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Nourish International funds, plans nonprofit aid for underdeveloped countries

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Selling unconventional items like ugly sweaters, jewelry and coolers, the Ohio State chapter of Nourish International is making an impact on underdeveloped communities around the world, and plans to double that impact in 2015.

“Most of what we do is not typical fundraising,” Mckenzie Wirtz, a fourth-year in social work and co-president of OSU’s Nourish International chapter, said. Instead of asking for money via online campaigns, Wirtz said the organization instead chooses to sell goods and services, and then uses the profits to fund nonprofit efforts.

Nourish International is a nonprofit organization that engages students and empowers communities to make a lasting impact on extreme poverty, said Chancey Rouse, program director.

“We spend all year trying to earn money through business ventures on campus and whatever money we earn gets donated to a nonprofit in an underdeveloped country,” Wirtz said. “Over the summer, we send OSU students to help implement whatever project we choose to support that year.”

The OSU chapter is currently accepting applicants for a six-week program in Quito, Ecuador, this summer, but they decided not to stop there.

”Each partnership is a two-year commitment, and this is our second year with Triple Salto, where we are building greenhouses in Quito, Ecuador,” said Musab Imam, a fifth-year in biological engineering and co-president of OSU’s Nourish International chapter. “This year we decided to push ourselves and are actually sponsoring two different projects with the second being in India.”

Triple Salto, OSU’s partner in Ecuador, builds micro-greenhouses and provides healthy organic food for people in Quito, which benefits both the community’s health and economy, Rouse said.

“They are not only bringing in healthy options to the community, but it’s an opportunity for other people to make money for themselves,” Rouse said.

Rouse added that Nourish International as a whole is going through a period of huge growth and they currently have a five-year strategic plan to expand into 100 schools and universities.

“During the 2012-2013 year, we had maybe 26-28 chapters,” Rouse said. “We expanded for the 2013-2014 year to 45 campus chapters. For this year, we are now at 60 campuses, a chapter in Canada, and have five high-school chapters.”

Nourish International doesn’t only aid other communities, but also provides sustainable and lasting help, Wirtz said.

“One of the coolest things is that throughout the year when we raise the money for countries abroad, we don’t just drop the money off,” Imam said. “We go see it and put it into action ourselves so we know that it’s sustainable and actually benefiting the people.”

Being involved with Nourish International is about helping underdeveloped communities and also bettering yourself, Imam said.

“The good thing about Nourish is that it is a small organization, but it is growing,” Imam said. “It’s very easy to develop leadership skills. When I first joined, I was more quiet, but I started to take on more of a leadership role, which is definitely good for me in the long run.”

The work of the OSU chapter has been noticed by Nourish International leadership.

“We are very proud of our OSU chapter, which is one of our oldest chapters,” Rouse said. “They are quickly becoming an advanced chapter in our network. They are one of the few chapters who will be working on two projects this year, which is tremendous for them to have twice the impact in two different communities.”

The organization meets every Sunday at 7 p.m. at Hitchcock Hall in room 30.

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