C O M M U N I T Y C O N N E C T I O N S 17 COD Students Get Involved in Community Events College of the Desert students volunteer to serve food for FIND Food Bank on a monthly basis. Golf Cart Parade float winsThemeTrophy. Palm Springs Pride Parade When they’re not learning in class, studying, working, or leading campus clubs, dozens of students join COD faculty and staff members to help CoachellaValley organizations and events. Among the regular efforts is helping distribute food to hundreds of COD students from a FIND (Food In Need of Distribution) Food Bank truck that visits the college monthly. FIND made its inaugural visit to the Palm Desert Campus on Feb. 14, 2017, with FIND and COD student volunteers serving various fruits, vegetables and nonperishable goods to nearly 300 students in need on that first day alone. About 90 percent of degree-seeking students at COD qualify for financial aid of some sort. About 7.6 percent of CoachellaValley residents received food from a food assistance group at some point in the past 12 months, according to a 2016 survey by the regional Health Assessment and Research for Communities (HARC). “With the plEDGE program asking students to commit 10 hours of either community service or volunteer work at college events, students are getting involved at record numbers, and such activities are filling the needs of the ‘whole’student – academic, social and personal,”said Dr. Annebelle Nery,Vice President of Student Success. College of the Desert’s Office of Student Life has also led student volunteers at community events such as the Relay of Life for the American Cancer Society, the Palm Desert Golf Cart Parade, and the Black History and Pride parades in Palm Springs. New Fiat 500E Auto Program Expands Alternative Fuels Training The Automotive/AdvancedTransportation Program at College of the Desert has been able to expand its state-of-the-art training on electric, fuel-cell and hybrid vehicles. Through support from the College, Regional StrongWorkforce and some additional grants, the program now has aToyota Mirai hydrogen vehicle, aToyota Prius Prime, a Fiat 500E (electric) and a Chrysler Pacifica plug-in hybrid. “These vehicles and newly developed curriculum will allow the college to provide the students with strong entry-level skills that are required to obtain employment in the automotive industry, especially in the alternative fuels field,”said Douglas Redman, Associate Professor of Automotive/Advanced Transportation. More than 25 CoachellaValley dealerships and auto shops employ College of the Desert students and alumni.