"God is love.” I John 4:16
“Some people think that what you do is simply a band-aid and it’s
not addressing the real issue. They’re not sure they want to be a part
of something like that.”
I heard this recently from a friend, but to be honest, it wasn’t
the first time I had heard it. I work as a Regional Director for Hand2Hand, a
ministry that connects churches and schools and creates a system in which
hungry students take a backpack full of food home each weekend. The families we
serve have a physical need and are without the resources to meet that
need. And so we apply “band-aids”, I’ve been told on numerous occasions. We do
not create income streams for the families. We do not create jobs. We merely
slap a temporary solution on a greater problem. A hungry belly filled for a
weekend, only to be hungry again next week...and the cycle continues.
This comment has been stirring in my mind and has made me wonder,
“What does a band-aid really do?” Recently, my rough-and-tumble 5-year-old ran to
me with a bloody elbow but refused a band-aid, wanting to keep playing. It
healed enough, but then opened up again. Healed again, only to open. When he
finally let me apply a band-aid days later, complete healing finally took
place. It was in that moment that I realized that a band-aid is simply a tool;
a bridge to healing. If Hand2Hand is seen as a band-aid ministry, perhaps that
isn’t the put-down it was intended to be; perhaps it recognizes that ours is an
organization that God uses to begin to heal wounds of all forms.
I think of a student at my son’s suburban school, who was
recently placed in foster care with her siblings. She, along with 53 other
students at the school, had consistently been receiving weekly food in her
locker since Hand2Hand started there two years earlier. She sat in the
principal’s office, tears streaming down her face as she processed her new
reality, and wondered aloud how he knew she would be okay. Everything she knew
had been turned upside down. “Remember the bag you get every Friday?” he asked.
That is something you can rely on. Has there ever been a week when the
bag wasn’t there?” She shook her head. “The people who put that bag there, they
do it because they care about you. They know that you’re worth that bag of food
and so much more. They love you and won’t ever let you down.” And slowly, the
tears dried and hope grew. The part he couldn’t say, as a public school
employee, was that the church members left that bag in her locker, and prayed
for her, because she is a precious child of the living God, a daughter of the
King. She is loved more than she can imagine! The church delivered that love to
her locker each week in the form of a simple bag of food. The band-aid of a bag
offered the healing of hope.
I remember hearing of a family who had never - who insisted they would
never - step foot in a church. Their past had been hard and the parents
didn’t feel they were the right “fit” for church. How often does this happen?
So many see God as keeping score, as condemning more than loving. How
beautiful, then, when the Church, His Church, steps in and loves
unconditionally and without judgement. For those who would never enter a
church, the Church quietly enters into their lives in the form of a weekend
food bag. Before long, when this family heard that their supporting church was
hosting a fall festival, they decided to go and eventually learned of a God who
is slow to anger and abounding in love. It isn’t simply that God
love; the disciple John tells us that God is love, and this family was
able to feel that love long before they stepped into a church. To this family,
the band-aid of a food bag offered the healing of real love - of the Father’s
I think back to a conversation I had with a teacher last Spring,
when she reminded me of the school-related impact of a Hand2Hand bag. For many
students we serve, the physical effects of hunger have taken root in poor
academic performance due to an inability to focus on anything outside of their
hunger. Before Hand2Hand, her student had limited food each weekend and came to
school hungry every Monday. He always acted out early in the week, finding it
nearly impossible to concentrate. As he received his free school lunches
throughout the week, his behavior improved as his stomach filled, but Mondays
and Tuesdays were always a struggle. Once he started receiving food bags each
Friday and had more food over the weekends, the early parts of the week started
looking like the latter parts always had. His positive involvement and participation
increased while the distractions he created decreased. With his stomach now
throughout the week, his grade rose over time and he was able to
be the child he was created to be - learning, engaging, helping. His band-aid of a food
bag led to the healing of improved academic performance.
Often, the band-aid of a food bag is simply a temporary aid out
of hunger. Regardless of what comes of it, we rejoice in each story of a hungry
stomach filled! Last year, a high school student struggled through a weight
class. When his teacher asked why he couldn’t continue, he plainly stated, “I’m just so hungry, Coach.” This boy, really
a man, had no food at home. And because of that, he didn’t have the energy he
needed to learn, to perform, to thrive. A Hand2Hand volunteer learned of this
situation and brought a bag overflowing with food to the teacher, who
immediately gave it to the student. Within moments of receiving it, this young
man began weeping in the school hallway. His arms were heavy not with weights,
but with food to see him through the days ahead. The bag didn’t address the
larger issue of why the student didn’t have food at home, but it did answer our
call as believers, who are told, “… if you spend yourselves in behalf of the
hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the
darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.” (Isaiah 57:10) We are blessed to be a
At Hand2Hand, we deeply believe that every single student and
family that we serve is adored by a loving Father more than they can even begin
to comprehend, and we believe that every child should be given every
opportunity to fulfill his or her God-given potential. If that was something we
could just hand to each student, we would. But since we can’t, we give a bag
instead. A bag of food to create a bridge to healing. Initially the bag is just
a bridge to a full stomach, but also a bridge to a body of imperfect believers
trying to represent a perfect love. And it’s our prayer that, ultimately, over
time, God uses these 4,000 weekly band-aids to heal loneliness, hopelessness,
“I’m not good enough”. It’s our prayer that these food bags are a bridge to our
Regional Hand2Hand Director of Northern Kent County
“Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much.” Helen Keller
Together we can do so much.
