Kelly Hadaway begins a "three-part kindness campaign" to support a variety of causes. First, she surprises the girls club at the William Paca School in Baltimore. Kelly donates yoga mats, knitting supplies, books and hygiene products to use during their various activities and lessons.
"When we got home [from the school], my 9-year-old daughter, Britney, said to me, 'You know, Mommy, that made me feel really good,'" she says. "And ultimately, that's what I was going for. I want my children to learn and to know that giving is a part of life."
On the second leg of her three-part campaign, Kelly visits a single mother and her children in need. She gives the family coats, scarves, hats and other warm clothes. She also gets them gift cards to Wal-Mart and Papa John's Pizza.
For part three, Kelly takes canned goods, turkeys, chickens and other food items to the Community Assistance Network, which provides food to people in need. Kelly says this cause is particularly important to her because she has a brother living on the streets. "I know that he comes [to the Community Assistance Network] for help, so this really does mean a lot to me that I can give a little back and help the people in the area that really need it most," she says.
After her campaign is over, Kelly says she is "walking on clouds." "It's just an unbelievable feeling to be able to give to people and just to see the smiles on their faces," she says.
With the help of her community, Michelle Hall of San Jose, California, says she turned her $1,000 into more than $30,000! Donations include cash, gift cards and materials—including $14,000 worth of materials from a local fabric store.
Michelle starts giving by choosing two great organizations to help: the Unity Care Group, which provides apartments for former foster children who have "aged out" of the system; and the San Jose Family Shelter, which provides food and rooms for 35 families.
Michelle splits the donated items and money between the two different organizations. At the Unity Care Group, Michelle uses the donated appliances, linens, mattresses and many other items to furnish several apartments for former foster children. Then she and a team of volunteers head to the San Jose Family Shelter, where they paint and clean the childcare center and fill it with toys!
And Michelle doesn't stop there! She attends a gala to raise money for a third cause: St. Anne's Home for the elderly. After asking attendees to match her Pay It Forward Challenge money, Michelle says more than $11,200 was promised!
"The joy of watching family and friends participate in doing good will for others is incredible," Michelle says. "My life has changed this week as I discovered strength from within and felt the joy of touching other lives."
Loraine Hayes of Pleasonton, California, wants to use her $1,000 to help create a learning center at Heart-N-Hands For Kids Inc., an organization that cares for foster children until they are adopted or reunited with their parents.
Loraine buys two computers with printers for the children to use. Then she buys books for the learning center from a local library's "Friends Bookstore." The proceeds from the books benefit the library, so Loraine helps two organizations at once!
Loraine's sister also gets in on the act. She volunteers to beautify the center by painting a mural on the walls!
Helping the children at Heart-N-Hands makes Loraine—who has not been able to have children of her own—realize that she can still give love to a child. "[There are] so many ways that we can all impact a child's life other than biologically having one—through adoption, through foster care, through volunteer work, through mentoring a child," she says. "My heart feels so incredibly full and healed at this point from gaining this knowledge and feeling the impact of these children."
Marty Hayes uses her $1,000 to help Walltown Children's Theatre in Durham, North Carolina. The theater provides children opportunities to perform in drama and dance. Marty says she is excited about helping the theater because it teaches good values and self-confidence.
While Marty has the Pay It Forward Challenge money to donate, she decides to double it by adding $1,000 of her own money! She gives a total of $2,000 to help refinish the floors in the ballet rooms and the theater.
After completing her challenge, Marty says she wants to continue to give in her daily life. "This was a big gesture of kindness, but you could get that same feeling in small bits of kindness to strangers," she says. "I can't tell you how great it was for everybody to come up and give me a warm hug and really thank me and talk about how much impact this means for them."
Judy Schouvieller, Georgia Ness, Paula Kranz and Debbie Cordes, decide to use their challenge money to spread their love of reading. As members of a Minnesota book club, the group decides to buy books for families in need. Working through St. Paul's Red Balloon Book Shop, they hand-pick dozens of books for homeless children living in nearby shelters. The book store later matches Paula's challenge money for a total donation of $2,000 in books!
