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14 Ways to Pay it Forward in 2014

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The holidays are over and most of us have at least a few New Year’s resolutions in mind. Anyone who has tried to quit smoking or give up sweets can attest that bad habits are hard to break, but good habits like the ones listed below are fairly easy to accomplish.

The next time someone does something nice for you, repay them by performing an act of kindness for someone else. Paying it forward not only helps brighten someone’s day, it makes you feel kind of warm and fuzzy inside! Here are 14 good deeds to accomplish in 2014.

1. Compliment someone.

It’s all too easy to get caught up in senseless gossip and hurtful remarks. Instead of whispering a snide comment about someone’s outfit to your friend, pay someone an honest compliment, e.g. “I love your sweater!” or “You did a great job on that chem exam!”

2. Become a mentor.

Remember how confused you were when the promotional college items started flooding your mailbox? You weren’t completely sure what was going on! Spend time with a middle or high school student who has parents that didn’t go to college—perhaps a younger relative, or even a kid in your community—and explain the steps you followed to apply to colleges. Let him or her know how you ultimately decided to attend your school, and why it’s so important to understand accreditation, college financial aid, and other biggies.

3. Buy coffee.

Caffeine is almost a necessity when you’re a college student. The next time you’re at Starbucks or your other favorite coffee shop, let the barista or cashier know that you’d like to pay for the beverage that the person behind you orders in addition to your own.

4. Give away your used college textbooks.

College textbook prices are almost astronomical. Many students turn to used textbooks to save money. Instead of trying to sell them, give the books you no longer need to someone who is taking those classes this semester. Post flyers on campus or ads online, and when someone is interested let them know there is no charge.

5. Hold the door open.

The simple act of holding the door open for the person walking into a building behind you was once considered customary, but these days it’s almost a rarity.

6. Smile at a stranger.

A frazzled looking mother with a crying baby will attract plenty of evil stares from onlookers out in public. Go against the grain and give someone in that situation an understanding smile rather than an icy glare.

7. Drop things off at the lost and found.

Find a backpack, wallet, textbook, or anything else that doesn’t belong to you? Take it to a lost and found on campus. You’d most likely be heartbroken if your belongings disappeared. Do your part to help things get back to their rightful owner.

8. Donate your unwanted belongings to someone who needs them.

Cleaning out your closet? Give your old clothes to a homeless shelter, thrift store, or charitable organization rather than pitching them in the dumpster.

9. Give an hour or two of your time.

Volunteering is often required for high school graduation, but many students quit once they’re in college. Donate your time to a local non-profit organization, or just lend someone a hand every now and then. Walking dogs for a shelter or taking a senior citizen who doesn’t drive grocery shopping once a week won’t take up much of your time, but it will mean a great deal to the people you are helping.

10. Call your parents just to say hello.

They’ll be pleasantly surprised!

11. Mail a card to someone you don’t see very often.

Texting, email, and social media have taken over, but receiving a piece of snail mail that isn’t a bill can instantly brighten someone’s day. Hit the greeting card aisle next time you’re grocery shopping, or pick up a postcard at the bookstore. If you’re creative or feeling crafty, make your own. Don’t forget the stamp!

12. Be on time.

Pay attention to the clock. Classes operate on a specific schedule for a reason. Respect your professors and TAs enough to show up on time. Occasionally running behind is one thing, but sneaking in fifteen minutes late every single time disrupts your instructor and the other students.

13. Say thank you.

Thank your professors and other college personnel. They really do care about you and your future.

14. Play nurse.

Roommate, friend, or relative feeling under the weather? Show up with a thermos of hot soup, some DVDs, and a magazine or book. You’d appreciate it if someone did the same when you were sick!

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Melissa Rhone+

Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.


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