As Pharrell Williams’ song “Happy” blares from the doors, two smiling faces stand at the entrance of room 323 in Williams Hall, passing out handwritten compliments on sticky notes and welcoming people into their first meeting.
IC Pay It Forward, a new club at Ithaca College this semester, held its rush night Feb. 5, and shared with the students who attended that its mission is to promote random acts of kindness around campus and within the Ithaca community.
Founded by freshman Francesca Esce, the group was inspired by actor Misha Collins’ nonprofit organization called Random Acts. Collins, well known for his role as Castiel on the CW show “Supernatural,” founded the non-profit organization in 2009, which has since inspired people around the world to make a positive impact by spreading spontaneous acts of kindness.
Esce said she decided to build on this idea by bringing Pay It Forward to the college and constructing it around the basic premises of Random Acts. Esce recruited her friends and floormates — freshmen Vice President Elena Deluccia, Secretary Meghan Maier and co-Treasurers Hannah Wheater and Jessica Takatch — to build her executive board.
While the group had been working on developing Pay It Forward, sophomore Natalie Dionne had simultaneously been trying to create a group with the same intention of promoting random acts of kindness. Dionne said when she discovered Pay It Forward at the Student Organization Fair on Jan. 29, she joined as the campus engagement executive on the e-board, combining her additional passion to the cause.
Dionne said one part of the club’s mission is to realize and pay forward good aspects of each members’ life.
“The whole concept of paying it forward links back to the recognition aspect of the really wonderful things going on in your life and recognizing that and doing something about it,” Dionne said.
According to Dionne, the e-board is trying to collaborate with more clubs at the college like IC More Love Letters, which promotes random acts of kindness with love letters; We Are One, an anti-bullying group; and IC Courage, which helps support nonprofit Camp Good Days and Special Times to improve the lives of cancer patients.
Deluccia said she was excited that the club wants to team up with other organizations to spread random acts of kindness beyond the college’s campus. Pay It Forward is hoping to include organizations in Ithaca like the Red Cross and the local community kitchen, Loaves & Fishes, into its sphere of connections, Deluccia said.
“We are absolutely interested in working with organizations outside of [the college],” Esce said. “We aren’t quite sure where yet, but our goal is to make the largest domino effect we can on the world. Spreading kindness is our goal, and we are willing to reach out to any organization that has similar ideas on helping the greater good.”
Pay It Forward also plans to take part in the Random Acts event, “Annual Melee of Kindness,” which takes place every year on March 1, dedicating the day to performing random acts of kindness around the world. Esce said the club hopes to reach beyond just the college community and into the greater Ithaca community with this event.
With the use of the hashtag #Spreadthelove, Maier said, Pay It Forward hopes spreading random acts of kindness over social media in addition to on-campus events will encourage more people to spread kindness themselves.
Since Dec. 11, the group’s Facebook page, IC Pay It Forward, has gained 53 followers, and its Twitter, @ICPayItForward, has gained 36 followers since Jan. 24.
Esce said the group hopes to lead by example, as it’s optimistic that its kind acts will inspire others around them, and when people hear of Pay It Forward, she hopes students will receive the club positively.
“I want them to mostly be excited and be happy that there are people on campus who are willing to do this,” she said. “The whole idea is to be able to do something for someone else who couldn’t do it themselves.”