Gifts Aren’t to Be Paid Back, They’re to Be Paid Forward

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We are all familiar with the phrase ‘Pay it Forward,’ whether because you read the book, watched the movie, or have just paid attention.

I encourage you to join millions of people around the world to celebrate International Pay it Forward Day – Friday, April 28th. This day is recognized by over 70 countries and over 50 state and city proclamations, it is a celebration of creating a huge ripple of kindness throughout the world through small, sometimes random, acts of kindness to strangers.

By paying it forward, one person and one seemingly small act can make a meaningful impact in the lives of many. The sum is greater than the parts. You can’t do everything, but you can do something.

Below is a list of ideas. Please use them throughout the year to spread a little joy. Most cost nothing, but could mean the world to someone.

  1. Hold the door open for the person behind you.
  2. Clean out all your old clothes and donate them to someone in need.  Your old is someone else’s new.
  3. Donate blood.  One pint of blood can save up to three lives.  Locate your nearest blood drive.
  4. Share your umbrella with a stranger on a rainy day.
  5. Check up on someone who looks lonely.
  6. Let someone with only a few items cut you in line at the grocery store.
  7. Stop and buy a drink from a kid’s lemonade stand.
  8. If you shop online, make your purchase through Give Back America or Amazon Smile.
  9. Drop off your old eye glasses at your local LensCrafters as a donation to the OneSight
  10. Redirect gifts.  Instead of having people give you birthday and holiday gifts, ask them to donate gifts or money to a good cause.
  11. Offer your seat to someone when there aren’t any left. (You can’t always see pain.)
  12. Hug a friend. Just because.
  13. Send a nice email or handwritten card to someone you know, unexpectedly.
  14. Leave encouraging post-it notes in library books and other random places.
  15. If you see a couple taking a self-pic, offer to take the picture for them.
  16. Donate cat and dog food to an animal shelter, as well as old towels or blankets.
  17. If there’s been an accident or a potentially hazardous situation presents itself on the road, report it to the local authorities.  Your phone call could save a life.
  18. When you’re getting fast food, buy an extra meal for a homeless person.
  19. Compliment the first three people you talk to today.
  20. Send a positive text message to five people right now.
  21. Leave quarters at the laundromat.
  22. Leave unused coupons next to the corresponding products in the grocery store.
  23. Leave a great server the biggest tip you can afford.
  24. Stand up for someone. Lend your voice.
  25. When someone wants to repay you for something, ask them to pay it forward.

Have you ever been the recipient of a random act of kindness? Feel free to share your stories and ideas to pay it forward.

Gifts that Give Back

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Why not give a gift that is a win-win for both the lucky recipient and another person, animal, or organization? Below are some ideas for holiday (or any time!) gifts that not only show you care, but will help make the world a little better. I wish you all a wonderful, safe holiday season!

Something for Absolutely Anyone on Your List

More than 16,000 eco- and socially conscious products are available (some from as low as $2) on WorldofGood.com. Each product is vetted and comes with a short description so you can see exactly where your money is going.

Fair-trade lip balms, organic soaps and craft supplies are all under $15 and make excellent stocking stuffers.

Buy a Gift, Fund a Business

At BuildaNest.com, you will find beautiful, hand-made Guatemalan totes that support local businesses. The site sells original apparel, jewelry, home and paper goods made by more than 100 exclusive artists and designers and gives microcredit loans to women in developing countries, enabling them to start and maintain a business selling their own products—which are then offered on the site itself.

Love the cause but don’t need a handbag? GlobalGoodsPartners.org, sells handwoven bracelets made by native tribes in Argentina and handcrafted beaded bangles made women in Tanzania. Global Goods Partners is dedicated to alleviating poverty and promoting social justice and funds women-led market initiatives in local communities in 24 countries.

For Animal Lovers

The International Fund for Animal Welfare’s Gifts for Animals (AnimalGift.org) program helps protect elephants, as well as bear cubs and seals, and also provides funds for urgent pet care and animal rescue. Starting at $25, each gift comes with a full-color pamphlet telling the story of the animal being helped.

Indulge

Lush’s hand and body lotion is made with fair-trade cocoa-butter, and proceeds—100 percent after taxes—go to the organization featured on the lid of each pot. WaterCan, TreePeople, Amazon Conservation Team, and International Fund for Animal Welfare are only a few available at LushUSA.com .

