Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The 93 Dollar Club

One of my Twitter friends Jana shared a link to this great story last week - it's too good not to share!

Act of kindness at Trader Joe's sparks outpouring of charitable support on Facebook

You're at the checkout counter with a cart full of groceries, and suddenly you realize your wallet has inconveniently disappeared. Imagine the embarrassment: A $207 grocery bill is staring at you. Something must be done.

I'd start making plans to leave the groceries at the counter and try to get back at some point. Luckily for Jenni Ware, she didn't have to.

Thanks to the kindness of Carolee Hazard -- a complete stranger in line behind her -- the bill was paid in full. All Hazard asked in return was a check to be sent by mail.

Sure enough, the next day, Hazard received a check from Ware in the amount of $300 -- $93 extra -- with a note thanking her for her trust and encouraging her to get a massage with the extra cash.
The story doesn't end there.
"I didn't know what to do with the money. I'd thought to mail a check back to Jenni, but in the day and age of Facebook, I turned to my friends to decide what to do with the money instead," Hazard says.
Several friends suggested giving it to charity, which Hazard loved. In fact, she decided to match the $93 and turned to Facebook once again for suggestions on where the $186 should go. Given that the event occurred at a grocery store, one person cleverly suggested the local Second Harvest Food Bank. Another friend, inspired by the story, matched with $93 of his own money. So did another. And another. Within a few months, strangers across the country stepped forward with their own contributions. And the 93 Dollar Club on Facebookwas born, drawing support from all corners of the globe.
On Aug. 11, one year after the fateful meeting at the Menlo Park Trader Joe's, the 93 Dollar Club had raised more than $100,000(!) for the Second Harvest Food Banks of San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties -- all of this coming from an initial spark of kindness that has had a ripple effect.
"If I hadn't turned to Facebook, this never would have happened. I was just along for the ride as opposed to steering this. This really had an energy all of its own," Hazard says. "No one has been asked to donate. People stepped forward asking to be a part of this ... to make a difference. And whether it was in the amount of 93 cents from a single mother who works full-time with little extra cash to spare to a young child making a donation from their allowance, everyone has been able to play a part."
Next up for the club?
"My pie-in-the-sky dream is to get the original $93,000 matched to make it $186,000. That would be so amazing," Hazard says. "Next goal? $200,000, including the $93,000 match. Crazy? Probably. But I have great faith that helping the hungry and passing on goodness will enable us to reach our goal!"
To keep up with the latest in philanthropy, follow Kindness on Twitter @USATKindness.

(Did I mention that Jana who shared the article is an Alpha Chi Omega alumna? Sending a little shout-out to her home chapter, Alpha Nu, at the University of Missouri!)

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