Did you know that Pay It Forward Day is a worldwide celebration of kindness that takes place every year on April 28th? The event is not associated with any organization or foundation and free to participate in, Pay It Forward Day exists to encourage people to stand for kindness out of the goodness of their hearts!
I've always been a fan of pay it forward stories. We usually have an increased frequency of them during the Holidays when generosity is most abundant, but they don't need to be limited to only this time of year.
The recent COVID pandemic has brought out the best in people. The fact that we are all in it together, and being affected by this health crisis, has bonded us.
Did you know Tyler Perry recently paid for thousand of seniors groceries?
Ever hear the good deed one man did for another man? A pro football player helped a homeless man dig his car out of the snow.
More and more restaurants are donating meals to our front line doctors and nurses.
These are just a few examples of higher-profile random acts of kindness, but good deeds like this happen in our community all the time. It doesn't take much to help someone and give back.
I like the unexpected random acts, like buying someone's coffee, lunch, or paying for their groceries. It's a surprise, shocking, and makes their day. It often has a ripple effect, too, inspiring the recipient to want to do the same for someone else. Because being kind unexpectedly for a complete stranger can be contagious and make the recipient want to pay it forward too.
The Teenager and His Plastic Bag
One day I made a trip to a local grocery store to pick up a few things. It was a cold and windy day. I dressed appropriately, but the teenage boy collecting carts in the parking lot was underdressed for the cold, stormy weather. He was struggling to stay warm. So much so he had a plastic bag used for produce over his head, trying to keep the wind off his face and ears.
My oldest son works outside collecting carts too, so I know first hand how rough a shift can be when the weather is terrible. We always make sure our son has the right gear for the weather.
We can get some pretty nasty and cold weather in the Northeast, sure not as severe as other parts of the country, but when you don't have the right protection, standing out in a parking lot collecting carts can be a pretty miserable experience.
Luckily in the same shopping center was a dollar store. Dollar stores carry just about everything. I was able to pick up a hat, face mask, and gloves for under ten dollars. I found the cart collector and handed him the cold weather gear. He was a bit taken back by the gesture, but I explained about my son, and he gratefully accepted and thanked me.
More Cold Weather Gear
The interaction with the cart collectors prompted me to buy more cold-weather gear to carry in my car. I carry hand warmers, hats, gloves, and face masks. Anytime I'm out, I'm on the lookout for someone in need of an upgrade of their existing or in need of it altogether.
Cold weather gear I have stashed in my car.
There have been two occasions to bless people with a random act of kindness, so far.
Once was a teenager at a local grocery store who didn't have gloves. He was stunned when I handed over the gloves to him. He didn't want to accept them at first, but then asked how he could repay me. I just told him to give back to someone else in need some time.
The second was at Costco, on a below-freezing day where a young man collecting carts was without a hat or gloves. He, too, was shocked to receive a gift from a complete stranger, but very grateful.
I still carry plenty of gear to give out, and I'm on the lookout for opportunities every day. As the warmer weather approaches, I bring bottled water with me to hand out to anyone that might need a drink. I have a soft spot for cart collectors, so they are always on my radar.
There are many inspirational things you can do for others, that doesn't cost a lot of money or any money in some cases. Start small when helping others. Are there any family members, mom, dad, grandparents, sibling, etc that could use your help with something? Maybe they just need someone to talk too or spend time with. How about a niece or nephew who needs mentoring?
Giving of your time is the foundation that volunteering is built on. Giving of your free time is a great way to help others or your community. Just think of the groups you could help by giving of your time.
- Civic Associations
- Soup Kitchens
- Food Pantries
- Animal rescue
- Habitat for Humanity
Now if you have money to donate there are other things you can do. Have you ever consider buying the person behind you in line or the drive-through their cup of coffee, lunch, or groceries?
It is a quick, and easy way to get involved in random acts of kindness. Here are some others:
- Tape a dollar to a vending machine
- Buy a gift card and give it to the cashier to pay for future purchases by strangers
- Paying off items at a stores layaway
- Bake or cook meals for someone in your community
- Leave an incredibly generous tip
- Pay for someone's haircut
It doesn't take much to get involved and show compassion for others. Now, these are just a few ideas, but there are hundreds of ways to give back and inspire others to do the same.
Final Thoughts on Paying it Forward
You will never feel more gratitude than when you do something nice for someone in need. Call it an emotional high, but those butterflies in your stomach are real. If you're feeling that way, just imagine the person on the other end. What type of emotion did your pay it forward moment generate for them?
Today more than ever its important to be kind and thoughtful of our neighbors.
Brian is a dad, husband, and an IT professional by trade. A Personal Finance Blogger since 2013 who, with his family, has successfully paid off over $100K worth of consumer debt. I want my three children to handle money better than I ever did at a young age. I have been teaching them as much as I can for the last 10 years. My goal is to continue to champion the financial literacy message and then why I created the “How To Rock Your Money” book. To help teenagers navigate their financial futures. I hope my family’s story of paying off over $100,000 worth of debt will inspire and motivate you to take control of your money. He blogs at BrianBrandow.com