MARQUETTE - Students involved in Northern Michigan University's Volunteer Center are hoping to step up the good will of everyone on campus this week by launching a "Pay it Forward" initiative.
The campaign, which is in its first year of operation, began Monday and will continue through Friday.
Nik Krawcyzk, a student coordinator at the Volunteer Center, said he's hoping the event will showcase ways students and faculty can help each other out everyday, instead of saving up their goodwill for use during special occasions only. He said he hopes the event will even extend to the entire Marquette area, and not just stay on campus.
Feeding an expired parking meter for someone is just one example of how students from Northern Michigan University’s Volunteer Center hope NMU students will help out their fellow man during this week’s “Pay it Forward” event. The initiative is meant to offer a time for students and community members to help each other out with anonymous gestures of goodwill. (Journal photo by Jackie Stark)
"We wanted an event that didn't match up with what we do with 'Make a Difference Day' in the fall," he said in a press release. "Ideally, we'd like to see groups of students who want to be engaged in the community take initiative and doing kind things for others in the community."
Volunteer Center staff are providing cards that can be left behind by do-gooders throughout the week, reminding the recipient of the random act of kindness to perform a random act of their own.
The cards are available at the circulation desk of NMU's Lydia Olson Library in the Learning Resources Center and at the Volunteer Center located on the first floor of the University Center.
Lydia Stuef, another Volunteer Center student coordinator, said these random acts of kindness can take shape in many different ways.
"You can collect pop cans and donate the money to a local nonprofit, you could rake a yard for an elderly person, pitch in money to help buy gas for someone at a gas station," she said. "Picking up trash is one of the most thankless jobs in the world. No one really sees you do it. No one is going to know you do it, but you're helping the environment. You could leave a generous tip at a restaurant or leave a copy of a great book you've read at Starbucks or at some other cafe for someone else to enjoy."
The possibilities, Stuef said, seem endless.
And while the original intention of the "Pay it Forward" event is to be anonymous in your random act of kindness, it's not always that easy to lend an invisible helping hand.
There's a list of elderly people in the community who are in need of lawn care - namely yard raking - at the Volunteer Center. Do-gooders can email the center at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 227-2466 for the name and address of the elderly person in need.
Stuef said she's planning on performing her random act of kindness in the coming days, an activity she's familiar with outside of this week of brotherly love.
"I tend to fill up people's parking meters," Stuef said. "I'll be going across the (Mackinac) bridge at the end of the year. I'll probably pay for the person behind me."
The week is meant to hopefully get students - and eventually community members - thinking about the people around them.
"It's really easy, especially as a college student, to be focused on my life and what I need to be doing for my future," Stuef said. "It's a good reminder to go out and reach out to the people around you.
"It'd be great if it kept going," she added. "This is the week we're promoting it. By no means does that mean that it has to end on Friday. We would love for it to keep going."
Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.