With $3,000 from Oprah's Pay It Forward Challenge, the women decided to help Maras, a poor Peruvian village that Lynda discovered while hiking the Inca trail in September 2006.
Lynda, Kelly and Susie quickly sprang into action to send boxes of clothing and toys to the village.
At home in St. Louis, Lynda passed out boxes to friends to fill with clothing and toys, and Susie invited her kids' friends over to donate toys they no longer played with. In Chicago, Kelly reached out to her co-workers for help and even held a box-packing party with her friends while watching The Bachelor!
The generosity of friends, co-workers and strangers astounded the women. Kelly's company, Hostway Corporation, donated $1,000, and Susie's company and Forest Pharmaceuticals, matched the $3,000! Mattel also donated toys.
Thanks to box donations from Crown Packaging and free shipping from FedEx and Arrow Cargo, the women were able to put the entire $7,000 towards starting a school for the children of the village. "They will give back to society by educating themselves and going out into the world and making it a better place," Kelly says.
In one week, the new charity—Kindness in a Box—shipped boxes to help 340 families. "My hope is after we get this charity started, it can become a model, not just for the children in that village in Peru, but possibly for children in a village in Africa, children in a village in India, children in villages all around the world who are needy," Lynda says.