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The Minimalists

Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus write about living a meaningful life with less stuff for 4 million readers. As featured on: ABC, CBS, NBC, BBC, TODAY, NPR, TIME, Forbes, The Atlantic, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and National Post. They live in Missoula, Montana.

Helping Hands: Mark’s Story of Contribution

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, constantly improve, and contribute to others. To do so we share our journey, our struggles, our experiments, and our stories. Occasionally we share other people’s stories, too.

Below is an email we received from a reader named Mark Biery, a man a great story to tell. We’re sharing his missive (with permission) 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 then take action. There are a million opportunities out there. All you must 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 clothes for needy orphans.
  • Inspiring friends to simplify their lives.
  • Inspiring people to think about helping others.
  • Transporting clutter to where it can benefit people.
  • A renewed sense of the Christmas spirit.
  • A great feeling of fulfillment.

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.