When Girl Scout Lauren Lindsay started her day selling cookies in front of the Willow Grove Walmart, she had no idea she’d be setting in motion a chain of meaningful events. Not only did she manage to succeed in meeting her goal of selling 300 boxes that day, she also participated in a touching movement of sheer bigheartedness.
A common phrase now after the release of the film back in 2000, “Pay It Forward” is a concept simple enough for kids to grasp and lofty enough for adults to aspire to. It basically means you do a random act of kindness, and you ask for nothing in return but encourage the recipient of your generosity to help out someone else in need, thus creating a chain of good deeds.
The person responsible for starting the chain reaction was a gentleman named James Chapman who walked up to Lauren and handed her $100, requesting that she hand out the 25 boxes to whoever wanted them.
Although a tad befuddled at first, Lauren was thrilled at the gesture and did just that, sometimes meeting with suspicion or confusion, but more often with glee. A five-year old boy, who was handed the last of the 25 boxes Chapman had paid for, did the sweetest thing: he handed Lauren a single dollar bill from his pocket. He had been saving that bill for a while but wanted it to be his contribution as a ‘Pay It Forward’.
If you’re inspired to start your own chain of kindness, perhaps you should check out this website celebrating an entire day
dedicated to this phenomenon on April 28. They even suggest a few ways you can go about doing this noble deed in your everyday life.
Here are a dozen ways to get started on your own Pay It Forward journey:
- At a drive-through, pay for the meal of those in the car behind you. You could do this at the train station, at a coffee shop – anywhere you like.
- Visit an elderly neighbor’s house and ask them if they need to have anything they need repaired.
- Donate some money to your favorite charity – perhaps collect some donation money from people at work.
- Tell the manager of a restaurant how great your waiter/waitress was. This can happen in any store/business you visit. Aim at brightening someone else’s day.
- Top up other people’s parking meters to stop them getting a fine.
- Cook a casserole for a new mother. Caring for newborns is tiring and draining. Mothers will appreciate the ability to eat something home-cooked without having to cook it herself.
- Buy Lottery Scratch-Off tickets and hand it to a receptionist on the way out of a business appointment. You just might change that person’s whole life.
- Give a homeless person some food vouchers.
- If you are washing your own car or mowing your own lawn, do the same for your next door neighbor.
- At your office, thank the staff members who no one acknowledges such as the mail guy, the girl who orders supplies, or the door person.
- Drive an older person in the neighborhood to the grocery store (they will love the opportunity to get out of the house, as well) or if they aren’t able to go themselves, take their list and go to the store for them. If at all possible, pay for their things.
- Do some work for a client who can’t afford your services free of charge – just ask that they Pay it Forward.