Beyond the Build

Community Service

This Thanksgiving Week, “Pay it Forward”

I must admit that I had never heard the term “pay it forward” until earlier this week. To those not familiar, the idea is that when someone does a good deed, you repay it by helping someone else. With Thanksgiving at hand, it seemed a most appropriate thing to hear.

At the conclusion of a group discussion on “pay it forward,” everyone was given an envelope with one $5 dollar bill. The only request was that it be used this week in some small way to benefit a person we came in contact with. Suggested ideas included leveraging the $5 dollars or, say, buy a cup of coffee for a stranger behind you in line, offer a sandwich to a hungry person or give a waiter/waitress an extra tip. We could do anything we wished with the envelope, as long as it was a random act of kindness.

As the week went by, I heard many examples of this creative generosity going to work. Those in attendance that evening sought to magnify their actions by helping others, being kind and bringing true value to this special week of giving thanks.

I even heard of one person taking the $5 to the bank and asking for 200 more crisp five dollar bills from his account, then donating them to the “pay it forward” speaker with the earmark they be used in the same way. From this act, more good deeds and random acts of kindness will filter through the community. Who knows what the recipients will do for others.

Thanksgiving would not be so special if it occurred every week, but think about the impact if we all continued acting like we have the last few days. 

Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.