Oprah did a show a few years back about paying it forward. She wanted her audience to experience “the best gift”…giving back. Each audience member got $1000 to donate to the charitable cause of their choice.
I worked for a company where the owner did the same thing.
Each employee was given $1000 in cash and told to go pay it forward. We were also asked to document where we donated the money and how it affected us. I’ll admit that my first thought was charity begins at home…as in, my home could use $1000.
In all honesty, I wasn’t that excited to donate. I had too many charities I liked that could use $1000 and felt that dividing the money to be able to give a little to each, would make the amount too tiny to really be of help. In addition to that, I could not stop thinking about Matthew 6.
1″Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 3 But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.”
I wanted my good deeds to be done in secret. Not to be biblical but to allow me to be assured that I was donating to donate, not to get the pats on the back and the recognition. This made it harder for me, because as much as part of me preferred the secret, I wanted to get the accolades. I like it when people tell me how great I am. Who doesn’t?
Giving with no recognition was a lot harder for me, but affirmed in my mind that I was giving from the heart.
To alleviate my dilemma of who to give the money to I took half of the money and donated to a charity that affected my children directly.
The rest of the money I carried in my wallet in $100 increments to just hand out willy nilly.
One way I was able to give was at many local fast food restaurants. At the time I ate at fast food a lot. If I went through the drive through, I would often ask the guy at the window if I could pay for the car behind me. Sometimes the cashiers looked at me funny, like they didn’t understand my question, I guess it doesn’t happen very often.
This anonymous act worked for me. I had no idea who the people behind me were and there would be no way they could thank me because I was long gone by the time they realized I had paid for them.
I know you may be thinking, there were probably lots of people more deserving of money than the random guy behind me at Culver’s, but the idea of just being nice to a complete stranger felt so sweet to me. Kind of like what the Grinch must have experienced as he felt the love of the people in Whoville. My heart grew three sizes too.
That was Oprah’s wish, to allow us to feel good simply by giving.
I’ll share one experience with you. I had the opportunity to drop a large amount of money in a donation basket. At the end of the evening I was still around when they were counting the money. I watched as the woman tallying the money stopped, recounted and then grabbed the woman next to her and exclaimed how large the amount was. They asked the group to fess up so they could be thanked. No one spoke up but the murmurs of how kind and generous the act was rolled throughout the room. I went home a happy girl that night.
My act made a whole room of people happy.
I could regale you with great stories about what others who participated in the $1000 give-a-way did. So many were amazing, generous and honorable but…I don’t want to influence your ideas in anyway, because I am going to challenge you here. Or should I say I am going to offer you a way to feel good for just .95 a day.
I’m suggesting that you all stash .95 a day every day from now until my birthday.
Then, on my birthday, take that ninety some odd dollars you’ve collected and go out and anonymously donate. Pay it forward. Drop small amounts, drop the whole amount. Do whatever, but do it.
Because truly, the best gift is giving back.