Murphysboro, Illinois, USA

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pay it faBforward

--In the driveup?  Pay for the person behind you.
--Going through a tollbooth?  Pay for the car behind you.
--Hold the door open for the person behind you.
--Clean out all your old clothes and donate them to someone in need.  Your old is someone else’s new.
--Listen intently to people’s stories without trying to fix everything.
--Volunteer at a hospital, homeless shelter, nursing home, etc.  Get outside of yourself and help others. 
--Let someone with only a few items cut you in line at the grocery store.
--Spread good news.
--Replace what you’ve used.  For example, fill up the copier or printer with paper after you’re done using it or start a fresh batch of coffee.
--Give words of encouragement to someone about their dreams, no matter how big or small they are.
--Stop and buy a drink from a kid’s lemonade stand.
--Help someone get your parking space in a crowded parking lot when you’re leaving.
--If someone you love really likes something (a meal, a favor, etc.) give it to them when they least expect it.
--Pay for the person in line behind you.
--Donate cat and dog food to an animal shelter.  Call and ask what is needed.
--Drop off your old eye glasses at your local LensCrafters as a donation to the OneSight program.
--Help the weary shopper in front of you who needs that extra two or three cents to avoid breaking a 20-dollar bill.
--Be a courteous driver.  Let people merge in front of you.
--Send a nice email or handwritten card to someone you know, unexpectedly.
--Teach others how to make a difference in this world by setting a good example every day.
--When someone wants to repay you for something, ask them to pay it forward.
--Tip generously. Be extra generous to your service providers; you never know if the tips they earn is their sole income source.
--Surprise a friend and pick up their dinner tab, or pay for a stranger’s coffee run at the Starbucks drive thru, or drop off homemade goodies at your local fire station.
--Sign up for charity walks/runs to raise funds and awareness while working on your own physical health and celebrating team spirit!

ideas from Parade Magazine:

--Save stories: Volunteer to tape- or video-record interviews with veterans from World War II up to the present conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq through the Library of Congress-sponsored Veterans History Project (loc.gov/vets).

--Send a care package. A $15 donation will pay for one care package from Operation Gratitude (operationgratitude.com), which has sent more than 1 million to military personnel worldwide since its founding in 2003.

--Fund a flight. Give frequent flier miles to wounded service members who need them to fly to medical centers for treatment (or to enable family visits) through the Fisher House Foundation’s Hero Miles Program (fisherhouse.org). Contribute counseling. Mental health professionals can donate services to returning veterans and their families through Give An Hour (giveanhour.org).

--Raise arms against cancer. Women in the military are up to 40 percent more likely to get breast cancer than civilian women their same ages. Visit vetsfightingbreastcancer.com to fund screenings and treatment. Send your thanks. Write letters to servicemen and servicewomen who rarely get mail from home through Operation Write Home. (operationwritehome.org)

--The hungerorganization FEED teamed with design store West Elm and celebrityboosters such as Anne Hathaway(with husband and jewelry designerAdam Shulman) to offer a variety of made-in-America holiday gifts, from aprons ($29) and cutting boards($49) to salad servers ($49), to help feed the hungry. (feedprojects.com)

--Help the one-in-five children in America who struggle with hunger by hosting a bake sale with proceeds going to Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign (nokidhungry.org) or lead healthy grocery store tours or cooking classes through the organization’s Cooking Matters (cookingmatters.org) program.

--Give a holiday gift in a loved one’s name to Action Against Hunger, (actionagainsthunger.org), which helps to feed more than 7 million people every year. Choose from a variety of options, from $49 for a fishing kit to $100 for a dairy goat.

--A contribution to wholesomewave.org provides fresh fruits and vegetables to underserved communities while also supporting small and mid-sized farmers. Dish it out. Visit feedingamerica.org, the largest hunger relief organization in the country, to find a local food bank that needs added manpower over the holidays. The site greatergood.com facilitates donations to hunger programs such as Mercy Corps, the Food Recovery Network and other agencies.

--Sign up to volunteer with the anti-dropout program Communities in Schools (communitiesinschools.org), which helps vulnerable students in 26 states and the District of Columbia.

--Buy a $10 gift card (available at shoesthatfit.org or Nordstrom shoe departments) to assist Shoes That Fit in providing New Balance athletic shoes for kids in need. Promote play. Kids today play outside less than any previous generation. Donate to Ka-BOOM! (kaboom.org), a nonprofit that has built more than 2,300 playgrounds nationwide, to help make sure all children are within walking distance of a playground.

--A $25 donation to Project Night Night (projectnightnight.org), will fund a tote filled with a blanket, children’s book and stuffed animal for a homeless child. Or, courtesy of pajamaprogram.org, provide a book and warm pjs to kids in need.

--Make a quilt or help collect and distribute blankets to children in hospitals, shelters or social service agencies nationwide through Project Linus (projectlinus.org).

--Give an elementary-school pupil reading below grade level a leg up with twice-a-week, 45-minute tutoring sessions through Reading Partners (readingpartners.org).

--Protect the world’s oceans through Oceana’s Adopt an Animal program: Spend $50 on a stuffed puffin, whale, sea turtle or other sea creatures (oceana.org). Or check out the World Wildlife Fund’s (worldwildlife.org) species adoptions; for $55, you get a stuffed animal, photo, adoption certificate and gift bag.

--The Nature Conservancy’s Plant a Billion Trees program aims to restore forests around the globe, from Brazil to China. Click on plantabillion.org to see a map of the project’s work so far, and to donate. Visit the site americanforests.org to specifically protect forests in the American West.

--Do your part for the planet—and help fund worthy efforts—by recycling household items. Fight poverty by donating new and gently used shoes (soles4souls.org). Assist domestic violence victims by passing on old cellphones (shelteralliance.net). Spare the landfill by connecting to local charities accepting used electronics (donationtown.org). Send used baby apparel to clothe needy infants (newbornsinneed.org).

--Get a feel for what it’s like to have a pooch around by volunteering at (guidedogs.com) as a foster puppy raiser for the blind. Studies show pets provide both a psychological and physical boost to their owners—so donate to petsfortheelderly.org to help a senior get a dog or a cat.

--One in six Americans over age 60 faces the threat of hunger, and Meals on Wheels is there to help. A total of 2.5 million seniors in all 50 states, many of whom have chronic health conditions, rely on the service. (mowaa.org). Make a one-time donation ($35 provides five meals), or join the Next Meal Club to donate monthly.

--Assist seniors near you with tasks like raking, shoveling or doing minor home repairs through Volunteers of America’s Safety of Seniors Handyman Program (voa.org). Put it in drive. Be a volunteer instructor in AARP’s Smart Driver course (aarp.org), which allows older drivers to brush up on their behind-the-wheel skills.

--Are you software-savvy? Sign up to teach older adults computer and technology skills through SeniorNet (seniornet.org).

--Gwinn, Alison. The giving season. Parade, 19 Dec. 2014. Web. 16 Oct. 2016