College of the Mainland students collected clothing for students in need as part of their “Pay It Forward Project.” From left, Christine Rawls, Anthony Jackson, Alexandria Delany, Mario Flores and Heather Johnson.Students organized a “Giving Hope Project,” served homemade cookies and collected donations for a women's shelter at Pay It Forward Day. From left, COM students Fatima Salahuddin, Clarisse Castillo, Sarah Boyd and Steve Melgar.

After a classmate’s son was diagnosed with spina bifada, students in a College of the Mainland class decided to pay it forward.

“[My classmate] Steven Stack’s son, Sam, was treated at Texas Children’s Hospital,” said student Ryan Hendrickson. “To thank them for their unwavering attention to Sam, we started this project.”

Students discussed hospital needs with a staff member, who explained to them that Thanksgiving is an overlooked holiday for their patients. Students decided to create Thanksgiving activity packs with coloring books, crayons and other goodies for children in the hospital.

The project was among dozens displayed Nov. 15 at COM Pay It Forward Day, where students in COM Psychology For Success classes encouraged other COM students to get involved in a cause.

“I put students in groups at the beginning of the semester, and they planned a project based on a cause they care about,” said Psychology for Success professor Stacey Henderson.

Groups selected whatever cause they felt most passionate about – from collecting clothes for those in need to conducting a book drive for a local library.

One group of students elected to visit residents at the Elmcroft Senior Living Home in Texas City.

“We feel like senior citizens don’t really get visitors. Why can’t we take time out of our day and cheer them up?” said student Jennifer Rivera.

“I still go back every week,” said student Rylea Wilkerson. “I have a ‘boyfriend’ there now. I took him red, white and blue flowers for Veterans Day.”

Another group self-titled “Adopt the Paws” focused on raising awareness for the Bay Area Pet Adoptions.

“We’re the only no-kill shelter in Galveston County,” said Bay Area Pet Adoptions board member Jeanie Gonzalez.

Students signed pledges to stop distracted driving, dropped off canned goods and recycled plastic as part of their commitment to help the community.

“They’re putting what they’re learning into action. As they work on the project, they’re applying the class topics like interdependence, personal responsibility and social responsibility,” said Henderson.

Psychology for Success teaches students how to manage their time, take responsibility for their decisions and work as a team to succeed in college.

For more information, contact Henderson at or 409-933-8134.