For the sake of privacy and my professional future, I chose to post this anonymously.
During the summer of 2016 when I was 20 years old, I ran into some legal trouble -- some underaged-drinking-related legal trouble to be more specific. After I plead not guilty to the charges, the case went to trial, at which time the prosecutor offered me full expungement of my record in exchange for 40 hours of community service.
My need for these volunteer hours led me to find Buckeye Food Alliance.
I emailed the President expressing my interest in volunteering at the pantry. He told me what their hours of operation were and encouraged me to come by that same day. I felt welcomed the very moment I arrived.
The volunteers were passionate, kind, and gave me several constructive tasks right from the start. I could have gone the first day, logged some hours, and then picked up another volunteer project to fill my 40-hour quota, but I didn't.
I knew that Buckeye Food Alliance would be a worthy outlet for my mandated philanthropy. I returned to the pantry twice more that week, where I was again welcomed with kindness and worthwhile work to be done.
Two months later, I found myself with 40 hours of volunteering successfully completed and a squeaky-clean legal record. I could have put my work with Buckeye Food Alliance behind me along with my charges, but I didn't.
I accepted a leadership position with the organization and continued volunteering -- truly volunteering -- with BFA. I participated in the winter involvement fair, attended executive board meetings, hosted tabling events, and scheduled fundraisers. I created web posts, drew up advertisements, and typed marketing copy. But, most importantly, I found friendships with some of the most passionate, dedicated, and kind people on campus.
Whether you are in need of food, or simply want to help a worthy cause -- just as the President encouraged me to do so many months ago -- I encourage you, your friends, your roommates, your classmates, and anyone else you can think of, to come check out BFA.
You won't regret it.