A few years ago I took my son and his two friends to their school during a teacher in-service. We put candy and a little card on each vehicle in the parking lot. The kids weren't really sure what they were doing at first, but since it involved candy, they were all about it!
Once we finished, we waited in the car watching for the teachers to emerge. When the kids saw the giant smiles on their teachers' faces, they loved it! They were so proud of creating those happy moments for their teachers. They stood a little taller that day.
Then they asked when we could do it again!
I've seen it happen again and again: Paying it forward with acts of kindness spreads love and happiness. It inspires others to do the same. When you can have your children take part? Well, that builds their self-esteem and creates a lesson about how wonderful it is to be kind -- a life lesson that can last a lifetime.
Global Pay it Forward Day is Sunday, April 28. That means it's time now for you and your family to start planning how you are going to stand for kindness in your community.
Here are 10 kid-friendly ideas on how to participate in Pay it Forward Day:
1. Pay for the person behind you
Whether it's at your favorite local coffee shop or in the drive-thru at lunch, pick up the bill for the person in line behind you.
2. Leave a surprise at a Redbox
Tape $5 and a package of microwave popcorn to the side of a movie box to make someone's night!
3. Invite the person behind you to take your place
Does the person behind you have fewer items than you? Do they seem like they're in a hurry or are juggling impatient kids? Let them get in front of you.
4. Leave behind inspiration
Write inspiring sayings on colorful pieces of paper and leave them in library books in the children's section of the library to give other kids a thrill.
Surprise a neighbor with fresh-baked treats.
6. Host a clean-up
Invite friends to a party/playdate at a local beach or park and include some time to pick up litter. Don't forget to bring gloves and garbage bags for everyone!
7. Leave a treat for your mail carrier
Leave a snack and a cold drink for your mail carrier, garbage collectors, or anyone else you count on to make your days go smoothly.
8. Smile at five strangers
A smile matters.
9. Help out your fellow shoppers
Offer to return shopping carts for other people in the parking lot at the grocery store.
This is a great chance to go through your children's toy boxes and rooms to find old toys, clothing, and books and talk about why it's important to donate to local organizations in need.
Motivated to do more? Look for family volunteer opportunities in your community! Animal shelters, soup kitchens, and nursing homes are great places to start. You can also check out the State Farm Neighborhood of Good website to search for opportunities right in your backyard!
Katy Agro Myers is the publisher of Macaroni Kid Pasadena-Severna Park.