the republic logo

Acts of kindness can spur fantastic chain reactions

Follow The Republic:

If you intended to make a New Year’s resolution but did not, let me suggest one for you in case you have a guilty conscience.

Pay it forward.

If you have not seen the 2000 movie by the same name, or heard people talk about it, the idea is simple. The beneficiary of a good deed repays it to others instead of the original benefactor.

Some people pay it forward in small, kind ways, like paying for the meal for the vehicle behind them in a drive-thru. Sometimes paying it forward touches the heart a little deeper.

Ask CJ Williams of Columbus. In 2012 she was a client of Turning Point Domestic Violence Services, seeking help for herself and her children. Near Christmas that year, Williams was asked if she and the kids needed help for the holiday. She said she reluctantly agreed to accept a few donations.

She said that a Turning Point employee, Ursula Williams, asked her what one gift she’d want for her boys but couldn’t afford and what she’d want for herself.

CJ Williams said Ursula Williams also noted what her boys liked, what sizes they wore and what things they needed. Then came the surprise: so many wrapped presents from an anonymous buyer that they packed full Ursula Williams’ car. The sight nearly had CJ Williams in tears.

“Whoever did this spent hours shopping, paid attention to what I’d said my kids liked and took time to wrap and put name tags on each item. It absolutely made our Christmas brighter than it otherwise would’ve been, and I did not have to explain to my kids why there wouldn’t have been many gifts under the tree this year,” she said.

That gesture stuck with CJ Williams. And another family in a similar situation had a brighter holiday this past Christmas.

Her new employer, Shepherd Insurance, lets its offices each give a charitable donation every year for Christmas. The Columbus office was given some money and asked to use it to help someone in need, Williams said.

After some discussion, she and her co-workers decided to find a family to help. However, her co-workers specified that it should be a family that has been affected by domestic violence and currently was or previously had been receiving help from Turning Point.

That’s when CJ Williams took over. She worked with Haley Locke of Turning Point, who found a young mother who was willing to accept the offer to help get them what they wanted and needed for Christmas.

“I can’t even begin to explain the amount of joy this brought for me as I was able to go shopping for this woman and child I’ve never met,” Williams said.

She received a list of interests, clothes sizes, wants and needs, and spent hours picking out necessities and gifts for the mother and child.

“Having been the recipient of such kindness last year made it even more special to be the giver this year. We will never know the name or meet the family we are helping, but knowing this woman and her child are virtually in the exact same situation I was in just last year has very deeply touched my heart,” she said.

Williams said she’s grateful her employer and co-workers afforded such an opportunity because she never thought she’d have a chance to pay it forward in such a fashion.

“It really goes to show how someone’s generosity during the holidays can change the lives of those around them,” she said.

Kirk Johannesen is assistant managing editor of The Republic. He can be reached at 379-5639 or

Think your friends should see this? Share it with them!

All content copyright ©2016 The Republic, a publication of AIM Media Indiana unless otherwise noted.
All rights reserved. Privacy policy.