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By Breeana Greenberg
Dana Point resident Nancy Koritz didn’t want any material gifts for her 60th birthday. Instead, she wanted “feel-good” moments.
As a unique way to celebrate her milestone birthday, Koritz sent $60 to 60 of her friends with the instruction that they give the money away.
“However you do that is entirely up to you,” Koritz had said. “Touch someone’s life; let them know you are a link in a chain of paying kindness and gratitude forward.”
“These are people from my grade school, friends to teachers, my old bosses—just a number of people,” Koritz said. “Some people, I hadn’t talked to in years; other people, I maybe see on a daily basis.”
Koritz got the donation idea after she read an article about a woman who gave $70 to 70 of her friends for her 70th birthday.
“I contacted her, and I said, ‘I was so moved, and this is a couple of years ago, so moved by what you did, do you have any tips for me?’ ” Koritz said. “She wants me to tell her what stories I come up with.”
As the stories began to come in of how her friends spent the $60, Koritz started an Instagram page sharing each account of “paying it forward.”
“What I did is, I set up a little Instagram account, and again, not everybody’s on Instagram, including my 88-year-old dad,” Koritz said. “But I told people, ‘If you want to post your stories on it, how you paid it forward,’ they’re doing that.”
One friend of hers, who lives in Chicago, used the money to make sandwiches and buy bottled water to give to homeless individuals sitting out by the lake. Another recipient matched the funds to donate $120 toward personal care products for individuals at shelters.
Another friend gave the $60 in cash to a Habitat for Humanity volunteer who takes two buses just to get to work every day.
One of Koritz’s daughters bought 7-Eleven gift cards for the two homeless men she passes by on her way to school.
Giving back to her home community, one of Koritz’s friends, who grew up in Kabul, Afghanistan and emigrated to Orange County when she was 15, donated to an orphanage for young girls in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
Some recipients used the funds to pay for a family’s meal, donate to their local food pantry and give extra tips to dishwashers and wait staff.
Koritz’s checks made an impact on the Dana Point community, with a couple of RH Dana Elementary School students donating the funds toward the fifth-grade science trip.
Stories of impacts from the $60 checks came from Los Angeles, Louisiana, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, New Orleans, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Washington, D.C., Maine and other places, and as far away as Afghanistan.
On Koritz’s birthday on Nov. 15, she went out to dinner with her husband and read each of the pay-it-forward stories.
“It made it (her birthday) so much more meaningful. It was just really touching. I mean, I’m not some little sappy, cry-at-everything, but I was pretty moved,” Koritz said. “We have three daughters, and I was really touched that they put a lot of thought into it. I think it’s kind of a good example for them and their friends.”
Stories of how each check made an impact are available on Koritz’s Instagram page @celebrating_6@12asd-www-danapointtimes-com
Breeana Greenberg is the city reporter for the Dana Point Times. She graduated from Chapman University with a bachelor of arts degree in English. Before joining Picket Fence Media, she worked as a freelance reporter with the Laguna Beach Independent. Breeana can be reached by email at email@example.com