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FINANCIAL SERVICES: The power of paying it forward

Small-scale actoins make up a large-scale movement

By Chris Cravens, Coffee Financial

Imagine you’re at the drive-through of your favorite coffee shop, waiting for the barista to deliver your triple espresso. As you hand her your card, she waves you off. “Oh don’t worry about it; the person ahead of you paid.” A warm feeling rushes over you, but the kind stranger has already driven off. So you pay for the next person in line as a karmic thank you. And just like that you’ve paid it forward. Or backward, as it were.

Recently, a woman kicked off an 11-hour-long string of 378 customers who did just that at a Florida Starbucks. This random act of kindness made the national news and made hundreds of coffee lovers a little bit happier that day. This is just one example of the “‘pay-it-forward” movement spreading across the country.

The simple idea isn’t new, but social and mainstream media help incidents like this go viral, spawning copycat do-gooders. It just takes one person to help out a stranger and then encourage that person to do the same. There’s no money or time requirement, membership fee or weekly meeting. All you need is a sense of caring and goodwill.

Of course, social media gives this movement a 21″ century spin. Shares, tweets, videos and blogs carry the feel-good message to like-minded people on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Reddit and other sites. As moments of paying-it-forward pop up in our feeds, we all see the heartwarming good this movement can do.

Take for instance, the firefighters who not only rescued an elderly woman after she’d fallen in front of her home back in October, they later came back to clean her yard for her.

Or Ronal Bowes, who was part of a group of retired professors and others who drank coffee almost every morning at a particular KFL Assistant Manager Jennie Slota, a full-time student at Lock Haven University, rushed in each day to open the store for the coffee club before heading to class. As she struggled to save enough for tuition, she took a semester off to earn more money. Then she got a special call. Bowes had paid her tuition for the next two years and requested thatshe “pay” him back by graduating and doing good deeds for others.

Then there’s the couple who left their stressed server $100 – a 150% tip despite having “received poor service. The receipt on which they wrote, “We’ve both been in your shoes. Paying it forward,” received more than 1.5 million likes on Facebook.

Even kids can get in on the act. Thirteen-year-old Jacob Anders, a cancer survivor, asked the Make-a-Wish Foundation to pay it forward in a big way. Inspired by his twin cousins with autism, he wished for a recreation center to be built for kids with special needs. With the support of Make-a-Wish Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio, funding is being raised to make his selfless wish a reality.

Should you be so inclined, your family’s random acts of kindness could be as simple as covering the toll for the car behind you during busy traffic or giving your umbrella to someone caught in bad weather. There’s no limit to the ways you can make a positive change in your community. These small acts of kindness can become a part of your family’s routine, creating a ripple effect of positivity that reverberates for a long time.

Ways to pay it forward

  • Mow the lawn for a neighbor
  • Add money to expiring parking meters
  • Donate clothes or household goods to families in need
  • Pay another table’s bill when dining out
  • Donate school supplies for underprivileged children

(Click here to contact Chris Cravens at Coffee Financial.)



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