Melrose High students pay it forward with unique twist

MELROSE, Mass. — When a customer stops by La Qchara in Melrose to buy cup of coffee or grab a bite to eat, they have the opportunity to do a good deed for a complete stranger.

“If someone comes in and they forget their wallet or they’re having a rough day they can get a free coffee,” said Catherine McCarron. “We thought it would be a great idea to promote kindness in Melrose and also help out small businesses especially during the pandemic.”

McCarron and her friend Michaela Szymczak, both seniors at Melrose High School, came up with the idea to spread goodwill. It’s called Pay It With A Post It.

“We made this board because sometimes it’s weird just to buy a coffee to someone and hand it to them. So this board lets you do it indirectly and it’s easy to pay it forward,” Szymczak said.

Anyone can buy a coffee or any item for a stranger, fill out a sticky note, and stick that note on a board by the door. Another customer can then take the note to the counter for their free coffee, tea, or muffin.

So far, the project has been a big hit.

“People really do get excited. They’re like, oh my goodness what a nice thought, and they’ll pass it along to the next person,” said Jasmine McDonough, a barista at La Qchara. “Another customer will come in and will say, oh what’s going on over here? It’s very contagious.”

The restaurant plans to stick with the Pay It With A Post It even after the pandemic is over. The reaction has been so positive that the two teens say they plan to expand the effort to other businesses in Melrose soon.