Photos: Thaddeus & Polly Seymour Acts of Kindness Day
February 18, 2022
By Stephanie Rizzo ’09
The Rollins community celebrated the second annual Thaddeus & Polly Seymour Acts of Kindness Day on February 17. Explore a few of the highlights from what is quickly becoming one of the Rollins community’s favorite traditions.
During his 1983 convocation speech, Rollins’ 12th president, Thaddeus Seymour ’82HAL ’90H, presented the student body with a challenge: Engage in acts of kindness and service toward one another, the campus, and the community. He didn’t know it then, but that simple provocation was the beginning of a lasting legacy that would evolve into a yearly tradition.
Well known for their commitment to community service, Thad and his wife, Polly, spent decades campaigning for causes like the Winter Park Library and Habitat for Humanity in addition to serving as the first couple of Rollins from 1978 to 1990. They continued to serve the College until Thad’s death in 2019. Since 2020, Rollins has honored the beloved pair by observing Thaddeus & Polly Seymour Acts of Kindness Day every February with a series of events organized by the Center for Leadership & Community Engagement.
Tars near and far showed up for events throughout the day, delivering on a lifelong commitment to service that would make Thad proud. Here are a few of our favorite moments from the day.
Everyone knows that spreading kindess is hard work. The day began with dozens of students gathering in Tars Plaza to fuel up on coffee and donuts before kicking off their day of service. There were also plenty of photo opportunities to help participants spread the message to other volunteers.
Thad’s beloved wife and partner in kindness, Polly, is a force for change in her own right. Each year, she returns to campus on the day that bears her name to inspire future generations of community service advocates and volunteers. Early in the day, Polly took some time to speak with students, including Hannah Brodbeck ’25.
Students from the Rollins chapter of Omicron Delta Kappa, a nationally recognized leadership honors society, led efforts to adorn campus with colorful messages of kindness.
At 11 a.m., labyrinth project manager Frank Faine, led a moving meditation walk through the new labyrinth and meditation garden on the northeast side of campus. As folks traversed the winding paver path, Jenkins asked them to focus inward on ways to spread kindness near and far.
Of course, any celebration of acts of service wouldn’t be complete without paying homage to the king of kindness himself, Fred Rogers ’51 ’74H. As a 12-bell salute rang out from Knowles Memorial Chapel in tribute to Thad’s tenure as Rollins’ 12th president, current president Grant Cornwell led a small crowd past A Beautiful Day for a Neighbor, the new statue honoring the life and work of Rollins’ most beloved alumnus.
Back on Tars Plaza, students swapped anonymous messages of kindness meant to brighten each other’s day.
It wasn’t just students, faculty, and staff perfoming good works—plenty of four-legged friends got in on the action too.
Habitat for Humanity was an organization near and dear to Thad’s heart. He co-founded the nonprofit’s Winter Park-Maitland branch in the late ’80s with local homebuilder and alum Hal George ’76 and served as its chairman until his death at age 91. Tars old and new picked up tools and showed off their construction skills at a site that will become a new home for a family in need.
Thad famously carried silver dollars in his pocket to mark moments of kindess and good deeds. If he saw someone engaging in an act of kindness, he’d hand them a silver dollar as a reward. Many folks kept their “Seymour silver dollars” as precious mementos to remind them to always choose kindness. This year, several campus representatives kept the tradition alive by bestowing silver dollars on those engaged in service.
A number of Tars signed up to pack shelf-stable meal kits intended to fight hunger in the community. Throughout the course of the day, volunteers gathered at Dave’s Boathouse to assemble more than 10,000 kits.
As golden hour drenched Mills Lawn in sunshine, students, faculty, staff, and dozens of local vendors came together for the first ever TARmers Market. Visitors enjoyed healthy treats, shopped fresh produce, and browsed wares from Tar-owned businesses and community partners.
As the second annual Thaddeus & Polly Seymour Acts of Kindness Day came to a close, students returned to campus armed with new skills and a renewed drive to engage in acts of service no matter how small. After all, even small acts can add up to a big impact.
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