Pay it Forward: More Than a Decade Overdue


When I was a kid, my mother was diagnosed with cancer.  Our family struggled and not just financially.  My dad was saddled with taking care of a sick wife and two daughters.  I remember a lot of stress and a lot of tears.  I remember being shuttled around and a lot of prayers.

The anniversary of my mother’s passing is tomorrow.  I was in 5th grade at the time, my sister in 3rd, and was too angry at the world to see things clearly.  All I knew is that my mom was sick, and then my mom was gone.  I spent years being angry, and admittedly still am sometimes.  Death is hard on anyone.

Now that I’ve gotten older and more than a handful of years has passed, the bitterness and anger have receded.  Of course I still have many painful memories from the last final months, but now I can see all the good too.

You can imagine trying to raise two daughters, take care of a sick wife, and then attempting to pay medical bills.  It wasn’t pretty.  Looking back I remember how many family’s invited us over to play, so my father could get some time to himself.  I remember how many times people brought over food and basics just to help out.  My mother’s friend even arranged a fundraiser for my mother’s treatment. The best memory I have?  Christmas.

It was my mother’s last Christmas.  I don’t know what my parents had planned, but I know the neighborhood had been up to something.  To this day, I don’t know who, or even how many families contributed.  Regardless, our neighborhood and my parents friends, gave us Christmas.  Santa showed up, just knocked on the door.  He gave us all presents, every one of us, and made Christmas more of a reality for my sister and I.  I remember opening presents, and looking up to see my mother crying.  I couldn’t figure out why, but I know now.

People I knew and people I didn’t know rallied around my family, they helped us through the hard times, and helped us continue on with life afterwards.  They fed us, watched us kids, and gave us a holiday I couldn’t even imagine.  So now, all these years later, I miss my mother, but I am reminded that there are very good people out there.  Good people who want to help out.

So for the past few months, I’ve been collecting clothing and other random goods.  I’ve been storing them and giving them away to people I know need them.  No big deal.  You know, the mom who takes care of her children but has nothing left for herself.  The friend who needs an extra hand up, but can’t ask.  That’s just how it worked out.

Then all of a sudden, a coworker of mine donated a ton of clothing, among other things.  It started piling up.  So I asked my daughters daycare to let me know if there’s a family that’s having a rough time.  Then another friend dropped off a bag, which is destined to be delivered to my old church for a family who lost their income.

I kept thinking about how to get these things to people who truly need them.  People who need a hand up for whatever reason.  God knows I can’t do it alone, not with my own body rebelling against me again.  So I asked around, and some people volunteered to help out.  Some people volunteered donations.  Some, talent.  So this is turning into something.  Something good.

I think what I want to see come out of this is cutting out the middle man.  I don’t want to charge people for help, I just want to help.  I don’t want to get anything out of it, but knowing that someones day is a bit easier.  I want to help make a better community, and in turn, push others to want to improve the world around them.  I want to see something come out of this.

There is a lot to be ironed out, but with my friend Kyle, and everyone else who is coming out of the woodwork, I think we can do something great.

We’re starting with clothes and canned goods.  Of course anything goes.  I’d like to work directly with people instead of through a company or what have you, keeping it small for now.  I’d eventually like to move outwards and help with repairs or just general work, but we’ll get to that in time.

So for now, I need ideas.  I need volunteers.  I need luck.

Here’s to starting something good, something that will improve the world around me!

Keep it real, keep it moving!