I really wanted to do something special to celebrate Harry’s 30th birthday, and along with it, I felt compelled to make some sort of donation to honor him. I came up with something that I thought “screamed” Harry: teaming up with a local bakery by buying enough cake to give out thirty free pieces to customers. While the idea was fitting, I felt like it wasn’t quite right, and it didn’t do him or his milestone justice.
I’m not surprised at all that Harry ended up being the inspiration for that missing piece (pardon the pun) and it epitomized the love he has brought to the world for thirty years. We would still be giving out thirty free slices of cake, but in response, he inspired me to tell each customer to “pay it forward” by treating people with kindness and to ask them how they would do this.
In no particular order, these are the beautiful, fun, moving, and unique responses that I received:
-“I own a small coffee shop. I want to do a ‘pay it forward’ thing like this soon.”
-“I’m going to be nicer to my brother.” (child)
-“I’m going to bake cookies for my coworkers.”
-“I’ve been so busy that I haven’t been taking time for myself. When I get home I’m going to take a break and eat the cake while listening to Harry’s music.” With a laugh the woman mentioned that this should put her in a more relaxed mood, which will help her be kinder to others.
-“I’ve always wanted to pay for the person’s order behind me in a drive thru. I’m going to do that now.”
-A little boy offered me a bite of his cake.
-My friend and I were huge One Direction fans growing up and we still love them. I haven’t kept in touch with her much. I’m going to reach out to her tonight. She’s going to love hearing about this.”
-“I’m going to tell my mom she’s beautiful.” (child)
-“There are some people at my school that aren’t treated that well because they are different. I’m going to stand up for them and be nicer to them.” (teenager)
-“I usually just buy my dad’s birthday cake. I’m going to bake it this year.”
-An older gentleman tipped the baker.
-“The icing is my favorite part of the cake but I’m not going to eat it all so my sister can have some.” (child)
-“I’m going to make extra food for dinner one night and give it to our neighbor.”
-“My friend’s husband passed away recently. I’m going to give this cake to her in hopes that it puts a smile on her face.”
-“I volunteer at the animal shelter up the road. I’ll make a donation to them in honor of Harry.”
-“I’ll listen to my parents and clean my room.” (child)
-“I’m going to plan a day to bake with my grandkids.”
-“I’m going to do a better job of encouraging my son’s interest in music.”
-“I’m going to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to Harry on his birthday.” (child)
-An elderly woman looked at me with tears in her eyes and expressed her gratitude and how this gives her hope for the future. “My act of kindness is letting all of you here know to enjoy life and not take things for granted. We aren’t here forever.”
-“I’m going to try to tell family and friends ‘I love you’ more often.”
-“Instead of eating the cake I’m going to take it home and give it to my brother and sister.” (child)
-“This is so sweet. I’m going to keep coming back to this bakery!”
-“I’m going to buy my wife flowers ‘just because.’”
-An older customer gave a child customer $1.00 to put in his “piggy bank.”
-“The next time I go out to eat I’m going to leave a bigger tip for the waiter/waitress.”
-“I’m going to apologize to my teacher when I don’t behave in school.” (child)
-“I’m going to say ‘good morning’ more at work.”
-“I’m going to encourage my friend to ‘be herself.’” (teenager)
-“Harry sounds nice. I want to try to be more like Harry.” (child)
Okay, yes, I did save that one for last.
Thirty individuals that walked into a fairly new small-business bakery in a little U.S. city were moved to “treat people with kindness” just by hearing Harry’s story and celebrating his birthday. As we all know, acts of kindness inspire others, and there is hope that the cycle does not stop. Harry himself has been inspiring love for thirty years; every year of his life has shaped him into the wonderful person he is today. The positive impact he has had and will have on the world cannot fully be comprehended.
Happy 30th birthday, Harry. We hope you have your cake and eat it, too. And know that we will be celebrating along with you – it’s the 30th anniversary of the world being graced by your presence.