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Pay it forward this weekend

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The weekend beckons to many families as a time of rest, relaxation and family time together. A special opportunity to help others awaits for individuals and families on the weekend of Jan. 17-19, 2014.

The 2nd annual Pay it Forward Weekend is a virtual Facebook event to inspire people around the world to perform a random act of kindness for someone over the weekend.

Nearly 4,000 people took part in last year's Pay it Forward Weekend. This year's event already has more than 340,000 people signed up to pay it forward.

The pay it forward concept is simple: do something thoughtful for someone else without expecting anything in return. Your act or acts of kindness may be for an individual or for an organization.

Kids learn more from your actions than from your words. Walk the walk you talk during the Pay it Forward Weekend. Here are some ways to help others.

Take food to a soup kitchen or food bank. When you do your grocery shopping, pick up some extra canned goods or other non-perishable foods to donate.

Help with worldwide hunger by donating money to Feed the Children, World Vision or another organization that helps the hungry around the world.

Donate clothing to an organization that helps others. Goodwill has drop boxes in many locations where you can leave clothing that others can use. In many communities, there are local non-profits who collect clothing for those who are in need.

Check Charity Navigator to learn more about charitable organizations in your community and around the world. Whether you want to help children, help animals or feed the hungry, you will find many choices.

Be a part of the Meg's Miles project. Meg Cross Menzies was a young wife, mother and avid runner who was struck and killed while running near her home on Jan. 13. Runners and non-runners across the country and around the world are running or walking in her honor this weekend. Visit the Meg's Miles Facebook page to learn more.

Help animals in need. Adopt a pet from your local Humane Society or animal shelter. If you can't add a pet to your family now, donate blankets or pet food to your local shelter.

Donate money to the Humane Society, Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals, a pet rescue organization or your local animal shelter.

Help someone who lives alone. Reach out to a neighbor who is homebound or lives alone. Bring a cake, cookies or dinner to someone who is no longer able to cook.

Help someone struggling with cancer or another long-term disease. Donate money to the American Cancer Society or St. Jude's Children's Hospitals.

Help a veteran or military member. Check with your local branch of the American Red Cross for items you can donate to be sent to deployed troops.

Donate money to the Wounded Warrior Project to help military members who have been wounded in action and their families.

Pay it forward to the person behind you in line at a restaurant. When you pay for your meal, give an extra 5 dollars for the next customer.

Take flowers or cards to a nursing home or senior center. A little kindness goes a long way toward helping with the loneliness many seniors feel every day.

Volunteer for Meals on Wheels or another organization that provides food and services to seniors who are no longer able to cook for themselves.

Donate toys or clothing to a local homeless shelter or home for battered women and children. Let each child sort through their toys and choose 10 items to donate. Pick up a few new items to add to your donation.

Open a door for someone whose hands are full. Smile at the grumpy person you encounter in a line. Donate food or money at your church for the poor in your community. Thank someone for being a part of your life.

It only takes a minute or two to make a difference in the life of someone else. Pay it forward this weekend and invite your family and friends to do the same. A random act of kindness may change someone's life.

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