Jan. 21, 2016

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The Ohio State University’s Pay It Forward Program in collaboration with the Frank W. Hale Black Cultural Center celebrated its 17th year of the annual MLK Day of Service. While many students enjoyed the day off from classes on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, some instead chose to enjoy a day on, volunteering at over 50 locations around the city of Columbus. Projects included literacy education, working with the youth, serving meals, office work, and other service experiences all paying tribute to the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The day began with a musical celebration opening ceremony at the Ohio Union and ended with a group reflection at Hale Hall.

Amongst the volunteers were Ohio State student-athletes in attendance, ready and willing to make a difference in their community. Despite the fact that student-athletes’ free time is very rare, many still chose to volunteer on their day off. Sophomore field hockey player Lauren Archibald agrees.

“It’s true we don’t have that much free time as a student-athlete, but it’s important to make time for things that matter. And giving back matters.” She also went on to touch upon the importance of being in service to others. “It’s nice to know we are helping out the community and representing Ohio State and ourselves in a positive way.”

Fellow teammate, sophomore Morgan Kile offered some insight as well. “Even though we are around each other everyday, it’s not usually in an environment where we can relax and have fun. Not that practice and games aren’t fun, but we are in an extremely focused mindset, working hard, and overcoming challenges. But getting to volunteer with these girls is fun because we get to laugh and enjoy our time while also making an impact and doing our part to better Columbus.”

The field hockey team and other student-athletes spent their day at the historical Bosco Center in downtown Columbus. The women’s soccer team spent their time giving back at Divine Mercy Ministries, while the women’s tennis team volunteered at COSI Columbus. Fencing also participated in the day of service.

“The whole team was very appreciative and grateful to the Cosi community for letting us join them for the day,” said Grâinne O’Neill, a senior on the women’s tennis team. “It was a brilliant experience and a great way to give back to the Columbus community.”

As the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said,

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

Instead of being cuddled up under a blanket, relaxing in comfort in a warm home, many student-athletes chose to forgo their own day off to volunteer their time and stand with others to participate in community service and celebrate Dr. King.