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Buckeyes learn the art of philanthropy and community support through Pay It Forward

Students in Senior English Lecturer, Amy Tibbals’ autumn English 2367.01S service-learning course ended spring semester by awarding three local non-profit agencies a total of $5,000 to support the work each organization does in the community as part of an over-decade-long project at Ohio State Marion known as Pay It Forward.

Heart of Ohio Homeless Shelter was awarded $2750, Marion Mentors was awarded $1250, Marion Matters was awarded $1000 during ceremonies in Maynard Hall’s Guthery Community Room.

A portion of the funding for the project came from students in English 3304, who ran a crowdfunding campaign during spring semester 2022 with a goal of raising $2,000.

“The eleven students did all the marketing, all the emails, updates, and promotions on the website in order to raise the funds in one month,” said Tibbals. “In one month, they not only met their goal, but they also exceeded it.” Giving much credit to their community partner United Way of Central Ohio, who matched with their own $2,000, the students ended up raising $4,100 on their original $2,000 goal.

“The United Way of North Central Ohio has been our partner in the Pay It Forward program since we started 11 years ago,” said Tibbals. “They not only participate by funding our project, but they also participate in coming into the class and helping our students understand about the grant process and how it works so that they’re involved the whole way through our semester,” she said According to Heart of Ohio Homeless Shelter Executive Director, Keith Ring the funds his organization was awarded will be put to work immediately in the community.

“Receiving this grant, means a lot,” Ring shared. “It is going to give us the ability of providing transportation to our residents coming into the shelter, some of

those prioritized appointments while residents are staying with us and stabilizing, and then with successfully exiting residents from our shelter.”

Ring explained, sometimes their cliental have transportation needs when moving out. This is going to go towards providing public transportation for them, more than what we have currently.

“It is a barrier of ours at the shelter,” he added. “These kids are resolving a barrier and removing a barrier for our residents.”

Ring felt working with the young creative minds from Ohio State Marion was an amazing experience and added to what is a win-win for the shelter.

“More than anything else, this is one of the most exciting things. These guys are great. Every class, every year, it’s amazing just to work with them and the questions they ask are great questions, he said. “I just thoroughly enjoy this.”

This is much more than a class for the students, explained Tibbals. Working with local community organizations gives the students a lifelong appreciation and insight into helping those in need.

“Students overwhelmingly tell me this experience is something that they won’t ever forget,” said Tibbals. “It is not a class that they have just had to do and take the test and be done with. It is something that has impacted their life, the way they think about their community, think about volunteering. They think about how they want to impact their own community, and even about how they want to give money sometime in the future, when donating. They are going to think a little bit differently about it instead of just throwing a dollar here and there. They are going to investigate and see what that organization does, and ask, how can I help? So, It does have a great impact.”

“It has been a pleasure making Marion a better place and working alongside with Marion Matters,” said Delaware, Ohio sophomore nursing major Eric Eckert. “We were proud to give them however much money they deserved.”

For freshman communications major Ethan Davis, the experience he gained is something he could see himself using in his career.

“It was just utterly fantastic,” said Davis. “The hospitality shown by the shelter was great to see. It was just, personally for my major, being a communications major, making the video, and doing outreach into the community is something I want to do with my job.”

Freshman Ryan Haney, an applied physics/mathematics major, who worked with Marion Mentors, was moved by the relationships that are being developed through Marion Mentors.

“You see them talking with their mentors. They work on schoolwork. They do games. You can see just how much of an impact they have,” said Haney. “We learned just how important mentors are to these kids.”

Haley Wilkes, director of mentoring, diversity and inclusion with Marion Family YMCA and Marion Mentors sees the funds her organization was awarded going to work this summer in the community.

“We work with kids ages k-12 and a lot of them face food insecurities. So, when we asked for this donation,” Wilkes said, “it was to help provide snacks and stuff for the kids, as well as events throughout the years so that they would have a safe space to go. Receiving this award money will allow us to support our kids through the summer, as well as through the school year too.”

According to Wilkes, the college students were great at the mentoring room when they came to Grant Middle School and spoke with the kids in the mentoring program.

“They had a blast,” she said, and it really made an impression on the young people to have the college students at their school.

Alan Gonzalez, Marion Matters Board President was encouraged by the funds they received, but also by the lessons Ohio State Marion students will take with them after the class is over and beyond.

“It has been a great experience, very eye opening for the students, seeing them interact with the different organizations here in Marion,” said Gonzalez.

About the Pay It Forward Project:

The Ohio State University at Marion's Pay It Forward Project provides students in English 2367.01S, entitled Language, Identity and Culture in the U.S. Experience, with the opportunity to oversee a competitive grant process all while meeting the goals and objectives of a second-level writing course. In other words, students can learn first-hand about the problems in the community of Marion, learn about organizations that are working to fix the problems in Marion and then decide how to award grant funds to make a positive impact. During this process, they are building their English skills by researching, analyzing, thinking critically, arguing, debating, and writing papers. This experiential, real-world, service-learning course provides students with education that lasts longer than one semester and builds students’ understanding of the problems in the community while at the same time making a difference in the community of Marion.