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August 23, 2010


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I've had people in the past ask for money for a meal. I've actually offered to take them into the restaurant we are headed to and pay for their dinner...they declined.

Usually when I see a couple of police officers or military personnel I will pay for their meal without letting hem know. I just tell their server to tell them that their meal was paid by someone who appreciates the job they do.

My wife and I have had our meal paid for anonymously before. It was nice. We also have had an older couple send us over a desert.

I also just recently had the person in the drive-thru ahead of me pay for my bill. The drive-thru attendant just gave me a note from the previous driver and it said "kindness, pass it on".

I haven't returned the favor, but I do give to charities and almost always buy something from kids selling stuff for school/camp/etc. I do not usually buy from parents selling for their kids in the workplace.

I don't mean to be a nay-sayer here, but WHY would you pay for someone's restaurant meal - a meal that they can obviously afford since they are sitting right there already prepared to pay for it? If you are interested in paying for people's meals why not make a donation to a soup kitchen where it goes further and feeds people who actually need the support.

I usually look for a couple with young kids and pay their bill. Having young kids is expensive and tiring - they need any help they can get! As for Outdoorgrrl's comment our church started a "Random Acts of Kindness" campaign that included a list of ideas on how to help people - especially those in need. They included a list of organizations that needed money as well as volunteer hours. It really feels great to help others in need.

I have never done this before (or even heard of it), it sounds very interesting. It would definitely make someone smile. But I had the same experience as Travis when someone actually asked me money for a meal. I invited them to join me for lunch, they declined and said just give the money, well, I declined.

I don't think we will be trying this anytime soon though. We make our giving automatic (with some room for extra holiday giving) and give 30% of our take home, so unfortunately we cannot afford to give on the whim, but this is a very nice idea to try when we get an unexpected bonus or something.

I had a BOGO Free coupon last week at Smoothie King and gave the other smoothie to a nice lady who was heading into Subway. I also buy a double-cheesburger, apple pie, and a cup of water for the homeless guy that's always around when I go to the McDonald's near my job. Whenever I have a coupon at Kohl's, I pass it along to the person behind me since they are reuseable.

I've covered a few things like drinks and groceries for others that would have to return it since they didn't have quite enough to cover it - one lady was going to have to choose between peanut butter and jelly - that was heartbreaking. I covered her $50 grocery bill completely and wished her the best...I seriously had to keep myself from crying a little when she hugged me...I hope she's doing better now...

OUtdoorgirl/Suba - You do this for the same reason you give family/friends gifts, it makes them and you happy, not they they needed you to buy it for them. I like trying to target this sort of thing as well. If I know someone having a little bit of financial bump, I mail them a $100 bill, no return address.

Its not like this is the kind of cash that makes me give less to charities (helping those in more desparate situations), they obviously still get much more than these tiny amounts. But I feel more of a sense of duty to give to charity (transferring from those that Have to those that desparately need). The 'gifts' on the otherhand feel like true giving, another/different good feeling. Sure, you could always say this could have gone to charities instead, but you can say that about most of the spending we all do.

While out to dinner one evening with my boyfriend and some of his classmates, an older gentleman at the table next to us picked up on the fact that they are in the military. We had ordered a couple bottles of wine and he bought them for us! It was so kind of him. We went over and thanked him and he told my BF and his friends that he appreciated their service. He also asked them not to fly low over his house, haha! Maybe we aren't 'needy' but it was a kind gesture. That's exactly the kind of person I want to be when I'm old and gray!

I'm hardly ever able to finish dinner meals at restaurants, so I tend to get doggie bags for left over lunches, which is great. But I also make it a rule that if I cross paths with a homeless person I give away my extra "free" lunch. It's a great way to help others out.

I agree with Outdoorgrrl---doing this is not giving to people who need it. If you really want to help someone, donate to a food bank or something like that.

Personally, I'd find it more than a little creepy if a stranger tried to pay for my meal (or for a drink or a bottle of wine). And if someone sent cash to me in the mail I'd probably assume I had a stalker and call the police!

Sorry, I'm only comfortable accepting gifts from people I know...if you're a random stranger, get away from me!

