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Pay It Forward bridges students and service

Brutus showing his devotion to service at Pay It Forward’s Community Commitment event. Credit: Courtesy of Pay It Forward and Office of Student Life

Sometimes the little things that mean the most are forgotten, unnoticed and underfunded. It might be the Thanksgiving drive that nobody knew about, or maybe a great service idea that just isn’t in the budget.

An Ohio State program called Pay It Forward might be a solution to that problem. Its goal is to bring student and service organizations together with accessible community-service events. The events are aimed at getting students more involved in service that is of particular interest to them.

“The mission is to catalyze the start of getting involved in the Columbus community,” said Daniella Eglash, a Pay It Forward student director. “I feel like we all have that ability to make a difference, but it’s about getting started and not everyone can do that, but Pay It Forward has that ability to be the jumpstart for many.”

Eglash, a fourth-year in psychology, is one of two student directors within the program. Her job requires her to oversee and coordinate with each of the six cohorts that make up Pay It Forward and the Office of Student Life.

Cohorts are subdivisions within the Pay It Forward program that consist of three to four people each. To become a member of a cohort, students must send in an application to the Office of Student Life. There are currently 22 active members.

Each cohort serves its own purpose. The six include the Columbus Service Support Program, Community Commitment, Battle Against Hunger, MLK Day of Service, Spring Into Service and Local Service Trips. Students can choose to help out with any of the events.

Eglash said she helped start the Columbus Service Support Program, which gives select individuals interested in beginning service projects, but are unsure of how to get started, any amount from $300 to $1,000. The funding comes from the Office of Student Life.

Ashley Guo, a third-year in biology, works in the Local Service Trip cohort.

“Our goal is to provide Ohio State students with different kinds of service opportunities,” Guo said. “Our goal is to help them be more engaged with service, not just now, but for the rest of their lives.”

Pay It Forward’s biggest event each year is the MLK Day of Service, which sends more than 1,000 students into the Columbus community each year for a full day of volunteering.

“I just started doing it and I realized that it totally aligned with my morals, and what I want to do for the community,” Guo said. “It’s opened my eyes to see that there are not just problems around the world, but right here in our own backyard.”


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The Engaged Scholars logo accompanies stories that feature and examine research and teaching partnerships formed between The Ohio State University and the community (local, state, national and global) for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources. These stories spring from a partnership with OSU’s Office of Outreach and Engagement. The Lantern retains sole editorial control over the selection, writing and editing of these stories.

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