Pass It Forward

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You have never really lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you. -- Unknown

Every time the Liberty Mutual commercial is on, I well up. Have you seen it? I don’t know why people doing the “right thing” tugs at my heartstrings, but it does. I love the idea of one good deed kick-starting another and another and another; a never-ending chain of everyday people helping one another out for the simple fact that it’s the “right thing” to do.

So when I was invited to gather a group of friends to perform random acts of kindness, it was a no-brainer. I was in. I composed my Call to Action email and sent it on its way. Within minutes, my Ladybug team began to form. Chelle, Tara, Brooke, Sara, Diana and Rose excitedly responded with a resounding Yes!

Chevrolet of Naperville and ePIFanyNow co-sponsored the feel-good, do-right event appropriately named Pass It Forward. The challenge: To go into the community and brighten someone’s day by performing an unexpected good deed. We were given $40, 2 hours, a list of ideas and the use of a Chevy Suburban (most teams drove around in a Chevy Volt, but because we were a team of seven we needed something a little bigger).

We jumped in the SUV and huddled. What were we going to do? How could we make a difference in someone’s life that day? Several ideas began flying around, but we quickly settled on two. (1) We would give the gift cards to Chelle’s daughter’s teacher and his wife. Did you follow that? Angela, and her husband Jason, have a 17 month old daughter and recently gave birth to twins at 27 weeks pregnant. The preterm preemies have been in the NICU since birth. Talk about a family who desperately needed a random act of kindness. (2) We would buy some cupcakes and stop by a Fire Station to thank the brave folks selflessly risking their lives everyday to save others.

We hoped to turn our $40 into something more by asking a few stores and fast food joints for donations. Our first stop was Dominick’s. On our way in, we were approached by a Boy Scout asking if we’d like to buy some popcorn. We happily told him we would on the way out to which he excitedly exclaimed, “Yes!”

We talked the store into giving us a free bag of potato chips with our purchase of cupcakes. On the way out, we fulfilled our promise to buy popcorn. As we gave the young Boy Scout our money, Rose also gave him the 7-Up she'd bought for him. He was thrilled.

We headed off to acquire more donations. We ended up receiving quite a few things - a bouquet of flowers from Trader Joe’s, a bag of snacks from Casey’s Food and two freshly made pizzas from Aurelio’s.

Next stop, the hospital.

At Edward’s two beautiful things happened. The first was that we met Angela. There stood before us a woman who had every reason to be depressed, exhausted and angry, but she was none of those things. She was cheerful, grateful and quick to tell us some of the major obstacles her two little fighters have overcome. With our hearts swelled in support, we gave her $40 in gift cards, the bag of snacks, and the chips and popcorn for the nurses.

Our second act of kindness was totally random. We gave the bouquet of flowers to an elderly woman being wheeled out of the hospital. Though we explained who we were and what we were doing, she repeatedly asked us, “Who are you again? "Why are you giving these to me?” The truth is we ambushed her, so it was completely natural for her to be confused.

While clutching the flowers, tears began welling in her eyes, and with deep sadness she explained that her hospital stay had prevented her from attending her son’s wedding. After taking a moment to admire the flowers, she looked up at us with the most gentle eyes and thanked us. We were all deeply moved. How were we to know that this woman needed our kindness so very much?

Our good deeds were working.

Finally, with the remaining 20 minutes, we headed to Naperville’s Fire Station #2. When we got to the station is was quiet, but that didn’t stop us from walking right in. We shouted “Hello!” until we got someone's attention. Within moments several men were standing before us. We explained who we were and what we were doing, and then gave them the pizza and cupcakes.

Again, we were met with sincere appreciation. As a thank you, they invited us to take some pictures with them on their fire truck. None of us had to think about that one. Heck yeah we were doing that. Some of us – ahem, I guess I’m the guilty one – acted like giddy schoolgirls. “Wow! You’re strong”, I said as one of them he helped me up onto the truck. I know. I’m a dork, but come on! The guy looked like he belonged in a calendar. I bet you would have said the same thing.

So there again, doing good deeds for someone else left us grinning from ear-to-ear with a fun story and hearts full of joy.

At that point, our time was up and we needed to get back to the dealership. The whole way there we chatted about our incredible afternoon. We regrouped with all the other teams and shared our stories. We were impressed with everyone’s creative ways to Pass It Forward.

We are grateful to Chevy and ePIFanyNow for inviting us to participate in this unique event. It got us Ladybugs thinking that we’d like to do something similar in Chicago. If we did, would you participate?

I promise you’d get back so much more than you’d give.

It is one of the beautiful compensations of life, that no man can sincerely help another without helping himself. (--Ralph Waldo Emerson)

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