Bertram Rantin

Paying it forward: The golden rule, with a slight twist

I count it among my greatest privileges to go to the Oliver Gospel Mission each year for The Great Thanksgiving Banquet.

On the day before Thanksgiving, the downtown Columbia mission opens its doors to anyone who needs a hot Thanksgiving meal. Last night I took my place behind the trays of macaroni and cheese and candied yams as hundreds of guests made their way through the serving line.

Each word of thanks that came my way was met with my own feelings of gratitude.

I’ve never known hunger or worried about the source of my next meal. For that I am truly grateful. So taking time to serve meals to others who might not be as fortunate seems like a small act of service.

But there really are no small acts of service, are there?

If someone has ever brought a warm casserole to your home after the death of a family member, you know that.

If someone has ever visited you in the hospital after surgery, you know that.

Or if a friend has ever called you on the phone just when you needed to hear from someone most, you know that.

Such simple, selfless acts demand a response. That’s why I take my place in the serving line at the Oliver Gospel Mission each year.

And many of you also have taken your places — at your local food bank, community center or a neighbor’s house down the block. — all because of a kindness you received.

It’s what some call “Paying It Forward,” those acts of service — big or small — done in response to similar acts or good gestures.

In the coming days, The State will be telling the stories of Midlands residents who have been Paying It Forward.

Some are acts that affect lots of people; some just a few. All are heartfelt.

Our hope is that more people will be motivated to do the same.

If you or someone you know has been moved to act because of a kindness, we’d love to share their story. So give me call or e-mail me.

And if you don’t, consider this your challenge: Don’t just be thankful today. Take that thought and pay it forward to someone who needs help.

Reach Rantin at (803) 771-8396 or e-mail him at brantin@thestate.com with your story.

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