WILLIAMSBURG, Indiana — Nine-year-old Johnathon Terhaar of Williamsburg is paying it forward.
For more than two years, Johnathon has been behind a series of random acts of kindness focused on unsung workers and people behind the scenes. With the help of his mother, Jamie Toney-Terhaar, he created a Facebook page called Welcome for Workers Wayne County, which includes inspirational messages, opportunities to support good causes and chances to nominate recipients for his many giveaways.
The latest effort by the Hagerstown Elementary School fourth-grader is to collect Christmas presents for the children of working families.
"There are kids and families that are working and they don't get any help," Johnathon said. His goal is to be able to distribute 300 gifts — one per child — to families that show proof of employment, such as a paycheck stub.
To help reach his goal, Johnathon has arranged a Saturday afternoon event at the Dublin Skating Rink.
The cost of admission is a new, unwrapped toy.
Skate rental will be 50 cents. Everyone who comes will get a ticket for a variety of door prizes, including six sets of two tickets to see the Indianapolis Colts.
At the Wayne County 4-H Fair in June, Johnathon sold his prize-winning rabbits at the Sale of Champions, earning $565 and using it to buy about 160 presents for his Christmas effort.
If he passes the goal of 300, Johnathon will keep on giving until he runs out of gifts. How many does he want? "Just as many as possible."
Earlier this summer, Johnathon delivered umbrellas for each of the vans used in Roseview Transit's paratransit service for handicapped and elderly passengers.
"I don't know how he got that idea," said Roseview Transit manager Terri Quinter, "but (the umbrellas) are in each of our paratransit vans and the drivers use them. ... It was such a nice surprise."
Genesis of the YWCA, a shelter for victims of domestic violence, received a pickup truckload of food in July.
Executive Director Becky Studebaker said the shelter got a call about a food donation coming in, but they never expected so much. If they'd known, she said, more staff would have been on hand to thank Johnathon personally.
Johnathon doesn't do it for the thanks. He's a firm believer in paying it forward.
He spends up to an hour every day on his Facebook page and organizing events such as the one taking place Saturday.
He raises chickens and sells their eggs to family friends to earn the money for much of what he gives away.
Is it a lot of work?
"Yes," Johnathon answered without hesitation.
But that doesn't slow him down.
That kind of generosity drew the attention of organizers of the Indiana/Ohio Regional Tourism Conference, who presented Johnathon with a plaque and gift basket.
"We honored him because he is so good about passing on kindness to other people," said Mary Jo Clark. "He's just a wonderful example of what people should be doing with their lives."
True to form, Johnathon made a point of thanking the conference organizers at the end of the day, handing each of them — including Clark — a single red rose.
"I just was so touched by that," Clark said. "That's what we want the world to be like."
So what is Johnathon's advice to other kids?
"Make sure you pay it forward."
Source: (Richmond) Palladium-Item, http://pinews.co/1TuZSXr
Information from: Palladium-Item, http://www.pal-item.com