Punahou School’s Help Understanding, and Group Support (HUGS) club is a great resource for students to help kids and families facing emotional or financial hardship in their community. The HUGS club is doing amazing things for the community, which is why students should consider joining.
The club is connected to HUGS Hawaii, where Elsa Kinney ‘21 and Laura Gries ‘21 have been volunteering since they were in eighth grade. During their sophomore year, they created the HUGS club at Punahou. The volunteer coordinator for HUGS Hawaii will contact Elsa and Laura about events, then Elsa and Laura will provide the information to members of the HUGS club.
In a normal school year, the HUGS club will provide students opportunities that will allow them to create memories and morals that they can cherish for years. Such volunteer opportunities include watching a child with health issues so the parents can spend a night out, fundraisers to raise money for families facing emotional or financial hardship, and an annual charity walk.
However, due to Covid-19, most of these in-person activities have been put on hold.
This year, the club is now being hosted by the Luke Center, with new advisor, Dani Goddard. The HUGS club is planning on holding virtual monthly meetings so that the bond within the club can remain strong. Some of the remote activities they did last year will continue, one of which was making birthday cards for kids that are facing health issues.
Through the HUGS club, students are able to develop meaningful values that will benefit and stick with them through a lifetime. Even though there have been some changes to the club, the values of the club have persisted since day one.
Laura, co-runner of the HUGS club along with Elsa, commented, “One main value that we’re trying to get through is empathy. We’re trying to make sure that people connect with all the other students in the club and as well as the members of the bigger Hawaii community. I think working with the kids and also just volunteering in general is a really great way to do that.”
While the HUGS club benefits kids and families facing emotional or financial hardship, it also allows students to meet others who are studying something that they might want to pursue later on in life and create valuable connections.
“When you volunteer at HUGS, there’s a lot of college students that are studying nursing or other medical related fields,” commented Elsa. “You get to meet a lot of these other volunteers from the Hawaii community as well as the clinical community. It’s just such a great environment that is so friendly and loving.”
Right now is the perfect time for students to get more involved in clubs such as the HUGS club I personally joined the club because I have a lot of free time on my hands, and I want to spend it doing something that will help the community during these hard times. The HUGS club contains strong morals, committed leaders, and opportunities for students to connect with their community. If you want to help others and create a positive impact on the community, you should definitely join the HUGS club.