Thursday, February 5, 2009

Pay It Forward

The heart is physically nothing more than a big muscle, often times thicker than our heads. It never ceases to amaze me how cruel people can be to each other. On the other hand I can be just as amazed at their generosity, too.

Emily Douglas, now a 26 year old grad student, started a charity called "Grandma's Gifts" when she was 11 years old. Her charity has grown to donations of goods and services to the tune of $12 million for families in Appalachia. Although she has drawn a paycheck she says, "In school, in work, in everything I do, it's helped me."

Staci Wright, age 16 of Eugene, OR and Brandi Berger, age 15 of Albany, OR designed athletic shoes as part of a Nike event to raise money for Doernbechers Children's Hospital, in Portland, OR. Both girls were former patients and wanted to give back to the hospital that took care of them while they battled life threatening illness. "It's for my friends and family. Through all the hard times, they were there for me." said Staci.  

Early giving can make altruism a regular part of life, says Jan Cady, director of philanthropy at Children's Hospital of Boston. "It is like building muscle memory in school age kids that will last a lifetime," she says.

Parents, grandparents, teachers, ministers are on the front lines of seeing the need within the community and have the resources to connect children with the service. Psychology professor, Wendy Grolncik at Clark University, MA, suggests talking with your children about what would be meaningful rather than jumping to the conclusion they want to be involved. The more involved a child is choosing the type of giving, the more they'll learn from the experience. 

Involve your grandchildren and start a random act of kindness of your own, pay it forward to someone in your neighborhood and lend a helping hand. Need more inspiration? Go to,, or any local food bank, Red Cross. Helping can be as simple as getting a haircut at

That's what a wise Grandma would do.

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