Ohio State Marion students kicked off the season of giving by collecting, packaging, and distributing over 1,000 articles of winter accessories to help less fortunate Marion area families stay warm this winter.
Students from Amy Tibbals’s English 2367.01S were able to assemble and distribute over 455 “Loving Scarves” bags to the local community, through partnerships with a number of Marion and Central Ohio non-profit organizations.
Some bags were donated to partner organizations Marion Matters, the Heart of Ohio Homeless Shelters, and the Boys and Girls Club of Marion County to distribute directly to their current clients. In addition, Coats for Children, a non-profit organization located in Columbus, Ohio donated 34 new coats to the Boys and Girls Club.
“The cool thing about our delivery to the Boys and Girls Club was that we took the bags inside for their young club members, but then clipped a bunch of bags to the chain-link fence that surrounds their building, so that community members could come and take what they needed,” said Tibbals.
The original goal for the class was to make 200 bags for distribution. “As you can see,” she said, “we more than doubled that goal. Over 1000 items were made or donated for this project.”
Students made some of the scarves by cutting fleece blankets. Other items were made by hand and donated. Inmates at Marion Correctional Institution donated two boxes of hand-crocheted/knitted hats, scarves, and baby blankets. Other handmade items were donated as well. Some were made by students’ family members, and others were made by Ohio State Marion staff. Students also purchased items to donate.
The class was broken into four groups who were tasked with collecting enough items to create at least 40 bags. The class estimated they would be able to make 40 more bags from the campus-wide donations, but were thrilled to see the outpouring of support from the campus community.
“We were amazed to see that we had assembled over 455 bags,” Tibbals said. “We lost count after that number,” Tibbals said.
Each bag contained at least two winter-wear items, but many had three items, including combinations of hats, gloves, and scarves.
The students also had the opportunity to hear first-hand from executive directors representing each of the partner community organizations, who shared with the students what their organization does to help Marion County residents.
According to Tibbals, her students now have a frame of reference for work on their final research paper for the course, that asks: Does everyone have full and equal access to the American Dream?
“So while this project helped the community and gave students a positive way to give back, it also gave them some primary research to use in their papers,” said Tibbals.
“They may have a different perspective on their answer to the question now that they have participated in this project,” she added.
“Students learn the importance of giving back to the community…that it doesn’t take millions of dollars to make a big difference. They saw the value of giving back, as part of the American Dream. That is the whole theme of the class, The American Dream,” Tibbals explained.
Tibbals’s take away from the project was that it gave students, not only empathy for those in need in the surrounding community, but it also helped them create a positive connection with each other as they worked together on this project. Even though they will earn a grade for the project in the course, the good they felt was the greatest reward, and just maybe, it made our entire community feel a little bit warmer.