John Tolley, January 2, 2017

At the University of Iowa, it?s all hands on deck.

30,000 hands to be precise.

That?s the goal of a new campus organization looking to link Iowa City nonprofits and other charitable organizations with the helping hands of professors, students and members of the University of Iowa community.

30,000 Hands is the product of a course that challenges students to think outside the box when it comes to combatting society?s ills. Initially overwhelmed by the scope of the task, founder Maddie LaPage soon came to realize that, while one person may not have a significant impact, the strength of many people together can effect great change.

LaPage shared her revelation with her classmates and the project took off. She was joined in her efforts by six other women who share her vision for a stronger connection between the university and the city it calls home.

?Iowa City?s community of nonprofits, charities, and social good programs provide us with their needs and we allow University of Iowa teachers to use their existing classes to meet them,? says the group?s mission statement. ?With 30,000 Hands, we hope to make a difference, reimagine experiential learning, and redefine the word community.?

The group?s beta website allows students and professors to search for organizations and/or projects to which they can contribute. Although still in development, the site already gives several examples of projects seeking student help from expanding a local food bank?s outreach to helping the local chapter of Girls on the Run with an anniversary video.

The cofounders of the University of Iowa's 30,000 Hands program.
30,000 Hands co-creators Sarabeth, Kalena, Maddie, Shannon, Sydney K., Sydney H. and Courtney.

30,000 Hands work aims not only to serve the Iowa City community, but students as well, giving them multiple opportunities to showcase their talents. Senior Sydney Knox, a founding member of the group and designer of the website, is a prime illustration of the group?s work in action.

?I was looking for a project where I could gain experiential learning and leave with a meaningful result,? says Knox speaking with The Gazette of Cedar Rapids. ?And I view my work with the website as a small example of what 30,000 Hands could do.?

With the website underway, the goal of the group is to expand its partner base both on and off campus before their official launch in the fall of 2017. With any luck, says senior and cofounder Sydney Hofferber, the group will expand not just in Iowa City, but to other universities as well.