At 8:30 on a chilly November morning, over 500 volunteers gathered in the Fisher courtyard with coffee and donuts for the kickoff of a new tradition. This Veterans Day marked the launch of Fisher Impact Day, a day of service bringing Fisher students, faculty and staff together to give back to the Columbus community.
It all started with a simple suggestion. “The idea came from a couple of the students in the Undergraduate Business Council,” says Patricia West, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs. “They pitched the idea to me last spring at one of the receptions. It sounded like such a great idea so I took it to the leadership team and everybody said, ‘Yeah, that sounds great!’”
Beginning in July, West and members of the Fisher leadership team met with students on the Undergraduate Business Council twice a week in order to plan and collaborate. In total, at least 500 hours went into the planning of this event.
The committee expected at most 200 volunteers to participate in the inaugural Fisher Impact Day. Instead, more than double that number signed up to serve. “The response from the Fisher community was great,” says West. “We weren’t expecting 500, and we got a huge outpouring of interest.” With each volunteer giving at least three hours of service, over 1500 hours were completed. Volunteers assisted 15 local nonprofits, such as the Mid-Ohio Foodbank and the American Red Cross, by serving at 20 different site locations around Columbus.
One of the sites where volunteers served was the Ohio House Rabbit Rescue (OHRR). Senior marketing student Shanleigh Brown was a site leader at the OHRR and coordinated 15 student volunteers. “There are about 50 bunnies at the rescue, so the students took turns getting in the pens with the bunnies and socializing with them,” Brown says. “I walked around the rescue overseeing their interactions, taking photos and answering questions about OHRR and about bunnies in general.” Overall students had an a positive experience volunteering at the site. “My favorite memory of Fisher Impact Day was just seeing how excited everyone was to interact with the bunnies and help out the rescue,” Brown says.
Another opportunity had volunteers building meal packs to donate to the Mid-Ohio Foodbank. “Measurably, we were initially planning to make 27,000 meal packs, and we were able to do more like 32,000 because we had some donations that came from outside the college,” says West. Members of the planning committee were surprised that so many people wanted to help. “Everyone I’ve talked to had a really positive experience once they were off involved in doing what they were doing,” West says.
Although the committee is happy with the results of the event, there are still areas to be improved. “The logistics for the registration and getting your T-shirt, and the donuts – because of the scale, that needs some work,” says West. The student organization Buckeye Operations Management Society took up the challenge and will be coming up with an improved registration system for next year’s Fisher Impact Day.
This year acted as a test run, and West hopes that next year’s event will be even better. “Next year will be a much bigger event because it’s [Fisher’s] centennial,” says West. “We want to engage alumni.” Planning for next year’s Fisher Impact Day will begin in the spring.