Service of Low and No Cost Giving in NYC

November 27th, 2023

Categories: Photography, Selfies, Shopping, Tourists, Volunteers

We’re lucky in Manhattan because in addition to volunteering, there are countless ways to help others at little or no cost in time or treasure.

I pass by the UN and through Grand Central Terminal countless times a week where there are out of towners galore. If you want to make tourists happy, ask if you can take their pictures. They are easy to identify. There’s usually one taking a photo of a group or another person or trying to squeeze into the shot via selfie. I always take one showing the building or iconic symbol behind them such as the information clock in Grand Central and then a few closeups of the group. They are generally beaming, and I think they’d appreciate the capture of their joy. And I like to imagine, when they look at the picture, that they will think how friendly New Yorkers are.

Walking west on 39th Street the other day I saw a young man coming towards me carrying four paper shopping bags bulging with groceries. One ripped scattering his purchases all over the sidewalk. He scrambled to keep the other three upright as he lunged for his veggies, fruits and cartons. I was on my way to grocery shop and had an extra bag—from Home Depot—that I gave him. He said “thanks” and I walked on. [The bright orange bags weigh little, carry a lot and if you wear black, help drivers in cars, scooters and bicycles see you when you cross streets in the dark.]

People puzzling over their phones are often looking for a landmark, restaurant or store. It takes a second to stop and ask if you can direct them.

What other low and no cost ways do you help others?

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8 Responses to “Service of Low and No Cost Giving in NYC”

  1. Kathleen Said:

    Happy Cypo Monday!
    And good for you to be a good New Yorker and help to create a better view of NYC than sometimes people think. Your taking photos of tourists makes me smile and thank you for showing that we NYCers are really caring and thoughtful.

  2. Helen Said:

    Our supermarket now charges ten cents a bag at the register for the usual brown paper shopping bag. If I’m in line behind a senior citizen and aren’t happy about it I give a little fabric shopping bag. They fold up into a cute little animal. The person is surprised and shocked and happy! Makes me feel good. Now they get to keep it. Sometimes I even get a hug.

  3. BC Said:

    When out and about, we always offer to take a group picture when we see that a family member is starting to take the picture. Folks do it for us too!

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    For years we’d return from trips with many photos of just one of us. People didn’t offer to take photos in the day. However, there was one spot in Paris where we’d ask someone to snap a shot of us together year after year. Happy memory.

  5. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I was so grateful when people helped me out during my travels. As recently as last year there were many volunteers in Paris last spring!

    It makes me as happy to help as it does them to have at least one group shot!

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    What a smart idea: To always have an extra bag on hand. It was a lucky coincidence that I had one I was willing to give up. I most often carry just one that a friend gave me and I won’t pass it along.

  7. Lucrezia Said:

    Despite their reputation to the contrary, New Yorkers are a noble lot. There should be a book about the helping hands, not to speak of heroic acts, over the years. As for helping out when the opportunity presents itself. Sure, I do. So do my friends. After all, we’re New Yorkers!

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Lyrics of the theme from the song “New York, New York” sung by Frank Sinatra come to mind: “start spreading the news I’m leaving today I want to be part of it: New York New York

    “These vagabond shoes are longing to stray right through the very heart of it New York New York I wanna wake up in a city that doesn’t sleep and find I’m king of the hill top of the heap these little town blues are melting away I’ll make a brand new start of it in old New York if I can make it there I’ll make it anywhere it’s up to you New York New York.”

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