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Ohio State staff, students fill backpacks with supplies for Columbus students

‘Buckeye Backpack’ event part of Buckeye Love celebration

As part of The Ohio State University’s monthlong Buckeye Love celebration, Melissa Shivers, senior vice president for the Office of Student Life, led a group of students, faculty and staff who participated in the Buckeye Backpack project Feb. 9 at the Ohio Union. Volunteers packed donated items in backpacks provided through Ohio State’s partnership with Nike that will be distributed to Columbus schoolchildren.

Shivers said the idea for the event grew out of her love of celebrating others’ birthdays. Because her own single mother was financially unable to provide gifts for her and her sister when she was growing up, birthdays have special significance, she said.

Melissa Shivers“The Office of Student Life is very much committed to serving the Ohio State community, but we also recognize the importance of supporting the Columbus community,” she said. “What an incredible way that we get to celebrate kids in the community on their special day.”

Shivers worked alongside the team of volunteers who filled 125 backpacks with school supplies, gratitude journals, Ohio State Buckeyes stickers, birthday cards and birthday cake supplies, among other items. The backpacks will be distributed to Gladden Community House, a nonprofit organization that provides social services to Franklinton on the West Side of Columbus, and the United Schools Network (USN).

USN provides support services to four charter schools – two elementary and two middle schools – in Franklinton and the Near East Side, said Andy Boy, the organization’s founder and CEO.

“Because we’re underfunded, we struggle to meet all the needs of our students, so partnerships like this allow us to do even more for our students,” he said. “The joy that will come from our families when they receive this is going to be amazing.”

The Buckeye Backpack project was funded in part through a grant from the Center for Human Kindness at the Columbus Foundation. Volunteers who participated in the project included Ohio State Nike Partnership Student Ambassadors Austin Bowman and Karla Vres.

“As Buckeyes, we show love. When I think back, birthdays are some of my favorite memories from childhood,” said Vres, a consumer sciences major and member of the Buckeye women’s basketball team. “I just love being here and being able to help kids celebrate.”

While Buckeye Love is observed in February, the concept continues year-round at Ohio State, Bowman said. 

“Being here, being part of something where people come together, is a really cool opportunity,” said Bowman, an accounting major and Ohio State Marching Band drum major. “Being a part of different organizations on campus, being able to see so many different people and groups come together, to create something wonderful, it means a lot to me, and it is special getting to do something like this.”

Ohio State’s Buckeye Love celebration includes Random Acts of Kindness week, which kicked off Feb. 12 and continues through Feb. 18. National Random Acts of Kindness Day falls on Friday, Feb. 17.  

Throughout the month, Ohio State students, faculty and staff will perform random acts of kindness through a host of campus events. Many will involve surprising people with treats and expressions of gratitude. There will also be signs with uplifting messages featuring compliments, encouragement and ideas for sharing kindness across campus.

“One of the attributes about Ohio State is that we’re a kind and caring community,” said Tracy Stuck, program director of community partnerships and innovation in the Office of Student Life, “so we’re celebrating that all month.”

For more information about Buckeye Love, visit kind.osu.edu.

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