Passing It Forward

Many years ago, a good friend was visiting from overseas with her young daughters. Of course, despite only being September, the weather was wet, grey and chilly. She observed me struggling to dry the family’s clothes on a plastic airer in front of a heating vent on the wall of our tiny kitchen. There was nowhere else to dry them and we had problems with condensation and damp.

My friend insisted on buying us a drier. It made life so much easier and I never forgot her generosity.

Several years later, when our circumstances were much improved, I became aware that another friend, a lone parent with a young child, was in difficulties: her ancient fridge freezer had finally given up the ghost and she had no money to replace it.

I gladly offered to buy her a new one.

I was, as the Americans phrase it, ‘passing it forward’ and it felt good to repay the original act of kindness in this way. I knew the second friend would do the same when she was able.

These gifts were expensive but much-appreciated, they enhanced the lives of the recipients for a very long time.

But it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money – or even any money – to Pass It Forward.

Next time you do a clear-out of your wardrobe, your loft, your children’s toys, your shed or garage, think carefully about who might benefit from your passing it on. The local charity shops will welcome clean, useable clothing, toys, kitchenware and so on, many even take small working electrical goods. Playgroups and nurseries are sometimes short of good quality toys, books and play equipment. Women’s Refuges are often crying out for clothing and baby equipment.

We sometimes send books and refurbished bikes to our local Combat Stress centre.

Occasionally, we put an item at our gate with a note saying ‘free if you take it away’ or a serviced secondhand bike with a minimal price on which is donated to our local hospice.

Remember all those times when you were in need and someone helped you out, then pass it forward when your circumstances allow it. It can even just be the giving of your time.

I promise you, the recipient won’t be the only one who benefits.

Copyright: Chris McGowan

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