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Jennifer Bender

Gifts of Gratitude


Jennifer is a Givebutter Changemaker - an elite group of young movers and shakers around the world that inspire those around them to give back through the incredible work that they do for others. Learn more about Changemakers.


Jennifer Whalen-Bender began doing Gifts of Gratitude activities in her classroom at the University of South Florida in 2015. Gifts of Gratitude are simple acts of doing small things for someone you don't know. She started the project with a bucket of sidewalk chalk for her students to use to write kind words across campus. Now the project keeps spreading, much like "simple acts of kindness" or "pay it forward" but the project was developed to say, "Hey- we're glad you're here. Stay here- you've got this!"

Q & A 

What does giving mean to you?

Who in your life most inspires you and why?
My dad - He never gives up and he always there to help even when he's busy!

What is the best advice you've ever received?
Keep it moving.

What is your greatest achievement to date?
Getting married!!!!

Tell us more about what you're up to!
I am continuing to teach as an instructor and I'm also working to develop my own lecture series on love relationships. I'm working closely with an antibullying group to help raise awareness about bullying and help with prevention strategies. I'm also recently married (as of New Year's Eve!!) so I'm writing this right before our honeymoon!

Woooo! Congrats!!!!

Describe yourself in five words.
Passionate, motivational, stubborn, happy, adventurous

What does the Givebutter movement mean to you?
It means taking the time even when you don't think you have time to give back.