Inspiring “Pay-It-Forward” Ideas

It was just a few days after I posted an article about kindness in which the idea came from my disappointment about justice system in my country, Indonesia. Talking about that alone surely can take over my entire day and require endless words; so I will try to summarize it into one sentence: Our beloved former governor of DKI Jakarta, Mr. Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (Ahok) was sentenced to 2-years-in-prison for an accused blasphemy case against Islam despite all of his hard-work and sacrifices while serving people in Jakarta (including creating numerous programs like building mosques and sending people who worked for mosque to go to Makkah – which actually supported Moslem). He’s known to be a double-minority (a Christian, and comes from Chinese family) – which led to a very depressing fact: that no matter how honest and hard-working you are as a person, with a passion to deliver best service to society around you, you are never good enough in Indonesia if: 1) you have different religion than the majority of the people and 2) you are not pribumi – the term that some bigots use to identify “pure Indonesian”.

Right about when I was trying to move on from this heart-breaking truth, I heard the news about suicide bomb attack in Ariana Grande concert venue in Manchester, England, which killed more than 20 young people


When I was writing this piece, suddenly there was another terror attack in my capital city, Jakarta. The world is just getting crazier and crazier each day.

Therefore, I’d like to write more about compassion – to show the world that good people are still exist!

Here I cover fringe, miraculous “pay-it-forward” ideas that have been implemented by some companies and organizations to make this world a better place.

In case you don’t know, the phrase “pay-it-forward” was first introduced by a Greek dramatist, Menander, in his comedy work called Dyskolos in 317 BC.  I personally recognized this terminology from one American drama-romance movie which was released in 2000 with the title “Pay It Forward”. The movie was about a young elementary school student who was assigned a school project: performing actions that contribute positively to the society. Then, he came up with an idea called “pay-it-forward” – doing a favor for three random people, and telling them to do the same to other three strangers.

Rosa’s Fresh Pizza


With the motto “The Freshest Slice in Philly”, Rosa’s Fresh Pizza established a program for customers to pre-purchase a slice of pizza for $1. Those slices are served for free to homeless people every day at 11 p.m. In return, the customers who donate will get a piece of sticky note and they can write something nice for those people without shelters. The noble idea itself came from one customer who asked the owner of the restaurant, if it’s possible to buy pizzas for those in needs. Till now, this pizza store which located in Philadelphia, USA has delivered more than ten thousands slices of fresh pizza and successfully made homeless people feel loved. Even more than that, there are heart-touching stories from the regular homeless customers who are no longer showing up because they’re already working!

The Street Store


Homelessness is inevitable; it’s everywhere. Especially in countries with huge gap between the rich and the poor, we can practically see those without homes while we are walking towards school or running errands. Just because it is common to see them, it doesn’t mean that it’s okay to do nothing about this. The Street Store, which originally created in Cape Town, South Africa, was designed to bridge the economical gap. Their mission statement is as simple as their slogan “hang up, help out”: to make it easier to donate and more dignified to receive. The  Haven Night Shelter – a non-profit organization focused on homelessness in South Africa – was the initiator of this project. The Street Store provides interesting posters that you can hang in the corner of the street, spreading the news and informing people to donate clothes, shoes, and accessories that they no longer want to wear. After that, the homeless people can help themselves by choosing what they want to keep for free. What’s really cool about this project is: everybody in this world can host their own “The Street Store” program in the city they live in just by going to their website. They will send you all necessary files (posters, guidebook, presentation), and soon after you have a permit from the authorities, you can set up your own pop-up store. The first Street Store took place in 2014, and since then, more than 450 stores has been hosted globally, for example in Brussel, Mumbai, Auckland, and Georgia.



Since the beginning of its operations, Toms Shoes (abbreviation from Tomorrow Shoes) has been inspired by social awareness. Blake Mycoskie, the founder of this company, produced canvas shoes after seeing alpargatas – traditional shoes with simple design that worn by Argentine farmers in 2006. He also recognized the fact that there were so many poor children in Argentine who couldn’t afford to buy shoes. At that time, there was help from social organization. However, the number of shoes was totally unstable, relying fully on donations, and there were mismatches between the donations and the recipient’s feet size. Therefore, Mycoskie wanted to do something more. He came up with “shoes for tomorrow project”. For each pair of shoes that are sold to customers, TOMS would give another pair to children in needs. In 2011, this American company expanded its product to glasses, with the same “one-for-one” concept. Now, we can purchase shoes, eyewear, coffee, and bags from TOMS and the gift of shoes, sight, water, safe birth, and kindness are going to be delivered to people in need. TOMS has reached more than 70 million people across six continents.


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