A campaign known as Helping Hands was formed this past fall semester by five female sophomore students who all share a passion for uplifting and empowering young women.
The campaign was created in response to the local non-profit, a Hand Up for Women. A Hand Up for Women strives to be a source of hope to those who are with the desire and motivation to pursue a more self-sufficient lifestyle. It includes mentors, instructors and members of the program.
“The University of Tennessee does not have a direct affiliation with a Hand Up For Women, but our group, Helping Hands, consists of five young women who are all UT students. This project is a part of our English 255 public writing class,” Adeline Overholser, one of the five members of Helping Hands, said.
In their English class, the five were tasked with creating campaigns in order to support local non-profit organizations that their professor would be in touch with.
Catherine Schiefer, a freshman and member of Helping Hands, outlined what inspired the beginning of their chosen campaign.
“Each of us had to write a letter of application to our English professor to be chosen to support this very important and special non-profit,” Schiefer said. “In each of our letters, a common theme between us all was that we each believed that women deserve to be treated with respect, love, support and that when given the opportunity, women can do anything they set their mind to and should be given that chance.”
The goal of the campaign is to raise a minimum of $1,000 that would go directly to the non-profit. Monetary donations, though greatly appreciated, are not the only way to get involved.
“A Hand Up is always looking for donation items such as toiletries, feminine care products, laundry detergent, cleaning products and more,” Overholser said. “These items are not directly given to the women of a Hand Up, but rather become part of a reward system.”
The rewards system is a process known as receiving “Barb Bucks'.” These can be exchanged to purchase these items.
“‘Barb Bucks’ can be earned through engagement and participation in class, recognition of a milestone or accomplishment or simply for good behavior. The hope is that these women will begin to learn the basics of financial responsibility and budgeting,” Overholser said.
Both raising money and donating tangible items are activities that the members complete and promote, but that still isn’t all these women do to help inspire other women.
“Our group plans to volunteer at future events a Hand Up for Women holds,” Schiefer said. “These future events are galas, auctions and any other volunteering opportunities we can be a part of. A Hand Up for Women had an online auction Oct. 22-29, as well as the Sara Johnson Memorial His & Hers Bass tournament on Saturday, Nov. 6., 2021 at the Lake Loudon Canal.”
The group was able to visit the Hand Up for Women House and meet their program director, Eva Pierce, along with getting the chance to speak with a graduate of the program who shared her inspiring story.
“During our visit, we were able to get a tour of the house and see what day-to-day life consists of for the women who live there during their time in the program,” Overholser said. “Additionally, we were able to have a brief Q&A session with Eva which greatly impacted the way we chose to run our campaign. It was a unique and educational experience to be able to become more ‘hands on’ with the organization.”
While Helping Hands is a newer campaign, donations are greatly appreciated and do not go unnoticed nor unrewarded. Once a donation is made, a button with the phrase “empowered women, empower women” is a perk given to the donor as a thank-you and inspirational message.
Outsiders can also donate directly to the non-profit organization, Hand Up for Women, via their website.
“A Hand Up for Women is more than a rehab, it’s a place where the unfortunate can call home, feel safe, feel loved and supported, feel important, feel valued, have a roof over their head and food on the table and not have to feel in danger,” Schiefer said. “That’s also the goal for our group, Helping Hands.”