Doing something good for someone else without expecting anything in return is known as paying it forward, and it's a great way to stay on the right side of karma. While this is a good idea every day, April 28 is International Pay It Forward Day. Ways to "pay it forward" include myriad small gestures that create a ripple effect of kindness. "We believe that small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can literally change the world for the better," the Pay It Forward Day website, which aims to inspire more than 10 million acts of kindness around the world, states.
More than 80 countries are officially participating in International Pay It Forward Day, because we could all use a little more kindness in our daily lives. Inspired by the book of the same name by Catherine Ryan Hyde, and founded by Blake Beattie in Australia in 2007, the movement asks participants to perform between one and three good deeds for others without asking for anything in return. Instead the recipient should be instructed to pay it forward to someone else in need. Additionally, they also provide downloadable Pay It Forward cards to help you along.
If you want to pay it forward, consider these eight ideas to make someone's day, and start a chain reaction of good vibrations.
1. Money Burning A Hole In Your Pocket? Pay It Forward!
While there are a lot of organizations that need donations these days, small gifts to individuals can make the biggest difference. In celebration of International Pay It Forward Day, GoFundMe has highlighted five stories that show how small gifts can make be life changing.
- We Rise By Lifting Others: After a woman lost a check, a man showed up at her front door later that night to return it to her. When the woman learned he was living with his family out of a motel nearby she decided to create a GoFundMe campaign to help them get back on their feet. In less than a week, more than 500 people donated more than $18,000. In a recent video update, Sergio announced that this money will allow him to search for a more permanent home for his family.
- Send a Random Girl 2 Nursing School: A man started a GoFundMe campaign after briefly meeting a woman working the local Popeye’s drive thru. He saw how tired she was of working in the fast food industry and after sharing with him her goals to become a nurse, he decided to help kick start her career by raising money for nursing school tuition. The story has gone viral, driving more than 500 people to donate. It has surpassed its goal, reaching more than $15,000 in donations.
- Mohamed Bzeek — Foster Father: One man, Mohamed Bzeek, has been a foster parent for more than 80 terminally ill children for the past 20 years. A stranger created a GoFundMe page to help Mohamed afford house improvements, a new van, and to put money away for his own son’s education. More than $400,000 was raised to give back to a man who has given so many children care and love when they needed it most.
- Gunnar's Wheels: A man’s dog, Gunner, was hit by a truck leaving him a paraplegic and needing a cart-like wheelchair to get around. Gunner’s owner decided to create a foundation that offers animals in need a free cart. The campaign has raised more than $85,000 in support, allowing even more disabled animals to have access to the help they need.
- A Caribbean Cruise for Kabir Ahmed: One woman created a GoFundMe to help send a Halal Food Truck worker and his family on a vacation. She stresses how hard others work to keep communities fed, and it would be a dream come for Kabir Ahmed to spend quality time with his family. More than 300 people have come together to raise more than $7,000 for the family's adventure.
2. Pay For A Stranger's Coffee Or Meal
If you've ever had a stranger pay for your coffee, drink, or meal without telling you, then you know how good this feels. If you want to spread the love, tell the cashier that you'd like to pay for the person in line behind you next time you're grabbing coffee or food for yourself. You never know what kinds of challenges other people are facing, and the simple gesture of paying for someone's coffee can change their whole day.
3. Take Flowers To The Cemetery for Someone Else's Loved One
I think this one is pretty special, and a friend did this for me yesterday. My dad, a Vietnam veteran, is buried in a memorial cemetery in Phoenix, Ariz., and I have not been able to visit his grave in five years. My best friend was traveling in Phoenix yesterday, and she took flowers to my father's grave.
This has become a bit of a trend with my friends paying it forward with my dad. My roommate took a thimble of my dad's ashes on a trip to Vietnam earlier this year so his spirit could return to Vietnam in a positive way. Both of these gestures moved me to tears.
If you're going to the cemetery to visit a loved one, you can also bring flowers to leave on a stranger's grave.
4. Tell Someone How Much You Appreciate Them
You might think it's a given that someone knows how great you think they are, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't tell them anyway. Hearing that you are loved, or that you've done a great job on something always makes you feel good, right? Use Pay It Forward Day to pat someone else on the back.
Whether it's a co-worker, friend, or family member, give someone accolades, or positive news. This will make you both feel great, and it doesn't cost you a thing.
5. Visit An Elderly Neighbor
If you have older folks in your community (we likely all do) who could use a helping hand, or simply a companion, reach out to them. Scary Mommy recently published a story about a note an elderly woman left her neighbor describing her loneliness and asking if the neighbor would consider being her friend.
We often get so caught up in our own lives that we forget that many older folks live alone, might be housebound or disabled, and are lonely. Something as small as weekly visits, bringing food, or going for a walk with a neighbor can change their entire perspective, and you'll likely get something positive out of the relationship too. It's a win-win!
6. Help A New Parent
It's no secret that new parents have a lot on their plates. They're stressed, sleep deprived, and often don't have time to themselves. If you know a new parent, a simple acts of kindness can make their day.
Consider bringing them a prepared meal, offer to babysit so they can take a shower, or a nap, walk their dog, clean their house, or just offer them some adult conversation beyond goo-goos and ga-gas.
7. Play The Lottery For Someone Else
If you know someone who could use a pick me up, consider buying some scratch off lottery tickets and gifting them along with a Pay It Forward card. This gesture could change their life, but even if they're not a big winner they'll appreciate your thoughtfulness.
8. Be A Mentor
If you've ever had someone take you under their wing and show you the ropes, then you know how powerful mentoring can be. If you're looking for a way to pay it forward, consider giving your time, skills, and wisdom to someone else.
You can sign up to mentor in your community (most cities have some type of program) or mentor someone you know, like a younger co-worker, family member, or friend. You'll both get much more from the partnership then you put in, and you just might end up with a lifelong friend in the process.
While these are all great ways to celebrate Pay It Forward Day, they're also wonderful ways to live your live every day, because let's face it — sometimes we need a reminder.