For the third year in a row, Williams Lake is being encouraged to pay it forward today, April 26.
Since 2010, Canadian Mental Health Association — Cariboo Chilcotin Branch has been involved with the day and the city has been on board officially proclaiming Pay it Forward Day.
The way to participate is to do small random acts of kindness, says Darlene Doskoch, employment and social programs manager at CMHA in Williams Lake.
“We’ve got some activities planned, but I’m trying not to talk about it too much because essentially it’s supposed to be spontaneous,” Doskoch says, but divulges that she has been collaborating with some local schools, service groups and other community leaders for some planned events.
People can expect that there will be people on the streets of Williams Lake trying to make everyone else’s day.
Pay it Forward Day is always held the fourth Thursday of April each year.
Occasionally someone will suggest it should be done more often, to which Doskoch says absolutely, but the day itself is actually the start of another year.
“It’s a reminder that people can do pay it forward stuff, but there’s no reason that we can’t do those things every day of the year. It’s a kick-off I guess you could say.”
In past years, hundreds of people have participated.
One year students from Maranatha Christian School were on the street playing music and handing out cookies and coffee. Columneetza high school students cleaned the old Poplar Glade school grounds and Cataline elementary was cleaning the dairy fields.
At Marie Sharpe elementary a mom brought in fruit to let the staff know how much they were appreciated. A student was downtown giving away free hugs and cookies.
“It was really delightful to see. You hope that people will catch on and to see that what they did was heartwarming,” Doskoch recalls, adding Williams Lake’s that type of community, even though it gets a bad rap.
In fact, Doskoch returned to Williams Lake after living away for more than 20 years.
“When we arrived here in 2005, I had people coming up and welcoming me to the community,” she says, adding Williams Lake was the first municipality in Canada to proclaim Pay it Forward Day.
Doskoch has small, business-sized cards available for people to use if they are planning to participate in the day.
There are boxes on one side where people can tick off a random act of kindness and then forward the card to the person they’ve done the act for.
They include suggestions like returning a grocery cart, buying someone a gift, paying for a stranger’s bus ticket or helping someone in need.
“It’s the card that gets passed forward,” she explains.
The cards are available at CMHA, and Doskoch has been handing them out.
She also says they are available to download at www.payitforwardday.com.