Helping Hands to host Black History Month events

By Olivia Willoughby

A new student association, Helping Hands Community Service Organization, plans to follow the mission of spreading diversity on campus, said Helping Hands President Latasha Bennett.

Bennett created the organization two years ago to begin her path to having her own non-profit organization.

“I decided to get involved on campus because I had such a passion for volunteer work and philanthropy,” Bennett said. “I wanted to have my own community center and establish my own non-profit organization.”

After going through the processes of becoming an official organization, Bennett developed her executive board.

Whitney Francisco, Helping Hands public relations director, joined last semester and said it is a great opportunity.

“We’re broad and open to a lot of different communities,” Francisco said. “We’re all over the place and I really like that. I just like the sense of wanting to do a lot.”

The group will host two events for Black History Month.

At 7 p.m. Feb. 8 in the Cavan Auditorium, Helping Hands will show the documentary “War Dance“, which focuses on the Patongo Refugee Camp in Uganda.

“The documentary tracks children affected by the civil war,” Francisco said. “I’m really excited because personally I don’t know much about it and it offers a chance to educate everyone.”

Bennett said the documentary follows the boys and girls who were child soldiers and sexual slavery victims.

“The documentary gives the kids a chance to tell their stories,” Bennett said.

Helping Hand’s will also host a bead party at 4:30 p.m. Feb. 21 in the Regency Room. Women from BeadforLife, an organization that works with Ugandan women who make beads out of recycled paper, will make and sell their jewelry at the party.

“It gives them a sort of purpose,” Francisco said. “It’s a very positive and tremendous opportunity for us. And it also helps them monetarily.”

Bennett said the funds raised at the bead party will go directly to Ugandan women, helping them support themselves and their families. Bennett also said this way, people will not be overwhelmed in trying help a cause.

“I think people can become desensitized because it’s so overwhelming, especially with extreme poverty,” Bennett said. “But with efforts like this, they can start working on helping with smaller things.”

Francisco said the two events are significant for Black History Month because it does not just touch the usual topics.

“People just like to talk about the historical part and we always see what Americans are doing, not across the globe,” Francisco said. “So it also ties back to educating on so many different levels.”

Francisco said it was also important for people to look outside of their country to see what others are doing.

Van Amos, program director for the Center for Black Studies, said he encourages students to look at their connection to history.

“It’s a wonderful and noble cause,” Amos said. “It’s important for students to look outside for their own community and look at how the world is transforming before their eyes. It’s good to foster a multicultural understanding of one another.”

Amos said he is happy to support Helping Hand’s cause for spreading diversity on campus as well as educated students on black history.