Students advocate good deeds by “paying it forward”

By Britany Wright
April 10, 2008

Megan Pellegrino

Waking up from a surgery to the sound of an opening door and then being distracted by a dance of fuzzy light that creeps along the ceiling as sight returns and the vivid image of the white walls of the hospital room emerges. Feeling returns once again as warm blood flows into your toes and throughout your body as you remember why you’re laid out in a hospital bed. The terms of the contract from the heart transplant stream through your mind, catching the one promise that was made to receive a second chance at life.

This system of good deeds can be seen on some television shows and movies, especially with characters who have had a close brush with death who are so appreciative they have a second chance at life they help others.

Similar to that idea is the blissfulness that people can receive after the fulfillment of the completion of three selfless acts for friends, family, acquaintances or complete strangers so that the world will be positively affected and hopefully violence and selfish acts will be diminished. Each act requires no return action of gratitude, just the simple wish that the person who was saved or helped will carry on the mission to keep the message going.

This concept is demonstrated in the movie from 2000, “Pay it Forward,” which is based upon the book by Catherine Ryan Hyde. The movie stars Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt and Haley Joel Osment. Osment’s character, a troubled young boy, is given a homework assignment by his new teacher to go out and make a difference in the world. Within a year or so, the message of helping others spread quickly, especially when a news reporter interviewed Osment’s character as a feature piece.

One of the opening scenes of the movie is when a dad and his daughter are waiting for the doctor while she is having an asthma attack. In the waiting room there are two other people ahead of her with serious injuries, who have been waiting the same amount of time, maybe only two seconds longer. The nurse comes out and calls a name, not hers, but the victim of a stab wound. As breaths of air become heavily constricted, so do the last minutes of sanity. Even though the stabbing victim is mortally wounded, he tells her to go ahead and whispers to the dad, “Pay it forward.”

Cabrini College’s Wolfington Center inspires students to do the same thing by doing random acts of kindness for others. According to Cabrini’s site about the Wolfington Center, they aspire to promote “service learning and civic engagement, community outreach, and partnerships, the Institute on Catholic Teaching and spirituality of service.”

“If I had the chance to pay it forward, I would help a homeless person by giving him food, a blanket and make sure that he’s taken care of,” Maria Roswell, a freshman undecided major, said.

The Wolfington Center also inspires students to attend trips to help out people in need.

Arielle Friscia, a freshman communications major and Ellie Spanno, a sophomore business major, spoke of their experience to the recent Appalachia trip designed by the Wolfington Center.

They said they were working at a place for a woman who did not have a lot of money to spend on things that weren’t the basic necessities of life. Most of the money she made was spent on her children.

One day, while working, the volunteers planned a trip out to lunch.

The woman who they were working for graciously suggested making hot dogs for them for lunch.

She made them lunch as a sign of gratitude for the selfless help that they were exerting.

“She really didn’t have to do that, we were there to help her. She called us the Cabrini College angels. She gave random gifts out to people as a sign of gratitude,” Friscia said.

The Wolfington Center is located on the third floor of Founder’s Hall and always welcomes students to come participate.

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Britany Wright

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