COD Students Support Cancer Patients

As part of Chaparral Week, Phil’s Friends Blanket Making Service Project brought together students to help out those impacted by cancer


Photo by Elizabeth Barbosa

Noah McBrien, Staff Writer

This past week was Chaparral Week which hosted events for COD students. Among the events was a volunteering event hosted by Phil’s Friends. At it, students gathered to make blankets for chronically ill patients.

Phil’s Friends is a non-profit that seeks to give to those in need – specifically, cancer patients. The organizers describe their responsibility as cultivating a caring culture that is dedicated to providing support to those impacted by the disease. The primary way the organization does so is by sending care packages to them that include blankets.

To make the blankets, the attendees cut the sides of the fleeces to form ribbons and then put the fleeces together, two at a time, and knot their ribbons together twice.

At the event, the tables where participants made the blankets were set up at the back of Campus Central, in the atrium. These tables gave attendees enough room to work on their own blanket or collaborate with people around them. The work itself was easy to do without concentrating, so either way they worked, they were talking to the person next to them. 

One of  the students was Johangir Azizov, a first-year student and a part of the Community College Initiative Program, in which foreign students come to the U.S. for a year to bring what they learn back to their country of origin afterward. Part of the program, Azizov said, is volunteering for a minimum of 75 hours. This, as well as multiple other requirements, are completed to gain a certificate for his work.

“I actually like being a volunteer,” Azizov said. “We have done lots of blankets.” 

The event, according to him, was “easy, because in my country I work as an accountant and leader of my school for over six years.” 

He said he doesn’t see the requirements of his program as an obstacle, saying it’s what he wants to do. 

“That’s why I’m here,” Azizov said. 

He said his prior experience has motivated him to continue volunteering while in the U.S..

“I came here to volunteer, improve and test my leadership skills, and I can help people contribute positively to the community simultaneously,” Azizov said.  

While at these events, he has even made the time to interview students for a project he works on as part of his program, documenting student opinions on the handling of homelessness, hunger and transportation, among other issues, on the local, state-wide, and national levels. Readers can contact him by email at [email protected] if interested.

“I always look through the events that we have inside COD or outside of it,” Azizov said, emphasizing that he looks for events that are about “helping people” and “contributing to the community.”

Another student at the event was Zoe Kovac, a freshman pursuing sonography.

“I actually heard about the event through the Student Life Fair,” Kovac said. “They had a table set up with that information,” so she thought, “Why not?”

With the intention of going, Kovac felt the organizers there did a good job in helping her out by showing her what to do. She added that the process is straightforward.

“It felt good knowing that I was doing something for a reason,” Kovac said. “Also, it was relaxing, sitting there making blankets.”

Adding to this, Kovac said, “I was actually planning to do two blankets , but then I was talking to a few others.” After being there, she said, “It was fun sitting, creating blankets, and talking to new people.”

A third student, Axiel Cano, is a freshman majoring in physics. Before the event, he was in class with friends who wanted to check it out. 

The event, Cano said, was in the atrium, so “you could just jump in and start working. The staff was friendly enough to approach anyone who looked like they were interested.”

So could it have been done better? “Not really. I feel like it was as good as it could have been,” Cano answered.

When asked if Phil’s Friends inspired him to look for more events, “I would if I wasn’t already,” Cano said. He clarified, “Part of my daily routine is passing through the atrium to see what’s going on.”

Like Cano, students at COD are looking for events such as Phil’s Friends to get involved.

An organizer at the event, Walter Johnson, spoke about his past attempts to involve students. Of the ideas he had for bringing students to sporting events was free pizza. “I would go to that,” an attendee immediately chimed in.

Johnson is also the vice president of Institutional Advancement at COD. He, as well as his department, wants to know what students think makes for a good event at COD. So feel free to stop by and offer a few ideas.