Athens School Supply Drive Garners 30 Volunteers

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Martin Luther King Junior Day, Ohio University’s Campus Involvement Center organized a school supply drive to benefit Athens County schools. An event was held Saturday, January 28 to package the supplies collected.

Community Engagement is a department within the Campus Involvement Center. Assistant Director of Community Engagement Barbara Harrison has worked for the university for twenty-five years, spending five of them in the Campus Involvement Center. She said that the drive was part of a long-held tradition at OU. She said, “Each year, Ohio University plans events surrounding Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday. And every year, we also have a component that involves community service. This year, we decided to reach out to our local elementary schools, and see if there were some supplies that they might need mid-year.”

To Harrison’s surprise, the one item the schools were in need of most was clothing. The large number of students volunteering also came as a surprise to Harrison. She said, “We know that students, in general, at Ohio University do give back to the community in big ways. And so I think that when they see a project like this, they feel like is something they really can contribute, they really do turn out.”

It’s long been a tradition to help one’s community in honor of Martin Luther King Junior’s birthday. For this reason, many students wanted to volunteer for the drive. Ohio University first-year student Rebecca Fouts cited wanting to help her community as her reason for participating in the drive. She said, “I wanted to get more active in my community. I was, Christmas break, sitting there, watching Netflix, and just got so bored and like, what is the point of me just sitting here? What’s the point of living if I’m not doing stuff for other people? Making other people feel alive?”

Fouts logged one hundred hours of volunteering a year in high school, but having both class and a job at OU required her to step back from community service for a bit. She said, “Back in high school, volunteering was a huge part of my life. And then, when I came to OU, that kind of fazed out a little bit because I’m a student leader at Nelson Dining Hall, which requires a little bit of my time. But I decided I really want to get back into the volunteering aspect because it’s just a great thing to do….Helping out your community, making other people feel good, I really want to have that in my life again.”

Harrison encouraged students to keep in touch with the Campus Involvement Center, which has an online calendar and can even help students connect with specific agencies in the Athens community. She said the most rewarding part of her job was watching students grow through volunteering. She said, “Every day in my job, I get to see that evolution of students who may not know much about our Athens community. And by getting involved, they quickly learn that we’re just really blessed to live in this small town with so many resources, but…also, there are so many opportunities for students to give back.”