Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Random Acts of Kindness - Pay it Forward

Pay it Forward

Have you ever been the recipient of "Random Acts of Kindness" or are you the person who frequently practices helping others anonymously? It's such an awesome experience to give something to someone anonymously, expecting nothing in return. It may be something as small as sending a card to someone who has been ill signing it "someone who cares", or leaving a bag of groceries on the porch of a family in need. These acts of helping others are no small act in the eyes of the person who receives them.

If you have seen the movie Pay It Forward starring Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt, and Haley Joel Osment, then you know something about this pay it forward idea.

Synopsis of the movie:

Eleven-year old Trevor McKinney (played by Haley Joel Osment) lives in the working class section of Los Angeles with his mother, Arlene. Arlene (played by Helen Hunt) wants to be a good mother to Trevor, and works two jobs trying to give him a better life.

When Trevor's social studies teacher Eugene Simonet (played by Kevin Spacey) gives him an assignment - think of a way to change our world and put it into action - it stirs something in Trevor. He comes up with "pay it forward" where each person does something for three people that helps them turn their life around. As Trevor struggles with his plan, ripples begin to be felt by others in his life, and unbeknownst to him, "pay it forward" actually begins to work.

There are many ways we can "Pay it Forward" or do a "Random Act of Kindness" for someone. Here are just a few ideas:

1. Mow the yard of an elderly or ill neighbor.
2. Shovel snow for someone.
3. Pay for the coffee of the next person in line.
4. Prepare a nutritious sack lunch to give to a homeless person.
5. If you see someone having a bad day, stop to listen to them - hand them a flower - anything - to make a difference in their day.
6. Run or walk a race, or walk for the cure to help fund research for an incurable disease. An example would be the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Walk for the Cure held nationwide each year.
7. Volunteer at a hospital, nursing home, hospice, or non-profit agency.
8. Volunteer at your child or grandchild's school.
9. Babysit for free for a mom who needs a day to herself.
10. Offer to drive elderly or disabled people to appointments or the grocery store.
11. Send money anonymously to someone experiencing financial difficulty.
12. Pay a highway toll for the person behind you.
13. Buy a movie pass for two and give it to friends who can use a night out.
14. Leave your newspaper behind for the next person to read.
15. Donate a bag of food to your local community or church food pantry.
16. Crochet or knit baby hats and blankets to donate to a local hospital nursery.
17. Donate to a non-profit organization to help individuals or families in need.
18. Teach your children or grandchildren the act of giving. When you do this, you will have taught another generation the self-less act of helping others or of giving from their heart without expecting a return.

There are so many ways to make someones day, both large and small. These little anonymous acts of kindness can be done on your own or with the help of a few websites who provide smile cards or pre-printed notes to leave behind - in addition to organizations who invite you to give even a small amount to help someone in need.

Here are just a few sites you might wish to visit - which exist to make a difference in lives:

Modest Needs - Read about a unique challenge on Modest Needs Blog written by Dr. Keith Taylor regarding John - a man who searched the Internet with keywords "pay it forward" and came across Modest Needs website. He then wrote a letter to the organization sharing a challenge presented by his pastor. The challenge was made not only to John, but to all members of the church he attended in Osage Beach, Missouri. In addition to reading John's challenge, if you take a few extra minutes to read some of the testimonials from individuals who have been helped by Modest Needs, you will see why I believe John chose "Modest Needs" to accomplish his challenge.

Pay it Forward Foundation - began by Catherine Ryan Hyde, who is the author who wrote the book "Pay It Forward". - Volunteer run website who publishes weekly kindness newsletters and ships "smile cards" all over the world for free. Check their site to find out about "smile cards" and how they are used. Also, please take the time to read a few of the "Kindness Stories" from people who already take part in the "random act of kindness" or "pay it forward" concept.

Random Acts of Kindness Foundation - inspires people to practice kindness and to “pass it on” to others. Provides free educational and community ideas, guidance, and other resources to kindness participants through their website. Picture used on this blog post courtesy of this foundation.

Dream Weaver's Foundation - a non-profit organization that engages in acts of kindness to people in need or to individuals who have a wish, fulfilling those needs or wishes anonymously. - created in response to the events of 9/11. It is a positive expression of energy that is focused on expanding the spirit of giving and kindness in an effort to create stronger, healthier communities.

Make a Difference Day - America's largest day of doing good happens annually the 4th Saturday of October sponsored by USA Weekend. Visit the site for information on getting your family, friends, and community involved.


Dr.Keith P. Taylor said...

Bonnie - What a beautiful piece. Thanks so much for an inspirational blog in a world so badly in need of inspiration. My very best, Dr. Keith P. Taylor, President / Executive Director, Modest Needs Foundation.

Overwhelmed! said...

I love the list of ideas you've shared, as well as all the links. I'm bookmarking this post so that I can come back again for reminders!

Thanks for sharing.

Smile! said...

This is a fantastic write-up and thank you for featuring We have taken a few of the ideas you've collected and hope to share them in our weekly newsletter. You can see the ideas listed here!

Thanks a whole bunch!