The other day, I Paid It Forward’s team visited an elementary school where a child had received an I Paid It Forward Card and requested shoes. We had a general idea of this kid’s shoe size, but just to be safe, we brought five pair in to get the best fit.
It was lunchtime, and all the kids were outside when we walked into the office. We announced ourselves, and the child in question was called into the office.
When he appeared, he was holding three paper bags of popped corn. One was allowed. He wore an adult’s large hooded sweatshirt that zipped up the front and had a skeleton pattern on the front. His shoes were canvas slip-ons normally worn in the summer.
After a gentle scolding by the principal for having too much popcorn, the young man was escorted into the office to try on the shoes.
After trying on a couple of pair, he settled on a white pair with black laces. For the first time in a long time, he had a new pair of shoes that fit his feet. He beamed! The old pair of shoes were stuffed in his sweatshirt pockets, where they stuck out. The popcorn bags were clutched next to his stomach, and the brand new pair of white shoes with black laces were proudly on his feet.
Before we left, we made sure he received an I Paid It Forward Card and a note addressed to his folks that explained why he has a new pair of shoes.
With the card, he is required to be an “ambassador of kindness,” and pay the gift of shoes forward by finding another person who might want a pair of shoes. When the card is gifted, there is an instruction on how to notify us for a new pair of shoes.
I couldn’t help myself, and took a photo of him, which is now framed and hanging on my office wall. It’s a reminder of why we do what we do.