During the 2008 BCS National Championship game in New Orleans, Ohio State Alumni Association President Archie Griffin seized the opportunity of the national spotlight to “pay it forward” — a term former coach Woody Hayes associated with doing good deeds.
Since Buckeye alumni clubs nationwide gather to watch the bowl game, Griffin saw an opportunity to have the clubs donate to what he called the “Charity Bowl.”
That year, the clubs raised $70,000 that went to the Greater New Orleans Foundation to help schools affected by Hurricane Katrina, said said Jay Hansen, director of communications for the alumni association. The alumni association decided to make the Charity Bowl an annual event.
“The University motto is ‘education for citizenship.’ Our thought has always been that that’s a challenge to our graduates to not only go out and earn a career, but also be involved in your community,” said Hansen. “I think the Charity Bowl is one way that Ohio State alumni are able to accomplish that.”
Rather than funneling donations toward one recipient, the event now has a theme that helps several organizations nationwide.
This year’s theme is beating hunger. Alumni clubs across the country have been asked to donate time, food or money from Dec. 15 until Feb. 28. The contributions are then reported to Columbus for tallying a grand total of meals served. Beating hunger was the theme two years ago and 72,000 meals were donated across the country, said Hansen.
The Columbus alumni association chose the Mid-Ohio Foodbank as the local recipient for this year’s Charity Bowl proceeds.
Colin Baumgartner of Mid-Ohio Foodbank said the Charity Bowl is important to the food bank since donations drop dramatically after the holidays. Baumgartner said this year’s Charity Bowl set a goal of $20,000.
Mid-Ohio Foodbank covers a 20-county region and is the largest food bank in the state in terms of the area covered and the pounds of food supplied, said Baumgartner. About 270 organizations receive food from the bank in Franklin County.
Kathy Kelly-Long of the Broad Street Food Pantry said their organization purchases about 80 percent of its food from Mid-Ohio Foodbank. Its pantry serves 600-700 people a week, she said.
About 40 million pounds of food were delivered last year to Mid-Ohio Foodbank’s partner agencies across the state. Those agencies include soup kitchens, food pantries, after-school programs and homeless shelters.
Columbus alumni have been asked to drop off dry or canned food to the Longaberger Alumni House and their suite at the Ohio Union, or make contributions to the Mid-Ohio Foodbank via an online “virtual food drive.”
Beyond Columbus, more than 170 alumni clubs have been asked to fight hunger locally.