Episode 5: Big Give Road Trip
The challenge has two parts: First, the givers are given $5,000 and a map that will lead them to mystery locations throughout Georgia, where they will perform random acts of kindness for complete strangers. The second part of the challenge is a surprise, but the contestants know to be ready for anything!
"To have somebody show up out of the blue is very unusual," Horace says. "But when I saw Cameron, I knew I had just the job for him to help me with."
"This is a great way to start my road trip," Cameron says. "I have a fire in my belly, and I'm not going to let anything hold me back!"
While Brandi is digging, she talks with Ashley, another woman working at the site. Ashley tells Brandi about her friend Dorothy—a single mother who is behind on her rent. Brandi wants to give up to $1,000 to help Dorothy out, and she convinces Gary to match that donation.
"I love when giving starts a chain reaction," Brandi says.
Not to be deterred, Rachael grabs a broom from her truck and gets to work sweeping the driveway while the homeowner watches.
Within an hour, Stephen has put together a big barbecue for the Little League and the fans. Not only does Stephen feed the kids, he also donates $1,000 toward batting cages for the league!
"I'm always appreciative of people who give their time and effort to help others," says Mike, a Newnan resident. "People don't have to do that."
Sheg leaves and returns later to find the family arriving home.
"Tashema was born with Down syndrome," Ms. Francis tells Sheg. "She suffered from seizures. She had a stroke. She was 22 years old. She was fun-loving, mischievous. But also, she taught a lot of people how to love."
On top of losing her daughter, Ms. Francis tells Sheg that she's not in the position to absorb the costs of burying Tashema. Although Sheg would like to help pay for some of the funeral costs, the funeral home is closed and the director won't agree to meet Sheg on his day off. Wanting to make sure that Tashema has a proper funeral, Sheg contributes $2,500 to the Francis family.
"This challenge is about personal connections—it's about getting yourself involved," Sheg explains. "I think it would have been very unfair of me to just show up and give money and walk away."
"Sheg took a perfectly horrific day for me and turned it into something extraordinary," Ms. Francis says. "His support meant the world to me, especially when I felt that my world was coming apart."
The good news for Dorothy is that Brandi's donating $1,000 to help her out, and Gary, a local attorney, has pledged to match that.
"I feel like I had a visit from an angel today," Dorothy says. "Two months of stress has been lifted off my shoulders."
Cameron learns that Beverly's twin daughters each lost a newborn in the past year. After his shift at the tollbooth, Cameron decides to visit their house and do something special for the family. He surprises Beverly and her two daughters with spending money for each of them.
"Beverly makes a difference in people's lives every day," Cameron explains. "She has the mind-set that if she always has a smile, that will translate to the thousands of people with whom she comes in contact. She really deserved what she got today."
To take his day full circle, Cameron uses his last $69 back at the tollbooth. He gives an attendant the money and asks to pay the toll of the next people to come through.
"Hopefully they will just pass it on," he says. "It's a good feeling."
While she's working, Rachael finds out that the quilts are being sold to raise profits for 13-year-old Eli, who is in need of back surgery because of a spinal cord curvature that complicates his breathing. To show her support, Rachael decides to purchase a quilt for $1,000—much more than the suggested price. She gives $500 of that to the center and $500 to Eli.
Brandi heads to a local grocery store that offers to donate some food, but it's nowhere near the amount she needs. She decides to spend some of her challenge money to purchase nonperishable items for Heaven's Grocery Store.
By that evening, all the food is ready, and Brandi has a hot meal for everyone.
"It's like being on the edge of a cliff and falling off and then all of a sudden something just reaches out and catches you," says Al, who runs the organization. "We were penniless, and Brandi gave us hope for tomorrow."
They tell Sheg that raising 28 children is a real challenge. The biggest concern they face is financial hardship—they spend $1,500 a month on food alone. To help out, Sheg decides to clean out their garage.
As an added surprise, Sheg throws a Hawaiian luau for the kids and spends $500 on decorations and Chinese food for the celebration. Although everyone has a great time and the mood is festive, Jeanette is a little surprised by what was spent on the party. "John and I have never spent that much on going out to eat. We are very careful with our money," she says. "This is a great occasion for them—I just wish it hadn't been as expensive. We could have spent that $500 just for the kids, but it would be more than one day of enjoyment."
Stephen's dishwashing partner is Atlantis, who tells Stephen about his life, which included time in the military and a drug addiction. He tells Stephen he has been clean for seven months.
"No matter what you're going through, there's always somebody out there going through something a little bit harder," Atlantis says. "So whatever you're going through, just count it as a blessing. You can learn from every single thing." Atlantis thanks Stephen for letting him tell his story.
"When we first started Oprah's Big Give, I thought that the only difference you can make is when you give lots and lots of money," Stephen says. "But the biggest give anybody can do is give of themselves."
"Oprah's Big Give is about finding people and really figuring out what they need," judge Malaak Compton-Rock says. "Sheg went home this week because, in our opinion, he did not find out what the Murphy family needed—and that was financial help."
"I was sort of short on funds," he says. "I was trying to do the math and [figure out], 'How can I dispense this money so they know that a guy called Sheg [they] didn't know came into their house, cleaned up and gave us this experience that we cherished?' That's what I wanted to do for the kids."
Though he didn't make it into the final four, Sheg says he learned a lot about America during his time on the show. "The biggest thing I learned from Oprah's Big Give is that the power of giving and the spirit of giving transcends nationality, race, gender," he says. "Every human being, given an incentive, would give back and would want to give. I saw America and communities come together [for] one cause, which is giving to the less fortunate."
Did this episode make you want to volunteer or help someone in need? Search for charities seen on the show or find one close to home
Special thanks to all those who helped during this episode of Oprah's Big Give