Unexpected Generosity: Paying It Forward

Doing the right thing. Paying it forward. Here, we spotlight the heart-warming stories of those who have offered unexpected generosity.

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A photo by a tourist of an NYPD officer giving a barefoot homeless man boots became an internet sensation. Jennifer Foster of Florence, Ariz. took the snapshot of the officer giving all-weather boots and socks to the homeless man on a bitterly cold night Nov. 14.
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In response to the congressional stalemate in Washington following the government shutdown, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz announced that Wednesday, Oct. 9 through Friday Oct. 11, if a customer buys someone else their favorite beverage, the shop will offer that customer a free tall brewed coffee in return. It's an effort to "Come Together" as "we wait for our elected officials to do the same for our country," Schultz said. Click to see more.
For the Kids: Two philanthropists contributed $10 million to the Head Start Foundation to help keep the program running in light of the government shutdown. Laura and John Arnold of the Arnold Foundation have received praise for their act of kindness that has allowed the program, which provides early education programs for more than 7,000 low-income children, to stay afloat amidst Congressional impasse over the federal budget that normally funds Head Start.
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One good deed turned into a chain reaction of kindness — 55 times! — at one doughnut shop in Massachusetts. At Heav’nly Donuts restaurant in Amesbury, Mass., a customer came to the drive-through and purchased for the driver behind her. Happily surprised that his order was paid for, he decided to pay for the customer behind him, and so the chain began. The bills ranged from $1 to more than $20. There was no car behind the 55th driver, so the chain stopped.
Dairy Queen manager Joey Prusak of Minnesota was highly praised for his good dead Sept. 19 after refusing to serve a woman he saw stealing $20 from a blind man who had unknowingly dropped the cash. When the woman refused to give the money back, he asked her to leave and then gave the blind man $20 out of his own pocket.
Glen James, of Boston, left, looks on during a news conference. James, who is homeless, turned in a backpack containing $2,400 in U.S. currency, almost $40,000 in traveler's checks, as well as Chinese passports and other personal papers to police after finding the items in a Boston mall. A man who heard about his good deed started a fundraiser for him, and strangers from around the world have donated more than $150,000 to reward him.
An 11-year-old boy from Greenfield, Wis. walked into his local police station and gave more than $10 in loose change to the police clerk after learning about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The heartfelt gesture receive much media attention following the 12th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
Rapper The Game posted this image of Tiana Ricks, 6, on his Instagram account revealing that he will contribute $10,000 to pay for the little girl's funeral. Ricks was killed and her father wounded in a shooting at a Moreno Valley, Calif. garage last month.
Alyssa O'Neill was an 18-year-old who had epilepsy. In Sept. 2013, she texted her mom asking if they could go to Starbucks so she could try a pumpkin spice latte for the first time, but she never got the chance. She died the next day after an epileptic seizure. In her honor, her parents went to their local Starbucks and bought Pumpkin Spice Latte for themselves, as well as the next 40 customers. All they asked of the baristas was that they write #AJO on the cups, and the kindness spread around the world: people everywhere bought coffee for others, with the #AJO tag written on the cups.
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The NBA's Oklahoma City Thunder and its star forward Kevin Durant each contributed $1 million to provide relief to victims of a deadly tornado that struck Moore, Okla. and parts of Oklahoma City May 21, 2013. The large contribution was considered a heartfelt gesture for victims of a tornado that killed 24 people and injured more than 200.
NYPD Officer Pays It Forward: A photo by a tourist of an NYPD officer giving a barefoot homeless man boots became an internet sensation. Jennifer Foster of Florence, Ariz. took the snapshot of the officer giving all-weather boots and socks to the homeless man on a bitterly cold night in Times Square Nov. 14, 2012.
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Like A Good Neighbor: Johnny Karlinchak, 8, of Springfield, Va. sells lemonade in July 2012 to help his neighbor pay to rebuild their damaged home after a 60-foot oak tree crashed through the home following a storm. Karlinchak's act of kindness to help pay for the neighbor's $500 insurance deductible was highly praised and received extensive media attention in the D.C. area.
T.I. to the Rescue: The Grammy award-winning rapper made headlines in Oct. 2010 when he convinced a suicidal man to come down from an Atlanta skyscraper. T.I. heard about the situation on the radio and drove to the site to convince the man to come down.
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13-year-old Natalie Gilbert struggled singing the national anthem at a 2003 Western Conference Quarterfinals game in Portalnd, Ore. Then-Portland Trail Blazers head coach Maurice Cheeks came over and helped Gilbert finish singing the national anthem, creating an Internet sensation. Following the advent of YouTube, the incident became known as the "Maurice Cheeks Moment".
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