Paying it forward is the simple concept that when someone is kind to you, you should be kind to others. The idea is that kindness can change lives and therefore change the world. We’ve all received kindness from other people at one time or another in our lives, but paying it forward is often something that can easily be put on the back burner. Thankfully, there are selfless heroes who have decided to show kindness and have brought about real + positive change in their world.
1. Many pay it forward lines end after a few people, but this Starbucks line lasted for 378 people. In St. Petersburg, Florida, after a woman paid for someone’s drink in the car behind her, costumer’s continued to accept their free drink and pay for the person behind them for the next 11 hours. After a little while, Starbucks baristas began to tally each person who paid it forward. At 6pm, the 379th customer declined to pay it forward and broke the chain.
2. A pizza shop in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania gives thousands of people the chance to pay it forward. Customer’s at Rosa’s Fresh Pizza can pre- purchase a slice of pizza for $1 knowing that they are purchasing a piece of pizza for the homeless. After a costumer pays, they leave a post it on the wall that allows a homeless person to come in and redeem the post it for a warm slice of pizza. Philadelphia has one of the worst poverty rates in the country, and this is one small way that a pizza shop can help out.
3. In Emmett Township, Michigan, when a police officer pulls over a young mother, Alexis DeLorenzo for her 5 year old daughter riding unsecured in the car, the officer does not give Alexis a ticket. Instead, when he hears that she could not afford a booster seat, Ben Hall drove straight to the nearest Walmart and bought one for her himself.
4. The nation’s largest kidney chain started when in yoga class, Kathy Hart heard about a 7 year old boy who needed a kidney transplant. Although she was incompatible with the boy, she donated her kidney to anyone in need. This chain connects people who need kidneys along with their willing, but mismatched donors to other incompatible pairs in order to find kidney’s for all recipients involved. This chain included 70 people in 35 transplants at 25 hospitals in 15 states. These special donors must be willing to give up their kidney for a complete stranger in order for it to work, but this act will literally save lives.
5. The documentary, A Small Act, depicts the true story of how a Hilde Back’s $10/week donation helped the Kenyan boy, Chris Mburu complete his education and even graduate from Harvard law school. Mburu paid tribute to Back by establishing the Hilde Back Education Fund in 2003. As a child, Mburu did not have much hope of earning more than $1.50/day like his parents, but because of Heidi ensured that this stranger’s education continued, Mburu’s story is one of hope. When he grew up, he brought Heidi back to Kenya to show her the impact of her one small act.
6. A young couple in Burlington, Vermont returned to a place that had helped them in times of need: the nonprofit, Spectrum Youth and Family Services. Instead of requesting their services, this young couple dropped off a bag of donated clothing. The best part? The shelter was where they met & fell in love! They have now been happily married for 4 years.
7. This pie shop in Detroit, Michigan, has established the “pie it forward” initiative where customers can purchase a slice of pie for future strangers who may not be able to afford a treat. At Sister Pie, a customer can come in and take a coupon from the wall that a previous customer has paid for.
8. In the town of Camden Point, Missouri, a lottery winner decides to pay it forward by purchasing a fire station and a baseball field for his community. After taxes, Mark Hall won $136.5 million, yet his first instinct was to give back to his town.
9. Teenagers often get a bad rap, especially teenage football players. But, in the town of Orion, Michigan, a man decided to pay for a group of 6 boys who played football for Lake Orion High School. The boys were so overwhelmed by the man’s kindness, that they gave money to the restaurant owners to pay for the next customers meal. The next day, more than 30 people contributed to additional strangers meals.
How have people in your life paid it forward to you? Share this with a friend if you’re feeling inspired to give back.