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A holiday idea: pay it forward

For those of you sickened by the commercialism and resulting chaos of the holiday season, here's an idea to make you appreciate the holidays again: follow the concept of paying it forward.

The concept is easy to understand: someone does you a favor, and instead of paying them back, they ask you to do something good for others. I'd like to ask TUAW readers to help take part in a "pay it forward" project. Let me start by telling you about my project this year.

In this case, I feel like the good people in the Denver metro area have done me a favor by helping my Mac consulting business, Raven Solutions, LLC, become a success. Earlier in the month, I received a phone call from a local non-profit called Art from Ashes wondering if I could provide some assistance with Marketcircle's Daylite application. After looking at the group's website and becoming aware of the healing work they do with at-risk youths through poetry therapy, I decided to donate my time as a way of giving back to the community.Visiting with the staff at Art from Ashes, it quickly became apparent that they needed additional licenses of Daylite to resolve some data sharing issues. Through the helpful staff at Marketcircle's Daylite Partner Program, I acquired the new licenses and I'll be returning to the Art from Ashes office soon to provide them with installation and training.

There was one more piece missing from the puzzle: a small server to host the Daylite database and provide a backup location for critical files. I have a Mac mini that I retired from Macminicolo.net last year, and it's the perfect size for a small team server. I'm donating it to Art from Ashes as well.

What I've found from this and other volunteer experiences over the years is that giving feels good! I'm hopeful that my work will allow Art from Ashes to expand their services and help even more young people. So what can you, TUAW reader, do to pay it forward?

It's as simple as doing something nice for someone else, and asking them to return the favor by helping someone else in turn. You can make a donation to Art from Ashes or offer to volunteer to help a group in your area. Since many of you are tech-savvy, use your Mac knowledge and skills to assist an individual or organization that needs your help.

Giving freely of your talent and time should be what Christmas is all about, not crushing someone in your blind rush to buy stuff. If you take me up on this challenge to help others, be sure to tell the rest of us about it in a comment. We all know the Apple community is filled with wonderful people; let's show it to the rest of the world.

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