On August 11th, 2009, Jenni Ware found herself stranded at the Menlo Park Trader Joe’s checkout line – her wallet was gone. Her already hectic day had just taken a turn for the worse. Carolee Hazard, a complete stranger, approached the distressed Ware and offered to pay the $207 bill. Jenni gratefully accepted and promised to repay her. Once home, Carolee posted on Facebook what had transpired, adding that she was “vacillating between feeling really good and very, very stupid”. Friends reassured her that she had done the right thing and good karma was sure to follow.
The next day a check arrived from Jenni for $300, with a note thanking Carolee for her generosity and trust, and recommending she get a massage with the extra money. After writing a check back to Jenni for the $93 “tip”, Carolee turned to her Facebook friends and asked what they would do with the money. Several people suggested giving it to charity, which Carolee decided to do. Touched by Jenni’s honesty, Carolee matched the $93 and turned to Facebook for suggestions on where the $186 should go. One person tossed out Second Harvest Food Bank, since the events had occurred at a grocery store. Another friend, inspired by the story, matched with $93 of his own money. So did another. And another. And another.
Carolee and Jenni reconnected after a week and Jenni learned that the massage money had become $2000 through the spontaneous generosity of Facebook friends. Jenni then posted the story to her Facebook page, her friends began making donations as well. The total donations soon swelled to $10,000. Children donated 93 cents of their allowance. One single mom, working 20 hours a week while in grad school, offered $9.30, because she couldn’t afford $93. The media picked up the story and donations poured in. Many chose to give $93 to their local food banks in Oregon, Massachusetts and other states.
In the year since Carolee and Jenni’s chance meeting, the 93 Dollar Club has raised over $96,000 to benefit Second Harvest Food Banks of San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties. Every dollar becomes 2 meals, so the money raised so far will provide 200,000 meals. With help from posting and reposting on Facebook, the pay it forward story has traveled around the globe and continues to move people to spread goodness and help fight hunger, not only in Silicon Valley, but around the country and world.
Carolee Hazard is is the founder of the 93 Dollar Club.