Social Media Stories to Make You Smile

A few weeks ago, I tweeted about Humans of New York photographer and his use of social media to raise money for underprivileged school children. I found his story so powerful that I wanted to look into other instances of crowdsourcing and crowdfunding to reach a common goal. I love reading heartwarming stories where the online community comes together to help a person or a group of people, so I wanted to share a few with all of you.

Mott Hall Bridges Academy

Humans of New York’s Brandon Stanton is helping kids realize their dreams, and it all started with this picture:

Screen Shot 2015-02-05 at 6.38.27 PM

Brandon then visited his school and met the inspirational Ms. Lopez herself. He and Ms. Lopez then started a crowd-funding campaign to send each and every child that enters the school to Harvard University for a visit, so they would know that they could attend Harvard. Ms. Lopez described the problem as, ““It can be very difficult for them to dream beyond what they know.” The goal was to raise $100,000, however, he reached many more than the 12 million people who like his Facebook page. The story went viral, and the fund raised over $1 million from over 38,000 contributors, with each person donating between $1 and $100. Because the campaign went above and beyond their wildest expectations, not only will students get to go on the Harvard trip, but they will also be able to fund a summer program and a full scholarship.

21 Mile Walk to Work

James Robertson lives in Detroit, however due to the high cost of transportation, his commute consists of a bus ride and 21 miles of walking to and from work every day for the past 10 years. He leaves the house at 8:00 am each morning to get to work for his 2:00-10:00 pm shift and then makes the return journey home, which sometimes takes even longer because of the lack of buses at night. However, despite his arduous journey each day, Mr. Robertson has a perfect attendance record at work and never complained about his journey.

Tireless worker ... James Robertson walks to catch his morning bus as a part of his epic

Source: AP

A 19-year old college student learned about Mr. Robertson and started a crowd-funding page online to raise $25,000 to buy him a second-hand car for his commute to work. Started just 3 days ago, the fund has raised over $300,000 and caught the attention of Honda, Ford, and several other car dealerships that have offered to give him a car. Strangers on the Internet have reached out with their donations and also offers to give him cars, bicycles, and even rides.

As heartwarming as this story is, I cannot help but think about the millions of other people who go through difficult and heartbreaking difficulties. Although this story is wonderful, it can also be argued that the donations are charity and not helping fix the root of the problem and social injustice. However, for now, let that be food for thought.

Humans of New York for the Holidays

If you couldn’t already tell, I LOVE Humans of New York. It might be my favorite example of social media and hands down my favorite Facebook friend in my 8 years of Facebooking. With that, I bring to you one last example that shows that crowd-sourcing does not always involve money. When Brandon first arrived in New York, he did not have the money to go home for the holidays, so he spent Christmas day sitting in a 24-hour diner by himself. Now fast forward several years…Brandon’s girlfriend, Erin, set up a system that helps lonely New Yorkers find a home for the holidays. People with extra seats at their table are matched with people that have nowhere to go for Christmas. Although this may scream “stranger danger”, each of the parties are screened and acquainted with each other before the holiday so that there are no surprises. I love this idea and I think that this small act of kindness during the holidays could mean the world to someone who doesn’t have a place to go.

If anyone has other examples of heartwarming stories of crowd-sourcing on the Internet, I would love to hear about them!


  1. tcbcmba2015 · ·

    This is a really wonderful take on crowd-sourcing I had never heard of before. I always assumed crowd sourcing was about fundraising for some purpose. This is a really interesting application and a great way to make positive changes across communities. Social media does not have to mean interactions with total strangers or bridging large divides. I wonder if there are other similar uses of crowd funding that take after Humans of New York. Appreciate you sharing your passion for this group – they are doing great things!

  2. Great post! I, too, really enjoy these sorts of heartwarming stories. It is so impressive to see the good that humans can do, given all of the bad in the world. Social media’s effect on philanthropy, crowd-sourcing, and charity has been remarkable. I would even go so far as to say that its impact is vastly understated and underutilized. As various social media platforms advance, I would think that this is an area in which individuals and organizations could further their efforts for the greater good of society!

  3. Wonderful post! I always associated crowdfunding with start-ups and thel like. But there is a reason why social media is called “social”. Real social life is also not only about talking to people, but also take action to make the world a better place. I plan to do my presentation about how this can be achieved via s. m. and your post was really inspiring. Thank you!

  4. I, too, am a huge fan of HONY and I love the ability it has to kick start crowd-funding. As you mentioned, I fear that raising $300,000 for one man has nothing to do with solving the root problem, which thousands of people face. In today’s society, I think many people automatically think that setting up a foundation page for someone can be their good deed. I certainly don’t want to discredit their contributions, but people may want to consider more effective ways to end the problem, not just one particular case. The last case you mentioned, housing someone for the holidays, is a great way to help a wider range of people. Hopefully we see more trends like this in the future!

  5. wallacekwan99 · ·

    Great examples of how social media can be utilized for a collaborated, coordinated effort to better the lives of our fellow man! With social media, almost anyone can be a community organizer, or contributor. Its good to see that more communal cases like these are getting the media coverage they deserve, no doubt inspiring more acts of community activism and good will.

  6. Nice post and reflection on how social media is (and is not) helping in certain circumstances. It can certainly raise the awareness of a particular issue, the question is whether the response helps only one person, or if the outpouring of support can be leveraged and mobilized for greater action to address the type of social injustice you note.

  7. Nice post! I love reading about these types of things. I think you bring up a good point that there are a lot of people going through hard times, similar to James, and that brings to light bigger issues that exist in society that are preventing people from be able to effectively make a living. The power of social media is great here, especially evident in the insane amount of money that these crowdfunding efforts have raised, but I think more importantly, social media has the ability to help bring these issues to the attention of those who are able to make policy and structural changes that could positively impact the lives of those dealing with hardship all over the country.

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