One Woman Lost $200 and Started a Whole Movement

Sometimes a loss provides immeasurable gains.

Brooklyn native Amanda Needham was deeply disappointed to discover that her bicycle, which she relied on to commute to work, was stolen from in front of her apartment on a Saturday night a couple of weeks ago, leaving her with scant options to work around her newfound lack of mobility.

But instead of being left to wallow in anger over how someone else’s callous disregard had left her in a difficult bind, Needham discovered that her neighborhood offered an abundance of human kindness in reaction to her sharing her predicament.

Needham responded to the theft by posing a cardboard sign outside of her residence that read:

“To the person who stole my bicycle
I hope you need it more than I do.
It was $200 used, and I need it to get to work. I can’t afford another one.
Next time, steal a hipster’s Peugeot.
Or not steal! PS: Bring it back.”

For more inspiration, check out these celebrities who pay it forward by donating millions to charity.

At 8 feet by 3 feet, Needham’s sign was hard to miss. And aside from really throwing her Peugeot-owning neighbors under the bus, it expressed what can be a common frustration for people living on a tight budget: Frequently, a short-term lack of funds can be expensive, forcing people to spend money on a costly, quick solution and delay the purchase of big-ticket items that would save money in the long run.

In Needham’s case, not being able to immediately come up with the $200 necessary for a replacement bike meant she would have to use the city’s bike-sharing program at a cost of $14.95 a month, even though another bike would pay for itself in less than a year at that rate.

Soon after posting her sign, Needham got responses from a number of interested people wanting to help her out. First, two young men stopped by to give her a bike that they owned but weren’t using. Then, a woman came by to offer help looking for another bicycle Needham could use. Finally, a local art dealer stopped by to say he had posted her sign on Instagram, where it was sparking conversation around the hashtag #KarmaCycle. He offered to buy the sign from her for $200 — a number of people had chipped in for the cause.

Overwhelmed by the outpouring of helpful energy, Needham purchased a new bicycle with the $200. A local bike shop owner agreed to fix up the bicycle Needham had been given. The plan was to leave that bike outside her store until the end of March so locals who need a bicycle can share a good deed they performed or were inspired by to get a chance at winning the free bike.

Since posting the story about the heart-lifting episode on her blog Real Tiny Trumpet last Tuesday, Needham has gotten national attention. A local CBS news station featured her story, and her story was picked up by The Washington Post. In a second blog post, Needham noted how her story had taken hold with so many people, writing that her greatest hope for the entire episode was that people take the opportunity to acknowledge each other and offer up a little more kindness and understanding for others.

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