From helping organize a food pantry to painting walls at a homeless shelter to beautifying a local park, Whittier College Poets will come out in mass to help their community on Saturday, September 29 for the 18th Annual Helping Hands Day. Students will meet at 8 a.m. at the College Campus Center to be dispatched to one of 28 service locations in the nearby community.
The theme for this year’s event,Change Start Here, coincides with the larger College anniversary celebration, 125 Years of Defining Leadership. Helping Hands is an integral part of First Year Experience program and all first year students are encouraged to participate as a way to both instill a foundation of giving back to the community and enhance student understanding of the College’s strong history and mission of service.
"Many of our students come to campus already understanding the importance of giving back,” said Shauna Young, director of the Leadership, Experience, and Programs (LEAP) office. “When they come here, they are seeking ways to make a bigger impact and change the world. What we try to teach them at Whittier is that making a difference is possible especially if it’s done collaboratively. Following our theme, Change Starts Here, 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.”
Twenty-eight confirmed local sites throughout the community where projects are planned include the Boys and Girls Club of Whittier, Bridge of Faith, City of Whittier, Parks, Recreation and Community Services, Senior Services, Emeritus at Whittier, First Day Coalition, Granada Middle School, The Posada at Whittier, H.O.W. House, Hadley School - Whittier's First Preschool, Intercommunity Counseling Center, Interfaith Food Center, Lydia Jackson Elementary School, Merrill Gardens at Chateau Whittier, Saint Andrews, and Whittier Rio Hondo - Aids Project, to name a few.
LEAP graduate student assistant Sammy Sotoa was the main coordinator of this year’s event that is sponsored by LEAP, Dean of Students office, and the Center for Engagement with Communities.
Since its beginnings in 1994, Helping Handing Day has expanded monumentally. It was a much smaller event and was limited to campus. Continual interest and passion for this annual event is kept strong because of the dedicated Whittier College students and surrounding partners and communities.