Peter Shankman is a corporate keynote speaker — the kind of position the humbug in a Hallmark Channel Christmas movie might have. However, he’s far from a Scrooge — and his “Home for the Holidays” campaign proves it.
See, Shankman travels somewhere between 300,000 and 350,000 miles in the course of his job, according to Fox News. That’s a lot of frequent flyer miles — and Shankman himself probably doesn’t need to use them. In any event, he doesn’t want to.
“The last thing I want to do when I’m home, especially since I’m a single father to a five-year-old daughter, is travel,” Shankman said.
“Traveling during the holidays is not fun,” he quipped.
“I’d rather stay in NYC with my kid and explore the city for all it has to offer. As a born and raised New York City boy, that’s the best holiday present I could ever ask for.”
But there are plenty of people who want to get home for the holidays and may not have the means. That’s why he’s giving away free trips home to five lucky individuals with a contest on image-sharing site Imgur.
“I’d like to send at least two (hopefully three or four or more) Imgurians home for the holidays this year, because I like making people smile,” he wrote on the social media site.
“I’m not going to choose who wins. You are. The authors of the posts in the Home for the Holidays category with the most upvotes will go home. It’s that simple.”
There were some stipulations, of course: It’s only round-trips within the United States on United Airlines, apparently Shankman’s airline of choice.
The contest ended up yielding five winners this year.
One user nominated her brother and his wife, who wanted to go from Los Angeles to Utah for Christmas but didn’t have the resources since they invested most of their money in helping others. They both worked with displaced animals from the California wildfire at a local animal shelter and were featured in a picture with two turkeys in the back of their vehicle.
Another nominated her mom, but didn’t want to send her home. Instead, she wanted to send her to “the last place we laid my brother to rest in the national cemetery in Georgia. My mom has Parkinson’s disease and she hasn’t been back to his grave site in eleven years. He served in the U.S Army and was stationed at Ft. Benning. I would love more than anything to be able to take my mom there to place flowers on his grave and to see her granddaughter.”
Another winner showed pictures of her parents back in New Hampshire trying out Snapchat filters and lounging about, while noting that her father was dealing with skin cancer and her mother with the aftermath of a second heart attack. Another wanted to see her grandfather before he passed on, as this was likely his last Christmas.
As for his motivations, Shankman said it was just what anyone in such a position ought to do.
“We’ve gotta remember that we don’t really have anything else in the world but each other — so let’s try and take care of each other a little more, OK?” he told Yahoo.
That’s not to say he doesn’t get something out of it; one of the most rewarding things for Shankman, he says, is teaching his daughter “it’s a great thing to help other people.”
“She’s been helping me do this for the past three years. She loves it. She talks about all the people going home to see their mommies and daddies,” he said.
“So I get to great things out of giving my miles away. One is that I get to help people. I believe that if you’ve had any modicum of success, you have a responsibility to give back.”
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