Giving Back with Hand2Hand

Hand2Hand
Photos: Hand2Hand

By Kelsey Smith

About the organization

Hand2Hand exists because a hungry child hurts and the weekend is the most vulnerable time for a child whose home lacks food resources. Hand2Hand partners local churches with local schools — early childhood through high school — to provide breakfast, snack, lunch and dinner items to students who face hunger over the 68-hour gap of the weekend. Currently, Hand2Hand is in 206 schools throughout West Michigan feeding 8,007 kids.

Churches deliver bags of food directly to schools to students in need, after a permission slip is returned from the parent or guardian. Hand2Hand is faith-based and believes prayer is as important as the food. Church volunteers also gather to pray for students, their families and for blessing upon the food each week.

Meet Cheri Honderd, founder and executive director

Cheri Honderd, founder and executive director of Hand2Hand
Cheri Honderd, founder and executive director of Hand2Hand

How did you get started with Hand2Hand?

Hand2Hand began during the recession of 2008 when it was discovered there were 19 kids coming to school hungry on Monday mornings, unable to learn and concentrate in my local school in Jenison. Many of them also were having negative behavioral issues due to the hunger they were experiencing. I was on staff at Fair Haven Church at the time, and I worked directly with our principal to develop a model of getting food into the hands of the students through a dignified method.

Many of our families were experiencing food insecurity for the first time — due to the recession — and they were embarrassed they now needed help. The need was great for weekend food in many schools throughout West Michigan and as requests came in to duplicate Hand2Hand, we began to grow by partnering a local church with the local school. 

Hand2Hand

What impact does Hand2Hand have on the community?

Hand2Hand impacts entire communities in multiple ways. Not only does it ensure kids, ages 3–18, will have food over the 68-hour gap of the weekend, principals and teachers alike tell us that anxiety is lessened, attendance on Fridays is better, and kids experience joy and love in knowing their community cares. They look forward to their food each week! Hand2Hand also engages local churches and their members in an ongoing and impactful way as they rise up to feed and pray for kids who would otherwise experience weekend food insecurity. Members become passionate for Hand2Hand kids and often will bless them with other needs, such as coats, socks, birthday cakes and extended-break activity books. 

Why this matters

Hand2Hand matters because every child has been born with a God-given potential that they can’t reach when they are hungry. Children don’t have the same opportunity for proper physical and brain development if they are hungry and lack needed nourishment. Children can’t drive to the grocery store and they may not know where the nearest food pantry is, so we seek to put the food directly into the hands of kids. Some of our churches serve 500 students, some serve 20. But each child matters, regardless of what school district they are in. There is plenty of food in America and no child should go without — we simply provide the means, the model, the resources and the grassroots efforts of almost 6,000 volunteers to get the job done. 

Hand2Hand

How you can help

We have many ways to become involved with Hand2Hand. You can organize a self-packing, where your family packs snack or breakfast kits and delivers them to our storehouse. We have opportunities for businesses of any size to participate in packings and we will come in and assist your team.

We have Hand2Hand trailers and flyers we will bring to your neighborhood or place of employment and people can personally donate and bring the suggested food items to it. We also host monthly community packing events throughout West Michigan. 

Churches that would like to become involved on a regular basis can be trained and resourced to become one of our partners so that members can pack and volunteer each week! 

Finally, financial donations to Hand2Hand are always needed and appreciated. For every $1 given, we are able to multiply it by an additional $5 of in-kind donations. Contact Katie@h2hkids.org for more information on any of these ways!

Hand2Hand
2900 Baldwin St., Hudsonville
616-209-2779
h2hkids.org   

Hand2Hand

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