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From helping organize a food pantry to painting walls at a homeless shelter to beautifying a local park, Whittier College Poets came out en masse to help their community on Saturday, September 27 for the College's 20th Annual Helping Hands Day. The event began at 8 a.m. at the College Campus Center where volunteers were dispatched to one of a dozen service locations in the nearby community.
“This year marks the 20th anniversary of Helping Hands Day,” said event organizer Joel Gutierrez, assistant director for the Leadership, Experience, and Programs (LEAP) office. “For two decades, the Whittier College community has gathered for this joint effort to provide needed services to non-profit, faith-based, and educational organizations in our local community.
“This year we are proud that 90% percent of our sites are located within the city of Whittier. We worked closely with the Whittier Parks and Recreation department, a community theater, local schools, and the Whittier Uptown Association to accommodate all our volunteers. This day of service will provide an opportunity for the Whittier community to see the positive actions that Poets are capable of.”
The College encouraged students from all disciplines and class years to participate in this event 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.
“Students at Whittier College are always looking for ways to make a positive impact and change the world,” said Shauna Sobers, director of LEAP. “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.”
Sites that hosted Poet volunteers include Interfaith Food Center, Lydia Jackson Elementary, Bridge of Faith, Shelter’s Right Hand, St. Andrew Lutheran Church, H.O.W. HOUSE, Parnell Park, Murphy Ranch Park, and Hadley School, to name a few.
Helping Hands Day was coordinated through the Office of Leadership, Experience, and Programs (LEAP) and the Dean of Students’ Office.
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.