"My house burnt down when I was about 5 years old, twenty five years ago. We lived in the Oregon wilderness. We were already very poor and I don't know if we had fire insurance. Essentially my family had nothing but a van, the clothes we were wearing, and about $80 or so in the bank. We drove down into Portland to stay at a church for a couple days while we figured out what to do. We went to a grocery store one day to get some food.
My parents were in the checkout line with 4 loaves of bread and two cans of peanut butter and the checker saw me and my siblings looking with hungry eyes at all the food and candy around us. Somehow they got talking about our situation and the checker lady called her boss down. He got on the loudspeaker and said they were doing an impromptu fundraiser to help us out.
Random shoppers raised about $1200 in an hour or so. The manager also gave us $200 worth of groceries for free. My parents were blown away. It got us into a two bedroom apartment and without that help, who knows where we would be. I honestly think us kids would have gone into foster care and my dad (who despite our turn of luck, dealt with years of depression and other psych issues) would have probably killed himself. This act of kindness shown to us has permanently implanted a desire in me to help those who need it."
"My office only has a unisex bathroom so it has the facilities for men and women. Naturally there's a tampon machine, and tampons are only 5 cents. Once a month I'll work late, get a roll of nickels and fill up a grocery sack with tampons for my wife."
"Extended stay housing or motels/hotels. When you can't qualify to get an apartment because you don't have proof of income, you end up wasting more money to stay for a week at extended day housing or a cheap motel. It sucks ass having no home/being a transient, I promise myself never to be in the same situation again."
"Lots of school systems do free lunches for kids under 18 during the summer. When I was a kid I remember my dad taking us to get lunch at the school then go play disc golf, soccer, or do something else free and fun, it was a blast and I had no clue it was because we were poor."
"I had to move out on my own when I was 17. I had no money at all and drove an old clunker Camry. I got a flat tire to match the flat spare in the trunk. I went to the Discount Tire on the East Side of Indianapolis, where I was living, to see if they could patch it.
When they got it on the rack, they said that belts were showing around the tire--in fact, all of the tires--and I would have to replace all four tires.
I thanked them, went outside, sat in my car and started crying. The manager came out and knocked on the window. He said that he had a set of tires that would fit my wheels that someone left when they got new tires. I told him thanks, but didn't have any money. He told me not to worry about it and when I graduate, to come back and buy my tires from them."
"Growing up my mom used to tell me of a homeless guy she knew of that would go into the local McDonalds and get a free cup of hot water. Then proceeded to add ketchup, salt and pepper to make himself a hobo tomato soup."
"My sister and I missed the bus once in primary school. It was a long walk home, but we could do it, and we had just had the phone cut off, so we knew we couldn't even call Mum to pick us up. I, being 9 at the time, didn't realise a teacher had witnessed us miss the bus; and made us walk with her to the office to call my mum.
They wouldn't believe me that the phone was cut, made us wait around while they found the number, and then believed me... So they asked me if we were friends with any of our neighbours and if I know their last names... and yeah, so they ended up finding their phone number in the fucking phone book, and calling them to tell them that our phone had been cut off, we had missed the bus, and that they required them to go inform my mother. I felt so ashamed, and the idea of how embarrassed my mum was, broke my heart.
These days I'm just glad there was enough fuel in the car for her to get us from school and home again."
"My mom would buy a small personal pizza for my brother on special occasions like if he did really well on a test at school or something. Even though it was only like $2, she couldnt afford anything for herself so she would eat his leftover crust. She told me he would always tell her "Mommy are you hungry? Go buy one just for you" and she would just say 'No I'm not hungry, I only want a little snack'
She only just told me this a few years ago and I was shocked because by the time I came along my dad had gotten a good job and we lived just like anyone else... I had no idea that my older brother grew up like that."
"You can get new car parts from the junk yard for virtually nothing, with added discounts if you remove them from the junkers yourself. I had a 12-yr-old car in college and when it blew a tire, I went to the junk yard and found a decent set of tires.
Bought all 4 for $70, which reduced my food budget to $16 for the next two weeks. Some lady in the grocery store saw me with a calculator trying to figure out how much ramen I could buy with $16 and handed me a $20. It made me cry. (I'm glad I'm not poor anymore. But I'll always remember that lady.)"
"A woman once bought my daughter's Tylenol. She was about 2 years old, running a fever... I had $10 in my bank account, but they didn't accept my card (the bank had put a hold on it, my husband was in bootcamp and I had switched states bc I was staying with my brother at the time). I was in tears and had no idea why my card wasn't working.
All she asked me to do was pay it forward. And we have :,)"
"My father and sister and I would spend all Sunday picking up cans to be recycled at the lake. So while all the other families were enjoying their cookout, we would scavenge through garbage cans. We did this because our father would take us to Mcdonalds afterwards. So after a whole day we would trade the aluminum in for a few bucks.
My father would order a Big Mac (back when it was a dollar) and a small coffee. My sister and I would share the burger, she getting the part with 2 pieces of bun because she was older and I ate the solo. My father sat there and had multiple refills on his coffee. We spent many Sundays like that."
"My mom used to take me to the shopping mall to look for new school clothes. I'd point out 5 outfits I like (one for each school day), and then we'd leave to go to the fabric store where she'd buy remnants in similar colors/styles and then sew outfits that looked just like the things I pointed out in the store. Maybe it was my young eyes, but I honestly thought they looked just like what was in the store, minus the label (this was the 80's, labels were big and prominent).
Mean kids who wore the name brand stuff immediately picked on me for having 'fake' or 'wanna-be' clothes, but I never told my mom because I knew she did her best for me and even at a young age I felt like I shouldn't be a burden."