Hands link across California

Inspired by the historic Hands Across America event from the 80s, California community colleges are hoping to raise awareness and scholarship funds with their own Hands Across California (HAC). The person behind the original event and We Are The World, Ken Kragen, is collaborating with the foundation for California community colleges to manage the event.

Taking place on April 17th at 2 p.m., an estimated one million people will join hands from Sacramento to San Diego. Those participating in the human chain include celebrities, students, elected officials, and employees.

The funds raised through the organization are going to support the California Community Colleges Scholarship Endowment, a permanent fund that provides annual scholarships to thousands of students in need each year. Funds raised by Santa Monica College are going directly to SMC's portion of the endowment, ensuring that SMC students directly benefit from fundraising.

Dr. Barbara K. Ige, SMC's alumni coordinator and the HAC administrative contact at the college, sees community colleges as a gateway to improve lives, as someone who came from lower means. "It's up to the public to step up," said Ige, noting that in these times where people are most in need is also the time that others need to give the most.

Ryan Seacrest, Quincy Jones, George Lopez, Mark Harmon from "NCIS," and Yvette Nicole Brown from "Community" are among the celebrities who have stepped up and brought attention to the event.

The Bernard Osher Foundation will match every dollar raised for the endowment through HAC by 50 percent, but this will only count for funds raised before the end of June 2011, making participation and donations critical for these scholarship funds.

Those participating at SMC are to meet at the quad fountain at the day and time of the event.

To participate in the chain, register or donate online at http://www.firstgiving.com/foundationccc/Event/handsacrosscalifornia or http://www.handsacrosscalifornia.org and sign up under Santa Monica College.

You can also text HANDS to 27722 in order to make a $10 donation.