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Cougars "Pay it Forward"

September 8, 2011

While the South might be known for its "Southern hospitality," in this day and age it sometimes seems as if it too, like hoop skirts and horse drawn buggies, is a thing of the past. On Aug. 12, Averett University's resident assistants proved otherwise. Marsha Foster, director of residence life, sent her resident assistants out into the community to perform five random acts of kindness in less than two hours.

"The Random Acts of Kindness Program is a part of our year long effort to shape community through servant leadership and service learning," Foster said. "We as a residence life staff will be recognizing one Friday a month as Random Act of Kindness Day on campus. On that Friday, each member of residence life is charged with doing one random act of kindness for someone on our campus or in the surrounding community."

Before they left campus to complete the task, the students were given a list of rules that had to be followed. The 11 rules included: not performing a random act of kindness on any member of the Averett faculty, staff or student body; not performing the same act of kindness more than once; not performing different acts of kindness on the same person and counting it more than once; and not taking anything in return for their kindness.

Sophomore Cari Beck, senior Courtney Martin and senior Christina Sinnot are serving as resident assistants for the first time this year. Their day of performing random acts of kindness was actually the first day they were together as a group. "I got to meet and interact with people I hadn't met before," said Beck, a Fugate RA.

"Initially, I wondered where we were going to find people at 5:30," said Sinnot, an RA in the Commons Apartments. Beck was worried about coming up with tasks that wouldn't take long.

"I was nervous about going into the community," said Martin, a Fugate Hall RA. "It was a challenge, but by the end it was fun."

"At first I think we scared people," Martin said. Sinnot agreed. "All of us jumping out of a van was probably a bit overwhelming, but once we explained what we were doing they were receptive."

Beck noted that for her group, mentioning they were with Averett brought a positive reaction from those they helped. "They were really nice; and it was great because we were able to put a good name out there for Averett."

The groups performed a variety of acts including giving a homeless man juice, crackers and cookies and praying for him; taking trays to the trash at Hardee's and Chick-fil-A; tipping a greeter at Applebee's; visited Stratford House where they ran into Happy Slayton, a former Board of Trustee member; helped load groceries into cars at Food Lion, Sam's Club and Wal-Mart; pumped gas at Marathon; washed car windows at Sheetz; and picked up trash around garbage cans at Sonic.

All three RAs enjoyed the experience of helping people with small tasks and look forward to "paying it forward" throughout the year.