Leo Stirling in Wellsford with his sign requesting 11 yellow balloons and his donation wish list that includes a new luxury Lexus car.
A man is travelling the country asking for everything from a pack of Timtams to a business class ticket to Nairobi and he wants you to give it to him.
Leo Stirling says he is exploring themes around generosity and human kindness for an upcoming book. Everything Leo needs must be donated or funded by strangers.
“I believe our true human nature is to be kind to one another,” Leo says “We are not sure what we should give, so I’m very specific about what I ask for and it has a specific purpose.
“If I need money I ask for money. Yesterday I was in Mangawhai and I asked for $720. I waited five hours, but a guy called James gave me $340, some other guys gave me $100, so I got there in the end.”
Leo says the $720 is to pay a medical bill for his daughter who lives in Nairobi. All the people that help Leo write their details in his scrapbook. He then adds a photo depicting their act of kindness.
He was in Wellsford on September 1 asking for 11 yellow balloons for a child’s birthday party, which he planned to give as a thank-you to a Mangawhai resident who gave him a bed the previous night.
Abandoning technology and using hand-written signs are also part of the experiment.
“Technology and social media are removing us from human interaction and creating degrees of separation. That’s why I write on the sign, write in the book and ask for obscure things. You stopped to talk with me, so it works.”
Leo says that a homeless person asking for money creates doubt and cynicism and people become guarded. That then prevents people from giving and deprives them of the feel-good factor associated with generosity.
“The more people I give the opportunity to give and connect with me, the more I am helping them. Kindness is a two-way street.”
When Leo has 150 acts of kindness he will write his book – on a MacBook Pro that naturally he will ask someone to donate.