Youth leadership class pays it forward

| February 20, 2018

COSHOCTON – For the second year in a row Coshocton County Youth Leadership participants were given $100 and the simple instructions to make a difference in someone’s life.

The teens shared their stories on Feb. 19 at a joint meeting with the adult leadership class. Both leadership porgrams are sponsored by the Coshocton Foundation, which donated the funds for the pay it forward projects.

Alainia Lentz was first to share her story. She decided to donate her money to a 74-year-old women who went from being active and on her own to almost being disabled due to health issues. Lentz hoped that the money would help her buy groceries and other necessities and get her back on her feet when she left the rehab center.

“When I went and visited her she could not stop telling me how much she appreciated the money,” Lentz said. “She also kept asking me why her because she was no one special. That’s when I knew I had made her day. I was so grateful for the opportunity to give her the money.”

Emily Jeffries donated her money to Shelby Theaters. She wanted to help a small, family ownded business because she watched her parents build one up themselves.

“Small businesses are the backbone of any community, anywhere,” Jeffries said.

Lexi Prater attended a West Lafayette Rotarty Club meeting and learned that the food panty in West Lafayette was in need.

“When we got the money in Novemeber I had no idea what I was going to do with it,” she said. “After that meeting I knew if I gave them the money I wouldn’t just be helping Rotary. I would be helping a bunch of people in the community.”

Sophia Kobel, Keith Claxon and Jarrett Brenneman pulled their money and gave $300 to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. The organization helps people in need in a variety of ways including putting money toward utility bills.

“This made me realize that paying bills can be a difficult task at times,” Claxon said.

Madelyn Nelson knew right away that she wanted to use her money to help a child. Her first project was buying Christmas presents for a fifth grader whose family could not afford gifts.

“I got to meet her and watch her unwrap them,” Nelson said. “It was the best experience ever.”

She spent $75 on that project and at first wasn’t sure what to do with her last $25. Her final pay it forward opportunity came to her while teaching a class at her mom’s dance studio, Miss Jennifer’s. Nelson became aware that a dancer wasn’t going to be able to be in the recital due to costs so she had the $25 applied to her dance account.

“It covered more than half the costume deposit and now she will able to participate in the recital with her class,” Nelson said.

Olivia Ringenberg and Hanna Nelson put their money together and bought supplies for the animal shelter.

“I love animals, especially dogs,” Rignenberg said. “Donating to them made my heart happy.”

Shopping for the supplies was an eye opening experience for Hanna.

“We had to decide what was most important to get with our money,” she said. “It made me think about what the animal shelter goes through on a yearly basis.”

They, however, were able to completely fill up the back of Hanna’s car with supplies for the animal shelter.

“A little bit of money can go a long way,” she said.

Paige Bemiller and Justin Conner also pulled their money and donated it to the Coshocton Bar Association to use for scholarship funds. Both have been involved with mock trials and appreciate the opportunities presented to them by those involved with the group.

“I know now that I want to be in that profession,” Conner said. “Hopefully our donation will help someone else reach their goal as well.”

Natalie Mickley used her money to help a fifth grader be able to play in both the spring and fall SOCCA league at Lake Park. She also bought the student new cleats, shin guards and bought the family a gas card to help them travel back and forth to practices and games.

“I was able to help this little girl get to be a kid,” Mickley said.

Cydney Whiteus had to fight back tears when sharing about donating her money to the SnyderSTRONG Scholarship Fund. The fund was established by Stephanie and Pat Snyder in honor of their children who passed away. Whiteus is close with the family and babysits their adopted son Archie.

“I was really happy for the opportunity to donate to this cause,” she said. “It’s really hard to go through something like they did.”

Kellyn Donaker decided she was going to donate her money to MedFlight. She was in a 4-wheeler accident in June 2015 and has firsthand knowledge of how vital their services are.

“I used the money and went and bought pizza kits from Pearl Valley Cheese,” Donaker said. “I sold them and was able to donate $240 to MedFlight. They used the money to buy new equipment to take in the helicopters.”

The last student to share her story was Josie Fornara. She read an article about charitable giving and decided to donate her money to The Salvation Army in Coshocton. Fornara felt this was a well established organization that would know how to use the money to meet people’s needs in the community.

Betsy Gosnell, executive director of Leadership Coshocton County, was very proud of each and every one of the teens.

“You hear that young people don’t do anything but look at their phones, but young people are our future,” she said. “You followed your heart and gave something back to the community.”

Gosnell also thanked the Coshocton Foundation and its trustees for allowing this project to happen and encouraged everyone to keep paying it forward.

“Hold the door open for someone,” she said. “Leave your quarter in the cart at ALDI’s for someone who needs it. Through these random acts of kindness we can change the world.”

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About the Author ()

I started my journalism career in 2002 with a daily newspaper chain. After various stops with them, I am happy to be back home! I graduated from Coshocton High School in 1998 and received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication in 2002 from Walsh University. I also earned several awards while working for daily papers, including being honored by Coshocton County’s veterans for the stories I wrote about them. I am honored and ready to once again shine a positive light on Coshocton County. I also am the proud mother of a little girl named Sophia!

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