COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Mortar Board at the Ohio State University is a national honor society that recognizes college seniors for their distinguished achievements in scholarship, leadership, and service.

This year’s class aims to increase literacy throughout central Ohio with its service project called Reading is Leading.

“Just an incredible group of people that have been deemed to achieve great things one day,” said Ohio State senior Reagan Beckett, vice president of service for Mortar Board.

Mortar Board started in 1918 with the Ohio State University being one of the founding five collegiate chapters. Today, the honor society has expanded to more than 230 chapters nationwide and OSU President Dr. Kristina Johnson was recently inducted as an honorary member.

“I can’t even speak to the number of things that she’s accomplished, but she’s incredibly deserving to be part of Mortar Board,” Beckett said.

As the vice president of service for the 108th class of Mortar Board, Beckett and her fellow members have collected more than 1,000 books as part of their service project Reading is Leading, but they still need more.

“What we decided to do was collect books for a local elementary school — it’s actually right behind OSU, it’s called Graham Elementary and Middle School (GEMS), and then we’re also donating to two different domestic violence shelters,” Beckett said of the group’s efforts.

More than 35 active Mortar Board members have held fundraisers throughout the year to help raise awareness for its mission to increase literacy in central Ohio.

“The reason that we chose GEMS was because they had to sacrifice their library space due to COVID, so now those kids don’t have any books to take home and read and really advance their literacy skills, their creativity,” Beckett said.

She hopes by giving local children an opportunity to read various books, it might one day shape them into thriving leaders within the community.

“Having a lasting impact on a community that I’ve been a part of for four years, but then these books are going to benefit, you know, five, seven, ten years to come,” Beckett said.

Beckett said the group will be collecting books throughout the spring and it has started an Amazon wishlist with specific books for certain grade levels that still need to be donated.