RANDOM ACTS: Spreading Kindness Through Ankeny

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People in one metro community are performing random acts of kindness. The goal is to inspire others to do the same.

Making drinks is part of the job at Cafe Diem, but lately the baristas are also making peoples' days. Manager Sara Lamb tells a customer, "Actually the person in front of you already paid for your drink.” The customer says, “Oh, my gosh! Are you serious?"

Lamb says, "We normally start off with $10 in the morning, and we go until it lasts. And, normally people will keep adding to it and keep going through it."

The managers of the Ankeny coffee shop signed up as ambassadors of a new campaign this month. Lamb says, "There's a pay it forward movement going on in Ankeny."

It's called Inspire Ankeny. About forty others, including the town's mayor, are coming up with creative ways to keep kindness flowing through the community. The 18 members of the Ankeny Leadership Institute came up with the idea to pay it forward. Group Member Corey Morrison says, "We have one guy who has been putting dollar bills on Redbox machines just randomly throughout Ankeny."

Inspire Ankeny is part of the group's required service project. Morrison says, "So what we decided is how can we inspire other people to kind of join in with us and give back."

The group printed about 10,000 cards so people can pass them out when they pay it forward. So far, about 5,000 are circulating around the community. Morrison says, "This is kind of our little signature card that if you complete some sort of pay it forward, we want you to leave this behind so they can go learn about it, and hopefully pay it on even further."

Dawn Hockemeyer, a costumer and recipient of a free coffee, says, "It made my day. It was nice to know that someone else was thinking ahead, thinking of me, and I like to be able to pay it forward sometime too.”

In addition to Inspire Ankeny, members of the Ankeny Leadership Institute are paying it forward by helping renovate the Ankeny Service Center, which provides resources for the community.