Hokie Helpers' smiles, muscles, and goodwill set the stage for a successful move-in
August 2, 2019
Each August, clad in bright blue T-shirts, the volunteers known as Hokie Helpers assist new and returning on-campus residents to make move-in a little easier. Hokie Helpers welcomes the newest members of the Hokie Nation in the spirit of Ut Prosim (That I May Serve).
“It’s more than just toting boxes or giving directions,” said Sean Grube, director of housing and residence life at Virginia Tech. “Hokie Helpers is Virginia Tech’s way of welcoming new and returning students to their home on campus. The friendly faces students and their families see during move-in set the tone for the academic year and let them know that they are part of the Hokie Nation. And we need more volunteers to make this happen.”
From Wednesday, Aug. 21, to Friday, Aug. 23, Hokie Helpers will be stationed near residence halls all across campus. Dressed in the signature blue shirts and stationed at blue tents, these volunteers provide information, welcome new students and their families, give directions, check out moving carts, unload vehicles, transport belongings, manage logistics, and distribute water bottles to students and families in need of a break from the heat.
With more than 10,000 new and returning students moving into Virginia Tech’s residence halls over three days, move-in has the potential to be a little chaotic. Armed with moving carts, friendly smiles, refreshments, and helping hands, Hokie Helpers aim to take the stress out of the transition to life at Virginia Tech.
“Hokie Helpers transform the arduous task of move-in into a celebration of welcome for our new Hokies, as well as those returning to on-campus housing,” said Kenneth Belcher, senior associate director of housing services.
The program is about much more than providing physical assistance and helpful information to families during move-in. Hokie Helpers assure that a new student’s Virginia Tech experience begins with a sense of service, belonging, and community involvement. In addition, volunteers help create an atmosphere where students and their families feel comfortable and welcome.
“Each year we receive thank-you notes from families telling us how our welcome made their arrival to campus smoother and less stressful,” Belcher shared. “When you start off right, all of the other challenges of the new experiences of college and living on campus are easier to handle.”
Many Virginia Tech faculty and staff members volunteer their time, as do individuals and groups in the communities surrounding the university. Individual students and student organizations also make up a large percentage of the Hokie Helpers volunteer base.
With such an incredible display of pride and commitment to service from the Hokie Helpers, incoming students seem to understand what Virginia Tech is about from the moment they set foot on campus.
“It is the embodiment of Ut Prosim,” said Belcher. “We have had students who received assistance moving on Wednesday turn right around and volunteer their time and energy for the next two days helping others.”
Some Hokie Helpers feel so strongly about the move-in experience that they return year after year to volunteer. Since its inception in the 1990s, the number of volunteers for Hokie Helpers has increased each year in order to accommodate the increase of students moving in on campus. This year is no exception, as the class of 2023 first-year students is the largest in Virginia Tech’s history.
Hokie Helpers is looking to add to its volunteer base of faculty, staff, students, and community members.
Hokie Helpers are needed Wednesday, Aug. 21, to Friday, Aug. 23, 2019, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
So far, nearly 400 volunteers have signed up for Hokie Helpers to cover 591 work shifts. Another 129 shifts have yet to be filled, with the greatest need for volunteers on Wednesday afternoon, 1:30 to 5:30 p.m.; Thursday afternoon, 1:30 to 5:30 p.m.; and all shifts on Friday.
Hokie Helpers has assignments for every age and level of ability. Jobs range from unloading cars and transporting belongings to checking out handcarts and handing out bottled water. Volunteers may register individually or as a group. Each volunteer will receive the signature blue Hokie Helpers T-shirt when they begin their shift.
To volunteer or find additional information, visit the Hokie Helpers registration page.
Written by Sandy Broughton. Photo by Christina Franusich.