Mich. man encourages others to "Pass it Forward"

East Lansing, Michigan becomes a utopia for two hours, twice a year thanks to Bob Hoffman's "Pass it Forward" parties. Small groups do small gestures for complete strangers -- and the only payment they expect is for those individuals to pass on that good deed to others.

"So here's what you do: You go out in the community, you do random acts of kindness and ask them to pass it forward," Hoffman instructed people at one of his bi-annual events.

He told CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman that he first got the idea for "Pass it Forward" when a driver cut him off.

His immediate reaction was to swear. However, instead of ramming the car, he refocused his anger on trying to find ways to make the world nicer.

Hoffman said it doesn't matter what you do or how you do it, but that you just need to get the ball rolling.

People who participate in "Pass it Forward" give flowers away at the store or donate quarters for other people's laundry. One person decided that he would shovel people's driveways free of charge.

"My hope is that it will spread exponentially," he explained. "It's about validating another person. Looking another person in the eye and saying 'You mean something to me.'"

Another volunteer decided to validate parking at a local hospital for a couple dozen visitors. Drivers were grateful, but not as much as one woman who had visited her parents who had been in a car accident. "You're a beautiful person," she said to the woman who was paying for her parking. "Thank you so much."

It only set the volunteer back $3 to make her day. "This is nice to do," she said.

Hoffman hopes that one day "Pass it Forward" could become a national, or even world, holiday.

"Wouldn't it be awesome if we had a day, all across America or the world (to) do random acts of kindness or just be kind for somebody else and say spread it on?" he asked.

He added: "It would be the most important holiday."

  • Steve Hartman

    Steve Hartman has been a CBS News correspondent since 1998, having served as a part-time correspondent for the previous two years.