Pay It Forward with Candy Bars Goes Viral at West Springfield

Throw Shine messages captured on Mars Candy video.

— There was a girl in Audrey Wever’s math class at West Springfield High School

last year that could use some cheering up, so as part of Audrey’s covert effort to “throw shine,” around the school, she discreetly dropped off a 3 Musketeers bar and message of encouragement that made the girl’s day. It was part of her and fellow student Rodney Wrice’s effort last year to spread positive vibes around that grew into something they never imagined.

“It felt so good, you can be a really good stranger,” Wever said.

Through the power of the Internet, teenage idealism, and candy bars with positive messages, the students’ plan grew into a school-wide feeling of togetherness and a video by Mars Candy thrusting Wever and Wrice into a nationwide 3 MUSKETEERS #ThrowShine campaign. “It got so big, very unexpected,” said Wever.

IT ALL STARTED last fall when Rodney Wrice saw a Throw Shine video that 3 Musketeers put out, and it gave him an idea to do the same thing at West Springfield, a “pay-it-forward,” effort to spread good feelings. There was

negativity and cyber bullying going on in the world, and he wanted to do something about it locally.

According to Mars Candy, the 3 MUSKETEERS #ThrowShine campaign started last fall with a message on each candy bar and videos designed to create an environment for young people to give props to their peers or make someone feel good. It is the positive counterpart to the isolation and embarrassment that comes with “throwing shade,” an internet slang term for being negative towards something or someone.

The two students went out, bought some 3 Musketeer bars, hand wrote some positive messages of their own, anonymously placing them in lockers, desks, and other locations so the intended parties would get them. They had to be discreet so no one associated the effort with them. “I would come in at like 6:20 in the morning, we would hand write all the notes.” said Wever.

As more candy bars and notes went out, Wrice created a Twitter account, and more students started following it, posting pictures of the bars and messages they received. “The Twitter account was noticed by our community management team who brought it to the attention of Mars, who then made the decision to send 2,800 bars to the school,” said Lori Shachtman, a spokesperson for the ThrowShine campaign.

“[Mars Candy] called Mr. Mukai,” the West Springfield principal Wrice said, “he emailed us, he was really excited about it.”

It wasn’t long before Mars sent a video team from Warhorse Filmmaker to tape a video at West Springfield to capture the ThrowShine feeling around the school. With the cameras rolling, “we just talked about everything, it took the whole school day,” Wever said.

Mukai had a speaking part in the video as well. Film releases were signed by all, and when the crew left that day last spring, there was a long wait, longer than either of them had imagined.

“I don’t know what took them so long,” said Wrice.

“I was checking YouTube every day for two weeks,” added Wever.

In late June, at 1 a.m., Wrice saw the link. “I watched it first and sent her the link,” to Wever, who was in Germany on vacation.

WITH A TWITTER LINK, pictures on the internet, and a YouTube video, social media played a big part, which they learned from as well. “It opened doors on what we could do,” said Wever. The positivity of the whole effort was part of their Christian background, and during the process, Fairfax County got wind of the Throw Shine campaign at West Springfield in March.

“We won the Fairfax County peace award for our school,” said Wever. Wrice is off to college this year, but Wever plans on continuing with the positive message scenario during her senior year at West Springfield.

“I’m glad I did it, it was a good experience,” she said.

West Springfield High School is being renovated as well, so Principal Mukai is planning on adding a “throw shine,” element to the new look. “We’re going to have a positive mural dedicated to Audrey and Rodney,” he said.

See the West Springfield Throwing Shine video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=hJ0kpeWF-cA&feature=youtu.be.

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