During the early morning hours on September 28, more than 500 Poet volunteers – students, staff, and faculty alike - gathered in Whittier College’s Campus Center Courtyard with a hunger not only for breakfast, but to make a difference.
That Saturday marked Whittier’s 19th Annual Helping Hands Day, a daylong initiative with a mission to instill in students a foundation of giving back to the community and enhance their understanding of the College’s strong history and mission of service.
With their Helping Hands Day tshirts on their backs, Poets were divided into groups and dispatched to the front doors of nearby community sites to carry out service projects – everything from helping organize a food pantry to coordinating arts and crafts activities at a senior citizen home to supervising recreation activities for elementary school students. This year’s partner organizations included Granada Middle School, Salvation Army-Whittier Corps, Bridge of Faith, Shelter’s Right Hand, Lydia Jackson Elementary, Whittier Presbyterian Preschool, H.O.W. HOUSE, City of Whittier, St. Andrew Lutheran Church, Interfaith Food Center, Bolsa Chica Conservancy, Whittier's First Day, Boys & Girls Club of Whittier, and Posada Whittier, to name a few.
Some volunteers documented their experiences on Instagram using #ChangeStartsHere.
“It felt good to know that we were doing something positive to bring our community together,” said first-year student Jose Eduardo, who worked with students in removing graffiti at a local park.
Helping Hands Day is coordinated through Whittier’s Office of Leadership, Experience, and Programs (LEAP) and Dean of Students’ Office.
“Students at Whittier College are always looking for ways to make a positive impact and change the world,” said LEAP director Shauna Young. “What we try to teach them at Whittier is that making a difference is possible especially if it’s done collaboratively. Helping Hands Day is a way to demonstrate that by working together our campus can become a positive force of collective change in our society.”
Since its beginnings in 1994, Helping Handing Day has expanded monumentally. This year’s group of Poets volunteers was the largest in the event’s history.
Take an inside look at Helping Hands Day in this Flickr slideshow: http://bit.ly/19lMxaK.
-by Lightmary Flores '17