Doing random acts of kindness to other people, from buying a stranger coffee, opening a door for someone, or giving needy families a few hundred dollars to support their urgent needs are just some of the means by which we can pay it forward.
Returning an act of kindness to someone other than the source is what paying it forward is about. It is also about doing acts of kindness in small chunks as much as we can until the act itself becomes second nature to us.
Maurice Horton of Los Angeles chose to give $500 to a man named Robert Anderson, an ex-convict who now runs facilities for recovering drug addicts in Southern California. When asked why Anderson deserved it, Horton said that Anderson goes out of his way to ensure that others get help. Horton, who underwent rehabilitation for drug use surprised Anderson. Horton told Anderson that someone gave him $500 to pay it forward and thought of him as the one person who deserved it. Anderson said he would donate the money to charity, and by this he is spreading the pay it forward ripple effect further on.
Meanwhile, a woman from Perry County in Duncannon, Pennsylvania gave a surprise gift of $200 to her former neighbors in New Buffalo. There was nothing special about that day, but Phyllis Krieger thought to ease her former neighbors’ difficulties. Krieger used to live near Emory and Jennifer Holler, a hardworking but struggling couple with four kids who collect scrap metals and take on various jobs in order to make ends meet. Despite their own difficulties, they also take in other struggling families sometimes. One day, Krieger surprised Jennifer with the cash gift. The latter said that she was in shock at the unexpected act of generosity and kindness. She said she’d use the money to repair their broken washer having just spent the last paycheck on the broken car.
There are many Pay if Forward groups around the world and all of them have taken inspiration from the novel, “Pay it Forward” by Catherine Ryan Hyde, who also founded the Pay if Forward Foundation based in the United States. The popular movie of the same name that was released in the year 2000 was based on Hyde’s novel. For the people who read the book or saw the movie, the idea of paying it forward sparked the impetus to do small, random acts of kindness and some of these gestures are spread around inspiring others to be more mindful of the needs of those around them.
Pay it forward for one day
Some groups observe Pay if Forward Day, performing random acts of kindness to friends and strangers with the hope that the ripple effect would spread throughout the year. For example, the Fort St. John Association for Community Living in California celebrates June 14 annually as “Pay it Forward Day.” Businessmen and residents alike are encouraged to perform conscious acts of kindness to other people throughout the day. The aim of the activity is to inspire people to extend kindness not just on Pay It Forward Day but every day. Inspired by the Pay it Forward movement, members of the association believe that by starting small it is eventually possible to extend kindness to others throughout the year.
Every year, International Pay it Forward Day is observed worldwide on the 25th of April. But, there’s no need to wait for the next PIFD. Every day is a chance to extend a helping hand.