100 Dollars, 100 Acts of Service
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“100 Dollars, 100 Acts of Service,” New Era, Feb. 2012, 7–9

100 Dollars, 100 Acts of Service

A piece of paper changed Geoff’s life and the lives of 100 other people.

It was just a piece of paper on the ground. Geoff was on his nightly run and almost ran right past it, but something prompted him to stop and pick it up. Bending down, he saw the note, which read, “Pick me up. I’m yours!” When he opened the note, he found a big surprise. Inside was a $100 bill and a note that read, “This is for you. Hope you have a wonderful day!”

As Geoff finished his run, he thought of all the different things he could use the money for, such as new running shoes or a nice dinner. But by the time he got home, he had thought of a better idea. Instead of using the money for himself, he would use it to bring a little joy to others.

“I figured if I blew the money all at once on myself, I would forget about it the next day,” Geoff explains. “I realized what a great opportunity I had, and I wanted to make a real difference. Finding the $100 bill really made my day. I thought that if I could split the money up and help out 100 people, it would be making the day of 100 people. That would be 100 times better than just making my day once.”

101 Happy People

So, Geoff started the 101 Happy People Project. The 101st person is Geoff, because of the joy he felt when he found the money, and Geoff is finding ways to bless 100 other people.

Geoff was able to double the 100 dollars by putting it in a bank that was having a special promotion. Because of the promotion, after tithing, he had two dollars to spend on almost every person he helped. But can two dollars really make a difference? Geoff says it can: “I am 100 percent confident that the money involved is irrelevant. Most of the time, knowing that you are just reaching out to comfort people or just thinking about them is exactly what people need. Two dollars is enough to get that message across. You can make someone else’s day no matter how much money you have.”

Using the two dollars, Geoff has done everything from leaving quarters on a bubblegum machine to buying dollar-movie tickets for the people behind him in line. One time, Geoff saw some homeless men outside of a fast-food restaurant. “I went through the drive-through, and by the time I got my food, the men were leaving. I got out of my car and chased them half a block before I had the chance to give some food to them.”

Usually Geoff likes to give anonymously because that’s how the money was given to him, but sometimes he delivers the gifts in person. He says, “Some of the people I’ve helped were really having a hard time, and I’ve been told many times, ‘You just made my day!’”

An Inspiration to Others

Geoff documents his acts of service on a blog. “The reason I started my blog is not to show off or to tell everyone how much service I’m doing, because that’s just kind of weird,” Geoff says. “I really want to show other people how easy it can be to make a difference. Almost everyone has two dollars; everyone has five minutes to spend to bless someone.”

Geoff hopes to help people understand that there are many small ways to serve the people you see every day. “Don’t hesitate to help those closest to you. Doing something nice for your parents or siblings will really invite the Spirit into your home. Help others at school. I know the difference that a simple act of service makes seems small, but it can have eternal benefits. President Henry B. Eyring said, ‘Never, never underestimate the spiritual value of doing temporal things well for those whom you serve’” (“The Book of Mormon Will Change Your Life,” Ensign, Feb. 2004, 14).

Trying to make 100 people happy through service isn’t just something to inspire others; it has inspired Geoff as well. “It has opened my eyes to see how easy it can be to make a difference. It has made me less selfish. I have learned a lot about what daily service means and how it can help.”

Photographs by iStock/Joshua Blake and courtesy of Geoff Nelson

Photographs © iStock/Jami Garrison, Odelia Cohen, DNY59, Getty Images, and by Robert Casey