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Hundreds of Ohio State students volunteer to honor Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Pay it Forward cohort supports local projects with day of service

More than 500 students from The Ohio State University participated in 29 service projects to support the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service last month.

Pay It Forward, a student cohort within the Office of Student Life dedicated to service, organizes the event every year to give students the opportunity to give back.

John Holzaepfel, a senior public affairs student in the John Glenn College of Public Affairs, served as one of the co-chairs for the Jan. 16 event. He was inspired to become a co-chair for the program after his experience volunteering with his scholar groups in previous years.

“It is a great opportunity to get engaged with humanity and how our community service members are working to improve life,” Holzaepfel said.

Holzaepfel worked with local agencies to help set up the Pay it Forward projects. He said his role allowed him to do what he enjoys most: working with nonprofit partners.

“I really want to work with nonprofits someday,” he said.

Hundreds of Buckeyes spent their day off volunteering at the MLK Jr. Day of Service eventAs Holzaepfel worked to plan events, first-year law student Nick Wead served as a site leader.

“A lot of times this day comes around and it’s just a day of leisure, and I wanted to take the opportunity to honor MLK’s legacy and wanted to do something that took me out of my comfort zone,” Wead said.

Wead led a group of 12 undergraduate students at United Preparatory Academy East, where they originally were only planning to repaint bulletin boards. However, after some of the undergraduate engineering scholars were able to problem-solve and make use of more paint brushes, they finished painting quickly.

Wead said his team looked around and asked, “What else can we do?”

They worked with the school to clean the hallways and classrooms. The volunteers from Ohio State were able to leave the school knowing they “made an impact that is going to make a difference in others’ lives,” Wead said.

Another site leader, Mohit Jangid, a fourth-year PhD candidate, has been participating in the day of service for a few years. He started as a participant and was encouraged by his site leader to become one this year.

“I love the idea of so many students getting together in the early morning to serve,” Jangid said.

His group made cards for senior citizens at a care facility and even had help from some of the neighboring kids.

“I loved the kids’ enthusiasm and creativity in making cards,” Jangid said, which inspired him to be even more creative.

Jangid hopes to become a professor and for him, this experience “helps me to observe and communicate with the different personalities of volunteers.”

Holzaepfel, Wead and Jangid encourage any and all students to participate in the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, saying it is an incredible way to spend a day off. Pay it Forward will host the event again in 2024, and students are welcome to participate and gain experience serving in their communities.

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