Students get ‘HANDS’-on

Temple’s service group Having Ambition ‘N Devotion for Service works to better North Philadelphia through the students’ dedication to special projects.

Temple’s service group Having Ambition ‘N Devotion for Service works to better North Philadelphia through the students’ dedication to special projects.

“I want to go to Temple when I grow up,” said 8-year-old Shakee Johnson, with purple Play-Doh still beneath his fingernails, tugging on Lamar Wallace’s T-shirt.

Johnson was one of 13 children who participated in Saturday’s annual mini-field day event at the Woodstock Family Center, organized by Temple’s HANDS, Having Ambition ‘N Devotion for Service.

Temple’s HANDS organization shows that the focus of service work isn’t always about receiving credit or fulfilling a court order. The service work they’ve been doing in the North Philadelphia community for the past two years is about building relationships.

Wallace founded the HANDS organization in his junior year, playing a crucial part in the fifth-year law-in-business major’s development as a leader.

“We started the organization last spring because we wanted to have an organization that was more involved with the community,” Wallace said. “I wanted to change the perception that Temple students don’t really care about the community.”

As Temple continues to expand and more students move into the surrounding community, the relationship students maintain with the residents can be strained.

But for Wallace, the college experience has been about building stronger relationships with residents living in and around Temple’s parameter. He saw this vision result in fostering better relationships between the community and Temple when he founded HANDS.

“The best part of a service trip is that you have a group of people that want to make a change,” Wallace said. “The fact that we all want to make a change together has helped us all to become friends. Every time I do a service trip, I gain 12 or 14 new friends. And having an organization is the same thing. You are bringing a bunch of people together who would have otherwise never met.”

And a service trip isn’t a one-time thing for HANDS, which holds service events every Saturday.

“But it’s not work to us,” Romaine Kelly, current president of HANDS, said. “You look around, and you see the kids and the volunteers having fun. When someone joins our organization, they don’t have to come out to every event that we hold, but they will probably end up wanting to because that’s the kind of energy that we engage with.”

Saturday, Sept. 19, marked HANDS’ visit to the Woodstock Family Center.

Volunteer Coordinator Michelle Scott said she feels “the HANDS organization has been a blessing to Woodstock homes.”

“The kids love them,” Scott said. “When Halloween time comes, [HANDS] comes by to pick the kids up. They take them to campus, and they go trick-or-treating from dorm to dorm, and they have a ball with that.”

The organization holds about three events a year at the center, not including those HANDS events that include special trips with the children to sporting events, such as Phillies games.

“It’s structured,” Scott said. “We are shelter, so it’s great that they always come prepared with games and materials. The volunteers will help out and drop off donations. It’s just a blessing to this shelter what they do.”

Though volunteers said they feel uplifted when serving, it’s the children and neighborhood residents who are the ultimate beneficiaries.

“When students come out, what they have as far as talents or skills can mean a lot to children who don’t know what they want to do in life,” Scott said.

“So, when students come,” she added, “and they interact with the children, a lot of times you don’t know it, but these kids will look up to them. They think, ‘Wow, when I grow up, this is what I want to do.’”

Quentin Williams can be reached at

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