Gathering at Gaines: the Hillel Hangout Keith Denning '18

If you identified as a Jewish student and are a First-Year, then you most likely received an email from me beginning with "Shalom y'all!" As the First-Year Liaison to the Hillel Board, one of my jobs was to update the Jewish First-Years on all of the happenings at Hillel. Another one of my jobs was to get more First-Years interested and involved in Hillel. This is where the Gathering at Gaines came in! We decided that Hillel should hold a fun event in the brand new Gaines Rotunda to get more First-Years involved. ResLife, First-Year Programming, and Student Activities all thought that it was a great idea and agreed to help sponsor the event.

Then, it was time to plan! I talked with the Director of Hillel Megan McLean, and we decided that it would be fun to hand out raffle tickets and to have awesome prizes at the event. We began reaching out to local businesses, asking for donations to use as prizes. We were extremely successful, and our prizes ranged from a huge bag of organic gummy bears to a Fancy Dress 2015 package!

Wednesday, February 11th was the day of the event, and we had pizza, refreshments, chips, and, most importantly, all of the prizes laid out on tables in front of the Gaines Rotunda. Every board member in attendance wore a name tag and was equipped with raffle tickets. (If students talked to a board member, they would get a raffle ticket.) At 6:30, students began to file in; they marveled at both the amount of prizes to be won and at the pizza. I chatted with some familiar and new First-Years as they waited in line to get food and to sign up for the Hillel email list. At 7, Micah Premnath, a nationally-touring musician, began to play popular songs on his guitar for those in attendance. All of the students had the chance to relax, to eat pizza, and to listen to some fun music.

Eventually, it was time to choose winners for the raffle prizes. Everyone held their breath in anticipation as each of the numbers were called. I stood next to the prize table and had the chance to congratulate the winners as they picked up their prizes.

Overall, it was a very fun event, and I believe that we succeeded in opening many First-Years' eyes to how great Hillel can be! I hope that the Gathering at Gaines becomes a tradition for Hillel, and I cannot wait for next year!