Ohio University

University and Athens community come together for international students

University and Athens community come together for international students

Athens is unique in many ways, but one thing that really sets it apart is the collaboration between Ohio University and the Athens community. This collaboration has resulted in extraordinary support for international students during the pandemic- helping with necessities like rent payment and donations for food.

A team of international students at Ohio University formed the International Student Task Force (ISTF) to partner with Athens County leadership, community members and Ohio University leadership to alleviate the living hardships experienced by international students due to the pandemic. ISTF works to secure needs of these students through awareness and disbursement of financial support. International students cannot hold employment positions outside the University, and as these job opportunities have low availability at this time, students are struggling to pay for basic resources and needs.

ISTF cofounder and public relations lead Hayasa Tahmazyan said, “almost 113 Ohio University international students living in Athens will be experiencing high levels of housing and food insecurity throughout the summer” so “Cats’ Cupboard, the OHIO food pantry, soon became the focal point for food donations” in the Athens community. Large food and monetary donations have been given to the pantry for students who may not know where their next meal is going to come from. The task force has managed to rally both community and University individuals to support these students in a time of great need.

ISTF not only encouraged food donations to Cats’ Cupboard, but through its advocacy efforts, the International Student Emergency Relief Fund was created by OHIO. A $10,000 seed gift was donated by the Athens County Foundation which has helped students with rent, and other major costs caused by the pandemic. Donors such as the Athens Rotary Foundation said, “Thanks to our members and members of the Athens community, we have collected $4,150 for the Ohio University International Student Emergency Relief Fund and we added $5,850 for a total donation of $10,000.” The money that has been raised to help is a reminder of how important international students are to community and University goers alike.

The Athens Rotary Foundation also purchased $1,000 in gift cards from three locally owned grocery stores: Seaman’s, Kindred Market and The Farmacy. These gift cards will be distributed to the international students by Cats’ Cupboard. In addition, the Athens Rotary Foundation’s “food drive on June 22 filled two vehicles with food and personal care items, which are also to be distributed by the Cats’ Cupboard.”

During this time of uncertainty for so many OHIO students, very important bonds and collaborations have formed. Not only that, but recognition and support for OHIO’s international students has really developed. Tahmazyan said “The joint efforts of the ISTF, Ohio University and Athens communities have resulted in the creation of regular food donations to Cats’ Cupboard and the International Student Emergency Relief Fund,” and in turn, international students now have more stability during the pandemic. The communities of OHIO and Athens have all come together to lend a helping hand to their students, no matter if they are here for a semester, four years or for life!


The International Student Task Force has provided numerous ways to help students:

Rent expense help:

Online. Click Here to donate

Postal mail: Check payable to The Ohio University Foundation

(be sure to write the ‘ISTF Emergency Relief Fund’ in the "notes" section)

Mail to:  The Ohio University Foundation, P.O. Box 869, Athens, OH 45701


For helping to cover the food and personal care item needs, donations can be made through the following options:

Direct drop-off to the Cats’ Cupboard at Baker University Center (foodpantry@ohio.edu)

Staffed drop-off times are Tuesday mornings from 9-11 a.m. at the ground level entrance of Baker University Center. Pull up to the Go Bus bus-stop sign; volunteers will be watching for vehicles and will unload for you (wearing masks and gloves). If you are donating from your own pantry, please be sure items are unopened and not outdated.


“Donation Station” tables at Athens Farmers Market and Chesterhill Produce Auction

Donation Station contributions are distributed to multiple areas throughout our region. Please add a written specification “For Cats’ Cupboard at Baker University Center” if you wish to specify routing of your donation.


Join the conversation

Any individual or organization interested in addressing the needs of international students at Ohio University is welcome to join ISTF and its stakeholders’ humanitarian efforts. For more enquiries, email ISTF@ohio.edu.


All donation information was provided by the International Student Task Force.