Paying it forward thread: ideas to help others!

Discussion in 'News that makes you smile!' started by Reality Orlando, Dec 17, 2011.

  1. Reality Orlando

    Reality Orlando Verified Aquaculturalist

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    I thought I'd start a thread so we can post ideas to help others. Not everyone has a thousand dollars to plunk down at Kmart to pay off someone's lay away bill, but there are lots of low cost to free opportunities that let us all serve others in our communities. I was hoping we could post some up and share ideas.

    Here's a few of the projects I've been involved in:

    Just after the holidays each year animal shelters fill up with pets that were given as gifts and the shelters become overwhelmed. When I worked at a middle school, (I was the staff admin of the school's environmental club) the month before the holiday break each year we ran a "Pet Food Drive for the Holidays." We took in so much pet food, blankets, old pet crates, leashes, dog bowls, etc. it was insane. The shelters loved getting in all the extras and in the later years a staff member would appear on our school video channel with one of the pets to thank the kids. One year we collected over 3,000 items! The local Petsmarts, food stores, etc. would always put aside their near to expiring foods and donate a chunk as well. I'd be sure one of the kids who needed some extra "pats on the back" would be assigned to pick up the bulk food so they'd get some extra bravos ;)

    Another project I'm involved in is with a group of friends. We save up all year and a few weeks before the holidays we have a scavenger hunt for animal supplies. We all set off early in the day of our hunt and spend about 6 hours searching out second hand stores for pet carriers, old sheets and blankets that are so desperately needed by local shelters. We meet up at 5 pm and compare hauls. Whomever we deem the "Shopper of the Day" gets her dinner that night paid for by the rest of us. It's a fun day and we always have a wonderful dinner and lots of laughs (we have special mention for goofiest blanket, weirdest sheet pattern, worst towel color, etc. :)

    When my kids were young I was a single mom and we lived paycheck to paycheck so we didn't have the money to help others but we always found ways to pitch in as I wanted "helping others" to be an integral part of my kids' foundations. So, we cleaned out the toy chests and closets on Black Friday each year and donated toys, clothes, etc. to organizations to help the poor in our communities (anyone in the Orlando area: Boys Town in Oviedo is a fabulous program). We also helped serve community dinners to the poor and my kids always had Christmas Caroling nights where everyone would bring a plate of their Mom's best cookies and I made a huge pot of hot chocolate. They would collect for the Catholic Missions. One of the fathers would match whatever they collected and most years we averaged about $800. It became a huge event and we'd often have 30-40 kids. I printed out the words to the songs so everyone had them :) I miss those days.
     
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  3. tlcya

    tlcya Well-Known Member

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    Great idea for a thread Reality. That secret Santa thread really got our members talking about ways to pay it forward so this thread would be a great place to continue along that line.
     
  4. Reality Orlando

    Reality Orlando Verified Aquaculturalist

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    :) that's where I got the idea from. I'm hoping everyone will post what they do this season as I think people need to know the good in their communities as well as the bad and I'd love some new ideas:)
     
  5. belimom

    belimom Our lives begin to end the day we become silent ab

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    Great ideas! Thank you for sharing.

    Another way to help that doesn't cost a penny: When I was growing up, my mother used to visit people in the nursing home and I would go with her sometimes. I never forgot how grateful some of those folks were just to have someone to talk to and they LOVE children. They wouldn't want us to leave. So in college, I did that for a couple of years when home at Christmas. I went to the nursing home on Christmas afternoon. I asked who had not had visitors and/or who had family that was too far to come visit. It was so meaningful and I wish I had not stopped doing it.

    I think I may take my kids and do that this year.

    We're also decluttering and several sheets/blankets/towels we're getting rid of. I think I'll take them to an animal shelter or animal rescue. Thanks for the idea. :)
     
  6. tlcya

    tlcya Well-Known Member

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    A few Christmases ago when I had finally broken down and applied for aid and received it, they made the food stamp amount retroactive. I had applied back in August and there were some snafus with my application so it was not approved til a short time before Christmas. So I found myself with three times the normal allotment for a family of my size. By that time, my family was on my mom's church's radar for food pantry items as well.

    So I went from trying to figure via food pantry how to stretch food to feed my family to having this largess of food budget right before Christmas via the retroactive benefit on my newly received SNAP card.

    Some may condemn me for it as technically it might be considered fraud. But keep in mind you have only three months to spend that benefit or it is wiped from your card. I knew that even if I bought the most outrageously priced convenience items (not food I want for my family) or steaks for dinner every night (seemed ungrateful and not right to do) we would never be able to spend all that in three months. Not when each month a new amount would hit the card.

    I took a portion of the retroactive benefit and purchased some staples for my neighbor down the street who had small children and who I knew did not have food in their home. I also took the most recently delivered food pantry items down the block to them.

    Unless you were there to see this mom's face and the excitement of her little ones as they help me unload the groceries from my trunk I don't think you can really understand. It wasn't til I was handing over the groceries and seeing the relief and gratitude in this mom's face that even I realized how dire things were that week.

    But I know how good it made me feel to have made such a difference in that household. Even if for a week.
     
  7. Reality Orlando

    Reality Orlando Verified Aquaculturalist

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    Shelters can always use blankets, sheets, laundry detergent and bleach. Also, pet carriers are a huge bonus to our local shelter to help transport animals. Thanks for doing that!
     
  8. davehead21

    davehead21 Active Member

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    I love this thread!! One of my friends posted on Facebook this week that her daughter stopped at Starbucks for coffee on her way to work. When she pulled up to the window to pay, she girl informed her that the person in front of her had paid for her coffee. She said it absolutely made her daughter's day. I thought that was a super nice thing to do for a stranger.
     
  9. Reality Orlando

    Reality Orlando Verified Aquaculturalist

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    That was sweet and affordable!
     
  10. redkatrampant

    redkatrampant New Member

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    I heard of someone doing this several years ago and I have tried to do it here and there.

    My kids always knew that the week before Thanksgiving was clean out time. Toys that were out grown or ignored were boxed up, clothes that were too small or never worn were boxed up and given to local charities. They also helped shop for food for the food pantry.
    My daughter now does this with her kids. I keep a box in the closet to put clothes in through out the year as they are no longer needed.
    My kids also picked a service project several times a year.
    I try to remember the needs of others throughout the year and not just at the Holidays.
     
  11. Kimster

    Kimster Former Member

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    Remember to contact those who have lost a loved one this year and this is their first Christmas without them. :tears: This could be because they passed away, got a divorce, or even their first time as an empty nester. Major life changes during the year can cause much sorrow during the holidays. A little call to let them know they aren't alone in their thoughts can be huge.
     
  12. Reality Orlando

    Reality Orlando Verified Aquaculturalist

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    When I was 15, I was a candy striper in a nursing home. Elderly people are so lonely. So many of them have few to no visitors. Most I worked with needed people to read to them and also write letters for them. This is going WAY back, but I interviewed a woman in her late 90's who had worked on a southern plantation all her life and through several generations of the family. They paid all her expenses and she was in a private room :) I interviewed her on her life and it was absolutely fascinating. We get as much as we give in these situations :)
     
  13. Pandora

    Pandora New Member

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    We (the teachers in my district) just put on a free community dinner. We all chipped in to buy the food, prepared it, and served it in the high school cafeteria. In the end, we were able to serve 600 in a community that has been severely hit with lay-offs due to its dependence on manufacturing jobs. (They have all gone south.)
    We're hoping to make it a yearly event.

    We also donate $20 each to the local food bank and the school board then permits us to wear jeans on Fridays. (Jeans for Charity)
     
  14. Herding Cats

    Herding Cats New Member

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    I tend to make great use of gift cards. For example, I loaded 5 gift cards with $10 each, at Target yesterday. Once I've checked out, I turn and hand a gift card to the person behind me, and tell them "Merry Christmas." The look on their face is priceless, it's not a huge amount, and it is always accepted gratefully.

    You can do this with all sorts of cards: Starbucks, supermarkets, or any sort of place that has a card. It's fun, it can be $5, or whatever amount you want...

    I do it this way because a lot of times, the stores where I want to put some money onto the person's bill who's behind me doesn't quite know how to deal with it...they're not sure what they're supposed to do. So instead of explaining (and sometimes spoiling the surprise...), just get the cards and hand them to the person in line behind you.

    Then run outta the store before they can give it back (I've had some folks, once the surprise is over, do their best to give it back...LOL...).

    I also go through all the animal stuff, and donate to who and where I can. When I change towels, I give the old ones to the vets, the shelter, or just wherever needs it.

    And when I was in RN school, I ran the "Food Fairy" basket. I'd spend maybe $30 a week in staples - beans, pasta, canned foods, peanut butter - and put it in a big basket in the lobby of the school. I had more than one person tell me I fed their family that week, or helped with being able to pay a different bill because they had food now. I bought store brands, or hit the 2fer sales, or got the stuff that was on sale...it was a lot of food when you do it that way.

    At first, I was worried that folks would not want to take from the basket in the lobby. But I was happily surprised...only occasionally did the basket have anything left in it when I went to fill it up again.

    Best-
    Herding Cats
     
  15. Dewey2Me1MoThyme

    Dewey2Me1MoThyme Have clue will sleuth!

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    It's a shame that for most, this only happens this time of year, then many lose the spirit. I grew up in the 50s in a small town of approx. 8 to 10K people. My next oldest brother and I were never bored. From the time we were old enough to pick up a snow shovel, we would hit several homes in the neighbourhood where senior ladies lived and shovel their walks, split their wood, load the wood box etc. In the summer we would get on our bikes and ride the five miles to our uncles farm to help him bring in the hay, (bales weighed as much as we did) weed his gardens and slop the pigs before riding home.
    When I was 14 I used to ride my bike or hitch hike (not recommended these days) over 30 miles to my father's former MIL's house and feed the poultry, mow her lawns, split her wood (only means of cooking) go fishing and supply her with perch, pick her apples and the like.
    We never expected anything in return for those "chores" although now and then we'd get a quarter or an orange for our efforts. This was a year round thing for us, after school, summer vacations, etc. We helped where we were needed.
    Some things that can be done for free and most appreciated, go to a VA retirement home and sit and listen to their stories, they appreciate the attention. Walk someone's dog that can't get out themselves to do it. Salt their sidewalks and steps. Rake the leaves for an elderly or disabled neighbour. They don't even have to know it was you.

    In southwest Nova Scotia lives a man of wealth, I've never met him, but I'm told he looks like any other man on the street. Each year he keeps a list of people who do kind acts for himself or others from the goodness of their hearts. when he hears or witnesses such a person, he finds ways of getting their name and contact info. Each fall he sends out an invitation to the good hearted people for a big buffet dinner. This includes about any wildlife, water foul etc you can imagine. I've been told it is an extremely large table filled with more grub than you can imagine. There is dancing and all the fixings and he pays for the entire evening. It takes him a year to plan and execute this, for no other reason than to say thanks for taking care of others.
    Sorry for the long post.
    Dew
     
  16. Peliman

    Peliman New Member

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    So I was in Walmart tonight and this guy in front of me plunked down some food items and a BIG stack of girls dresses and clothes. He'd obviously just come from work and had on coveralls and was a bit dusty from working.

    Well as he was checking out, this lady whooshed in and handed him a $50 Gift card and said to him. "Here I have this extra, you can have it." Handed it to him and left.

    I was floored but not as much as he was. His bill was $448.00 for some loved child. He only paid $398 but the moment and the way it was done was perfect. I was very moved and blessed watching this happen, it was awesome.

    Thought I'd share.
     

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