WINSLOW — Just before Christmas, Jill Vigue paid half the cost of a Christmas tree another family was buying. As she paid for her own tree, she left the extra money along with a card that said, “You have been tagged. Please do an act of kindness.”

The 50-year-old buyer at Fortin’s Home Furnishings said she’s made about 400 cards for her project, World Heart Beat, and distributed about 300 of them, along with acts of kindness that she hopes will get paid forward. And though she started the project right before Christmas, it’s something Vigue said she plans to do year-round.

“The idea is, big or small, it all counts. I feel collectively everybody can do their part, and it doesn’t matter your income level. There’s something everyone can do,” Vigue said. “Anytime you have the opportunity to see the corners of someone’s mouth turn upwards, that’s a good thing.”

Vigue said she was inspired by the song “Do Something” by Matthew West, which talks about poverty, slavery and trouble in the world.

West shakes his fist at God and asks him to do something; and God says, “I did, I created you.”

“So this is my ‘do something’ project,” Vigue said. “I’d heard (the song) about a hundred times before I actually listened to the words. I think I was on my way to work, and when I got inside I had pictures of my grandchildren on my bulletin board in my office, and I thought, ‘I need to do something to make a better world for them.'”

So she quickly sketched an idea for a small thank-you note card that explains the mission of the World Heart Beat project: to encourage people to perform acts of kindness for others, keeping in mind that just a small act of kindness can make a big difference. Inside the card are four one-sided slips of paper with the message, “You have been tagged! Please do an act of kindness.”

The smaller cards in the package are meant to be distributed with acts of kindness, and there is contact information and directions on the larger card. Recipients of the small cards, and with them an act of kindness, are asked to pay it forward. The project has just started, and Vigue said she hasn’t heard from anyone yet, but she is willing to send extra packages of kindness cards to others who want to participate.

Some of the good deeds that she’s done so far include paying for other people’s tolls on the highway and buying small presents, like a $5 gift card to Dunkin’ Donuts, and giving them to strangers. Sometimes she leaves a larger-than-normal tip at a restaurant along with one of the cards asking the server to pay it forward.

She’s also sent the cards to relatives and friends in other states to distribute. “Every little act brings the world closer to being more positive and loving,” Vigue said, explaining the name of her project, World Heart Beat. She said her primary motivation has been her two grandchildren, ages 7 and 3.

“She did it with them in mind,” said Vigue’s sister, Cindy Nordby, who lives in Arizona. “She just wanted to make sure they knew it was good to be kind, even if it’s just a small thing.”

Nordy is one of several relatives and friends to whom Vigue has given the kindness cards in hope they will help spread acts of kindness. She’s not sure yet whether anyone has followed through on paying it forward, but she hopes some people do.

“I really hope people don’t hold on to the cards or think really hard about how they have to use them. I just keep them in my car and use them spur of the moment. It doesn’t matter how small it is.”

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm

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