It’s the season of giving and one man has truly taken that sentiment to heart.
Peter Shankman, a New York-based entrepreneur and author, travels around the country throughout the year giving corporate keynote speeches, according to The Washington Post.
And all that travel certainly adds up in rewards miles. But for the holiday season, all he would like to do is stay home and spend time with his family.
Shankman wrote on his Imgur post, “And the last thing I want to do with all those miles is when I'm finally home is actually go somewhere. But there are only so many times I can give a free flight to my assistant and her boyfriend or my parents.”
So for the fifth year in a row, according to The Washington Post, he is giving out his frequent flier miles to internet users who can’t afford to fly home for the holidays.
“It’s simple, really. If you’re on Imgur, and can’t afford to get home for the holidays to see your family, here's what to do: Simply create a new post. Place it in the Home for the Holidays tag here on Imgur,” Shankman wrote.
Shankman originally hoped to send between two and four “Imgurians” on flights home, but according to The Washington Post, five families will be happily reunited this year, adding up to 300,000 frequent flier miles.
Shankman donated 200,000 of those miles, and another 100,000 were donated by other generous fliers.
Among the happy winners includes Sarah Latham, a New York woman who wanted to fly home to Texas to see her sick grandfather, a couple in Los Angeles who will be reunited with their huge family (30 in all) in Utah, and a pair of brothers in San Diego who are flying home to their mother in North Carolina for the first time in many years. A woman with Parkinson’s disease is also going to Georgia to visit her son’s grave, and a man in Kansas flying to New Hampshire to visit his ailing parents, according to The Washington Post.
All very deserving people who could use some holiday cheer.
Shankman himself does not choose the winners. He shares the contest on Imgur so that the online community can vote, making it a much more democratic process.
“And just like last year, there are no strings, I’m not selling anything, I’m not begging for Internet points. I truly want to say thank you for the joy this site given me when I needed it most, and this is the best way I know how to do that,” Shankman added.
On top of his annual holiday giving, Shankman also dedicates his time to helping children and adults with ADHD and is the founder of HARO (Help A Reporter Out), which is an online service for journalists to gather feedback from the public.
Shankman clearly prides himself on giving back to the community. “People ask me how I verify the stories of people who win the free miles and I tell them, ‘I can’t.’ But if someone goes to all this trouble to get a free trip somewhere, maybe this will help them in some way. As long as my miles keep adding up, I’m going to continue to give them away,” he told The Washington Post.