A 12-page paper here, some final exams there and a strenuous presentation in between can be enough to make any college student want to scream, but those trifles are minor compared to the plight of Jacob Bouwman, a Grand Valley State University junior who was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer last week.

Bouwman, who does not have medical insurance, has already undergone one surgery to remove his tumor and is scheduled for another today in Ann Arbor.

Hoping to soften the blow of Bouwman’s medical expenses for the two surgeries, hospital stays and extensive recovery time, GVSU professor Kirsten Bartels has set up a website for donations and “JakeStrong”
bracelets are for sale on campus, with proceeds going toward Bouwman’s health care costs.

Students can also donate textbooks during Book Buyback week in UBS or in Kleiner Commons, which JakeStrong supporters will sell to fund Bouwman’s health care bill.

This holiday season, give even a little to Bouwman’s cause. Do you really need that fifth latte before your calc final, or the $3 you’re going to get back for your COM 101 textbook? Caring members of the GVSU community have made it almost ridiculously easy to lend a helping hand, so make a donation, drop off a book or buy a bracelet.

No matter your religion (or lack thereof), put yourself in Bouwman’s shoes and channel the spirit of the holiday season. Paying for Bouwman’s medical bills is a lofty goal, as is Bartel’s ambition of starting a legacy fund for future Lakers facing similar crises, but not an unrealistic one if the community
bands together.

In the past, GVSU has struggled to demonstrate their charitable side, particularly during the annual Battle of the Valleys competition, but this is an opportunity for us to come together to aid one of our own. While unexpected at such a young age, Bouwman’s ordeal could happen to anyone, and there may come a day when you, too, will depend on the kindness of strangers.

So as you finish off the semester, pay it forward and give a little to Bouwman’s fund. Because really, when all you have to worry about is the grade on your final exam, life is pretty good.