In Focus
Psychology, Sociology, Social Work & International Studies

Facebook Group Provides Help for Those in Need

By Amanda Mayotte ’15

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Lexxis Onken ’19 (middle) helps her mother, Janelle Onken (left), and a third volunteer sort through clothing donated to Linn County: Hand in Hand.


Lexxis Onken ’19 helps her mother, Janelle Onken, and a third volunteer sort through donated clothing

Lexxis Onken ’19 (middle) helps her mother, Janelle Onken (left), and a third volunteer sort through clothing donated to Linn County: Hand in Hand.


Image Courtesy of Liz Martin The Gazette

If you’re not a part of the Facebook group Linn County: Hand in Hand, you’re simply missing out. The donations-based group is the brainchild of Lexxis Onken ’19, a social work student who wanted to provide a safe, nonjudgmental resource for local residents in need.

With the help of her mother and a friend, the group aims to connect people in need with people who have something to give—often sharing basics like clothing, food, hygiene products, books, and toys.

“I can’t put a number on how many people have benefitted from this group, because seldom does a need—or in some cases a want—go unfilled,” Onken says. “That’s honestly how amazing our group members are.”

Recently, Hand in Hand was contacted by a family with five children who lost everything in a fire. Onken’s mother took the lead and moved quickly, gathering a list of needs from the family. The community group rallied and provided a foundation for them to begin again.

“My mom was able to meet the family in person, and they were forever grateful and appreciative that strangers would go out of their way to make sure a family could get the things they need to make their new house a home,” Onken says. “Seeing everyone come together for this unbelievable accomplishment has been a heartwarming experience.”

Onken hopes her future career is just as fulfilling. Currently, she works at Four Oaks, a social services agency in Cedar Rapids, to get a feel for what she’s most passionate about, but is open to what life may bring—whether it be further career exploration or graduate school.

“I just like to help people,” she says. “I want to be that person some people don’t have the luxury of having.”

To learn more, visit Linn County: Hand in Hand on Facebook. ■

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