Before any decisions were made, Mrs. Olguin told the crowd of students how the project would work. If the challenge was accepted, the student would receive the $10 and they were allowed to pair up with others to maximize their influence. The project would be due after a month on the date of January 14, 2014 with a slideshow and presentation ready to present to the rest of the club. She instructed the students to really take time to think if they were up to the challenge. Within no time, students were crowding Mrs. Olguin’s desk ready to accept the challenge and receive their $10. Soon students were out the door of her classroom and on their way to brainstorming ideas and teaming up with friends.
National Honors Society has been on campus for many years and strives to make a difference in the community. In recent years, the club has had a lapse in activity and the Pay it Forward project has turned the lapse into a service filled season.
When asked what inspired Mrs. Olguin to start the project she said, “It kind of popped in my head, we did something similar at church for a team bonding event for India, but we had to figure out what to do with a roll of quarters. That happened years ago and I had that idea of what we could do that with, like how could we use that. So I talked to community organization and raised money so that we could do this project and see what happened.”
The money provided to complete the project was completely raised through donations that Mrs. Olguin collected, and as CMHS went into winter break, NHS members began looking for the need in their community.
On January 14th, students piled back into Mrs. Olguin’s room at lunch and began to share their stories of how they went about spending the $10. Groups went up one after the other, eager to tell about how they had made a difference in the community. The hour was filled with stories of kindness and selflessness, such as the project done by a group of sophomore students who put their money together, and spent half of it on Boba drinks. They then took the drinks and sold them at a local church; the group ended up turning $100 into over $200. With this money, they turned their focus to a local children’s shelter, the Orangewood Children’s Foundation. They then checked the wish list that the shelter has asked for during the Christmas season and with the money they had, they were able to purchase everything and more for the children ranging from infants to 18 year olds.
One student who participated said, “It made me realize how grateful I should be for a simple item like a toothbrush.”
Mrs. Olguin also believed it was a successful project.
“I don’t know how you measure success in this project, but I think that the kids learned good lessons from it, I think that just from the quick reflections that we got that they had a positive experience and also maybe changed their hearts a little bit and not to take things for granted and be stuck in their own space. So I think that it helped in getting a group of teenagers out of their own way and working around other people,” she stated.
National Honors Society is now looking to host an upcoming event where these projects would receive a highlight. Members of the community would be invited to attend and hear the variety of stories. NHS also hopes to continue to make an impact in the community and Mrs. Olguin suggested that the return of the Pay it Forward project could definitely be an option.
- Ciara Rudas and Laura Vaugeois spent their money on bringing flower decorations and garlands to a local elderly home. They distributed them to the elders and helped to brighten up their day.
- Logan Whalen, Mckenna Patton, Janelle Alonzo, and Kim Hedges spent their money through paying for other’s meals. They went to the In-N-Out on Harbor Blvd and gave the cashier at the drive thru about $25 and asked that he would use the money to cover as many orders as possible behind him. It ended up paying for about two and half cars and resulted in very happy In-N-Out customers. The other project that they completed was putting the remainder of their money on a Starbucks gift card and asking the cashier to for as many people as possible. Before the crew left the cashier reproached them and thanked them for their kindness; he also informed the group that customers had been extremely thankful and the gift card had been refilled at least twice and now contained about $30.
- Ellie Aguilar and Alexis Dasca used their money to purchase two boxes of pizza and distribute it at Eagle Rock Park. The homeless people that resided at the park were extremely grateful and the two got a chance to sit down with one and talk to him about his life. The pizza was used to feed several at the park and allowed them with a quality dinner.
- Loralee Sepsey, Audrey Nguyen, Christopher Hutchinson, Aide Grijalva, and Valerie Keller raised money through caroling in neighborhoods and used their money to buy a Christmas for a homeless family. The family was found through a church and the family was known to be living in a van to support them. Because of the families limited resources, they would have not gotten to enjoy the experience a Christmas if it had not been for the Pay it Forward project and the actions of this group.
- Melissa Folkerts, Natalie Tetreault, Hayley Peterson, and Lauren Smith also spent their money benefitting the local homeless population. They focused their purchases on buying unusual gifts that they would not normally receive in care packages, such as chocolates .
- Zaira Lopez, Jennifer Garcia, Jeirany Chavez, and Catherine Kricorian decided to split their money to complete two separate projects. The first involved putting together care packages that comprised of a black shirt, toothbrush/paste, shampoo, a first-aid kit, and much more.
- Sophie Harriman, Mahina Won-Milho, Cassie Harriman, and Kenya Avila baked cupcakes with their money and gave them to Costa Mesa High School’s teachers. They also planned to use their extras in order to also give Costa Mesa’s firefighters cupcakes as well.
- Sagang Wee and Eric Vu printed out sheets of paper containing compliments and posted them around the Costa Mesa High School campus. They are tear-off sheets that are titled ‘Let’s restore the faith in humanity.”