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Class doles out a UI cup of kindness

BY MAGGIE PETERS | MARCH 24, 2009 7:30 AM

After grabbing a snack at Pat’s Diner in the Pappajohn Business Building Monday, UI sophomore Chelsea Fields decided to cover the purchase for the woman behind her in line, too.

“Then I explained a little about our event to her, and she seemed excited,” the accounting major said.

Fields, 19, was referring to the Random Acts of Kindness Week, which began on campus Monday and will run through Friday. A class in the UI Career Leadership Academy created the initiative, nicknamed A-OK Week. The five days are all about passing on simple, kind deeds to other students and community residents, said UI junior Lauren Drew, one of the event’s creators.

Fields and the other 19 students in her class will start each day this week with five pink “Pay It Forward” cards to pass out throughout the day. The goal is for the cards to be spread around through all of campus and the Iowa City community, said UI junior Mallory Snitker.

The group also created a Facebook event that allows students to share the kind acts they performed.
“We’re really hoping people will go on Facebook and spread the word,” Fields said.

Some benevolent examples listed on the site are holding doors open, paying parking meters, and offering a classmate a ride home.

The class that invented the A-OK week is just one of many classes in the Career Leadership Academy.

The academy involves four phases, said Angi McKie, the director of marketing and public relations for the Pomerantz Career Center. Students generally move from one phase to the next each semester.

A-OK week students are in the third phase of the program, which has around 100 students.

“Phase three involves the class working together to create a service project based on the community’s current needs,” McKie said.

This specific class targeted on the status of the economy when coming up with their service project, Snitker said.

“We knew we wanted to do something that could be done for free,” Snitker said. “We decided that could be done with something along the lines of ‘pay it forward.’ ”

Drew said she thinks the project will show people that even the smallest benign acts can help lift spirits during these economic times.

Other phase-three classes have come up with a variety of community projects. One class this semester is reading to elementary-school students, and another is working with senior citizens in Greenwood Manor, 605 Greenwood Drive, McKie said.

“The beauty of the program is that each semester students come up with different, creative ideas based on what the community needs,” she said.


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