Showing love with loaves: Students give back

By Gianluca D’Elia 

Students prepare sandwiches for a local soup kitchen at the SRC Atrium. Assistant Director for Service Learning Joan Liptrot said they made 555 sandwiches by the end of the event.

When alumnus Andrew Dimino, ’15, survived a brutal motorcycle accident in Thailand last week, he went to two local hospitals that could not help him before being transported to a large hospital that was able to properly treat the injuries to his face and head.

After his firsthand experience of Thailand’s lack of access to healthcare, Dimino wrote a Facebook post encouraging others to “pay it forward.”

When Joan Liptrot, the assistant director for service learning, and Kim Algeo, the assistant director of the Center for International Education (CIE), heard the news of Dimino’s accident and saw his call to action, they started brainstorming on how they could fulfill it, and along with Greek Life Coordinator Matt Cecere, they decided to host an event to help the homeless in the area.

CIE, the Student Government Association (SGA), the Greek Council, the Office of Service Learning and Sigma Phi Epsilon collaborated to host “Pay It Forward!” on March 7. At the event, students made 555 sandwiches for the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen and wrote get-well cards to Dimino. Within the first 30 minutes of the event, student volunteers had already gone through 22 loaves of bread, Liptrot said.

“We wanted to do as much as we could to honor his request,” said Algeo as she folded a homemade get-well card. “He just wants people to do good.”

In his Facebook post, Dimino wrote, “I only had to endure this for one week and it is one of the most awful feelings I’ve ever experienced. While I hope and pray for my upcoming surgery, I am thinking of the communities here as well as at home and how much better we can all be doing to improve the imbalances in the world.”

Dimino underwent six hours of surgery and is currently recovering well, but he cannot open his mouth for two weeks, Liptrot said.

“Today I ask you to think of a way you can contribute to someone in your community who has less opportunity than you,” Dimino wrote in the post. “This is something that will make me smile in the two weeks when I can’t open my mouth… Please pay it forward!”

Dimino’s commitment to service was strengthened by the time he spent abroad in Thailand, so much so that after graduating, he moved to Thailand to teach children and eventually work for a tour company, said Algeo.

Liptrot, who first met Dimino during a service trip to Thailand over winter break, said, “people there are very appreciative and happy for what they have, and it’s all about thinking of what you have. People are always friendly and happy, and they call it ‘The Land of Smiles.’ And I think living there, Andrew has really embraced that spirit. That’s who Andrew is. Even from his hospital bed, he was still appreciative.”

SGA President and senior public relations major Ryan Hopely said, “This event truly exemplifies what it means to be part of the Rider family. It was a no-brainer that being so inspired by Andrew’s message of paying it forward, we had to do something as a community.”

Senior public relations major Meghan Korb, who befriended Dimino while volunteering abroad in Thailand over winter break, said, “Even when you are in your darkest hour, sometimes you realize others have it worse than you, and you realize you have the potential to do more for others. I believe Andrew’s spirit emphasizes that concept.”

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