The couple that sat at the table next to ours on our anniversary dinner did this for us. They paid for our dinner, drinks, desserts and tip! What a blessing that was. Total stranger footed our $150 + bill!

Please don't buy my dinner for me without asking first, privately, so I can turn you down without worrying about social repercussions. Making me think about social repercussions is tremendously stressful (as I suffer from an aspergers-like condition.)

We might look like we need the help (youngish couple with a baby) but we're in great shape. Try the next table over.

I completely disagree with those saying you should only give to those desperately in need. I've seen this done, and had it done for me and it really brightens that persons day. The person may or may not need it financially, but it is always nice to know that there are caring generous people out there. You can make a difference in the life of an average joe just as much as someone who is homeless. We should be striving to make the world a better place for everyone we meet. I especially like those who are giving to people in the military or some such.

Also, if you think everyone who is going out to eat can afford it you're dreaming. Not that I want to reinforce bad behavior, but just thought I'd point out the fact that people spend money they don't have all the time.

I've had this done for me on a couple of occassions. The first was on my 1st anniversity with my husband - total bill was probably $100 of which we really couldn't afford, but because of everything we had been through over the last year, we want to at least have one special night. It meant the world to us because it meant we could save the money we had planned on spending, which helped us pay for some unexpect car bills a month later. I've also had this happen in line at Starbucks on a particularly rough morning - it immediately put a smile on my face and made the morning better.

I believe that God grants us little gifts. Sometimes they make a little difference and other times it can mean everything to someone. Everynow and again I pay for the person behind me in the drive through - because I know how good it made me feel and I hope that even a small gift like buying lunch for a stranger can really make a big difference.

This is a great idea. Too bad we don't eat out very often. I might consider it in the future though when we are able to give more than we currently do - we're focusing on paying off debt now so not giving quite as much as we would like.

Something I like to do is give a tip to the clerk at a fast-food restaurant. They are probably working for minimum wage and hardly ever get a tip, so I like to give an extra dollar or two at the window when I pick up my order or at the counter. I started doing this as I got older because I remember when I sacked groceries when I was 16 and occasionally someone would give me a tip and it would really make my day.

I probably wouldn't do this as I do prefer to target my giving to people I know are in need, but the comment by MC that this creeps her out and she only wants gifts from people she knows and if you are a stranger get away from her? The poor are usually strangers. It's a very strange and saddening statement.

Yes, I have a similar habit. When I get a receive a gift card, I go to that store and give it to the cashier and ask him/her to use it for the next two consumers. It makes me happy, but it makes the person receiving the free item even happier!

I go the route of giving occasional cash to homeless people, instead of people at restaurants. I know there are positives to both, but personally, I think a person on the street with no home deserves help more than someone at a restaurant.

For example, I gave a homeless guy a buck recently, who came up and asked. The guy walked off and said "God Bless", and seemed appreciative. That felt good, as it had the potential to make an impact. Now, perhaps he squandered it, but I'd like to think he used it.

One time I paid the annual fee at SAM'S Club for the person ahead of me in line. They did not have the money to renew their membership and could not complete their purchase without renewing. It looked like they were buying supplies for a church youth group, or something like that. I have given a few dollars to people ahead of me in line at the grocery store, when they have come up short. This would be in addition to all our regular giving to those in need, via charitable organizations. It feels good to know you are having an immediate impact on someones day.

We're not big restaurant frequenters and have not been either a giver or receiver of meals.

If you buying a meal for someone at Applebee's to make yourself feel better, then go ahead!

If you think you're "giving" to make the world a better place, there are 1000's of better ways to do so than giving someone who already has enough discretionary income to afford a meal at Applebee's.

@this is crazy!, the point isn't giving because they need it...haven't you ever heard of random acts of kindnesses?

I love the idea and plan on doing something like the things mentioned every month now. That's a great use of fun money!

I've been on the receiving end of such an act before and it really did brighten my day. It would be a sad world if people only reached out to those who were truly in need.

My husband and I had another man pick up our meal the night of our wedding (afternoon wedding - it was just the two of us in a little Chinese food place and the waitress wanted to know why my hair was done up so fancy.) I've also had another couple pick up our meal after thanking my husband for his service (active duty military and he was in uniform during dinner.) Definitely a day brightener both times and totally unexpected by us. :)

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