Dealing with tragedy by 'paying it forward'
By Jason Harris - Staff Writer
Colchester - posted Wed., Jan. 2, 2013
A local woman took to heart journalist Ann Curry’s recent Tweet encouraging others to do one act of kindness in memory of each person murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14, 2012. Linda Charron of Colchester doesn’t want recognition for doing her 26 Acts of Kindness, but her good deeds came to light when she stopped by a local bookstore on Dec. 21 and a reporter was there.
When senseless tragedy strikes, people look for ways to deal with it, and often it is by reaching out to others in a positive way. “I don’t want to sing my own praises because there are a lot of people like myself,” Charron said. “It’s making me feel better than I’m making everybody else feel.”
Charron saw Curry telling people on her Twitter account about doing 26 Acts of Kindness to honor the 20 children and six adults who were killed in the school that day. People all over the world are participating in the acts of kindness because of Curry's suggestion, Charron said. “It’s a wonderful thing,” she said. “Hopefully, people will continue to do it.”
Charron thinks more people will participate in the acts of kindness once they realize how good it makes them feel. It’s not something you can always do, she said, mostly because of financial constraints, but it’s doable once a year, and it is a small way for people to show each other that they care.
Her 26 acts included paying for a few people’s prescription co-pays at a pharmacy, buying a boy’s haircut at a Moodus barbershop, purchasing books for children, providing money for coffee at Tim’s Bistro and donating $100 at Starbucks to be used for people’s orders.
A shift supervisor at Starbucks, who wished to remain anonymous, said she received $100 from Charron around 9 a.m. on Dec. 17. She put the money on a gift card and started taking a few dollars off each person’s bill. Some customers added more money to the gift card after hearing about how a person was paying it forward. These people added between $1 and $20, the supervisor said.
The supervisor said the card still had $55 on it when she left at 1:30 p.m. She heard later the card wasn’t depleted until the next afternoon because of the generosity of others. It was impressive that it lasted so long, since Starbucks sees between 500 and 600 people a day and $100 wouldn’t normally go that far if only a few dollars were taken off each order.
“I think that it’s a way for people to begin to heal,” Charron said about the acts of kindness. “I think the only thing that’s going to help any of us is kindness. We need to get back to a kinder society.”
This wasn’t Charron’s first foray into giving to people. She has done acts of kindness in the past that included paying for someone’s meal at a restaurant, an idea she got from a friend’s husband. Generosity has always been a part of her life, starting with her grandparents, who for years used to give a Sunday meal to a man who had about 10 children. The man drove a truck at a company where her grandfather also worked. He couldn’t make it through the week on his paycheck, but that one dinner helped him and his family get by week after week. “I always remembered this man coming to the door and my grandmother giving him a box,” Charron said.
Charron said her own parents were also generous, baking food for people and once giving a criminal a pair of gloves. She remembers friends telling her how her mom was a good cook. She also recalled that her dad, who was a state trooper, carried a garbage bag full of gloves in his police cruiser’s trunk during the winter. “My brother would ask him if he even gave gloves to the people he arrested. His reply to him was, ‘Sometimes their hands are cold,’” Charron said.