Making giving a life lesson

Oregon State University students Adam Aguilar and Kasra Azizian aren’t the type to send a thank you card and leave it at that. They are more interested in making a lasting impact. And that’s why they’ve challenged fellow KidSpirit employees to start donating monthly to the program.

Adam Aguilar, left, and Kasra Azizian, right, have challenged KidSpirit employees to donate monthly to the program. (photo: Theresa Hogue)

Adam Aguilar, left, and Kasra Azizian, right, have challenged KidSpirit employees to donate monthly to the program. (photo: Theresa Hogue)

Both men have been enthusiastic supporters and advocates for OSU KidSpirit since being hired to work for the program, which links local children with the expertise of the OSU community. The OSU students who work for KidSpirit learn leadership skills and teaching strategies, and form a tight bond with fellow staff members and director Karen Swanger. They serve as teachers and activity leaders, and also become mentors to the children they work with.

Aguilar, who is getting ready to graduate with a degree in English, and Azizian, a sophomore in New Media, are both at different stages in their school career, but both also recognize that their time at KidSpirit has impacted them academically and personally. That’s why the two came up with a plan to challenge KidSpirit’s fellow enthusiasts to financially support the program.

The friends created the KidSpirit Staff Giving Program, which challenges staff members to donate $10 a month to the program. At first, they aimed their challenge at fellow staffers, but now, they’ve decided to expand it, and appeal to the more than 900 KidSpirit employees who have worked with the program over the years.

“KidSpirit needs to see growth,” Aguilar said. “We need to take the program to the next level.”

Aguilar thinks it makes sense to ask those most vested in KidSpirit to make the monthly donation.

Brittinay Richmond, left and Jamie Nelson prepare peanut butter and jelly sandwiches during a small fundraiser at Kid Spirit. (photo: Theresa Hogue)

Brittinay Richmond, left and Jamie Nelson prepare peanut butter and jelly sandwiches during a small fundraiser at Kid Spirit. (photo: Theresa Hogue)

“We see where we can put the money,” he said. “We see where the money is going.”

Azizian is a Corvallis native who started his college career at University of Oregon, but switched to OSU after being hired by KidSpirit and having “the most amazing time” his first summer with the program.

“I really saw what the program can do for me, professionally and as a person,” he said.

Once they received approval from Swanger to start the challenge, Aguilar and Azizian worked with the OSU Foundation to make sure they were doing things by the book, and so they could set up a site on-line where students, as well as OSU staff and faculty, could make donations.

Although they’re just in the early stages, they already have 21 people donating $10 a month to KidSpirit. They’ll now be reaching out to former KidSpirit employees to see if they want to participate.

“I can’t express how cool it is, especially in these economic times, to have students initiate this, and to understand, “Let’s be part of the solution,” Swanger said. “It really is amazing and it is a testament to the kind of kids who work with KidSpirit.”

Swanger said $10 a month is a big chunk of money for students, and she made sure that those who donate are doing so not by putting it on their credit card or charging it to an account that parents might pay off, but are actually budgeting the donation into their monthly financial plans.

“It’s a life lesson,” she said. “You have to give something up to give.”

Each month, the Giving Program will host a peanut butter and jam lunch in the KidSpirit Office to celebrate the staff’s monthly gift, and to raise more donations from other campus members who want to stop in and get a sandwich. Roman Meal is donating the bread for the sandwiches. The next lunch will be held Feb. 12 in Langton Hall Room 125.

To find out more about the challenge, go to http://kidspirit.oregonstate.edu/donate

~ Theresa Hogue

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