SEP Spreads Cheer to Community with Pay-It-Forward

November 1, 2012

As we near the holiday season, we often find ourselves in the throes of never-ending shopping and stressful familial commitments. The desire to do something for others—those in need or just to create a little holiday cheer—is strong but where does one find the time and the extra money?

SEP found itself asking the same question before launching the Pay-It-Forward program. The initiative, which began last November, awarded employees who opted-in to the program $50 cash to spend on spontaneous good tidings. Rather than focus on charitable donations (something SEP employees actively pursue year-round), Pay-It-Forward was a means to help out those in need or to spread a bit of joy in an effort to inspire others to do follow suit.

“We’re fortunate for everything we have,” begins Laura Terry, Human Resources Manager and one of the initiators of Pay-It-Forward. “We want to be good corporate citizens and be involved with the community both on a corporate partnership level while focusing on smaller acts of kindness as well; being able to help those who may not be able to buy an article of clothing, a toy or food while standing in the checkout lane.”

The program was a success during its first year, with a wide variety of good deeds and creativity represented. Matt Terry turned a trip to the grocery store into a moment of giving, “I went to my local Marsh and bought multiple Marsh gift cards. I simply walked up, asked if I could give them something, and handed them the gift card. The best reaction I got was an elderly woman. She smiled ear-to-ear and asked me why I would do such a thing. It was a great reaction.”

Others chose more anonymous tactics to help others, such as Grant Kimsey who purchased cheesecakes for unknowing dining parties. “When I paid for the cheesecakes I did it through the waitresses. Thinking of how you can randomly help strangers isn’t something you normally do when you’re worrying about deadlines, code, family, and friends, so having $50 burning in your pocket for exactly that cause is instrumental to gaining a new kind of mindset.”

The goodwill was not only spread throughout Indiana communities but nationally as well. Rob Herbig turned a trip into a good dead, “I divided the money up into portions and bought meals for the homeless of Washington, D.C.”

“I participated because it’s a fun way to spread positive feelings to people,” emphasizes Craig Belcher. “I would encourage others to do it for the same reason I did it.” It’s a purpose Kimsey reinforces, “It makes you learn how to focus on being creatively kind, which I can’t find any negative points to. I heartily recommend it.”

SEP will be bringing back Pay-It-Forward again beginning in November, encouraging a month-long celebration of thankfulness. SEP is grateful for our good jobs, great clients and many opportunities. Whether in line at a drive-thru or walking around a bookstore you’ll never know when one of our giving SEP employees will be spreading holiday cheer.