During the coronavirus crisis, the concept of “paying it forward” is more important than ever. With thousands out of work, many families are wondering how they’re going to pay rent and put food on the table. In Italy, one of the countries hit hardest by the virus, people are stepping up to look after their neighbors. Since March 26, a “suspended shopping” initiative has been implemented in Naples, designed to lend some aid to those struggling financially.
The idea comes from the Italian concept of caffe sospeso, or “suspended coffee,” which is when someone pays for an extra coffee at a cafe that can be later claimed by another customer. Similarly, suspended shopping is when an individual leaves a few extra euros with the grocery store clerk at checkout — a donation that will be used to purchase food delivered by volunteers to those in need.
The initiative is truly a community effort, with municipal offices organizing the service, citizens donating money, local merchants coordinating home delivery, and then volunteers actually making those deliveries.
Hopefully similar initiatives catch on worldwide as the practice not only relieves financial strain but also goes a long way toward building community.