Students Connect with Disabled Neighbors

Monday, March 31, 2008

On Saturday, April 5, Saint Joseph's legendary Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse will be transformed into a carnival from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., as University volunteers host community members with disabilities in the 32nd annual Hand-in-Hand festival.

Each year, Hand-in-Hand volunteers, including Saint Joseph's students, faculty, and staff, as well as local high school students, act as buddies and accompany guests to various carnival-themed booths throughout the Fieldhouse. From face-painting and dancing to live music and magic to simple games of chance, each visitor is treated to a special day of fun and memories.

This year's Hand-in-Hand committee was led by juniors Jenna Sweeney and Alyssa D'Amore. The committee has been fundraising for and planning this event throughout the year — an effort that was aided when Hand-in-Hand was announced as the inaugural beneficiary of the Hawk T program. The committee was presented with a $10,000 check from the proceeds of Hawk T sales on February 28.

"Hand-in-Hand is special, because it brings together two unique communities in Saint Joseph's students and people with special needs," said Sweeney, who has been a part of the program since her freshman year. "It's great throughout the day to see that everyone is so happy and so willing to help."

Hand-in-Hand was named best student organization in 2000 and again in 2004 by Saint Joseph's Office of Student Leadership and Activities and was granted signature status by the University in 2007. The organization has also been honored by the Montgomery County Association for Retarded Citizens and the Elwyn Institute. Hand-in-Hand is the model for similar festivals at 10 other colleges and universities, including the University of Scranton, Johns Hopkins University and Georgetown University. For more information on the program, contact Sweeney at or D'Amore at, or contact the Office of Student Leadership and Activities at 610-660-1073.

--Jeffrey Martin '04, '05 (M.A.)

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