When it comes to birthday wishes, you're not supposed to tell. Karen Cumming doesn't mind. She's 51 and not shy about it. Cumming hopes her birthday wish will turn into 51 “random acts of kindness” over the course of the next year.
Cumming is a teacher and freelance writer. She turned 51 on December 27 and decided to forgo traditional material gifts this year.
“I thought it would be fun to do something that came from the inside,” she said.
Cumming created the Facebook page “Pay It forward Burlington/Hamilton,” and reached out to her friends to provide ideas for 51 acts of kindness to perform.Pay It Forward is now a global movement. (Supplied)
She said she also wants to use the page so members of the community can reach out and share stories about their own experiences.
“Each one of us has the power to do something,” she said.
After researching the idea, Cumming said she discovered the Pay It Forward movement, which is a global movement advocating the power of simple acts of kindness.
“This is an idea that’s existed for thousands of years,” said Charley Johnson, founder of the Pay It Forward movement.
Johnson, who used to own a manufacturing company, said he quit his job and founded the movement about 18 months ago.
He said one of the best things about the movement is that it’s an idea that is universal.
“There is no religious affiliation,” he said. “There is absolutely no political affiliation.”
Johnson said that while he’s not sure of the exact number of individual Pay It Forward movements there are in the world, he does know that 1.7 million of the Pay it Forward bracelets the organization sells have been distributed among 123 countries.
He said he feels that when individual people, like Cumming, choose to start a community movement, it can be extremely successful.
“If they latch onto it and decide to do it in their community, it spreads like wildfire,” he said.
Karen Cumming said that’s exactly what she hopes her arm of Pay it Forward will do, and has already spoken to Johnson about starting Pay It Forward in Hamilton/ Burlington.
“Think of the ripple effect,” Cumming said. “I’d love for people to put it on Facebook, like the page and start to tell their stories.”
You can deliver your suggestions for random acts of kindness to Cumming's Facebook page.