‘Pay it Forward’ gives back to the community

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Members of the Pay it Forward club crowd around flags at a cemetery for Memorial Day 2022. The club volunteered time to set flags up around the graves in honor of the soldiers at cemeteries around town. (Photo used with permission from Katie Sullivan)

When she heard a fundraiser to promote breast cancer awareness needed volunteers, House 4 Assistant Principal Katie Sullivan wanted to help. She thought to herself, “I work in a high school, and I bet tons of kids would want to help.”

“I asked kids that I knew if they could go with me and help out with ‘Bras Across the Bridge Fundraiser’ ” Sullivan said. “We had an amazing day giving back and helping. The kids were wondering why we don’t do this all the time and volunteer for different organizations. Since then, I feel like we have to ‘pay it forward.’”

That was back in 2011. Since that time, the “pay it forward” club has been helping people in a variety of ways. The group holds endless amounts of volunteer opportunities each year. Recently, they’ve been focusing on fall and holiday related events such as the Veterans breakfast, Veteran phone calls, Thanksgiving baskets, Christmas Tree fundraiser, and helping with the craft fair at the local senior center. They also help out the Londonderry community by hosting tours of the school for new and incoming students, like little Lancer day, step Up day, and helping out with legion and lions club. 

“These events are so important,” Sullivan said. “The feedback that I get, especially from the Veterans, is unbelievably heartwarming. We know that we’re making other people extremely happy.”

There are thirty students involved in the pay it forward club. For students who want to sign up for specific events there is a binder dedicated to all different events with sign up sheets inside that the members can use.

Members of the Pay it Forward Club gather in front of Mathew Thornton for the 2021 Fall Festival. The club helped with running the different activity stations for the kids to enjoy. (Photo used with permission of Katie Sullivan)

“Everybody can do all of the events,” Sullivan said. “If I open it up and the club is 100 people, we would only be doing one event [opposed to many] so I try to keep it small so that that group can really get involved in all the events.”

To be in the group it takes a certain kind of person. One that is willing to volunteer their time on behalf of the school and one who wants to be helping out and doing everything that they can. Ava Naar, one of the members, is a good representation of what kind of person it takes to be a part of this.

“I think [this club] is important because it sets a good role model for the younger kids and the community,” Naar said. “We’re helping other people around town that need it and I feel like that sets a good example for the classes below us.”

Being in this club not only provides an opportunity to gain volunteer experience and community service hours, but also an opportunity to give back to others and make a difference.

“I’m looking for good quality character kids that I can trust at the event who can represent me, Londonderry High School, and the town,” Sullivan said. “The goal is to teach these kids that volunteering is something you should be doing all the time. The kids just want to give back; they want to do good things.”