When Paige McCarthy begin planning her annual dinner party for a small group of friends, she knew she wanted to create something unique, something with lasting impact. “I was really interested in how I could make something bigger out of the little that I have and create a good experience for everyone,” says McCarthy, a Portland, Ore., advertising executive.
Could she, McCarthy wondered, create an entire party around the notion of doing good deeds for others as payback for those received? That question sparked her to create a Pay It Forward Party, which, in the course of a few hours, transformed a small dinner party into a life-changing event for the guests and people throughout the community.
Preparing to give
The Pay It Forward philosophy was popularized in a book by Catherine Ryan Hyde in 2000, and in a subsequent movie. Yet, the idea has been around since the days of Ancient Greece when a play first talked of the concept of passing on kind acts. Benjamin Franklin wrote about it too, in a letter drafted in the late 1700s.
But, on that night in November 2010, McCarthy’s dinner guests knew little about what she had in store. After they arrived at her home, each of the four couples received $100 and partial instructions, plucked like leaves from a centerpiece cleverly designed as a giving tree. When combined with the instructions of the other guests, the group discovered that they were to use the money to help others.
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