DiCarlantonio creates The Little Things project
Nov. 25, 2015

This Sunday vs. Virginia Tech, please bring your travel-size toiletries to donate for those in need. Donation bins will be at the gates and around the stadium.

The Little Things Information Flier (PDF)

by Chris Cullum, Ohio State Athletics Communications

Walk up and down the halls of any athletic facility on campus and you'll see relics and remnants of former Buckeyes. Pictures, trophies, jerseys, they all adorn the walls of these buildings for current student-athletes to see. Perhaps for the history's sake, or maybe for inspiration. We want YOU to be the next great Buckeye.

Of course, other ambitions and goals are encouraged as well.

Olivia DiCarlantonio of the women's lacrosse team, like many student-athletes here at Ohio State, has other ambitions and goals and she's bringing them to life in a way that will help a large number of Columbus residents.

The Little Things, DiCarlantonio's new service project, was created to help collect and distribute toiletries to the Van Buren Center, a community board shelter for homeless in Columbus. With the use of homeless shelters up by 79 percent among Columbus and Franklin County families over the last three years, it's a thoughtful and important undertaking that will help those who are less fortunate stay safe, clean and warm.

Where did DiCarlantonio, a senior who will be starting her final season of competitive lacrosse in just a few months, come up with the idea? The seed was planted over the summer, when the former Bucks Go Pro intern heard something that immediately struck a chord with her.

"Leave a legacy here and don't make it with your sport," DiCarlantonio said, recalling a talk she attended regarding life after sports.


 

 

"I just kept thinking about that and remembered how back home I would get community service hours for turning in toiletries and then I realized how much we all travel and how easy it would be for us." The idea, to have teams collect unused toiletries from hotels while on the road for the purpose of donating them, is a simple yet impactful one. Teams are on the road every weekend; all it takes is a couple seconds to throw in any unused bottles or packages into a suitcase and drop them off into a collection box upon returning to campus.

DiCarlantonio originally expected to just spread the idea through word of mouth and maybe other teams would catch on and start donating as well. When she told her coaches the idea, however, they told her to run it by the compliance office, an extra step she hadn't anticipated. Their concern that taking so many toiletry items from hotels could be looked at as theft was eventually quelled after contacting a few hotels directly.

"They let us know that when you buy the room you buy the toiletries as well," DiCarlantonio said. "Once that was out of the way they started asking me if I wanted fliers or logos; they really helped me out a lot with getting in touch with creative services and our graphic designers."

"It just blew up into this whole thing because Ohio State doesn't do anything little."

Her next step was sitting down with the Student-Athlete Advisory Board (SAAB) and talking about how to get the most out of The Little Things. Everyone agreed that putting out boxes at various athletic facilities was the best way to go about it and once that was settled it really took off.

"Everyone thought it was a really good idea because we can't really say that we don't have time for it," DiCarlantonio said. "It's super convenient for everyone. Right after my meeting with SAAB we had five teams come back from road trips and brought stuff back. Everyone's been really supportive so far, and it's really cool to see teammates reminding each other and having people come up to me saying they have donations for me."

Currently there are six boxes all over campus (which are all listed in the flier at the top of the page) and The Little Things has grown to something DiCarlantonio never expected when she first started planning. "I didn't think it was going to be this big of a deal at all," she said. "I just figured there'd be boxes in the athletic facilities and that's it. I'm really excited about it. I want to see if other schools in the area can get involved."

She may not have thought The Little Things would turn out to be as big as it is, but maybe that's just because lending a helping hand is something that comes naturally to DiCarlantonio. The Wellington, Fla., native recalled her upbringing and memories of how her mom and dad raised her, making it clear where she got her generosity from.

"My parents always made it a point to know that we might not be the richest or poorest, but we're stable and always in a position to help if we can," she said. "I can remember, ever since I was little, my mom would take me out to feed the homeless or get a family from our church to get Christmas gifts for. Our parents always kept us grounded."

Grounded is a perfect word to describe DiCarlantonio. Nearly every description of The Little Things that she offered was followed up with a praise of someone else and how she was helped along the way, which says a lot about why she started this project in the first place.

"I don't feel like I'm doing that much, I just think I'm doing what's right," she said. "All the other student-athletes are doing the collecting, I'm just transporting them. It always feels good to know you're helping someone, but it's really just something that I felt needed to be done."

Head coach Alexis Venechanos added:

"Olivia truly appreciates and loves being a student-athlete at The Ohio State University," Venechanos said. "I am so proud she is able to use this platform to promote, help and bring together others. She represents what being a Buckeye is all about and I know The Little Things will make a big impact in the community to improve people lives."

Truth is, ever since she chose to wear the Scarlet and Gray, DiCarlantonio had an idea that she would have the chance to be a part of something special. She recalls a time shortly after committing where she was at a pumpkin patch with family and the sheer volume of people wearing Ohio State gear and the sight of little kids doing the Buckeye Bounce helped her realize that Ohio State is different than a lot of other schools.

"I've talked with former teammates about how their college experience has been and I just don't think student-athletes from other schools are looked at like they are here at Ohio State," DiCarlantonio said. "I'm just a women's lacrosse player, but little kids still run up to me and I want to say that I'm not anything more than you'll be one day."

DiCarlantonio's current goal is to have every team participate and donate items to the cause. To her, having Buckeyes in every sport out on the road competing (on a "business trip" and she likes to put it) while still having the people of Columbus on their mind is the least they can do for a city who supports them every single day.

If you ask me, Olivia DiCarlantonio is not "just a women's lacrosse player" and those little kids had it right; I think we found our next great Buckeye.