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Lisa - Kindness: why paying it forward matters

Random Acts of Kindness week (February 13-19) is the perfect time to reflect on how we can help to build a culture of compassion and inclusivity in our society through kindness.

The way we act towards others can make a significant difference to someone’s day. We never know how people around us are feeling or what challenges they may be facing in their lives.

To find out more about the impact that a random act of kindness can have on someone, we spoke to Lisa Pars about her heart-warming story:

“I’m an Executive Administrative Assistant at Orexo. I love my role, it’s quite busy as I support five of the most senior people in the company from the office in New Jersey, where I live. My husband and I have two children, our son is eleven and our daughter is thirteen.

Last year, a couple of weeks before Christmas, I went shopping with my son. We were in the video games store looking at basketball games. He loves basketball games! He was asking me to buy him one and as it was so close to Christmas, I said “no.”

He was really upset with me. He thought he’d be allowed to get one as he’d come all the way to the store with me, but I stuck to my guns. After a few minutes I went to the register to pay for a gift card and the cashier told me that a gentleman had just paid for the video game and left the store.

I couldn’t believe it, the game was $50! The first thing I wanted to do was run out the store, find him and thank him, but the cashier said he didn’t want to be thanked. I said to my son ‘I think we should wrap it and put it under the tree for Christmas’.

My son and I talked about it afterwards, and he decided he wanted to do something nice for someone else and pay it forward, but he wanted to wait for the right opportunity. One day in January, we were out shopping for school supplies in Walmart when we saw a girl aged about 8 or 9 hysterically crying because she wanted her mom to buy her some new coloring pencils and pens for school. Her mom told her to put them back because they couldn’t afford them.

My son asked me if I had some cash as we wouldn’t be going to the register with them. I had $30, so I gave it to my son. He walked over to the mom and told her, “Someone did something really nice for me last year and I want to pay it back. I’ve been waiting for the right time, and I’d feel really bad if your daughter couldn’t have the things everyone else has at school.” He handed the mom the money and we left the store, but we watched her pay for the things and give them to her daughter. By then she was crying because she was so happy!

It’s the greatest feeling in the world and I’m so glad we waited for the right moment as my son saw how good it feels to pay it forward. He didn’t need that video game, so he put the money to better use. He said he can’t believe that people can’t go into a store and just pick out the things they want. It’s given him a much higher appreciation for things like that, and it’s taught him a lot about money. He recently earned $15 for looking after someone for a couple of hours and he wanted to get a Slurpee. I said “you’ll have to pay for it”, so he changed his mind and decided to save it. He’s spent it on a gift for his girlfriend on Valentine’s Day instead. He’s very caring and sensitive.

My husband has done a few random acts of kindness too. He’s a big coffee drinker and he’s paid for a coffee for the driver behind him in the drive-through a few times. He’s always been like that but this thing that happened with my son has really opened his eyes. It’s shown him to be grateful for things and to do something for someone without actually knowing them.

Kindness is different to being nice in my opinion. It’s about treating someone with respect and not judging them, just treating them the same way as you would anybody else. Random acts of kindness don’t have to be about money, it can be enough just to say something thoughtful to someone. It’s important that we’re kind to others because you never know what they might need. I’m lucky to work where I do and to live in a nice neighborhood, but there are people who are struggling.

The best advice I can give to anyone thinking of doing a random act of kindness is don’t wait. Something so small to you might not be so small to the next person.

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“Something so small to you might not be so small to the next person”
Lisa