What did you wish for on your last birthday? For Bob Blackley, the greatest present he could receive was the gift of giving. Continuing a tradition that he started two years ago, the Winston-Salem, North Carolina resident stood outside on the corner of an intersection in order to give out $5 bills for his 59th birthday last Thursday. In a heartwarming case of “reverse panhandling,” he held up a sign that read, “I have a job. I have a home. Could you use an extra $5?”
The retired special education teacher gave the money to anyone passing by, not caring who they were or what they spent it on. “Anything they want, if it puts a smile on their face, it’s theirs,” he said. “One man told me he had some medicine he couldn’t afford to pay for, this will help pay for it. That’s cool.” Although some people were surprised by or even suspicious of Blackley’s act of generosity, most accepted the money gladly and wished him a happy birthday.
This year Blackley gave away $800 worth of $5 bills to 160 people–an increase from last year’s $750, as well as the previous year’s $700. The generous man said simply, “Glad I woke up, glad I’m able to do it. That’s what life’s all about, smiling.” He hopes to win the lottery someday so that he can hand out $100 bills, spreading the spirit of kindness and giving as much as possible.