It's Saturday morning and you pull into the gas station to fuel up. You spot a bright envelope poking out at you from the gas pump with a little sticker on it that says "Open Me." As you peel back the flap, you see a crisp $20 bill.
WHAT DO YOU DO?
For dozens of people in Antigonish, N.S., that was the question they had to answer this weekend after finding envelopes full of money stashed around some of the town's busiest streets and locations.
The 155 cash envelopes — or cashelopes (we just made that up) — contained either a $5, $10 or $20 bill and a total of $1,000 was distributed around town.
Cashelopes! (Photo: Awesome Foundation Antigonish)
It was an exercise in paying it forward and the lucky recipients were encouraged to use the contents of the envelope to make someone else's day a bit brighter.
The envelopes were courtesy of the Awesome Foundation Antigonish — a local branch of the international Awesome Foundation, which supports small-scale projects in cities and communities each month with $1,000 micro-grants.
Ten local trustees contribute to the Antigonish chapter each month to support the fund.
"We encourage folks to pay the money forward in anyway they choose, but it is not required," Awesome Foundation Antigonish asked in a Facebook post.
The tales of kindness came rolling in Saturday afternoon.
"Today as I was sitting at the mall driving the Town Bus a nice gentleman passed me a pink envelope to give to my next passenger," driver Maureen O'Hara Kerwin shared.
Preston Newman Jordan said he found TWO envelopes, and made sure to put the money to work at a nearby Tim Hortons.
On Instagram, user @bigbeze, who recently moved to the town, said the $5 bill he was given by a stranger "is really endearing my new home to me."
Big shout out and thanks to the lady named Barbara that stopped me on my way out of the gym today and handed me this card and a $5 bill. She really did #PayItForward and I'm going to enjoy a nice cup of #TimHorton's later on with the cash. This #AwesomeAntigonish campaign is really endearing my new home to me. It's not everyday a nice lady stops you on the street and hands you some #cash. Except in Antigonish, it is! Thanks again Barb and thank you too, Antigonish. #AwesomeFoundation #Antigonish #ThisTownRocks
James Smeaton, the "dean of awesome" for Awesome Foundation Antigonish, told CBC News the goal of the project is to "imagine how you can make somebody else's life a little bit nicer."
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According to a post by TopSoulMan, about three years ago, he showed up in court to fight a speeding ticket -- politely. "I just [said] 'Yes, Your Honor' and 'No, Your Honor' until the cows come home," he wrote. "He tells me there is nothing he can do." But when he went to the counter to pay the fine, the judge had waived the ticket, which he said inspired him to do something nice. "I tipped the next person I saw $20 on a $3 bill."
User Laeryken explained how his family makes a tradition of paying it forward: My family does stuff like this every year. Sometimes it's meals at restaurants for a family, other times it's paying for coffee or movie tickets for the person behind you. It's amazing when it starts a chain reaction like that. Another thing that I highly recommend is going to a 24/hr place for dessert late on Christmas Eve. We usually go to Denny's. Order dessert and drop a really big tip on the server. We usually give a big tip to the busboy, too.
One day, Databalz showed up to the local car wash and decided to pay more than what was owed: "I paid 30 feeling generous and told the cashier that the next car should get full clean interior with a wax wash." Two weeks later, Databalz went for another wash -- only to learn the extra money was still being paid forward.
User ezArnold, who worked retail in college, shared a story from a memorable holiday season that would have otherwise been unenjoyable and chaotic: "One of the customers who had finished with their transaction asked if they were allowed to hold on to their coupon they just used," wrote ezArnold. "I replied that they were, and the customer turned around and handed it to the person behind her." Each customer continued to pay it forward for approximately 45 minutes. "The people who had received it looked really thankful," ezArnold said.
A mom who couldn't afford to buy the presents on her daughter's wish list received an act of kindness from another shopper. "I don't really need any of them mommy," a young girl said while holiday shopping with her cash-strapped mother, according to a comment by jasminesk, who was working at the store. "The mom looked completely heartbroken, and also so grateful for a daughter who wasn't throwing a tantrum," jasminesk wrote. "This ADORABLE, ancient man who was in the store asked me to get the mom's name and phone number and tell her we were having a raffle, so I did." "He then paid for every single item on the little girl's list."
"I am a college student and finding quarters for doing laundry is always a pain," wrote blackcoffee_91. "So every time I wash a load I leave some quarters in the washer so the next guy who comes along gets a free load." "I know it's a really really small thing (only 75 cents) but maybe someone's day is made a little better because of the convenience."
"Just the other day I went down to our local fishing hole with two friends and a casting net," TomahawkDrop wrote. "We got a couple shrimp, but were obviously struggling." He said a nearby group, who had plenty of gear and were successfully catching crabs, stopped to help. They "gave us their lines, bait, net, and even their beer, and let us go to town," BennyHarassi said. When thanked for their hospitality, which resulted in 20 crabs to bring home, one group member replied, "just paying it forward."
During a night out with friends, RPh_JF17 witnessed several patrons at a local bar pay it forward. It began when he struck up a conversation at the bar with a man who offered to pick up his tab. RPh_JF17 replied that he was paying for a large group, so couldn't accept such a generous favor. But the man was undeterred. Then, several people who overheard the exchange continued to pay for the groups ahead of them -- so many times, he said, that the bartenders had trouble keeping up. "About 12 different people have bought drinks for other people/groups now at that time all because of the simple generosity that was first shown," RPh_JF17 wrote.