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‘Pay It Forward’ with the ‘Mobile Hunger Fight’

SWCC and High Lakes Leadership Initiative team up to fight hunger during Pay It Forward week

Southwestern Community College employees, from left, Kysa Gordon, Denise Kelley, Tom Lesan and Dana Steinbach fill bags with rice, soy, vegetables and vitamins during Meals for the Heartland, part of the college's Pay it Forward Week, in April 2016. SWCC's Pay It Forward Week starts Sunday, with events going through Friday.
Southwestern Community College employees, from left, Kysa Gordon, Denise Kelley, Tom Lesan and Dana Steinbach fill bags with rice, soy, vegetables and vitamins during Meals for the Heartland, part of the college's Pay it Forward Week, in April 2016. SWCC's Pay It Forward Week starts Sunday, with events going through Friday.

The simple act of performing a kindness for someone without any thought or expectation of something in return can have a profound impact that ripples out into the world.

That’s the idea behind Pay it Forward (PIF) Week, which begins Sunday, at Southwestern Community College.

PIF kicks off at 3 p.m. Sunday with an induction ceremony for Phi Theta Kappa at the Allied Health and Science Center and will culminate with an awards ceremony at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Student Center gymnasium.

One of the events taking place during PIF Week is a Mobile Hunger Fight. SWCC is partnering with High Lakes Leadership Initiative (HLLI) to package meals for Meals from the Heartland from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday at the Student Center gymnasium.

For the last two years, HLLI has taken up the Mobile Hunger Fight as its legacy project, giving the group an opportunity to provide a service to the community while learning valuable skills that will help them in virtually any business setting.

The group is responsible for everything from organizing pickup and delivery of the supplies to marketing and promoting the event to scheduling times the teams will be working to package the food.

Millie Fiebelkorn, leader of the marketing group for HLLI said she had never organized a project this big and it was a learning experience for her.

“I have been on committees and organized events before,” Fiebelkorn said, “but never on this scale. Having to communicate with people of all ages and in all different areas was a learning experience.”

Beth Kulow, Dean of Student Services at SWCC, said she expects the event to bring in more than 350 volunteers to package more than 75,000 meals.

“The Meals from the Heartland program provides a food source for those who are food insecure, and through partnerships, their meals have fed more than 22 million hungry people in Iowa, the United States, and globally. At the packaging event this year, more than 16,000 meals will stay in southwestern Iowa,” she said.

Mobile Hunger Fight provides an opportunity for groups to sponsor teams of seven to 10 people who will package up to 2,000 meals an hour for one or two hours. Most teams have signed on ahead of time, so any other volunteers might be responsible for restocking supplies and food for the packages or helping load boxes of packaged meals onto a truck.

Also Wednesday, SWCC will be hosting a dance marathon from 6 to 10 p.m. in the Student Center gymnasium. Everyone is invited to attend and food and drinks will be available during the event. Tyler Folkerts, former contestant on The Voice, will be performing from 6 to 8 p.m.

SWCC has a goal to raise $5,000 from the dance marathon for the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital in Iowa City.

“PIF is an annual week long event held at Southwestern Community College,” Kulow said. “During PIF Week, SWCC students, faculty, and staff get involved by encouraging positive behaviors and service to the community. The hope is that these efforts will ripple and spread community-wide in Creston, Osceola, and Red Oak.”

The events planned for the week aren’t exclusively for the students, faculty and staff of the college. Kulow encourages the entire community to get involved in one or more of the activities being held throughout the week, and while everyone is encouraged to participate in all of the Pay It Forward events at SWCC, including Mobile Hunger Fight, she said there are many things people can do in the spirit of paying it forward.

“Actively participate in the events listed on the Pay it Forward website,” she said. “There are activities scheduled for each day of PIF Week, but we would like for everyone to remember, it’s easy to complete more than one individual activity each day. Whether it’s helping someone take out their garbage, paying for the person behind you in the drive thru, or calling someone you haven’t talked to in a long time, this week is a great reminder to Pay it Forward.”

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