Acts of Kindness program continues Huskie spirit

By Alissa Groeninger

With the anniversary of the Valentine’s Day shooting nearing, students in Northern Illinois University’s honors program wanted to make a difference on campus.

“(We wanted) to encourage people to do something good… in the midst of our tragedy,” said Arielle Payne, senior at Northern who helped plan the project.

Nancy Castle, interim director of the honors program, said members of the program made the decision to people throughout the Northern community perform acts of kindness. The participants then decorated a card explaining what they did to help another person and sent the cards in. The end result is a collection of good acts that people can view, in order to provide them with comfort.

The students who died in the attack all had kind spirits, Castle said. Gayle Dubowski repaired homes for the poor. Catalani Garcia worked with the Latino Resource Center. Julianna Gehant served her country in the Army before attending college. Ryanne Mace wanted to be a counselor because she had the ability to help and comfort people. Daniel Parmenter is remembered as a kind, gentle guy who loved life.

“(The Huskies’ Acts of Kindness) is something that really commemorates the lives of the kids who lost their lives,” Castle said.

She added that the kind acts create a continued spirit of giving.

“The young men and women of this university and all the universities in Illinois are very special,” said Governor Pat Quinn during the day’s events. “They understand the importance of service to others and the five young people who were killed here a year ago, this very hour, they’re always in our hearts cause they had servants’ hearts and this campus has understood the best way to remember them is through acts of kindness.”

More than 8,000 people on the Northern campus submitted their kind acts to the program. Elementary and middle schools from around the state have also participated in the program.

Payne said the honors students want to inspire others to keep kindness in their minds and hearts.

“The spirit of service and giving can help in any situation,” said David Hansell, sophomore and Northern who helped plan the project.

Lyzz Singh, sophomore at Northern, said the acts prove that everyone in the community is helping one another. She said that even doing something small can make a difference.

“There’s always something good in the world, even though something bad happened here,” said Alex Molina, sophomore at Northern.