St. Edmond Catholic School students in February are endeavoring to Pay It Forward.
Based on the novel by Catherine Ryan Hyde and film adaptation of the same name, students began an effort Friday to start a "chain reaction" by committing to doing good deeds.
"It's all about this movement of kindness, just small acts that inspire people to pay it forward and pass on an act of kindness," Casey McEvoy, St. Edmond High School junior, said. "You start a chain reaction that way."
Every St. Edmond student, grades K to 12, is given a bracelet with the words "Pay it Forward" on it. When the student does a good deed for someone, he or she hands off the bracelet to that person and it is up to that person to then do a good deed for someone else.
"It's a constant reminder to always look to do acts of kindness, even if it's small," McEvoy said. "The goal is to get rid of the bracelet. Pass the act on, pay it forward. It's a cycle."
According to McEvoy, a good deed can be something as simple as holding the door open for someone or giving someone a compliment.
"Sometimes the smallest things mean the most," he said. "It doesn't have to be big."
The effort started Friday, with the bracelets distributed on Monday.
"The goal for the high school students is to go out into the community and get strangers in on the Pay It Forward movement," McEvoy said. "I think the younger kids will do it for their friends, their classmates and family members."
McEvoy said he was also inspired by Rachel's Challenge, a nationwide movement based on the writings of Rachel Joy Scott, the first victim in the Columbine High School shooting in April 1999.
"Rachel's Challenge goes along with this great," he said. "Her message is about starting a chain reaction, with kindness and compassion, and that relates to Pay It Forward really well, by doing small acts of kindness and starting a cycle that way."
Mike Szalat, St. Edmond instructor, said the idea was presented before Rachel's Challenge was brought to Fort Dodge.
"The community of Fort Dodge has embraced Rachel's Challenge, and it's pretty much the same thing," he said. "Rachel wanted to start a chain reaction."
The message of Pay It Forward reinforces the teachings of St. Edmond Catholic School, Szalat said.
"The bracelet is a reminder, but it puts us in a mindset for us to continue," he said. "It ties in what we're doing from a service point of view, with Rachel's Challenge. It's just a good thing all around."
Szalat said McEvoy already lives the message.
"He doesn't need to wear the bracelet to remind him to do this," Szalat said. "It's good we're getting this out to our 800 kids, but he's not going to stop once he gives a bracelet away. He's going to keep doing it."
It is possible to start a chain reaction of kindness, McEvoy said.
"You can just go to one person and if you do a small act of kindness for them, you never know," he said. "They can be inspired by that."
Even though students only get one bracelet, McEvoy hopes it inspires others to do kind acts every day.
"I hope it makes a lasting impression on them," he said. "It definitely made one on me."