Pay it Forward comes to Kings
King’s University College – University of Western Ontario
London, Ontario, Canada
Being a first time Soph at Kings, I was concerned with what I could bring to my team and frosh that would leave a lasting effect. In the summer when our head Sophs contacted us asking if we had anything we could donate to the frosh kits, I immediately thought of Pay it Forward.
Fast forward to 6am on the first day of O-Week, I’m standing in front of my Soph team of 70 explaining the concept of the Pay It Forward Foundation, holding 500 purple and white bracelets. The Soph marketing and promo team (which I was a part of) was really excited to launch Pay It Forward at Kings. After a short explanation and a very quick distribution of a single bracelet to each Soph, I could feel their minds turning, trying to figure out how they would pass on these bracelets. The promo team had made banners; “WHAT WOULD YOU DO TO PAY IT FORWARD” was painted across the tops in white and purple. As the first day flew by, I realized that I still had 400+ bracelets to hand out and every Soph was still sporting their new accessory. I went home feeling slightly defeated, how was I supposed to pass on this bracelet? Our whole week is dedicated to being kind, encouraging, and welcoming to the frosh, I had countless opportunities to give away the bracelet but I kept it on the whole day. The following days, the promo team carried around bracelets, handing them out to the frosh every chance we got—soon enough we had no more to give. The feedback that I got from the frosh concerning the Pay It Forward project made me hopeful.
Everyone I spoke to was EXCITED to give away his or her bracelet, to pass something on, to make a DIFFERENCE. It was so moving to see this group of first year students, taking such a huge step in their life and still wanting to help someone. When I explained the concept of Pay It Forward, I always told my frosh that I’d check back to see if their bracelets were gone…when I did check back a few days later, the bracelets were gone and stories replaced them. Hearing the acts of kindness displayed by the Sophs and Frosh never failed to put a huge smile on my face; from paying for someone else’s meal in the caf, to walking a frosh who had a little too much to drink back to their res—the stories were touching, and often times made me realize how easy it is to help someone.
The end of O-Week rolled around and the Pay It Forward bracelets had been passed around, some people had 3 or 4 bracelets on their arm, many had none. The success of the Pay It Forward project was obvious. As O-Week ended and school started, I realized I still had my bracelet; one afternoon I heard a knock on our door and when I opened it there was an old man standing there, he was asking for our empty bottles. He said he heard music and figured we’d have some to spare, my roommate and I went to the kitchen and brought him all our empties. After he left I kicked myself for not passing on the bracelet, it was the perfect opportunity—but then I realized that it wasn’t about the bracelet at all, it was about the ACT of kindness, doing something nice for someone just because you know if you do, it will help him or her.
Pay It Forward is a constant in my life now, yesterday I was sitting in a seminar with the creators of The Buried Life (a show based on completing your bucket list) the boy sitting next to me still had his bracelet on, and the girl sitting next to him was asking him where she could get one. As he explained what it was, I knew that our Pay It Forward launch was a success. A few hours later I was on twitter and my friend had posted that a stranger at the grocery store offered to give him a ride so he didn’t have to walk home. Kindness is all around us, it’s hard to ignore and it’s extremely contagious. One simple act of kindness to one person can start a chain reaction, I witnessed this first hand, and I am still seeing the effects of those purple and white bracelets.