Giving Back to Pay It Forward: AC Student Makes a Difference

Junior, Marissa Cotton donates food to those in need.

ADRIAN, Mich (December 14, 2015) – Classes came to a close for the semester at Adrian College, but junior, Marissa Cotton wasn’t done. She had one more “lesson” to complete. On December 10, the business major from Farmington Hills made a post on Facebook that has been shared hundreds of times. The gesture was simple: use her meal plan to feed those in need in the community.

“A couple of days ago, I asked how many swipes I had left [on my meal plan], I learned it was over 60,” Cotton said. “Last year, I decided to swipe for other students on campus because I knew I wouldn’t be using all of them. I thought to do the same this year, but I kept thinking, ‘What if I could do something more for others? Those who are less fortunate, around the city?’ I knew I wanted to do more.”


What began as an idea to simply not let a meal go to waste resulted in an inspiring message to the community: Cotton made a choice to have over 40 sandwiches made to offer to those in need.


“It took me a couple hours to figure out what I could do or what local facilities I could try and contact, but I had been to The Salvation Army so they were the first place I decided to call,” Cotton said. “I asked if they accepted individual meals or sandwiches as a donation and they said ‘yes, it would be a great idea!’”


But she couldn’t do it alone. Her first stop was to the Caine Student Center to ask for help on the project.


“I talked with a few people who were working there and asked for their help. I knew I needed their assistance to make this happen and was grateful that they agreed,” Cotton adds.


After the sandwiches were prepared, Cotton transported the food to The Salvation Army and left them with a grateful employee. 


“When I dropped them off Kim, who works there, told me they would give them to those who volunteered or worked at the store and inside the church in the mornings. She also added that they would be shared with the homeless to take with them after visiting The Salvation Army.”


It is clear that this attempt to pay-it-forward close to home resonated with Marissa. She adds that she plans to move forward to try to make this an option for more students on campus. She would like to meet with administrators at the College to discuss how to make it easier for more students to take part, as well as connect with different food centers, shelters or soup kitchens in the community.


“I think this should be an ongoing project at Adrian College. This is a great way to feed those less fortunate and contributes to the community,” she said.

Scott Rossen, Sodexo general manager for campus dining added that they fully support this becoming an ongoing initiative.


“We are looking into a program with Sodexo that includes working with student groups to make donations all year,” he said. “Currently, we donate all our perishable food to the Salvation Army at the end of each semester, as well as offer a canned food drive during the holiday season to support Fishes and Loaves.”


Rossen notes that student engagement is a game-changer. “Getting students involved would be a great thing; we could have more impact with their help.”


Cotton, who plays basketball for the Bulldogs, says this is the first time she has taken part in this type of initiative in Adrian. “I’ve always been an individual who loves to help others, and, after some thought, I was able to make it possible with the help of Sodexo workers and the cooperation of The Salvation Army.”


“I know that it isn’t much, but not everybody is blessed to be able to have food on the table in front of them every day,” she adds. “It’s a simple way to make a difference for someone else.”


Watch online, as Marissa Cotton speaks with WTOL about her donation.