One Size Fits All Gift Certificates

Good Cards (CharityNavigator.org) are the gift certificates of the philanthropy world. You set the price; recipients pick the charity. Perfect for those bosses, co-workers and clients you’re stumped on.

What are some of your favorite ‘win win’ gifts?

Who Made the List? Newest Recipients Chosen!

Earlier in the month, I challenged my readers to help me pay it forward by nominating local non-profits to be the next recipient of Win Win for a Cause donations. I am pleased to say that we received multiple nominations for deserving charities in our area who are making a positive difference in the lives of our neighbors. 

Instead of choosing just one to add to the list of current Win Win for a Cause recipients, I chose them all. The nominations received were all for wonderful organizations doing meaningful work that serves our community in different areas. The next Win Win for a Cause recipients my clients can choose include mental health and counseling services, grass roots organizations challenging injustices, adult day care resources, a non-profit fighting pediatric cancer, and more.

I created Win Win for a Cause to give back to the community and allow my clients to do the same through an alternative to the traditional closing gift. A portion from my commission of closed real estate transactions is donated to a charity or non-profit of the client’s choosing within 30 days of closing.

To see a full list of current Win Win recipients (including our newest!) click here. Over the next several weeks, we will highlight the individual organizations and the work they are doing to improve the lives of others. We are so thankful for their efforts and I look forward to letting my clients share in the joy of giving back to our community.

 

 

“If you can’t feed 100 people, then feed just one.”

 

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Helping those who are not (currently) able to help themselves is an incredibly important service. This week I am so pleased to bring attention to The Disciples Kitchen – the very first recipient of a Win Win for a Cause Donation.

The Disciples Kitchen in Waynesboro, VA is a local soup kitchen open to individuals and families in need of a hot meal. Since opening its doors in September 2007, Disciples Kitchen has served almost 80,000 meals.  They are one of the deserving, local charities my clients can designate for their Win Win donation from the sale or purchase of a home.

Four days a week, The Disciples Kitchen staff and volunteers provide warm meals to local residents. Averaging about 45 diners per meal, they are served Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 11:30 am to 12:15 pm in the Fellowship Hall of 2nd Presbyterian Church at 133 Delphine Avenue (entrance to the kitchen is at the rear of the church off Commerce Avenue).  Breakfast is served each Saturday from 10:00 to 10:45 a.m. at Basic United Methodist Church on the corner of 5th & Delphine. All meals are served free-of-charge to anyone in need.

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Disciples Kitchen is a non-denominational ministry sponsored by more than 30 churches and organizations and close to 250 active volunteers.  The goal of the program is to share what so many of us have, and probably take for granted, by providing a hot, nutritious meal free-of-charge to anyone who needs it. 

The group is appreciative of donations and volunteer resources to help provide warm meals for their neighbors.

For further information, please visit How You Can Help or contact them directly at (540) 943-3211.

How do you plan to volunteer your time?

Making a Difference at Home

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I can only speak for myself, but spring (which is right around the corner) inspires such happiness and hope; feelings of renewal and joy. All of us have varying degrees of blessings, be it a roof over our head, an able body, a capable mind, loved ones, the longer days, sprouting gardens, and warm sunshine. I am also reminded not all are so fortunate. For the next several weeks, I will highlight local organizations making tremendous contributions and positive impacts in our communities.

AHIP Celebrates 40 Years

Some of our neighbors find themselves in difficult or unsafe homes due to economics, illness or injury. Thankfully, there is Albemarle Housing Improvement Program (AHIP) serving low to moderate income residents in the City of Charlottesville and Albemarle County.  AHIP is home repair nonprofit based in Charlottesville, VA that “changes lives, saves livelihoods, and makes neighborhoods and our community a better place for everyone”.

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For over 40 years, AHIP has answered the calls from local homeowners looking for help; allowing them to preserve their homes, protect their health and safety, and stay safe at home. Their network of crews, subcontractors, and volunteers work year-round in Charlottesville and Albemarle County, helping individuals, young families, working people, retired people, senior citizens, disabled people, and multi-generational households improve their living conditions and their quality of life.

