For audience member Amanda LaLuna-Chorak, working on Oprah's Pay It Forward Challenge was a full-circle moment! After being injured in a car crash last year, Amanda has been unable to work. In order to pay her bills, she and her husband Steven have to rely on support from family and friends.
Not long after the accident, Amanda was in a coffee shop when she saw a homeless woman being kicked out of the store because she wasn't buying anything. Amanda wanted to help, but because of her financial strain she couldn't afford it. "At that moment, I promised that if we were ever in a situation and had a few extra dollars, I wanted to help those less fortunate," Amanda says.
When Amanda receives her challenge money, she knows exactly what she wants to do. Amanda starts to assemble care packages that she calls "Sending Out Smiles" (SOS) to give to people living on the streets! She fills sacks with gloves, winter hats, first-aid kits, ponchos, water, bus cards, $10 cash and more, along with a handout listing homeless shelters in Chicago. Then she hits the streets and hands them out to people in need.
"I felt amazing and like a beam of light and full of positive smiles," Amanda says. "This was the best gift anyone has ever given me. I am forever grateful that God blessed me to be able to help him help others."