Lucky Us! It’s International Pay-it-Forward Day

Today isn’t just Friday… it’s International Pay-It-Forward Day! Last year, nearly 80 countries participated in the holiday, with U.S. participation happening in 48 cities in 42 states. Today’s goal is to inspire more than 10 million acts of kindness around the world. The following are a few ideas of random kindnesses to perform today (or any other day) that are sure to make the Outer Banks an even happier place to live than it already is.

You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

  • Think of your favorite businesses on the beach, from restaurants and plumbers to accountants and clothing stores. Log onto Yelp or their social media pages and give them a rave review from your own personal experiences.
  • “Suspend a Coffee” or suspend a whole meal if you are able. The philosophy of “suspending” began in Ireland and the term is well known abroad. A customer pays it forward when they put down store credit that sits in limbo at a business (usually for food or drink) until someone in need requests help. Here, we tend to “pay it forward” by paying for the next person at the tollbooth or the coffee shop. Here’s a twist: pay for the groceries of the next person in line. How? One local grocery store reported an anonymous donor who eyed the person’s order behind her, assessed it the customer’s family likely was food insecure, and quickly purchased a $50 gift card and slipped it to the cashier to be spent on that next purchase.
  • Write an encouraging quote on social media as your status, and tag three friends to ensure that it will get to people you might not know and make them smile. (Credit for this idea goes to Christian Lowe’s RAK challenge at First Flight High School).
  • You know those drivers or shoppers who seem to be in such a hurry? Just let them go first. It’s a kindness that is easily extended, and your blood pressure will thank you.
  • Write positive messages on sticky notes for others to find throughout the day: at work, at home, at the gas pump, at the post office, you-name-it.
  • Take the extra time to disinfect thoroughly and replace any gym equipment after using it.
  • Every school has events where outside participation is needed. Volunteer to be a reading buddy, an exam proctor, or a career fair presenter.
  • Most teachers compile a wish list of school supplies, book titles, and craft items that they tend to purchase out of their own pocket unless someone donates them. Be a donor.
  • Photo #SimpleLifeOBX

    Be kind to your server. Smiles, ‘please,’ and ‘thank-you,’ all go a long way to making their day better. And did you know that breakfast is the most under-tipped meal of the day?  With all the free coffee refills (and rarely any alcoholic beverages to pad the tab), your most important meal of the day is the hardest one for those who depend on tips.

  • Be that Renter. If you find yourself renting a vacation home, consider donating the good stuff to leave behind. One homeowner described: “So, in May we left the house with two pool noodles, two boogie boards, and one bucket of beach toys… In August, we came back to this. Love how our guests pay it forward and share the fun stuff!”

Happy Pay it Forward Day!!

Were you the recipient of an act of kindness today on the OBX? Please comment on it here!


Susan Selig Classen

Susan Selig Classen has been living, writing, and editing on the Outer Banks for over ten years. Her other published work includes articles in AOPA Pilot, Convention South, and Brain Child magazines. Susan was formerly the editor for Three Dog Ink Media.

  • Christina Birdsong

    Another nice “pay it forward” idea is to leave good books you have read at laundry mats, train stations, park benches, etc. It helps me have open room for more books and encourages the possibility that a stranger will enjoy the book as much as I did.

    Lovely article. Thanks you.

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