Season of Giving Provides More Ways to Pay It Forward

December 2015

By Lisa Brown

“Pay it forward” has become a popular phrase and ideology of giving. When one person does a good deed for another or gives to another, the recipient, instead of paying back the giver, in turn does a good deed or gives to someone else. It becomes a chain reaction of kindness and altruism.

The act of “paying it forward” is popular now in fast-food and coffee lines, but there are many ways to give this holiday season other than treating the car behind you in line to a latte. While the sentiment is a good one, many other people in the community are in need.

Judy Dixon "pays it forward"

Judy Dixon dons a big smile
while waiting to pick sweet potatoes
at First Fruits Farm’s annual Harvest Festival. Photo by Lisa Brown.

Raleigh resident Judy Dixon was happy to pick sweet potatoes at the Harvest Festival at First Fruits Farm in Louisburg on a rainy Saturday. The potatoes were donated to local food pantries.

Originally from Pleasant Grove, Dixon picked her first sweet potato at age 8 and was excited to be back into the red clay.

“I left the farm, but the farm didn’t leave me,” she said.

More than that, however, she saw her chance to give what she could to help those who need it. Currently working toward her doctorate in Christian education, specifically in empowering women, she said she feels strongly about paying it forward.

“I think we should give what we can. Whether it’s health or wealth, we all need to help each other,” she said.

This time of year is especially hard for people who have limited incomes or are struggling financially. Not being able to afford heat for a house can be both risky and humiliating.

James Holding of Holding Oil in Wake Forest has witnessed the “pay it forward” phenomenon firsthand. Many donations, some anonymous, have come to him to pass along to his customers who may not otherwise ask for help.

“This is a community kind of thing,” he said.

One morning, he opened for business and found a large envelope had been thrown over the fence. In it was $2,000 and a note saying to provide heat for anyone he saw fit.

“I never found out who did it, but I knew many people who needed it,” Holding said.

The gestures he sees aren’t always grand, but they are still meaningful.

“We get a lot of people who just send a little extra when they make their payments and ask that it goes to someone in need,” he said.

Rolesville Mayor Frank Eagles is working hard to create a culture and a community that is grounded in generosity and giving.  A recently formed committee is looking at ways to expand a school-based program called Backpack Buddies program that enables students to receive backpacks with food to take home and to find other ways to help those in the area who are food insecure.

Working with local charities such as the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle, Goodwill, YMCA and United Way, Eagles hopes to formulate a plan that will deliver food to those who need it. While the Backpack Buddies program has been successful, those involved found that many children were taking the backpacks home to share the food intended for the students.

“I want to get food to the entire family,” said Eagles, who is hoping to get things moving at the beginning of the year.

He is both eager and hopeful.

“It’s our responsibility to help,” he said.

If Paying It Forward is something you wish to put into practice, below are more ways to do so this holiday season:

Hope House, Wake Forest – Every Thursday at 1 p.m., distributes food to those in need. Also sponsoring an Angel Tree in partnership with Friendship Chapel Baptist Church. For information, go to

Tri-Area Ministry, Wake Forest – Serves Wake Forest, Rolesville, Youngsville and surrounding areas distributing food to those in need. Entirely staffed and supported by volunteers. Always accepting donations of food, time and money. For more information, go to