Editor's note: The Asbury Park Press is celebrating 31 days of kindness this month, highlighting New Jersey people and organizations that have inspired us throughout 2023.
In 2017, the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico ignited a spark in South Jersey native Troy Green.
Telling his friend Harry Devine that nothing was getting done prompted to Devine to say, "Do something about it.”
It moved Green to make a social media post, along with a group of friends, that garnered more than $500,000 in donations and supplies to send to the island. The group provided transportation, emergency personnel, doctors, and truck drivers to help aid the effort.
For Green, paying it forward was easy, since it happened to him in 2009. He was rescued by a group of strangers and Willingboro police officer Eddie Foga after a car accident. The life-changing moment gave him a new perspective on life.
He knew he wanted to help families in need.
And he continues.
Green is the founder of Return Kindness, dubbed "The Kindness Crew," returning kindness to his community by displaying selfless acts.
"Kindness is giving hope to those who think they are all alone in this world," reads the organization's motto.
"Return Kindness started in 2022 after years of grassroots efforts done by myself and close friends. We are known for random grocery store pop-up, pay it forwards," Green said.
"We embrace bringing the gap between law enforcement and the community. And yearly we host a toy drive alongside many police departments benefiting the surrounding communities," he said.
He calls it a lifestyle, and since the start of it, the non-profit organization has started an annual toy drive, paid for groceries at Shop Rite for random community members, surprised a fast-food worker with extra cash and collected more than 1,000 toys for Christmas last year.
"This year we’re looking to surpass last year's collection of 1,500-plus toys in hopes of collecting 5,000 toys," he said.
If you have a story of kindness, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared on Asbury Park Press: NJ man become beacon of kindness in his community