enact chunks of his life and perform vignettes from the perspective of other people. A web of interconnected rope stretches across the back of the stage, filling with the photographs he took of each individual along his journey, with a picture of his mother placed at the center.

More remarkable than the show itself, however, is the connection you can see that Sandridge has to these people. Former strangers, he now refers to them as friends and remembers many of their names and stories, having kept up with them to this day. They come to the show, or shine shoes right outside the theater. He hasn’t had to memorize this part of the script, he’s not reciting lines—-he smiles and just talks about the people who helped change his life as he changed theirs.

His story isn’t without struggle, from his own story of unemployment, lost relationships, and family members, to the sometimes tragic stories of the people he meets and even the daily task of giving away $10—-it is remarkably difficult to convince a total stranger to accept your money. But the glimpses he provides of lives around D.C.—-men, women, young, old, from around the world and here in the city—-are inspiring. And he continues to help people—-in the Lend A Hand section of his blog, in his new job, or in the volunteer projects he has undertaken since he finished his Year of Giving.

See It If: You want to be inspired to do something more.

Skip It If: You’re already reading his blog or finding a way to help.