The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

Community and purpose found through Helping Hands

GVL | Alena Visnovsky

Throughout college, many students experience the feeling of being lost as they attempt to navigate a new place full of new people. To help with this adjustment many students find clubs to get involved in. Helping Hands serves that purpose for many students.

Helping Hands is a student-run volunteer organization that strives to give back to the community in fun ways while establishing a sense of community amongst the members. 

With the start of the semester, the Helping Hands club had its first meeting on Aug. 31 to kick off the new school year. The meeting was filled with students eager to make a difference in their community. The club had music playing and activities set out to create an inviting atmosphere. This specific first meeting had coloring cards and pictures for the students to decorate to then be sent to an overseas charity to be distributed amongst troops, nursing homes and orphanages. The officers of Helping Hands also led a quick get-to-know-you activity to help build chemistry and belonging in the room as the students began their activities. 

Every meeting has a different activity planned to serve a variety of charities, organized by the officers.

Vice President of Helping Hands Danielle Sutton said that some of her favorite activities from the past year included decorating lunch bags for Kids’ Food Basket and making dog toys for The Humane Society. Both Sutton and Ryan Herriff, the club’s social media chair, shared their love for the yearly event called “Project Night Light.” 

“We go and shine flashlights in the kids’ bedrooms at the children’s hospital. It’s like a big thing in Grand Rapids. A lot of people do it and fire trucks come,” Herriff said. “The whole community comes together around the children, and the event aims to make the children feel like a part of something bigger.”

Members of the club come and join for varying reasons like volunteer hours for scholarships, resume building, giving back to the community and doing something meaningful with friends. 

Many students come from high school where volunteering was integrated into school organizations and encouraged for college applications. Herriff said he participated in volunteering before college and the volunteer opportunities were part of the reason why he joined the club.  He wanted to find a way to give back to the community after the transition from high school to college.

Sutton said volunteering is important to her because of the internal and external impact it has. 

“I think it’s just always made me feel good,” Sutton said.  “I didn’t join until my sophomore year, but I noticed a huge difference between sophomore and freshman year. Not just because I was kind of getting out of my dorm more, but also just meeting people and doing all the activities has just given me so much gratitude and has filled me with so much joy.” 

The community that Helping Hands built encouraged Sutton to take a leadership role after their president reached out to her acknowledging her heavy involvement in the club. Sutton said the environment of Helping Hands is one of the main reasons that encouraged her to take a leadership role. 

Helping Hands club has many events coming up this year for members such as Project Night Light, Gilda’s Walk (a cancer research fundraiser that the club supports), making tie blankets for the children’s hospital and more. The organization meet weekly in Kirkhof Center and the club frequently posts about upcoming events on their Instagram @helpinghandsgvsu.

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