A recent Pickerington High School Central graduate's devotion to spreading kindness and support to those in need has helped her land a $40,000 college scholarship.
Through the years, 18-year-old Alexis Mahan of Pickerington has heard a special calling to serve her community and lift others' spirits.
She said selflessness was imparted by her parents, David and Elese Mahan, but she also saw that special attention frequently was reserved to classmates who were athletes, cheerleaders or her school's more socially popular students.
So as a 14-year-old sophomore at Central, Mahan founded Chain Reaction, a "movement" to put "kindness into action" at her school and everywhere else she went.
Her work there, along with numerous other volunteer efforts, recently helped Mahan receive a GE Reagan Foundation Scholarship given annually to 20 U.S. students by GE and the Ronald Reagan Foundation.
The scholarship, which will be doled out in four, $10,000 installments, recognizes graduating high school seniors who show "leadership, drive, integrity and citizenship."
"My motivation for doing everything I do -- community service, music, volunteer efforts -- is a desire to reflect a love of Christ through my talents and gifts," Mahan said.
Mahan's volunteer and community service work is varied.
She's done mission work through Eagle Rock Church in Pickerington, and she led an initiative among Central students to leave spare change with cafeteria staff at Central so fellow students who didn't have adequate money for lunch could purchase what they wanted to get through the school day.
She's also provided care packages for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and worked in homeless shelters.
One of her defining projects, however, is Chain Reaction. She hopes to build on the success of the movement to one day establish it as an international foundation that strives to help people for the sake of kindness, as opposed to personal recognition or financial gain.
The seeds for Chain Reaction were planted in Mahan after she moved to the Pickerington Local School District in eighth grade and, as she said, "didn't really fit in."
She noticed most classmates who received recognition tended to be brimming with attention from others to begin with because they played sports or were part of the "in" cliques.
So as a sophomore, she conjured a plan to anonymously spread kindness by recognizing fellow students who did good things without seeking rewards.
She also recruited a small group of classmates to join her fledgling campaign.
"Most of what we did were random acts of kindness," she said. "They were things that kind of showed your motivation for giving the service, not the recognition."
Typical Chain Reaction handiwork included placing notes on cars at school that stated, "Start a Chain Reaction. Put kindness into action."
They also had notes and Subway gift cards delivered to students during class who Chain Reaction members observed being kind to others.
"We would write on the notes, 'Someone noticed you were awesome,' " she said.
"We recognized people who were kind, but who weren't noticed because they weren't the captain of the football team, or blah, blah, blah."
Mahan is a singer and budding guitar player and she plans to minor in music at Mount Vernon Nazarene University with a dream to become a recording artist.
She also will focus studies on international business, which she hopes will one day enable her to build Chain Reaction into a worldwide foundation.
"I don't want to be a missionary, but I want to do missionary work," she said. "I want to go in with skills and a business background.
"I kind of want to show people how they can sustain that (kind, giving) lifestyle and sustain their countries."