Paying it Forward with Volunteering

Paying it Forward with Volunteering

by Susan Huebert
Jobs People Do | JobsPeopleDo.com

On special occasions such as birthdays or Christmas, many people like to give gifts to their family and friends. They might give objects like books or toys, or they might decide to give an experience like a trip to somewhere special.

Often, people give gifts to people who have given them something in the past, but sometimes they help someone else instead. People call this action “paying it forward,” and one of the most common ways that people pay it forward is through volunteering. Do you ever pay it forward in this way?

People have tried to help each other throughout history, but the term “pay it forward” is relatively new. It has become a popular idea since an author named Catherine Ryan Hyde used the term as the title of one of her books, in which she wrote about the concept of doing good things for others.

The idea of paying it forward is fairly simple: people should give gifts or help to others instead of returning the favour only to the people who have helped them. For example, suppose that someone helped you by finding your lost bicycle. The next day, you might decide to help a third person with a problem that you know how to solve. That’s what paying it forward is all about; helping strangers or other people whom you might not normally help.

Finding someone to help is not always very easy, but working for a volunteer project can be a good choice. Many Canadians are involved in volunteer work in different areas such as sports and recreation, social services, and education. They might coach a sports team, visit the elderly, or tutor at a school. Some people renovate houses for the poor or deliver baskets of food and gifts to people who can’t afford to buy what they need. Opportunities are available for almost any kind of volunteering.

Suppose that you got help from a tutor in one of your classes when you were struggling to learn what you needed to know. You could pay it forward by volunteering as a tutor at your school or in a community centre. Or suppose that one of your friends wants to play on a sports team but lacks the necessary skills. Maybe you needed help when you wanted to get onto the team, and someone took the time to assist you. Now, maybe you want to give someone else the kind of help that you got. You and your friend could practice together after school.

Volunteering and paying it forward is different for each person. Maybe you know how to teach writing or mathematics. Maybe you enjoy caring for animals or raking leaves. Whatever you can do to help people can be part of paying it forward. You might even start a new paying it forward movement and help to change the world, at least for a few people.



Hay, Susan. Volunteer organization looks to ‘pay it forward’ http://globalnews.ca/news/1033474/walls-of-hope-make-a-difference-to-families-in-need/

Pay It Forward Day.com. “About the Day.”


Vézina, Mireille and Susan Crompton. “Volunteering in Canada.” http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/11-008-x/2012001/article/11638-eng.htm.

Volunteer Action Centre. “Building Blocks for Youth Volunteer Engagement.” https://volunteer.ca/content/building-blocks-youth-volunteer-engagement.



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