Joining hands across the state to show support for community colleges

Standing Together (Julie Tran)

Sarah Black

The sun shone brightly through the Quad’s trees on Sunday afternoon. The rustle of paper was constant as members of the Associated Student Government put together a long line of colorful links, creating a myriad chain of yellows, whites, and greens. College students laughed playfully as they set up plates of donated pizza and bagels for the cause of higher education, while a spry dog named Ruby chased after them.

Below the Quad in the Bowl, amps were being plugged in by band members as students sat down in the cool shade in anticipation.

Saddleback College’s Events Cabinet collaborated two events, Hands Across California and the Battle of the Bands, together Sunday to help benefit California’s 3 million community college students and their hopes to receive financial aid.

Hands Across California was an event all over California, in which students hold hands for a 1,000-mile route to support an annual scholarship.

Saddleback hopes this scholarship will be made permanent.

It wasn’t an easy start, but Justin Huft, Inter-Club Council president, arranged the event to help raise money for Saddleback students. About four months ago, the ICC received an invite to join the hands Across California cause.

“[Hands Across California] didn’t give us any details about the event,” Huft said. “They only gave us the map points about two days ago.”

“It’s a cluster-fuck right now,” he said, laughing.

But the chance to be part of the original Hands Across America stunt, pulled off in 1986 by Ken Kragen with more than 6.5 million Americans holding hands, was too good for Huft to pass up.

“It’s the largest event for higher education,” Huft said. “It’s our last big event [for the semester].”

Meanwhile, Dante Liddi, secretary of commerce for the events cabinet, was organizing the stage for the band “Heads Up” down in the Bowl.

Liddi volunteered to arrange the Battle of the Bands to help the Hands Across California event see more people participate for the publicity stunt.

He involved members of his own band “Skavengers” to set up the sound stage with him, Nick Escutia, 19, TV/radio production, and Josh Bray, 20, undeclared.

Dancing and whooping broke out as “Heads Up” began to play their acoustic music, and just around that same time, people started to hold the chained links together as Hands Across California began.

Saddleback President Tod A. Burnett also put in an appearance for the event, jumping and posing for a picture when the chained links were piled in the center of the Quad.

“It’s about raising money,” Burnett said. “We’ve raised over 670,000.” Matched 2-1, the Osher scholarship fund is putting out $1.4 million for community college students, he said.

When the stunt was finished, people began to filter back out to the parking lot or down to the Battle of the Bands.

“Take five of everything,” Huft said about the multitude of leftover food.

Standing Together (Julie Tran)