A new student club at Allan Hancock College is already making an impact in the community. Students in the Beyond Incarceration Great Education Club, better known as the BIGE Club, donated 20 new board games to the Boys and Girls Club of Santa Maria Valley. Every member of the BIGE Club registered at Allan Hancock College after spending time in jail or prison.

“The club wants to give back to the community,” said Jennifer O’Donnell, a BIGE Club member who is majoring in human services: addiction studies at Hancock to become a psychologist. “We want to support the youth in this community because they are our future.”

Twelve children from the Boys and Girls Club visited the BIGE Club on the college’s Santa Maria campus this week. The club ate pizza with the children and held a question-and-answer session. The big moment came when the Hancock students presented the children with the board games, and the group played a game of Jenga.

“Education is the key to everything,” Cheech Reygoza, the club president, told the children. “We are here to show it’s never too late to change paths and get on the path to success.”

Students started the club last fall as a way to connect formerly incarcerated students and help them succeed at Hancock. The group meets weekly and provides peer support and mentoring. They want to break the stigma associated with former convicts.

“The club’s goal is to support all students and eliminate stereotypes of people with less than admirable pasts,” said Reygoza. “The college has been amazingly supportive. The faculty and staff go the extra mile to make sure all students feel comfortable and succeed. We are on the path to improving our lives and making a difference in our community”

The club held two separate fundraisers throughout the year to raise money to purchase the gifts. It is one of nearly 40 student clubs and organizations on the Allan Hancock College campus.

For more information about the club, send an email to bandgb.i.g.e.club@gmail.com .