YSU Alumnus ‘Pays It Forward’ to the Community

By Brianna Gleghorn

The holiday season may have come to an end, but a Youngstown State University alumnus is making the season of giving a year-round occasion by placing Pay It Forward boxes around the Mahoning Valley area. 

The Pay It Forward boxes provide items for anyone in need of food, clothes or blankets.

Joseph Danyi, owner of Youngstown Computer, said he was inspired to start the boxes by his and his son’s favorite movie, “Pay It Forward.” 

“We were big fans of the movie ‘Pay It Forward,’” Danyi said. “It’s a cool concept where one person does a random act of kindness and it inspires another to do it and it grows. My son and I had the idea to do this ourselves to see how many people we could inspire.”

According to Danyi, residents of other areas have reached out to bring this idea to their community.

“Every year we try to add one of these things,” Danyi said. “Since we’ve started doing this, we’ve got probably tens, dozens of people who have wanted to do the same thing and move one of these boxes into their own communities.”

In Danyi’s opinion, having these boxes available for those in need can help eliminate hunger in the area and encourage others to help. 

“The purpose would be if you’re struggling, you come and take something, and then later on when you get whole again you can go back and give something,” he said. “We hope that that circuit connects.”

Danyi said he is always looking for new areas to place boxes, but maintenance with each box can be a challenge at times.

A Pay it Forward Box located on 600 Youngstown Poland Road in Struthers. Photo by Kamron Meyers/The Jambar

“There’s a good deal of responsibility that comes with hosting one of these boxes because you do have traffic,” he said. “You’ve got to be able to tolerate the extra traffic that it brings and the responsibility of keeping it nice and clean and up on repairs.”

Doug Reed, lead pastor at Bridge of Hope Church in Boardman, said the church has been hosting a box for several weeks with a successful turnout.

“It’s been really cool, and I know me and my wife put stuff in there. Some people from the church put stuff in there, and then I’ve been here when people come to pick stuff up,” Reed said. “I’ve helped people put stuff in their car, and that’s been really neat to watch.” 

He said when Danyi approached him with the idea to host a box at the church, he agreed immediately.

In Reed’s opinion, the idea is a simple way to give.

“This is literally no strings attached, and people can come and give what they want and take what they need. I love that kind of concept,” he said. “There’s no system, no filter.”

Reed said the reason for having these boxes is to help those in need and give back to the community.

“The purpose is to help people, and if we make a connection out of it, great. But that’s not why we do it,” he said. 

Pay It Forward boxes can be found at three different locations: 600 Youngstown-Poland Rd., 11836 South Ave. and 7580 Glenwood Ave.

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