Making others feel important isn’t very difficult, according to freshman Kate Sims.

Along with others from Elon University’s Center for Leadership, Sims is reaching out to the campus community to make sure that message is known — at least for a week.

What the Center for Leadership used to recognize once a year as Pay it Forward Day is, for the first time, becoming a weeklong event from April 22-25. The idea is simple: Do something kind for someone around you, and hopefully they’ll repay the deed to another person.

“I think that people at Elon are very willing to give and pay it forward, but it’s not normally at the forefront of your mind,” Sims said. “This is a reminder to make an effort to pay it forward to someone. We can have a week during the year when people automatically think about doing good things and being an overall giving person.”

Sims said the Center for Leadership will be giving out Pay it Forward business cards in Moseley Center throughout the week for students to give to others after demonstrating a good deed. For example, Sims said if a student purchases the coffee of someone behind him, he could hand the card to that person, who would then know the inspiration for the kind gesture — and possibly do the same for someone else.

In Moseley, the Center for Leadership will provide materials for students to write “Thanks so much — have a great day” notes to others, Sims said, and the group will send them to the correct campus boxes or addresses.

This year’s event includes new plans to pay it forward, as the date used to mark a day when Center for Leadership members would bake and deliver cookies to staff members at various offices around campus.

“We thought we could make it a bigger, campus-wide event,” Sims said. “Many of those offices we delivered to for Pay it Forward Day already get the credit. There’s a lot of good deeds and positive things that go unnoticed for underappreciated staff.”

Some of those people include Bio Bus drivers, the landscaping crew and people who work in the physical plant, mailroom, print shop and other places, she said.

“There are all these other people behind the scenes but who are important to Elon,” she said.

This year, the Center for Leadership has reached out to other organizations on campus for help baking and delivering cookies to a longer list of offices. According to Stacey Markham, coordinator of the Center for Leadership, the number of organizations taking part this year is probably around 20.

“The more [that help], the merrier — the more that we can do,” Markham said.

The origin of the event, which is recognized annually on April 25, is from the book “Pay it Forward,” by Catherine Ryan Hyde, and a resulting film of the same name.

In the story, for a school project a boy suggests the way to change the world is by doing three good deeds, which would be repaid onward and onward, Sims said. The chain of good deeds becomes major news, and in the end, a reporter tracks the progression back to the seventh-grade boy.

“We’re hoping this just becomes something that’s part of Elon’s culture,” Sims said. “That every year, a week is dedicated to giving within the community of Elon, and outside of it"


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