One of the many things I love about Ohio University is the faculty members continually remind me of the university’s place within the surrounding Appalachian community.

It’s easy to forget our sense of place during fest season when the main concerns are weekend plans and summer internships (many of which will be taking us out of Athens).

A class that has forced me to think about my sense of place this quarter, though, is an Honors Tutorial College seminar I am taking with Professor Cary Frith. The topic of the seminar is innovation. She did not think it was good enough to study the theories of innovation. She felt we needed to practice them.

And rightly so.

As part of the class, my classmates and I have been challenged to identify a local problem and find a solution for it. After some deliberation, we settled on poverty and, specifically, the food insecurity facing members of the Athens County community.

Students have a unique connection to this problem. Many students living in the dorms have flex meal plans, which allow them to use leftover money in the markets located around campus. Few may know, however, that instead of using this money to stock up on twelve more Red Bulls, one can donate that money to pay for food for people in need.

My classmates and I believe donating extra swipes (and fractions of swipes) is something easy and important that students on this campus can do. If more students donated their leftover money, the impact could be large. 

Additionally, the act of donating is a great way to remind yourself of your sense of place, of what it means to go to school in an Appalachian county.

This week, we are asking students to go to the market to donate granola bars. Those granola bars will be used by a summer program for kids hosted by GoodWorks.

You can follow that campaign on Twitter by using the hashtag #strongstart when you donate.

Spencer Smith is a junior studying English.