Facebook group Pay it Forward, Northern Suburbs of Perth goes from strength-to-strength five years on


Sarah Cragg (Two Rocks) and her daughters Tahlia (19) and Alyssa (16). Picture: Martin Kennealey d479396
Sarah Cragg (Two Rocks) and her daughters Tahlia (19) and Alyssa (16). Picture: Martin Kennealey d479396

FIVE years ago, Sarah Cragg started a Facebook group to help others.

Now Pay it Forward, Northern Suburbs of Perth has more than 27,000 members, with hundreds joining every week.

“It feels really good to know that one idea can help that many people,” Ms Cragg said.

“Each person that is helped and had their day made better is due to every one of those members who give and spread the message to others.

“And I have a wonderful team of ladies that help me admin the group and I couldn’t do it without them.”

Ms Cragg started the group after her daughter suffered a brain injury and was rushed to hospital.

“I had no money on me as I forgot to grab my purse and I was waiting so long that my mobile went flat,” she said.

“I had no food and sitting there in the hospital I thought there should be something or somewhere you can get help from when you need it.

“When I was home and things had calmed down, I looked online and could not find anything except people reading the book or watching the movie Pay It Forward.

“So I decided to use the title and went from there.

“The book’s author Catherine Ryan Hyde is now a member of Pay it Forward, Northern Suburbs of Perth.”

The Two Rocks resident said the idea of the group was to help people in need by “giving freely” and “giving away items collecting dust at home”.

“It’s also giving services such as cleaning or cooking help,” she said.

“If someone has broken down somewhere and needs help, or they are feeling lonely and need someone to talk to, they can ask for help and we will be there for them.

“There is nothing greater than seeing someone smile in appreciation and knowing you put that smile there.

“It sounds cliche but it’s basically ‘do unto others’.

“There’s no negativity; we are all treated equally as we are all exactly the same.

“You never know another person’s situation, so we don’t allow people to say why they are asking for an item.”

She said she started the group by adding friends and family.

“I then began sharing it on selling groups,” she said.

“At first most people thought it was some kind of a scam – you never get something for nothing – then it just took off.”

The initiative spread so far that Ms Cragg started two more groups: Pay it Forward, Southern Suburbs of Perth with more than 4200 members, and Pay it Forward, Eastern Suburbs of Perth with nearly 3000 members.

She has also started a website – www.payitforwardaustralia.net – to “try to spread the concept all over Australia”.

Though the group takes up a lot of Ms Cragg’s time, she said it was definitely worth it.

“I am currently in my fourth year of studying my Bachelor of Education at ECU… sometimes it does get a bit overwhelming with the group, university, running my own business and my family but the lovely ladies that volunteer their time to be my fantastic admin team makes my busy life a lot easier,” she said.

“Seeing members share pictures of them using items they received is wonderful.

“Getting to meet members through any social event we have makes me want to do more.

“The fact this group has grown so much and is celebrating five years, I’m just so proud of everyone that has helped accomplish this.

“The rewards by far outweigh the effort so I don’t mind the amount of time and work involved in running the group.”

The group is celebrating its fifth birthday with a party at Rotary Park in Wanneroo this Sunday to “give a big thank you to all the members and the admin”.

“We have had a lot of businesses donate for the celebration,” Ms Cragg said.

“There is a bouncy castle, sumo suit wrestling, face painter, piata, lollies and hairdressers doing cuts and styles.

“Everyone will bring some food and we can all have a big feast.

“We are even having a big raffle on the day with donated prizes from members including money vouchers, lotto tickets and gift packs.”

Ms Cragg said people can get involved by not only joining the Pay it Forward, Northern Suburbs of Perth but by doing simple things in their day-to-day life.

“I always say the smallest thing can make a big difference in another’s life,” she said.

“Smile and say hello to a stranger, offer to carry someone’s bag if you see them struggling, give them extra money at the shops if someone doesn’t quite have enough, spend time with people and lend them an ear, put out your neighbour’s bin if they forget, pick up any rubbish you see on the floor.

“Anything you do to help another person can make you feel great but also has a flow-on effect.

“How wonderful would it be to have everyone helping each other for no reason than just feeling good?”

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