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The Minimalists

Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus write about living a meaningful life with less stuff for 2 million readers. As featured on: CBS, BBC, NPR, Forbes, The Atlantic, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, and National Post. They live in Missoula, Montana.

Helping Hands: Mark’s Story of Contribution

Helping Hand

Change is inevitable. The most important thing we can do with our essays is inspire others to make changes in their lives. We want to add value to our readers’ lives so they feel compelled to grow and constantly improve, so they feel compelled to contribute beyond themselves and add value to others. To do so we share our journey, our struggles, our experiments, and our stories. Occasionally we share other people’s stories.

Below is an email we received from a reader named Mark Biery. Mark had a great story to tell. We’re sharing his story to show that you too can make a significant difference in other people’s lives. After all, giving is living. All you have to do is decide to contribute beyond yourself and take action. There are a million opportunities out there. All you need to do is seize one of them.

Mark’s email:

Joshua & Ryan,

Thanks for all that you do. I thought you would like to hear about my Christmas project this year (Christmas 2011).

I’m a 42 year-old male, divorced with no kids. In general, I’m very happy with my life, but lately I’ve been feeling depressed by the materialistic emphasis on Christmas. Now it seems like, for Americans, the holiday only means “spend money we don’t have on useless stuff for people we don’t care about.”

On the day before Thanksgiving, as I dreaded news of Black Friday and Cyber Monday hitting the media, I posited a question to myself: “How can I reinvent Christmas so I feel better about it?” I knew that buying stuff would not help.

Two hours from my home in Tucson, Arizona, there’s a small, poor Mexican town called Agua Prieta. Over the last few years I’ve volunteered there, building houses. There are several orphanages that are always in need.

I decided to organize a clothing drive for the orphans in Agua Prieta. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I’ve driven all over town, picking up giant bags and boxes of children’s clothes that have only been gathering dust.

This has resulted in:

  • generating a ton of clothes (almost new) for very needy orphans
  • inspiring my American friends to clean out their closets and simplify their lives
  • inspiring people to think about helping the less-fortunate during the holidays
  • transporting American clutter to where it can really benefit others
  • making new friends (Facebook friends who I’m now meeting in person)
  • a great feeling of accomplishment and fulfillment as I’ve helped others
  • a renewed sense of the Christmas spirit

Honestly, your ideas have played an instrumental part in this idea. Thanks for the inspiration, and happy holidays!

—Mark Biery, Tucson, AZ

This is why we put so much time and effort into our essays. We’re thankful we have the opportunity to inspire others. Seeing someone get inspired enough to put together a clothing drive for needy orphans is incredibly fulfilling. We’re happy to contribute to our local community (Dayton, Ohio), as well as the online community. And we are even happier when our readers are inspired to do the same.

You can connect with Mark Biery on Facebook. Below are a few pictures of Mark and his efforts: