“From what we get we make a living – from what we give, we make a life.” – Arthur Ashe
As usual, I am about a day late and a dollar short. Well, actually about 5 days late, as it were. But, better late than never, right? Turns out that April 28th was the 10th annual Pay It Forward Day. Yes, folks, there is actually an annual Pay It Forward Day, and it is one of the more worthy ‘national days’. A bit about the day:
In March 2000, a little-known author, Catherine Ryan Hyde, published a book titled Pay It Forward.
“Pay It Forward is a wondrous and moving novel about Trevor McKinney, a twelve-year-old boy in a small California town who accepts the challenge that his teacher gives his class, a chance to earn extra credit by coming up with a plan to change the world for the better — and to put that plan into action.” – Amazon
The book was adapted into a movie starring Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt, and Haley Joel Osment in 2000, and the concept of “paying it forward” entered the real world, spreading kindness far and wide. In 2014, Hyde also published a version of the book for young readers.
Hyde started the Pay It Forward Foundation to foster the movement, and a supporter in Australia, Blake Beattie, started Pay It Forward Day. From the Pay It Forward website:
“There is tremendous power and positive energy in giving – it is a shame that not enough people have experienced it to the fullest. Pay It Forward Day is about all people, from all walks of life giving to someone else and making a positive difference.
So why Pay It Forward?
To encourage all of us to embrace the incredible power of giving.
To show each other that we care and that there is love, hope and magic all around us.
To know that we may be only one person in this world, but to one person, at one time, we are the world.”
Last year, in celebration of Pay It Forward Day, the Epoch Times interviewed Ms. Hyde. It is an interesting Q&A, complete with a video that describes how she came up with the idea for Pay It Forward as a concept.
“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then just feed one.” Mother Teresa
So what are some examples of the ways in which people celebrated the day last week?
- In McCloud, California, McCloud High School students cleaned the grounds around the Siskiyou Humane Society in Mt. Shasta, as well as the New 2 You and Paws & Shop thrift stores.
- Pupils and teachers at the Bispham Road school completed tasks such as helping others with their work, playing with different friends on the playgrounds, and even holding doors open as part of the annual Pay It Forward Day UK.
- In Ronkonkoma New York, a pay-it-forward may have saved a man’s life, or so he claims. Dennis Kust had recently lost his wife, Cheryl, after a 5-year battle with cancer, and suffering from deep depression, he had lost his will to live. On April 28th, he entered Albert’s Pizza on Long Island to pick up his pizza and was brought to tears when he was told his pizza was free … part of the pay it forward initiative by the owner of Albert’s Pizza, Rich Baer. On the inside of the box was a message: Stay Strong!
When 8-year-old Myles Eckert found $20 in a Cracker Barrel parking lot, he took it as an opportunity to pass it on to Lt. Col. Frank Dailey as a gesture of gratitude. Along with it, he also wrote a note: “Dear Soldier — my dad was a soldier. He’s in heaven now. I found this 20 dollars in the parking lot when we got here. We like to pay it forward in my family. It’s your lucky day! Thank you for your service. Myles Eckert, a gold star kid.”
At Mason Wartman’s pizza shop in Philadelphia, customers can pre-pay for a slice of pizza at $1 and leave a Post-It on the wall. Any homeless person can redeem the Post-It for a warm slice later. This heart-warming gesture has helped Wartman relieve the hunger of several needy people in the city.
When Mark Redmond, the executive director of Spectrum Youth and Family Services in Burlington, Canada, met a couple at his office, little did he know that they had formerly stayed at his shelter. He soon discovered that the two had met at the facility, fell in love, and were married for four years. The duo had returned to the shelter to donate a bag of clothes as a way of helping the needy, just like they had once been helped.
When Mike learned that his favorite waitress at a New York restaurant was served an eviction notice, he paid her a tip of $3,000 on a bill of about $40 with the message “Don’t let ‘pay it forward’ end with you.” Speaking about it, Mike told ABC News, “This woman had been serving us for almost a year now. She’s a lovely individual, and she talked about how she was served an eviction notice last month.”
There are thousands and thousands of these stories this week. I purposely chose some that were small things, like cleaning up around an animal shelter or giving away $20, in order to make the point that an act of kindness need not cost a lot of money or time, it requires only a good heart. I am particularly encouraged by the young people who are learning early in life how important small acts of kindness can be.
“Be the change you want to see in the world.” Ghandi
In my searches yesterday morning, I came across numerous sites devoted to ideas for ‘paying it forward’, most of them worthy, but when it comes down to it, we don’t really need to find ideas in books or on the internet. We all know people who could use a bit of a helping hand, we see people as we go about our business who could use something, whether it’s a hot meal or just a smile, a hand-up from a fall, or help carrying their groceries. I think this is what happiness is really about, this is what gives our lives purpose and meaning. When we ‘pay it forward’, we are giving to ourselves as well as to another. It’s a win-win, as they say.