What if you had some cash to give away to any person or charity you deemed worthy? How would you decide who deserved or needed it the most?
We put that question to you last month in our "Secret Millionaire" contest (read about it here), based on the reality TV show in which millionaires go “undercover” living in impoverished neighborhoods, and at the end of their stay donate thousands of dollars to worthy charities. The aspect of the show that we found most appealing wasn't just the giving--it was the mentality of hunting for places to give, the effect of keeping one's eyes open to those in need instead of retreating into complacency.
Presenting the Winners
The show inspired us, so we offered $250 to one winner and $100 to two runners up who would spend a week watching, exploring, and journaling about their search for those in need of help. As in the TV show, winners would take us along on the journey of choosing who'd receive the cash, and, when it was all over, tell us how much they wanted to give to whom.
Our winners are...
RUNNER UP: Elizabeth from Saratoga Springs, New York, who is using the prize to help a student buy textbooks.
"I have been an avid and loyal LearnVest reader from the beginning," Emily said, "and while I always appreciate tips on saving, spending, and investing, it's equally important that we readers be reminded that charitable giving can become a regular part of our budgets. Those who cannot donate money can always consider donating time; both are crucially needed."
RUNNER UP: Ruthanne from Owego, New York, who is giving her prize to the local cooperative extension of Cornell University.
"Family and community have always been important to me and I believe that healthy individuals in healthy families are the heart and soul of our community," Ruthanne told us. "So when I became aware of all the great work that Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tioga County was doing with its Family Development Program, I wanted to volunteer (and to be a 'Secret Millionaire')."
WINNER: Emily from Lafayette, Georgia
Emily was a keen observer, and was deeply embedded in her local community--she lives next to her town's projects, volunteers regularly, and counts among her friends some of those who need help the most. But the 20-something homemaker and Etsy seller found the experience eye-opening.
"I went into this week not knowing exactly what to expect or who I should help," says Emily of her experience. "But this opportunity has opened my eyes to such a need that, although I knew existed, was never clear how extreme the conditions are. I think I have learned more this week about my community than I have at any other time in my adult life."
And in a shocking coincidence, her week of journaling came right on the heels of a vicious tornadoe that cut through her hometown in northwestern Georgia.
We'll post Emily's journals on LearnVest every weekday from now until Thursday the 26th, when she'll reveal who she picked to receive $250. Read Emily's first entry here, and find out why she applauds a single mother turning down a job, how her town is coping with tornado damage, and what that has to do with American Idol.