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Newtown Violence Inspires Kindness in St. Charles

Resident finds gift card on vehicle with a note instructing him to "pay it forward" in memory of the Sandy Hook School victims.

The reverberations from the violence at Sandy Hook School were felt far beyond Newtown, CT, inspiring great sympathy but also fear among parents and educators in communities across the nation.

Perhaps that is why, even as a nation reaches out in big and small ways to help a grieving Connecticut community, some have been inspired to do the same in their own communities.

One might dismiss what a St. Charles man found on his vehicle last week as the result of Christmas spirit. Those who celebrate the season do, after all, take delight in secret gift-giving and spreading seasonal cheer.

Except the note that accompanied the $10 gift card to Panera Bread made it clear this gift was not a typical season’s greeting: It was a request to bless others as a Pay It Forward in memory of those who were murdered in Newtown.

The St. Charles resident who was so blessed asked St. Charles Patch to preserve his identity so that he could pay it forward — anonymously.

“26 acts of kindness in honor of each person lost in the Newtown school,” reads the note that accompanied the gift card. “You are #17, Pay it forward! Merry Christmas.”

“That’s a $10 gift gard and 26 people — obviously whoever did this is taking it seriously,” the resident said.

“That says something about committed they are to this paying it forward,” the resident said. “That note say’s I’m No. 17, and if they’re doing the same thing for 26 people, that’s $260.

“If they can make that kind of commitment, so can I,” he added.

The “pay it forward” concept has been practiced — formally or informally for centuries, having been inspired by an ancient Greek play. In more modern and contemporary times, many authors have penned their own tomes about the idea.

More recently, the concept found a reawakening with a book and a movie by that name and eventually inspired the founding a foundation — the Pay It Forward Movement and Foundation.

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