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Goals for the New Year: Paying it forward

Maternity Ward
Maternity Ward
Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Back in 2000 a movie starring Kevin Spacey, Haley Joel Osment, and Helen Hunt had a big impact on people. The name of the movie was Pay It Forward. In this movie, a young boy experiments with making the world a better place not only for the people around him, but for everyone. An assignment his teacher gives to the class sets him on this track. The movie is well worth watching, even today. It is about paying it forward, doing kind things for others.

If reading is preferred over watching the movie, a book with the same title was written by Catherine Ryan Hyde. And The Pay it Forward Foundation has a website designed to help people along the same path.

The above resources will aid the single mom in guiding her children along a path of kindness, showing them how to be respectful and productive citizens. When approaching teachings such as these, it is best to make it a family effort. If children see parents doing these, they are more likely to do them on their own.

Make paying it forward a family affair and keep it going for a year. Each month, sit down with your children and discuss how you might help someone or a group of people. And remind them that you are doing nice things for others, without expecting things in return. And when someone does offer a monetary reward do not accept, graciously. Just ask them to do something to pay it forward themselves when the opportunity arises. Consider these opportunities, or create your own.

Making fleece blankets for babies on the maternity ward.

Putting together gifts for children on the cancer ward.

Donating unwanted items to people who can use them.

Making freezer meals for a soon-to-be mom.

Shoveling for an elderly neighbor.

Bake a cake for someone.

Make holiday gift baskets of homemade goods to anonymously leave on neighbors doorsteps.

Volunteer at places such as a Ronald McDonald House, a thrift store, or a food cupboard or soup kitchen.

Read to children at a day care or in a classroom, or do a craft with them.

Buy holiday gifts for a family at a battered women's shelter.

Chop wood for someone who has an injury.

Help someone with a move.

Also, remember to do random acts of kindness as the opportunity arises. These are unplanned things you do as you notice someone needs something, like helping an elderly woman across the street or giving someone the extra $3.00 they are short at the checkout line. Seemingly simple acts that can brighten a persons day.

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