Volunteer Spotlight: Doris MacDaniel

Paying It Forward – One Baked Good At A Time

Doris MacDaniel’s eyes well up with tears as she recalls a 1963 Sunday school bombing that took the lives of four black schoolgirls at the peak of the civil rights movement. It’s a snapshot of a period in history she finds too similar to our own.

“I’ve not seen this kind of rancor in our country since Civil Rights,” she says. “It’s hatred. It’s like a little cancer that just grows inside you.”

So she started looking for ways to challenge it. For several years she had baked treats to sell at the Village Barn, a resident-managed charity yard sale. It occurred to her after reading Catherine Ryan Hyde’s novel Pay It Forward that she could begin offering those treats to residents free of charge.

In the novel, a seventh-grade student determines that the world could be changed by performing good deeds for others and asking only that the recipient “pay it forward” to someone else. MacDaniel, inspired by the story, decided to start paying it forward with her baked goods. “I realized that we’re making $30,000 in the Village Barn now. There wasn’t any need for me to make a personal contribution to that—we made enough with what we had,” she recalls. “So I thought, okay, I’m not going to sell it anymore. I’m going to give it away and ask people to pay it forward.”

MacDaniel’s “Pay It Forward” table can be found just inside the main entrance to Maple Terrace. On any given day, you might find an assortment of items there—peanut praline, baked goods, aloe vera plants, a pair of socks. Anyone can take anything they like free of charge. All MacDaniel asks in return is that the kindness is paid forward.

In doing so, she hopes to infuse the community with kindness—and maybe make a dent in all the divisiveness in society today.