Collecting While Stuck at Home | Start a Pay It Forward Chain3 min read

In this new, limited blog series, “20 Ways to Collect While Stuck at Home,” we offer ideas for enjoying your collection at times when a standard hobby experience is not possible. Illness, financial constraints, or any number of factors might temporarily keep collectors from participating as they normally would, but that does not mean that their hobby needs to be put on hold. 

While acquiring cards is the very foundation of our hobby, simply being a part of the collecting community provides enjoyment as well. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen collectors rally together to support one another with cards. Charity auctions to raise money for cancer treatments, cards donated to children in hospitals, unopened packs distributed free of charge to little leaguers… The list goes on and on.

There are many ways that collectors can give back to the hobby, but I have two favorites that can be done at anytime and without the need for a particular event as inspiration. They are the Pay It Forward Chain and the Random Act of Kindness.

Pay It Forward Chain

Pay It Forward chains (or threads) are typically done within a hobby forum community. The way it works is simple. A collector gathers a handful of items that no longer fit into his or her collection and then starts a new forum post that pictures and/or describes each item, and the fact that they are available for free to the first person to show interest. The only stipulation is that to receive a free item, that person then must post a giveaway item of equal or greater value of their own. The process continues as long as it can be maintained. A strong and diverse hobby forum can keep a Pay It Forward chain alive for quite some time. The ultimate result is that collectors can find good homes for items they no longer desire, have the opportunity to receive free items themselves, and spread good will throughout their hobby community.

Random Act of Kindness (#RAK)

Simply put, a Random Act of Kindness (RAK) is a gift. But unlike a gift given for birthday or other specific event, the Random Act of Kindness is, well, random. The giver gives simply because he or she has something that someone else wants and is willing to pass it along. I have noticed a lot of RAKs among collectors on Twitter. In fact, you can search the Random Acts of Kindness hashtag (#RAK) and find many examples of collectors presenting items to each other based simply on kindness. It really is a neat thing to experience.


Some might wonder why they should give away something of value simply because it would benefit another collector. After all, isn’t that why cards are sold? Well, yes, that is the reason why cards are sold, and no one is telling you to give away something that you prefer or need to sell. I am simply asking you to keep the idea in mind. Collectors are a funny bunch, and as the old saying goes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Maybe you have something of no value to most collectors, but that would be appreciated by one person in particular. Consider just giving it to them with no strings attached. At a minimum you will be attracting a healthy dose of hobby karma, and if you are a dealer that person will likely consider buying from you first the next time they are looking to make a purchase.

Kindness matters. Everywhere. And maybe now more than ever before.

Posted by Todd Tobias

Todd Tobias is a longtime hobbyist and PSA staff member who is constantly on the hunt for vintage lacrosse issues and autographed cards for his American Football League (1960-1969) collection.

Johnny Robinson - Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2019!!!

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