Georgia gives $1,000 to the Council on Crime and Justice, which runs a novel program for fathers serving time in prison. The men record themselves reading a book to their child, then send the audiotape and book home. The program helps children stay connected to their fathers and allows the dads to assist with parenting while they are in prison. Georgia's gift allows the council to add 75 fathers to its program!
The two remaining book club members, Debbie and Judy, give their challenge money to more families in need. Judy buys $100 Target gift cards, a book—The Best Christmas Pageant Ever—and a pizza certificate for nine single mothers.
Debbie buys $100 Mall of America gift certificates for 10 families staying at Fisher House, a home for those receiving long-term treatment at the Minneapolis Veterans' Administration Hospital. One couple says they will use the money to buy a pair of running shoes for their son, a soldier who was injured in a car accident after returning from Iraq. When Debbie meets the couple, their son is not walking yet but they hope he will use the shoes to run again.
Dallas attorney Karla Jackson receives the Pay It Forward Challenge the day before she heads home to Center, Texas, for her 10-year high school reunion. She knows right away that she wants a student from Center High School to have the $1000 to use for college.
While trying to find a worthy student, Karla hears about Center High's drum major, Todd Dock. A little investigating reveals that Todd is a talented musician, a good student and a well-respected leader on campus—a perfect candidate for Karla's generosity. Karla stops by her alma mater to surprise Todd with the news, and he is genuinely shocked, especially because he's never met Karla!
Since Todd is a junior, Karla donates the money to the Center High School Scholarship Fund and earmarks the funds so Todd will receive them during his senior year.
The return to high school brings back memories for Karla. "It made me think of what a great experience I had at Center High School," she says. "I had wonderful teachers who influenced me, and I'm positive they're influencing Todd as well. I'm excited for him and looking forward to hearing how he uses the money."
Joellyn Jolly has no trouble finding a worthy recipient for her challenge money. She already mentors 18-year-old Martinus Sanders, a resident of St. Peter's Home for Boys in Detroit. A talented artist, Martinus has difficulty reading and writing, which is keeping him from getting his GED. Joellyn thinks a professional tutor can help Martinus overcome his learning disability and further his education.
"I used the money to give him a gift that will never be expected," Joellyn says. "It is a gift of freedom."
Joellyn knows just who to call—teacher Lilly Estella, who worked wonders with her son. By seventh grade, Joellyn's son still was reading at a fourth-grade level. After only a year of working with Lilly, he had caught up with his peers. Joellyn has confidence that Lilly can help Martinus in the same way.
Martinus hopes to start his own business someday, and he's grateful to Joellyn for her help. For her part, Joellyn hopes the tutoring makes a difference in Martinus's life. "I want Martinus to have hope and a future that enables him to choose what he wants to do—not do something because it is the only thing he can do," she says. "I believe that through education we attain freedom."
Friends Darcy Vest and Amy Brown want to help the women and children living at the Rape and Domestic Violence Information Center in Morgantown, West Virginia. After seeing the sparse furnishings and decorations at the center's shelter, they know they need to make it a more welcoming place for those who live there.
When they contact friends to increase their donation, they are amazed by the response. They receive money and several new items for the shelter. Amy and Darcy's money goes mainly toward purchasing new bedding and furnishings for the four bedrooms, including window treatments, lamps, mirrors and furniture for the children's area.
Their friends contribute a dining room table, a television and kitchen tools. Amy and Darcy select a different paint scheme for each room with warmth and comfort in mind. With donations from local businesses, the women are able to do more, surprising one of the center's residents with a visit to the dentist and a complete makeover!
"I was overwhelmed by the number of people who helped us," Darcy says. "It was almost a problem spending the money because we had so many donations." Amy agrees that the power of the community was inspiring. "The tremendous amount of support we received really gave me hope for good things to come," she says. "We can do so much as a group!" Raising three children on her own
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