Collegians part of cool idea

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Collegians part of cool idea
Students help food pantry provide healthier choices while learning about philanthropy

The Dublin Food Pantry recently held a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the purchase of their new energy efficient commercial grade refrigerator. While the purchase of a refrigerator may not seem to hold the same social significance as the opening of a new school, bridge, or playground, it opened the door to more nutrient rich fresh food choices for pantry patrons and taught a group of collegians an important life lesson.

The purchase of the refrigerator was the result of a quarter-long service-learning project between The Ohio State University at Marion and the Dublin Food Pantry.

When twenty-four students from The Ohio State University at Marion’s Delaware Center stepped into their English 367.01 course this past winter quarter they learned much more than simply how to write a better research paper. They learned about the awesome responsibility and the amazing reward of philanthropy.

The course’s theme focused on the American Dream, specifically paying it forward. Course lecturer, Amy Tibbals, received a federal Pay It Forward grant from the Ohio Campus Compact and Learn and Serve America for $4500. The grant was created to teach students the concept of philanthropy through service-learning. The task was left up to the students to determine how this money should be awarded to local area non-profit organizations.

Students learned how not-for-profit organizations apply for grant funds. They received 5 grant proposals and were asked to narrow the field down to 3 finalists. After making the first cut, they spent the rest of the quarter learning more about the 3 local non-profit groups who had applied for funds in the competitive grant process. Students visited each organization, interviewed staff, and researched each organization’s needs. After writing argument papers and participating in a lengthy debate, students came to the conclusion that they should award funds to only two of the three finalists.

“As in the real world, making the choice to reject one of the groups was very difficult,” said Tibbals.

After visiting the Dublin Food Pantry and interviewing Dublin Food Pantry Executive Director Linda Fisher, students recognized this as an immediate need. They decided to award the Dublin Food Pantry $2300 of the Pay It Forward grant funds, and they raised an additional $700 by selling cookbooks as a fundraiser for the pantry. The organization received the entire $3000 requested to buy their much needed commercial-grade refrigerator.

A “Price is Right” sized grant check was taped to the front of the clear glass doors and a ribbon ran across the top. Ohio State students, Liza Bonilla and Puja Chandra, and course instructor Amy Tibbals represented the Ohio State Marion’s English 367.01 class at the ceremony. Fisher handed the scissors to the first client of the evening, who had the honor of cutting the ribbon.

According to Tibbals, there were many lessons learned over the quarter, but that night, actually seeing how the grant money was used to help people taught everyone what paying it forward is truly all about.