The founder of a Hilliard nonprofit organization received a helping hand last weekend from two local Girl Scouts and a team of students from Ohio State University.

The founder of a Hilliard nonprofit organization received a helping hand last weekend from two local Girl Scouts and a team of students from Ohio State University.

Nine OSU students worked side-by-side with two Hilliard girls to help cultivate the Little Acorn Children's Garden. The garden is an outreach of Patches of Light, a nonprofit organization that Hilliard resident Mindy Atwood founded 16 years ago and assists families with critically ill children.

"I can't thank them enough," Atwood said as she and her husband joined the volunteers Aug. 27 at the garden adjacent to the Hilliard Community Center.

The nine OSU students who volunteered to assist Atwood are biology majors participating in an effort associated with the Pay it Forward Foundation.

"It's a chance for us to use, in a real-life application, what we have been taught ... while helping others," said OSU student Anthony DelVecchio, 19, of Amherst, and an engineering major.

This is the third season that Atwood has provided natural food from the garden on the land the City of Hilliard provides for her.

Produce from the garden includes corn, kale, squash, tomatoes, cantaloupe, peas, brussell sprouts, zucchini and cucumbers and is available free to families who seek assistance from Patches of Light.

Atwood said she established the garden after realizing that many of the children in the families that seek help Patches of Light often are afflicted with diabetes and other health problems that a better diet could prevent.

"I saw so many unhealthy lifestyles and I thought of how I could help families eat healthier and have a little fun," said Atwood, adding that families are invited to the garden to hand-pick produce.

In addition to a selection of fresh food, there is also a sensory garden for children.

One patch is called the color garden and has a selection of colorful flowers. Another is known as the taste garden and has blueberries and strawberries. The touch garden has a selection of plants and flowers that are either soft or prickly, Atwood said.

Another OSU student participating in the program was Ashley Worline, 18, from Geneva, Ill.

"I wanted to do this when I learned about the opportunity. It fulfills my project obligation and helps others," she said.

Two Girl Scouts volunteered alongside the OSU students Aug. 27. All were largely tasked with pulling weeds and cutting back plants and flowers in preparation for winterizing the garden.

Lexi Atwood, 12, a student at Hilliard Station Sixth Grade School and Lexi Bashforth, 11, a student at Tharp Sixth Grade School, were each working toward a Bronze Award.

The girls have been friends since grade school and joined Girl Scouts together, said Alan McDonald, the father of Bashforth.

Lexi Atwood is Mindy Atwood's granddaughter.

The families of each of the girls refer to each as "Lexi A" and "Lexi B" when they are together.

"I knew (about Patches of Light) because I'm friends with (Lexi A) and wanted to help," Bashforth said.

For information about Patches of Light and its programs and the assistance it provides, visit patchesoflight.org.

kcorvo@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekCorvo