By Alexis Gordon, Daily Free Press Staff Writer

Joining Hands, a community service club at Boston University, was recently announced as a finalist in the third annual Newman’s Own Foundation Campus Community Service Challenge.

The Joining Hands club is dedicated to helping disabled adults in and around Boston. They work with different programs, sending volunteers out to work with the disabled to provide support.

This year, Joining Hands teamed up with the Newton Area Corporation for the Benefit of Special Athletes, Inc. to enter the Campus Community Service Challenge. There, they helped train intellectually disabled adults, ranging in ages from late teens to middle-aged adult, in track and field for the Special Olympics.

Newman’s Own Foundation rewards the finalists based on their level of involvement and impact on their nonprofit partner and how the Foundation’s grant will be able to better their cause. Joining Hands is one of the nine finalists who will receive grants ranging from $5,000 to $25,000.

Sarah Paul, a second year graduate student at Sargent College has been a member of Joining Hands for five years.

“Going to site every Tuesday is something that I really look forward to,” Paul said, “and getting to spend two hours with the same individuals week after week is really inspiring.”

“I was shocked,” said Paul, when asked about her reaction upon hearing the news that Joining Hands was a finalist. “We have never won anything as far as I know!”

Lindsay Kirk, a sophomore in Sargent College and member of Joining Hands said Kristley Bastien, program manage of Joining Hands, was the driving force for the NOF grant.

“Someone in our office gave Kristely the idea to apply for it and she did and she picked the Newton Track and Field to go with it,” Kirk said.

Kirk said Kristely reached out to the Newton Area Corporation for the Benefit of Special Athletes, Inc., whom they have worked with before, and got their permission to work together. From there, members each wrote statements on why they thought that Joining Hands should receive the NOF grant.

“I am not sure of the total plan [of what we will be doing with the prize money]” said Kirk “but hopefully some really great event teaming up Joining Hand and Newton Track and Field where somehow more of the volunteers can interact with the people from Newton.”

The Newman’s Own Foundation Campus Community Service Challenge was started in 2009 with the America East Conference to help encourage philanthropy on college campuses.

In the organization’s press release, Bob Forrester, president and CEO of Newman’s Own Foundation, expressed pride in the Campus Community Service Challenge.

“We are proud to support the work of these exemplary students with their community partners and to recognize their commitment to make the world a better place,” Forrester said.

The winners of the grants will be announced at the American East Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championship at the University of Hartford during the weekend of March 1-4.