Paying it Forward Every Day

As many of my friends and colleagues know, I am a board member for HELPIS, a Massachusetts-based non-profit organization built on the goal of creating a community of equals who provide whatever kindnesses they are able to the people they encounter in an ever-widening network of generosity. People often ask me what exactly it is that we do at HELPIS, and one of the accessible ways that I can explain our work is through that it is along the lines of “Pay It Forward.” I recently came across this great blog post, “60 Selfless Ways to Pay It Forward,” that provides 60 ways that each of us can pay it forward each day.

As the article suggests, “go ahead and make the words ‘How can I help?’ part of your everyday vocabulary.” Here are 60 selfless ways to pay it forward.

  1. Hold the door open for the person behind you.
  2. Introduce yourself. Make new colleagues, classmates, etc. feel welcome.
  3. Clean out all your old clothes and donate them to someone in need. Your old is someone else’s new.
  4. Write a positive Yelp review about a local business you like.
  5. Listen intently to people’s stories without trying to fix everything.
  6. Donate blood. One pint of blood can save up to three lives. Locate your nearest blood drive.
  7. Volunteer at a hospital, homeless shelter, nursing home, etc. Get outside of yourself and help others. Check out Volunteer Match.
  8. Buy housewarming gifts for new neighbors.
  9. Inspire others online.
  10. Share your umbrella with a stranger on a rainy day.
  11. Check up on someone who looks lonely.
  12. Let someone with only a few items cut you in line at the grocery store.
  13. Spread good news.
  14. Replace what you’ve used. For example, fill up the copier or printer with paper after you’re done using it or start a fresh batch of coffee.
  15. Give words of encouragement to someone about their dreams, no matter how big or small they are.
  16. Stop and buy a drink from a kid’s lemonade stand.
  17. Help someone get your parking space in a crowded parking lot when you’re leaving.
  18. Babysit for couples or single parents who don’t get out much so they can have some alone time.
  19. Look for ways to save a few extra bucks a month and then donate it to a good cause or charity.
  20. Shop at your local charity thrift store. The money you spend there helps others.
  21. Help someone get active. There’s a coworker or acquaintance in your life who wants to get healthy, but needs a helping hand. Offer to go walking or running together or join a gym together. Check out your local Active activities.
  22. Spend a few clicks of your time at Free Rice.
  23. If someone you love really likes something (a meal, a favor, etc.) give it to them when they least expect it.
  24. Make a difference in the life of a child. Give them your time and undivided attention. Read Raising Kids Who Will Make a Difference.
  25. If you shop online, make your purchase through Give Back America.
  26. Pay for the person in line behind you.
  27. Drop off your old eyeglasses at your local LensCrafters as a donation to the OneSight program.
  28. Create a care package and send it to an active duty military unit.
  29. Redirect gifts. Instead of having people give you birthday and holiday gifts, ask them to donate gifts or money to a good cause.
  30. The next time you see someone pulled over with a flat tire, or in need of assistance, stop and ask how you can help. Read How to Be an Everyday Philanthropist.
  31. Become a mentor or tutor to someone in need.
  32. Help the weary shopper in front of you who needs that extra two or three cents to avoid breaking a 20-dollar bill.
  33. Come to the rescue. If you realize someone is sick, bring them some hot tea, soup, etc.
  34. Be a courteous driver. Let people merge in front of you.
  35. Put some change in an expired parking meter (where it’s legal).
  36. Offer your seat to someone when there aren’t any left.
  37. Listen to someone’s pain and help them find a path through it.
  38. Hug a friend. Let them know how important they are.
  39. Think twice before you throw something away. As Jack Johnson once said, “Reduce, reuse, and recycle.”
  40. Help an entrepreneur with a Kiva donation.
  41. Bake cookies or brownies and share with a neighbor or colleagues.
  42. If you have a good book you’ve read that’s just sitting around on a bookshelf, give it away to a friend.
  43. Become a member of Freecycle, and participate.
  44. Clean up litter in a park or open space nearby.
  45. Look into co-housing.
  46. Borrow and lend things in your neighborhood by using Share Some Sugar.
  47. Send a nice email or handwritten card to someone you know, unexpectedly.
  48. Leave encouraging post-it notes in library books and other random places.
  49. If you see a couple taking a self-pic, offer to take the picture for them.
  50. Set up a donation box at your school, work, or place of worship and ask others to make canned/dried food contributions. Then deliver the donations accordingly.
  51. Join efforts to preserve and protect the environment.
  52. Donate cat and dog food to an animal shelter. Call and ask what is needed.
  53. Compliment someone who deserves it.
  54. 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.
  55. Collect and donate prom dresses for underprivileged youth. Check out the Princess Project.
  56. When you’re getting fast food, buy an extra meal for a homeless person.
  57. Stand up for someone. Lend your voice. Often the powerless, the homeless, the neglected in our world need someone to speak up for them.
  58. Take the time to teach someone a skill you know.
  59. Teach others how to make a difference in this world by setting a good example every day. Read 29 Gifts: How a Month of Giving Can Change Your Life.
  60. When someone wants to repay you for something, ask them to pay it forward.

I hope that this provides you with some inspiration for ways that you can pay it forward. I would love to hear other ways that people can think of to help keep the pay it forward momentum going!

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