LIBERTY TOWNSHIP, Ohio — What started as a class assignment ended up igniting a philanthropic fire within Aidan Turner.
It all started his freshman year at Lakota East High School. Aidan and his classmates had to research a nonprofit organization as part of their English classes. Each student then wrote a speech about why their chosen organizations deserved a $1,000 donation through the school’s Magnified Giving program.
Each English class picked which speech they liked best. A panel of judges narrowed the winners down to a few finalists, and the entire school decided the winner.
And while Aidan didn’t win, he advocated for GLAD House, the same organization picked by his friend who did win.
“So I got to be part of the ceremony, where we gave $1,000,” he said. “It was really fun. I learned a lot about a lot, you could say.”
He learned about GLAD House and the children it serves as the organization works to break the cycle of addiction. He learned about Magnified Giving and its founder, Roger Grein, who spent years quietly giving away his own money before he launched Magnified Giving. And he learned about philanthropy and how much joy it could bring.
“It shows you how good giving can be and how that’s just an amazing feeling to give back to other people,” Aidan said. “When you actually work with kids and you work with people and you experience that joy of just giving and helping out – that is the real payout for me.”
And that’s the goal of Magnified Giving, said Alison Kaufman, the nonprofit organization’s director of programs.
“Our goal is to support educators and youth development leaders in our region to educate, inspire and engage their youth to care about their community and others,” Kaufman said. “We are so fortunate to engage with dozens of students like Aidan every single year. However, he really struck us, because we saw his passion, the depth of his knowledge through his research on the organization and also the empathy that he showed for the youth that that organization was supporting.”
‘Our youth will change our world’
“We saw in that moment, a lifelong philanthropist was developed,” she said. “And this was a ninth-grade student.”
Aidan is a sophomore now, busy with classes, marching band and his other activities.
But he said he’s determined to stay involved with Magnified Giving and philanthropy.
“I told them I want to be involved every year you do this. We’ve got to figure something out,” he said. “There’s no Magnified Giving program here at the main campus, so that’s my next goal.”
Kaufman said Magnified Giving is determined to stay connected to Aidan, too, because of the enthusiasm he showed for the program and for philanthropy.
“We believe that our youth will change our world for the better,” she said.
Magnified Giving supports 120 programs at schools and youth leadership organizations this academic year, Kaufman said, and aims to keep growing.
“We are creating a kinder, more empathetic, more compassionate group of young community leaders,” she said. “It’s truly something that all of us can learn from. And if we as adults just step back and listen to our youth, we’re all going to be better and kinder for it.”
Aidan said he never thought he had the ability to give back until his involvement with Magnified Giving. Now he hopes more people will try giving their time, talents or money to make the community a better place.
“Go make someone’s day, make them happy, help them out,” he said. “And I think you’ll be surprised about how happy it will make you feel in return.”
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