Amanda and I grinned across the table at each other as Rebecca approached the counter.
“Hi," she said to the unsuspecting bakery patron, "your meal is on Grantham University today. We’re celebrating 65 years of serving others by partnering with MeMa’s to cover the cost of your breakfast.”
The three of us repeated this message to about a dozen sleepy customers that chilly Tuesday morning in early April. Little did they know as they came in for pastries and coffee, they would become part of Grantham University's 65-year birthday celebration story – Grantham Gives Back!
The Story Begins ...
For me, the story actually started a few months ago. I was ordering a Diet Coke at a Jimmy John’s drive-thru. When I got to the window, the cashier told me the person ahead of me had paid for my drink. I was in such shock I couldn’t even think quickly enough to pay for the person behind me, so I stuttered a "thank you" and drove away.
When Grantham’s marketing department announced the Grantham Gives Back program and released the call for ideas for a $65 Challenge – what would you do with $65 to make a difference in the lives of others – I knew I had to do something similar.
My original idea was to pay for people at drive-thru coffee shops throughout the KC Metro. This idea evolved into going to two local restaurants – MeMa's Bakery and Kate's Kitchen – and offering to pay for people’s food at the register. Both restaurants generously offered to match $32.50, so we wound up being able to treat our fellow Kansas City citizens to the tune of $130.
Giving Back Goes Better With Friends
When I initially met with marketing to hash out the logistics, they suggested I bring a friend or two. I immediately thought of Amanda Cunigan and Rebecca Meeker, two of my fellow staff members from the University. Those who know me well know I’m a bit understated, and I wanted to bring along friends who have a bit more personality than I do.
So, on that aforementioned Tuesday morning, the three of us met in a parking lot close to all of our homes and made the trek to MeMa’s Bakery in Kansas City, KS, together. Inside, we camped at a high-top table in the corner and formed a game plan. At first, we were going to be somewhat selective in who we treated, but wound up being able to take care of meals for every single person who entered MeMa’s before 10:30 a.m.
After MeMa's, we headed north to treat people to lunch at Kate’s Kitchen. We knew the funds were going to go more quickly at Kate’s since it was lunchtime and Kate’s is more of a diner. After settling into a booth near the front and ordering some lunch, we surveyed the place for any diners eating alone.
A Little Bit Went A Long Way
Overall, we had some success, as you can tell from this quick video:
Although we were able to feed a number of people, one person Rebecca approached refused to let us pay for his meal: “I already do this for other people, and I can pay for my own meal,” he said. “Give it to someone who really needs it.”
I think that’s the beauty of what my idea became. It wasn’t necessarily finding people who couldn’t pay for a meal, but giving them the incentive to go and pay it forward to someone else.
One of our very first recipients at MeMa’s said as much – she was going to lunch with her grandmother later, and planned to pay for someone’s meal there. I hope we were able to create a chain of positivity, even if it was just in the way those we treated wound up interacting with others.
The Story Continues ... #GranthamGivesBack
At Grantham, we hope this story inspires you to "pay it forward" in your own way. As you do, and if you think about it, take a picture and share your #GranthamGivesBack moment with us on Facebook or Twitter. In the meantime, here are a couple of related blogs to spur you on:
Grantham University Employees Continue Commitment to Give Back
Giving Back: Volunteering with Grantham's Richard Chesney