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Paying it forward

Children from a local child care center are the subject of this year’s Pay It Forward fundraiser.

Pay It Forward started four years ago when State Bank gave each of their full-time employees $1000 to give to the organization of their choosing. One employee chose to give their share to Concordia’s Carl B. Ylvisaker Library to enhance their Serendipity section. The library responded the following year with a fundraiser for a young child who had been partially paralyzed in a car accident. The next year, the fundraiser supported a college student who was injured in a car accident.

This year is different, however. Proceeds will go to the Nokomis Child Care Center, a local non-profit that gives priority to children from low income families, who have emotional or behavioral issues, and those who are at risk of abuse or neglect.

“We changed the pace a little bit,” freshman Jessica Roscoe said.

The Pay It Forward campaign had an increase in student submissions this year. Forty-one students submitted artwork or photography for the art fair.

Sharon Hoverson, library director, said the increased participation is due to the extra awards that the library is giving out this year. The library donated two $100, two $60 and two $40 gift cards. One of each amount will go to the top three submissions for art and the top three for photography.

The winners will be determined by the number of votes each entry receives. One penny equals one vote.

The students from Lisa Sjoberg’s inquiry oral communication class fell in love with the kids at Nokomis when they volunteered there for Hands for Change during freshmen orientation. Sjoberg, who is also the college archivist, said the students could not stop talking about their service-learning experience. When she asked if they wanted to make a semester-long project with Nokomis, the response was overwhelmingly positive.

“They got so engrossed with it and so engaged,” Sjoberg said. “The best part is the students’ excitement about it.”

Sjoberg worked the project into her oral communication curriculum and let the students take charge. The students are helping the organization through five different groups: Pay it Forward, item drives, public relations, maintenance and party planning. Hoverson said the fundraiser has never included so many dimensions.

In addition to these responsibilities, about half the class volunteers at Nokomis for two hours once a week through Campus Service Commission. Students who volunteer at Nokomis help the kids with arts and crafts and take them to a nearby park to play.

“My favorite part is how the kids are beginning to recognize us,” Roscoe said. “A few kids cling to me every time.”

Volunteering has been a positive experience for freshman Madeline Gray as well.

“It certainly brightens my day,” Gray said. “They just put a smile on my face.”

Gray is a member of the item drive group. The group is collecting donations such as new toys, diapers and baby food. She said there has been a lot of support from the campus community for donations.

Donations to Pay It Forward, however, have been slow this year. Freshman Brittany Tronnes said her group plans to increase participation through more advertizing around the campus. They also decided to extend the fundraiser to Dec. 12.

Regardless of the outcome, the students have reached the goals they set out to achieve. While they did not set many monetary goals, they did plan to purchase two play kitchen sets with the proceeds from the Pay It Forward campaign.

“We were really wanting to make an impact on them somehow,” Tronnes said. “I really have to applaud our group for being so ambitious.”

Sjoberg’s class will deliver the kitchen sets and donated items to Nokomis during finals week.

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