The seeds for the nonprofit, I Paid It Forward, were planted a few years ago when founder, Keri-Lyn Jakubs lost her job of twelve years. This single mother with two teenage children, had more than herself to worry about. As the weeks with no paycheck passed, money became scarce. What she found during those terrible weeks was a community of caring people who did random acts of kindness to her, though she was too proud to ask for help.
One day in December of 2009, Keri-Lyn received a call from an organization called The Titan Foundation asking if they could bring her a food box. Never having been in this situation before, she didn’t know how they got her name, or if they knew her situation, but she was appreciative and said yes. Just before Christmas, a knock on the door came and Darrin Henry and his young team of Titans were there. They proceeded to unload food from the bed of a truck, and one by one placed the food in her entry way. These very special Titans also gave her children a gift card for Christmas, to buy a toy of their choosing. This extraordinary kindness changed Keri-Lyn’s life forever. She decided that from that day on, she would perform acts of kindness as a way of paying that gift of food forward. This is how the seeds of I Paid It Forward started to grow.
As an athlete, Keri-Lyn would run with others and noticed that sometimes children who might like to run were not able because of their shoes. They didn’t have running shoes and could not get the proper shoes to run in.
Upon investigation, Keri-Lyn discovered that many children in the local schools didn’t have good fitting shoes because of poverty. And that’s when the seeds of I Paid It Forward started to sprout.
Keri-Lyn wants to create an opportunity for children to “pay it forward” to other children their age, or in their school, or perhaps maybe children they don’t know, in the hopes of bringing kindness to each other through the gift of shoes. When a child is given a pair of new shoes, that child is told that he or she is now an “ambassador of kindness,” and is responsible for paying the gift of shoes forward to another child, through an I Paid It Forward card. The goal is to spread acts of kindness like wildfire.
I Paid It Forward is not a charity in a traditional sense. It is an opportunity to share kindness with each other, our families and strangers through random acts of kindness.