Hands Across California brings awareness to student financial issues

Evelyn Caicedo

Hands Across California plans to bring attention to the difficult times that community colleges are faced with when it comes to financial means.

The organization joined partnership with Ken Kragen, who is the planner for “We Are The World,” and “NetAid,” to arrange the event which will bring all of California’s community college students together.

“[Hands Across California] will create a unified statewide spectacle illustrating the impact of community colleges in the state, raise funds to benefit the California Community Colleges Scholarship Endowment, and create vast public awareness of the value of our colleges to their communities,” according to the organization’s website handsacrosscalifornia.org.

They will be planning on traveling through Saddleback College in hopes that the students will get involved in the event on Sunday, April 17 at 2 p.m.

After hearing that Saddleback may be involved, Justin Huft, the president of the Inter-Club Council, decided to be the representative for the campus and felt motivated to get students involved.

“I feel that because I go to a community college I believe it is important to be in this event,” Huft said. “Community colleges are important in the educational system because they provide a really valuable stepping stone.”

Along with Saddleback, the non-profit organization will include 72 districts and 112 colleges in which the participants will all hold hands and loop the state of California.

The peak of the loop will include a Northern California college, Woodland Community College, and the most southern college, Southwestern College in Chula Vista.

By raising awareness, the association is also collecting donations for a scholarship fund in which it will placed permanently in the community colleges.

“It is about raising awareness on the [lack of funding in the colleges] while also raising a $100 million scholarship that is large enough to be stuck permanently in the colleges,” Huft said.

California’s community colleges have been known to provide opportunities for lifelong learning while also providing a gateway to higher education for more than 2.8 million students a year, according to the community college section in the Hands Across California website.

“Whether it was the grades that a student didn’t have after high school, the financial means, or if the students simply wants to figure out what they are doing with their life, community colleges have a really important place in education,” Huft said. “Unfortunately, most of the time they are overlooked when it comes to grants and scholarships.”

With a statistic 10 percent, in the generation of 18- to 24-year-olds, are attending a community college, the attendance of these colleges in the state are rising compared to the previous years indicating the value of the college.

“Saddleback students should get involved in the event because clearly community college plays some type of a role in their life,” Huft said. “Whether they are interested in getting grants themselves, or if they just want to leave a positive mark on the campus, it will benefit the colleges at the end of the day.”

The event will be the 25th anniversary of the original “Hands Across America” which was on May 25, 1986, where it had 6.5 million Americans join hands in a continuous line across 17 states from California to New York.

To help make a donation to the organization or learn more about the April 17 event, students can visit the website at http://www.handsacrosscalifornia.org.

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