Putting the leadership principles of Next Level Columbus into action, April’s graduating class created the Veterans Impact Project (VIP) to honor, support and empower the community’s veterans..

After receiving the call from the Next Level group, Len Proper, the executive director of the Military Veterans Resource Center, said he fully expected the Military Veterans Resource Center might receive $1,000 or $2,000 from the service project. He would have been thrilled with that.

Then he saw the oversized check for more than $30,000.

Proper was practically bowled over.

“I’d never heard of them before they called me,” he said.

Next Level Columbus is a leadership program comprised of many members of all ages and backgrounds. An essential part of leadership is a commitment is to giving back. As a team of Next Level leaders, they are dedicated to connecting with community organizations and worthy causes that serve the needs, well-being and happiness of the people of Columbus and beyond.

“The Veterans Impact Project is a way to give back to those who have given so much! Our team is making authentic connections with 100 veterans, sharing their stories,” said VIP Co-Captain, Jennifer Sconyers.

Next Level had aimed to raise $25,000 to donate to an organization that assists veterans. Class members raised the money as well as receiving 10,000-plus items such as sleeping bags, personal-care products, a small refrigerator, gift cards and even a scooter.

The Veterans’ stories will also be archived in the Library of Congress for submission to the Veterans History Project and preserved for future generations to experience.

Corporate sponsors included Cardinal Health, Hylant, Just Pies, Mrs. Goodman’s Pies, Fazoli’s, DQ, Kroger, Raising Cane’s, Panera Bread, Donatos, Mitchell’s Fish Market and Max & Erma’s.

The donated items and the financial contribution will enable the center to do more to help homeless veterans, those in danger of becoming homeless and men and women coming out of prison.