Giving Matters: Cause a Ripple | Vanburen

“It’s amazing, how one person’s act of kindness can change the course of your life. Today, follow their lead … Pay it Forward.” – Unknown

Recently I sent away for some cards from a nationwide campaign whose mission is to Pay it Forward. The group is called the “Pay it Forward Effect” based out of Hampshire, Illinois. I received five cards. They are the size of a business card and are numbered. The idea is to do an act of kindness and leave one of these cards for the recipient of that act of kindness. On the card, it says, “Someone reached out to you with an act of kindness, and hoped it brightened your day. Please accept this card, and consider passing it along by ‘Paying it Forward’ to someone else. It can be in any way, big or small. With this card, you have the potential to impact others in a positive way for months, even years to come. Join us to keep the ripple effect going!” Their website is,

Eight years ago at my café, The Greater Good Café, I witnessed so many people who would pay it forward for those that couldn’t afford a meal. Over the three years that we ran the café, we were able to feed several individuals, even families, who were down on their luck and appreciated and needed those meals. Patrons were allowed to eat regardless of their ability to pay.

Once when I was in Conway going through a drive-through window at one of my favorite restaurants the person in front of me paid it forward and my meal was already paid when I got to the payment window. I then paid it forward for the person behind me. I’m not sure how many people this reached after me but I’d like to think that even if it didn’t go any further that it made that person smile and feel good knowing that there are kind people and random acts of kindness do happen.

The numbers on my cards range from 95,051-95,055. If they started with number one then that’s a lot of acts of kindness! Can you imagine the impact this will make? I am so excited to go out and leave my cards and am working on what those acts of kindness are going to be. Of course, you can do this without the cards but I just thought this was a good idea and wanted to learn more about what this group was all about. It’s something that speaks to my heart.

Ideas like this don’t have to be grand gestures, even the smallest act of kindness can make an impact on someone and on yourself. At the very least it will put a smile on someone’s face. For the third week of a seven-week series of Life Lessons your lesson this week is, Smile. You don’t own all the problems in the world but you can be a part of those solutions by showing random acts of kindness. Smiles are contagious, it will make you smile, and that one smile will spread. Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” It starts today, pay it forward with random acts of kindness.