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Pay It Forward: Creating an online community of givers

L to R: Miste Karlfeldt, Sheradon Haakinson & Jill Watts of "Acts Nampa and Beyond 208 Helping our Neighbors." They received a $500 "Pay It Forward" from Tim Toy of Mountain America Credit Union.

Facebook has its faults. The endless political posts. The trolls. And yet, it can also be a force for good. Just ask Jill Watts of Nampa.

The first of this year, Jill began the Facebook group: Acts Nampa and Beyond 208 Helping Our Neighbors.

The concept is simple, get people who have needs together with people who have means. She is developing an online community of givers, people looked out for one another without judgement.

Charity Cowger is one of the people drawn to Jill’s cause. She delivers donations to people who don’t have transportation. Charity often sees tender emotions on the faces of those who receive help. “Somebody cares!” she said explaining that emotion. “Somebody out there that I don't even know cares. And you can't put words on that. It's the feeling ... It’s just overwhelming.”

Naomi Gibbs, the current Mrs. Idaho, first met Jill as she was preparing for a charity sale. “She's just one of the most selfless people I have ever met,” Naomi said.

She says Jill showed up for the sale with a van loaded with donations. “She ended up bringing a whole car load of clothes. Baby items. She brought a bed in her van. She brought a beautiful canopy and so we were able to sell all these items.”

The sale netted $2,000 for the charity.

Jill has no paid staff. No rented office. Her warehouse is the ground floor of her kid’s backyard playhouse. She apologized saying, "It’s nothing fancy but it's what I got.”

The command center for this community is the Facebook app on Jill’s phone. She is constantly checking posts to see what requests are coming in and who can take care of them. And she has noticed that some of the offers for help are now coming from people who previously received help. Even if they can do little more than pass along baby clothes, nonetheless they have a desire to “pay it forward.”


Sheradon Haakinson, who also helps Jill with deliveries, said, “The thing I like about Jill's group is there is no waiting list. When you need it, we get it to you.”

Miste Karlfeldt said, “I was amazed at how much it picked up. I was amazed to see my other Facebook friends saying, ‘Hey, I've got these clothes, who needs them?’ Or, ‘I have this changing table, who needs that?"

To help her along and to say, 'thank you' for what she's already accomplished, Tim Toy with Mountain America Credit Union presented Jill with a $500 Pay It Forward. “We want to give this to you so you can keep doing great things in the community,” Tim said.

When Naomi heard about the "Pay It Forward" she said, “I'm just absolutely thrilled that you're doing this for her. She absolutely deserves every bit of this. People who give of their heart ... They need to be recognized. More people in this world need to do what Jill does."

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