Thursday, April 17, 2014

Need a last-minute gift idea? ‘Pay it forward’ year-round

12/20/2013

Who among us has enough time, money or other resources to secure all our wants and needs, not to mention fulfilling the needs of others? Still, many people make an effort to help — even when it inconveniences them.

The desire to aid others is especially apparent during the Christmas season as parents teach their young children to give back to others — whether that be by donating money to the Salvation Army bell ringers, donating items to a food pantry or the East Central Kansas Economic Opportunity Corp.; working collectively to give via a church; or even by adopting a family and purchasing items for those who might have a greater need. It should come as no surprise that many people want to reach out to others.

Who among us has enough time, money or other resources to secure all our wants and needs, not to mention fulfilling the needs of others? Still, many people make an effort to help — even when it inconveniences them.

The desire to aid others is especially apparent during the Christmas season as parents teach their young children to give back to others — whether that be by donating money to the Salvation Army bell ringers, donating items to a food pantry or the East Central Kansas Economic Opportunity Corp.; working collectively to give via a church; or even by adopting a family and purchasing items for those who might have a greater need. It should come as no surprise that many people want to reach out to others.

Young adults, in particular, sometimes are characterized as being so focused on themselves that they miss out on things going on around them. One young man, an employee at a local fast-food restaurant, assisted a local couple who, after ordering food, realized neither of them had their wallets with them. Rather than sending the duo off without their meals, the apparently teenage employee took money out of his own pocket to cover the costs for the diners’ meals. That unexpected and generous effort was enough to make the couple think twice about the benevolence of others.

This situation might be typical of experiences occurring every day when people knowingly pay it forward to help someone else. This kind of good-deed behavior is contagious and doesn’t have to involve money to be a favor that makes a world of difference to someone else.

Whether babysitting for a neighbor’s children, helping a classmate with homework, feeding a pet, giving someone a ride, covering a shift for someone at work or even offering a hug or listening ear, each gesture means something special and has the potential to help those in need today be the ones who give back to others tomorrow.

An inability to “buy” just the right gift for someone else shouldn’t cause guilt for people when a much grander paying-it-forward-like gesture might offer a greater value to the recipient than anyone might imagine. If that gesture renews someone’s faith in humanity, then it’s difficult to imagine a greater gift could be given. That is the real gift of Christmas today — and every day throughout the year.

— Jeanny Sharp,

editor and publisher

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