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Struggling mom uses $500 from Pay It Forward to help needy

December 15, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
When Drea Brooks saw our Pay It Forward campaign on television last week, she told her husband that she wished she could have the opportunity to surprise someone with $500.

Her wish came true during a day of running errands when she spotted our Pay It Forward sign.

Get more information on the ABC7 Pay It Forward campaign

We offered Brooks the $500 on the conditions that she could not give the money to a family member or an organization. But without a second thought, Brooks knew exactly who she would visit.

She told us about her co-worker, Lauren Spicer. Spicer and her husband, Don, worked in sales for more than a decade, but they were both laid off soon after finding out about Lauren's pregnancy. When baby Lilya came, they all moved in with Don's parents.

Don is still unemployed and back in school. Meanwhile Lauren is the main breadwinner, working as a server at The Grill restaurant in Westlake village alongside Brooks.

"I just feel bad because she's just always struggling and she just can't ever seem to catch a break," Brooks said. "I try to help her the best I can, giving her extra clothes or stuff that I don't need, but I think that'd be great to give her $500 and maybe she'd be able to pay some rent or pay a bill, and not worry so much about her little girl anymore."

Brooks led us to Spicer's front door in Thousand Oaks, where she greeted Spicer and Lilya with a big hug.

While Spicer seemed a bit confused, Brooks explained her visit.

"They wanted to know if I wanted to pay it forward, and you know how much I adore you," Brooks said. "I know things have been so tough, and this is not much but I'm paying it forward to you my friend."

With a cry and a smile, Spicer gripped her daughter as she thanked Brooks for her friendship.

Brooks said she hasn't seen Spicer smile like that in a long time.

"It's been a tough year, and we've been going through a lot of the same things, and it really, really means a lot. She knows how much she means to me, but it couldn't have come at a better time. It's really, really special," Spicer said.

Lilya has also been learning about paying it forward, and thanked us with a sweet grin.

To keep the cycle of giving going, Spicer wants to use some of the money to pay it forward to someone else in need.

"I just think it's really, really cool what you guys are doing. I think its teaching people that giving is really important," she said.

Want to Pay It Forward? Tell us who you think deserves $500 on the Pay It Forward tab on our Facebook page. Every week until March 30, 2012, one person will be selected at random to receive $500 to Pay It Forward.