Today is Pay it Forward Day. If you're unfamiliar with the concept what that means is that you go out into the world and do three random good deeds for perfect strangers while encouraging them to do the same as "payment" for your generosity. Not only does it benefit the person receiving your good will, it also fosters a stronger sense of community and connectedness. The deeds can be anything, large or small. The first time I received a Pay it Forward gift was at a toll booth in Chicago when I was informed that the person in the car in front of me had paid my toll. I was so touched that from that point on I always paid for the car behind me. That one simple gesture spawned years of gratitude returned to others.
Here are the three things I did today:
First, through Facebook I learned about a friend of a friend, a good woman who through no fault of her own (if we're looking to blame anyone we can blame the health care industry!) is on the verge of losing the home she has lived in for twenty years. The single mother of a nine year old son, she has struggled to stay ahead, but because of a car accident her insurance company refused to cover, has fallen behind. Having no other place to turn she used Facebook as a resource, asking if 100 people could donate $45 to help her stop foreclosure on her home. You can read more about her story here. Even though I struggle myself I decided that even I could spare the money and support her cause. I urge each of you to do the same. You don't have to donate $45, but any amount would be greatly appreciated.
Second, I stopped by Hero's Pets, my home away from home, and told Kathy, Chelsea's mother, that I wanted to buy the next person in line's food, explaining that she needed to tell them that they were the recipient of a Pay It Forward gift. Not long thereafter a woman who's dog was ill approached the counter with three cans of a special diet formula and a bottle of tummy tamer. Kathy explained that she owed nothing and had only to do three good deeds for other people in payment. The woman had no idea I was responsible but she was incredibly grateful and couldn't stop thanking Kathy for the gift, promising to play her part in the process.
Third, while at the park with Duncan, we stopped by Starbucks where I purchased a gift card for $10. When the clerk handed it back to me I told him to keep it and give it to the next person in line, telling them that they needed to do something kind for three other people. As I explained it to him, his face lit up and I could see his mind racing. I didn't buy a drink but simply left the store and walked Duncan down to the place where the bunnies roost and watched his little leg quiver with anticipation at the sight of them.
These were simple things and incredibly easy to do. And after I completed each I walked away feeling proud of myself and happy to live in a world where such concepts exist. A free latte does not change anyone's life, but it can change how people look at each other and, hopefully, bring about a change that even I cannot imagine.
You can play Pay it Forward any day, not just April 29th. If you've come to this blog the day or week or month after, it's not too late to take part in the movement. What change can your small gesture bring about? Tell me what will you do when you're done reading?