To get the job done, AHIP works with a spectrum of community partners, including local and state government, neighborhood leaders, social services agencies, regional funders, and a wide variety of volunteer groups.

I am thrilled that several of my wonderful clients have donated to AHIP through WIN WIN.  Individual monetary donations are always needed, but you can also contribute in many other valuable ways by volunteering your time and skills, helping AHIP with fundraisers and special events, or simply by spreading the good word about the organization. To volunteer or donate in any way please contact the hard working folks at: http://ahipva.org/a/volunteer .

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Donate through March 31st to help AHIP reach its goal of $25,000 to help 10 local families in need of emergency home repairs.

Individuals and corporations can donate through bequests, charitable remainder trusts, charitable lead trusts, and gifts of endowment, gift and pledge agreements, personal property, life insurance, real estate, and corporate matching.

What will you do to make a difference today?

 

All the flowers of all the tomorrows are in the seeds of today

happy3There is something about this time of year that reminds us just how fortunate we are and inspires the desire to help others. In this spirit of giving back, I have compiled a short list of ways to spread some joy with those who may need it. The best part? All of these can be done any time of the year.

Adopt a family or child for gift giving. Ask any church or community organization, and I am willing to bet they can think of a family in need. Help ensure that everyone in your community receives something special for the holidays by providing gifts for those in need. This is a great way to teach children about the value of giving rather than receiving.

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Make holiday cards or decorations like tree ornaments or door wreaths.  Take your homemade cards and crafts to a local nursing home or hospital. (Be sure to ask about gift-giving policies before heading in.) When it isn’t the holiday season, send cards to our troops overseas who may find great joy in a thoughtful gift from State-side.

Cook or prepare a meal, side dish, or baked goods. Organizations like Loaves & Fishes  and the Ronald McDonald House are often looking for or accept home-cooked or purchased food donations. Contact them to find out how you can best assist this holiday season. Again, this can be done year round.

Host a holiday “giving” party and ask your guests to bring a non-perishable food item(s) for a food pantry or clothing and toiletries for a women’s shelter.

Volunteer at a local homeless organization and help your neighbors in need. Contact Disciples Kitchen in Waynesboro, VA and volunteer to help them provide support, temporary shelter or housing, and community development for adults and families in the city and in Augusta County. 

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Deliver a hot meal for someone who can’t make one themselves. Call your local Meals-on-Wheels program to provide warm meals for homebound members of your community. 

For more ideas, visit www.volunteermatch.org to find an opportunity that fits your schedule and interest.

Please share your ideas for spreading happiness both during the holiday season and year round.

 

Pay It Forward – I hope it may thus go thro’ many hands, before it meets with a Knave that will stop its Progress

 

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Most of us are familiar with ‘Pay it Forward,’ thanks in part to the 2000 movie of the same name. In the film, a young boy is assigned a school project to find an idea that can change the world. No small task there. The character develops the ‘pay it forward’ concept and sets into motion a chain reaction of good deeds that, while perhaps not changing the world, created a positive effect in the lives of many with the hope that it would continue indefinitely.

Perhaps lesser known is that this movement of sorts was conceptualized by one of our Nation’s Founding Fathers. In 1784, Benjamin Franklin gave a small amount of money to Benjamin Webb. Instead of repayment, Franklin asked that Webb, when he was able and the situation availed itself, find another‘…honest man in similar Distress. You must pay me by lending this Sum to Him.’ Franklin further beseeched Webb to ask that the next recipient carry on the tradition.

The concept has silently become nearly ubiquitous in American culture: Sci-Fi author Robert A. Heinlein makes note of it in Between Planets; it is also AA’s 12th Step; and it is mentioned repeatedly throughout popular culture. Regardless of its origins, the theory is both simple and powerful.

By paying it forward, one person and one seemingly small act can make a meaningful impact in the lives of many. The sum is greater than the parts. Money is certainly not necessary. Gestures, smiles, simple kindnesses are always (well, almost always) appreciated. Help the person who is struggling to get the groceries to their car, volunteer your time, stop and pick up that dog running loose in the street. These are small (sometimes) things we can do that will absolutely change the course of someone’s day. Maybe more than just their day.

Give it a try.

Have examples of paying it forward you would like to share?

Please do.