A complete stranger paid this man's $2,000 car bill, no questions asked.

When you were a child, this may have been the most frightening situation you could imagine:

Pure terror. Photo via iStock.


But now that you're an adult, I'd guess that this situation is far more anxiety-inducing:

Photo via iStock.

Like the dreaded dentist's appointment, an unexpected trip to the auto mechanic rarely signals fun times ahead. Instead, car troubles fill our hearts with fear and, even worse, our wallets with emptiness. Three hundred dollars for a radiator hose?! Sure, I guess that sounds right... (*cries into checkbook*).

In early March, Keith Burkitt of Houston, Texas, was just like the rest of us: a driver putting off a trip to the auto repair shop.

As Burkitt told ABC affiliate KTRK, his car's alignment was shot, but he knew that fixing it would cost a lot more than he could afford at the time. While speaking with a customer at the restaurant where he worked, Burkitt joked, "I had to turn my wheel all the way to the right just to make the car go straight."

But what happened next was something right out of "Pay It Forward." Despite the fact that he didn't even know the server's last name, the customer in question told Burkitt he had "a friend across the street who could fix it."

Even more incredible?

The customer offered to pay Burkitt's bill, no matter what it cost.

So the next morning, an astonished Burkitt took his car to the mechanic at the Exxon station the customer had mentioned. He replaced all four shocks and struts on Burkitt's car, cleaned his fuel lines, and replaced his timing and serpentine belts. The total cost was a whopping $1,975.

True to his word, the near-stranger had already covered the bill in full. When Burkitt attempted to partially reimburse him, the stranger reminded him of the power of generosity:

"He just said, 'I'm not taking no for an answer, just pay it forward someday,'" Burkitt told ABC News.

We've seen many instances of people "paying it forward" before.

Don't forget about the church that (literally) paid it forward by giving a pizza delivery guy a $700 tip, and the police officer who gave out presents instead of tickets one afternoon in December.

Whether it's something as simple as holding a door for a stranger or donating blood or volunteering some of your time on the occasional weekend, stories like these can inspire each of us to better the world around us in small ways, because paying it forward can be about so much more than money.

This kind of story also makes me believe that every single human possesses true kindness. Maybe being the change you want to see in the world is not just some lofty ideal that we should all aspire to — maybe it's actually just a matter of pure will.

So the next time your faith in humanity is rocked (which, given our current political climate, has probably already happened twice today alone), ask yourself what you can do to restore it.

Courtesy of Tiffany Obi
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With the COVID-19 pandemic upending her community, Brooklyn-based singer Tiffany Obi turned to healing those who had lost loved ones the way she knew best — through music.

Obi quickly ran into one glaring issue as she began performing solo at memorials. Many of the venues where she performed didn't have the proper equipment for her to play a recorded song to accompany her singing. Often called on to perform the day before a service, Obi couldn't find any pianists to play with her on such short notice.

As she looked at the empty piano at a recent performance, Obi's had a revelation.

"Music just makes everything better," Obi said. "If there was an app to bring musicians together on short notice, we could bring so much joy to the people at those memorials."

Using the coding skills she gained at Pursuit — a rigorous, four-year intensive program that trains adults from underserved backgrounds and no prior experience in programming — Obi turned this market gap into the very first app she created.

She worked alongside four other Pursuit Fellows to build In Tune, an app that connects musicians in close proximity to foster opportunities for collaboration.

When she learned about and applied to Pursuit, Obi was eager to be a part of Pursuit's vision to empower their Fellows to build successful careers in tech. Pursuit's Fellows are representative of the community they want to build: 50% women, 70% Black or Latinx, 40% immigrant, 60% non-Bachelor's degree holders, and more than 50% are public assistance recipients.

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Yesterday I was perusing comments on an Upworthy article about Joe Biden comforting the son of a Parkland shooting victim and immediately had flashbacks to the lead-up of the 2016 election. In describing former vice President Biden, some commenters were using the words "criminal," "corrupt," and "pedophile—exactly the same words people used to describe Hillary Clinton in 2016.

I remember being baffled that so many people were so convinced of Clinton's evil schemes that they genuinely saw the documented serial liar and cheat that she was running against as the lesser of two evils. I mean, sure, if you believe that a career politician had spent years being paid off by powerful people and was trafficking children to suck their blood in her free time, just about anything looks like a better alternative.

But none of that was true.

It's been four years and Hillary Clinton has been found guilty of exactly none of the criminal activity she was being accused of. Trump spent every campaign rally leading chants of "Lock her up!" under the guise that she was going to go to jail after the election. He's been president for nearly four years now, and where is Clinton? Not in jail—she's comfy at home, occasionally trolling Trump on Twitter and doing podcasts.

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Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
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Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

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Empathy. Compassion. Heart-to-heart human connection. These qualities of leadership may not be flashy or loud, but they speak volumes when we see them in action.

A clip of Joe Biden is going viral because it reminds us what that kind of leadership looks like. The video shows a key moment at a memorial service for Chris Hixon, the athletic director at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in 2018. Hixon had attempted to disarm the gunman who went on a shooting spree at the school, killing 17 people—including Hixon—and injuring 17 more.

Biden asked who Hixon's parents were as the clip begins, and is directed to his right. Hixon's wife introduces herself, and Biden says, "God love you." As he starts to walk away, a voice off-camera says something and Biden immediately turns around. The voice came from Hixon's son, Corey, and the moments that followed are what have people feeling all their feelings.

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With the election quickly approaching, the importance of voting and sending in your ballot on time is essential. But there is another way you can vote everyday - by being intentional with each dollar you spend. Support companies and products that uphold your values and help create a more sustainable world. An easy move is swapping out everyday items that are often thrown away after one use or improperly disposed of.

Package Free Shop has created products to help fight climate change one cotton swab at a time! Founded by Lauren Singer, otherwise known as, "the girl with the jar" (she initially went viral for fitting 8 years of all of the waste she's created in one mason jar). Package Free is an ecosystem of brands on a mission to make the world less trashy.

Here are eight of our favorite everyday swaps:

1. Friendsheep Dryer Balls - Replace traditional dryer sheets with these dryer balls that are made without chemicals and conserve energy. Not only do these also reduce dry time by 20% but they're so cute and come in an assortment of patterns!

Package Free Shop

2. Last Swab - Replacement for single use plastic cotton swabs. Nearly 25.5 billion single use swabs are produced and discarded every year in the U.S., but not this one. It lasts up to 1,000 uses as it's able to be cleaned with soap and water. It also comes in a biodegradable, corn based case so you can use it on the go!

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