Take time to pay it forward

Since the Newtown tragedy occurred, there’s been a wonderful “pay it forward” movement going on across the country. Strangers helping each other, volunteering time, donating food, clothing and money to various causes. Organizers of that movement wanted to honor those young children and their teachers who lost their lives in a senseless act of violence. And people all over the world responded.

The concept is not new by any means. There was a movie with Helen Hunt that took on that theme. There’s even an official Pay it Forward Day, which will be observed this year on April 25. According to the official Pay it Forward Day Facebook group, more than 60 countries have committed to take part in activities that day.

I think most of us have been the recipient of a random act of kindness at one point or another in our lives. Sometimes, we might be in such a hurry, absorbed in our own thoughts, that we miss these wonderful moments. Once, someone in line at a convenience store paid for my tank of gas. The clerk handed me a card that said a stranger had paid for my purchase and the card urged me to do the same for someone else. And I did the next time I was in that store.

Yesterday, I witnessed a very sweet act of kindness. A small child was shopping in at a local grocery store, obviously looking for a nice Valentine for his mother. He stepped up to the cash register and dumped a handful of coins out of his pocket. The store clerk sorted and counted out the funds but the young man came up about a dollar short. That’s when the man right behind him stepped up and paid for the whole purchase. The little fellow looked up at the man, smiled and thanked him quite nicely for his help. I’m not sure who was happier, the young man or his adult benefactor. I know it made my heart swell when I saw the interaction.

One time Larry and I were headed to the movie theater for a matinee. There were a couple young girls at the counter buying tickets. One had apparently forgotten her wallet, so her friend used her popcorn money to pay her friend’s admission to the show.

Friendship like that deserves a reward, so when we stepped up to the counter, we ordered two extra sodas and popcorn boxes. We asked the clerk to take the snacks in to the girls and to tell them to enjoy the show. We sat across the aisle and back a few rows. They squealed when they received the snacks.

My son actually handed me a wonderful act of kindness the other morning. We were rushing to get out the door so he could get to school and I could get to work. He headed out to the car. I forgot my purse and ran back in to get it. When I came back out, he had scraped all of the frost off of the car windows. I felt that act of kindness deserved a payback – and a dozen doughnut holes from the bakery seemed to be the perfect way.

It doesn’t require a lot of money, energy or great skills. It shouldn’t be a chore or challenge. But it does require lifting our eyes out of own private, hectic lives to see the world around us. There is always a way to offer a kindness to our fellow man. Give it a try pay it forward.