The Payoff of Paying it Forward The Payoff of Paying it Forward
Social Innovation

The Payoff of Paying it Forward

by Rodrigo Mejia

November 16, 2013

During the recent government shutdown, thousands of furloughed workers were left in the lurch, unable to meet ends while intransigence coursed its way through Washington. Many small businesses reacted by offering free meals and discounted services to affected workers, easing their commitment to their bottom lines to share the load with their community.

Some were rewarded for their generosity. Kathy Lancelotti, director at a Miss Kathy's daycare in Overland Park, Kansas, waived the monthly fee for a local family affected by the October shutdown. “Having her do this is really unexpected and very generous and really helped things out a bunch of us,” Brian Engel, a USDA worker and father, told a local Fox News affiliate. The family, in turn, reported Lancelotti to the news station, who then rewarded her $300 for her action.

At the national level, Starbucks began offering free tall cups of coffee to anyone paying it forward for another customer, a counter to the uncooperative gridlock in Congress. “I believe you will agree that this is a different yet authentic way Starbucks can help our fellow citizens come together by supporting one another during a particular challenging time,” wrote CEO and president Howard Schultz in an open letter.

After the shutdown, 50 miles south of Karma Kitchen's Berkeley location, a young entrepreneur seems to have taken to the philanthropic practice of paying it forward. In Los Gatos, seven-year-old Ryland Goldman runs his small “restaurant” from his front lawn, selling Starbucks-bought coffee and his own baked muffins and brownies to passersby. His tabletop restaurant, called Ryan's Restaurant, donates half of all its earnings to his local school, Daves Lane Elementary. He wants the money to be used to buy technology for the school, paying it forward for hundreds of his fellow classmates, maybe hoping one day they'll do the same.

Photos via Flickr (cc) Users Brian Metcalfe and Ben Grey 

Hands image from Shutterstock

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The Payoff of Paying it Forward