Paying it forward in Whangarei

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Facebook is probably not the first thing that comes to mind as a place for Whangarei families in need to seek help.

But now they can, with a new group called Pay It Forward, where members can post pictures of things they no longer need and would like to give free to a deserving home, or request help from other members during tough times.

The local community has embraced the initiative with open arms - it already has nearly 2000 members and has sparked the creation of similar groups across the country.

It's the brainchild of Whangarei mum Stephanie Williams, who only a month ago was shopping for clothes for her daughter online and astounded by the cost.

"I thought there has to be a better and cheaper way to clothe my children, so after a lot of thinking, I decided to ask for clothes on my Facebook page."

It was a wise choice - within minutes she'd had numerous offers for free clothing from family and friends.

"So I decided to pay it forward, put it out there on my Facebook page if anyone needed any free clothing that my children had grown out of and they were gone in minutes," she said.

Stephanie is also a second year counselling student at North Tec, and her last paper was about 'effecting social change'.

"So there it was," she said.

"Isn't it a beautiful thing," Miss Williams said. "All these generous, kind-hearted people are here making it happen."

Group member Jasmine Clapperton applauded the group on the Facebook page.

"Yes you hear some bad things in the paper or in the news about town, but not everyone is bad, and good things and people do exist and happen; and when a community pulls together great things can be achieved."

"It just takes one person to show one other love and kindness, and that person to pass it on - then it's like a disease, it spreads fast.

"This page is nothing but positive and makes us all feel warm and comfortable and nothing beats the faces on those you can help. Love to all involved in this page."

Stephanie Williams said some members have expressed concerns over the legitimacy of the posts, something that she says members should judge for themselves.

"We have to have faith in people that they are doing right by this page, our members and their own karma. I just want to give people the benefit of the doubt first," she said.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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