Long before Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt and Haley Joel Osment, there was Otto, Elizabeth and their eleven children. Pay If Forward believers before there ever was a movie. Or this video on youtube.
It began down by the banks of the Ohio River. That is where one (Otto) became two when he met and fell in love with Elizabeth. Soon, the poor immigrants were married, working hard and making their way in the world. A nice home was soon filled with eleven babies. The eleven children grew up and the family of thirteen had expanded to forty-four by the year 1948.
December 24 was a big day for this family. The heart of the family, Elizabeth, celebrated her birthday along with the typical Christmas celebrations. The family of 44 had outgrown their home and rented a hall to host the joint birthday/Christmas celebrations. Otto and Elizabeth never forgot the struggles they faced in the beginning. Now, feeling blessed and wanting to give back to the community, family was asked to bring canned goods which would be donated to the needy.
After more than fifty years what began with two, now numbers close to two hundred. In December a hall is rented and everyone comes together in memory of Otto and Elizabeth. There is a raffle of door prizes, and all money raised is donated to local charities. Over the years it has numbered in the thousands.
My grandpa Carl is one Otto and Elizabeth's eleven children. What he learned at his mother's knee was put into practice when he grew up. My grandpa and grandma, along with their two sons (my dad is their youngest) opened their home up to numerous foster children over the years. Though both my grandparents are gone, they aren't lost to me. I hear the echo of their voices every year when it's gift giving time. Be it birthday, Christmas or Father's Day, if I ask my dad what he wants the answer is always the same. He has all he needs. Take my money and donate it to a charity. Do something good out in the world. One leads to two and two leads to two hundred people out there paying it forward.