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Pay it forward

A couple of years ago, I had my AP Lit students write down a time that they paid it forward. I got all sorts of heartwarming stories that I compiled and published in a magazine for the school to read. I was more than proud of my seniors who are often seen by society as self-absorbed. Those stories showed me that they were anything but.

I got the idea because not long before that someone in front of me in a Dunkin Donuts' drive-thru line paid for my order. The drive-thru cashier said, "Do you know the person in front of you?" I said, "No, why?" She said, "Well, he just paid for your coffee." The next day when I went to the drive-thru, I paid for theirs.

But paying it forward does not always have to come in the form of literally paying for something. After all, Jesus showed kindness in several ways - eating with those who were outcast, cleaning feet, teaching others, etc. What can you do that will help your fellow human being and in turn, make the world a better place? Maybe the lady I paid for at Dunkin' Donuts did go and pay it forward and maybe the chain reaction is still going! 

Here are some ideas I came up with of what I can do to reach out to others. See how many ideas you can come up with and then challenge yourself to carry through with them. 

*All these ideas cost nothing or next to nothing. 

1. Mow someone's lawn

2. Shovel someone's driveway or scrape the snow off their windows.

3. Compliment someone randomly. 

4. Offer to give someone a ride.

5. Put all the shopping carts in the grocery store parking lot in the cart rack. 

6. Send a letter in the mail to someone you don't talk to much anymore.

7. Remind a friend how important they are in your life. 

8. Let another driver take your parking spot. 

9. Donate to the Salvation Army or Goodwill.

10. Send care packages to soldiers. 

11. Let someone borrow a book, movie, etc. you think he or she may like. 

12. Let people go in front of you in line. 

13. Hold the door open for people. 

14. Say hello to random strangers. 

15. Tell your family how much they mean to you. 

16. Give someone a call if you know they had a bad day and let them talk. 

17. Try to give advice where and when appropriate - tell job seekers about job openings for example. 

18. Take time to teach someone to do something. 

19. Volunteer.

20. Pray for someone. 

These are just a small sample size of ideas of how you can brighten someone's day and make the world a better place one act of kindness at a time. Think of what you can do today to help someone out. If more of us thought about others, maybe we truly can make a difference.

*Watch the movie Pay it Forward or read the book for extra inspiration.*

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