Best of America

Best Road Trip

Tyler Kellogg calls himself a chronic do-gooder, and what he did in the summer of 2009 is proof: After scraping together $2,000 and retrofitting his car with a sleeping space, the 21-year-old college student hit the road. His goal: to bestow random acts of kindness on 100 strangers.

He drove 1,600 miles, from his parents’ house in Adams Center, New York, to the Florida Keys, then back again. “The first person I helped was a guy installing a boat lift on a lake in Oneida, New York,” Kellogg recalls. “I was shaking when I asked if he needed a hand.” What if he thought Kellogg was crazy? “When he said, ‘Can you help me get this lift into the water?’ I knew everything was going to be fine.”

He helped a cop fix a downed barricade in Washington, D.C., and spread countless cubic yards of mulch in Maryland and North Carolina. And somewhere outside  Atlanta, he met a man who was crying because his wife had recently died and he had no one to talk to. “For three hours we sat on his porch,” Kellogg says. “When I left, he said, ‘Thank you. I realize now that my life will go on.’ ”

In 55 days, Kellogg assisted 115 strangers and made an exhilarating realization: “You don’t have to be a billionaire to be a philanthropist,” he says. “You just have to ask people, ‘How can I help?’ ”

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