God has brought together 72 churches with over 80 dedicated coordinators, over 1,200 amazing volunteers, and numerous businesses and individuals who donate food or give financially, so that we are able to feed over 4,000 kids in His Name!
Together we can do so much.
Together, we are in 113 schools in 27 school districts feeding kids ages 3-18 who lack weekend food resources. Together, we deliver hope through a bag of food packed with love and prayers. Because of our amazing God and working together, we are shining His light into our communities as we feed and pray for our students.
As one teacher stated, "One of my students is currently homeless. She and her family travel between different houses of family members. Through Hand2Hand she always knows there will be some food on the weekend, no matter where she lays her head. That brings her great comfort and joy. Thank you."
Another teacher said,“I know how important Hand2Hand is when I hear kids tell me daily that they are hungry. I had a child ask me for a snack and state that ‘mom said we can’t get anymore food until she gets paid again.’ Thank you for the HUGE impact you are making on these kids for the better!”
Together we CAN do so much.
I am grateful because with God’s leading and blessing, together we ARE doing so much!
Cheri Honderd, Founder and Executive Director
(Special thanks to Carrie, one of our area Hand2Hand coordinators who feeds kids weekly in Spring Lake. She gifted me with this bracelet because she understands this as the theme of Hand2Hand!)
Every Community Needs A Pastor Chris
I am often asked how we are different from other organizations who feed kids. While we are different in many ways, one way is that we feed children from early childhood centers through high school while most of the other organizations focus only on elementary students.
Chris, a pastor of one of our Hand2Hand churches, is partnered with an urban junior high school and he recently shared his first encounter with the principal of the school.
Chris: If our church could come alongside of you and help you in one area, what would that be?
Principal: Do you have any drug counselors at your church? Drugs have always been in our school but we are finding that kids are beginning to sell them now.
Chris (slightly surprised by the request): I’m not sure we have anyone qualified to be a drug counselor. If we don’t, is there any other way we can come alongside of you to support and encourage your students?
Principal: Can you feed our kids so they aren’t hungry over the weekend? Hunger is a real problem for them.
Chris: We can do that! Have you ever heard about Hand2Hand?
When I heard that the principal requested drug counselors for his junior high students, I was stunned and saddened and it reaffirmed once again that Hand2Hand must go into all of our schools. Every child matters, regardless of age and Hand2Hand will do all we can to support, encourage, feed, and pray for all children. According to the National Education Association, adolescence is a “period of brain growth which marks the beginning of a person's ability to problem solve, think critically, plan, and control impulses.” If they are lacking in food and nutrition as an adolescent, they may struggle the rest of their lives.
I’m so thankful for pastors like Chris who desire to impact kids and love like Jesus in their local community. Today students at this Junior High School are being fed over the weekend. Every community needs pastors who have the courage and tenacity to rise up and make a difference. Chris’ church also provides after school activities and many students come to these activities with their Hand2Hand weekend food. He knows his church is making a difference. They are bringing hope, love, prayers, and food to kids who need a 'hand up' to excel in life.
Hand2Hand strives to feed any hungry child, early childhood through high school because every child, regardless of age, is significant in God’s eyes and in our eyes. We believe every child has been created with a God given potential and Hand2Hand seeks to help them reach that potential by providing weekend food to strengthen and nourish them.
I'm thankful for ALL of our 73 church partners, pastors, and volunteers who love like Jesus!
Coordinator Mary DeWys from Mason County Reformed Church shared how her church would be sending a little extra love to their students for Valentines Day! We love seeing our church partners go above and beyond!!
A mom said, “Receiving Hand2Hand means so much to me. We are in a tough spot right now and it’s a relief to know my kids have food but what means just as much is coming home from work on Friday and seeing the H2H food. We aren’t alone - people care and it gives me hope for the future. Someday I want to give back to Hand2Hand and bring others hope too.”
Hand2Hand serves families who are sometimes in the midst of medical expenses, divorce, job loss, or who simply have a lower wage job. They need the food but they tend to especially appreciate knowing that they aren’t alone. And many of our families do give back to Hand2Hand through volunteering and donating food once they have their feet on the ground.
For the last 9 years Hand2Hand churches, volunteers, and donors have walked alongside and brought hope, food, and prayers to thousands of families who are going through a difficult financial time.
We are honored to walk beside children and families as they are experiencing tough times and to bring them a glimpse of God who sees them, knows them, and loves them. They are never out of His sight.
Maybe you also need to know that you are never out of God's sight and that His love for you is amazing. (Psalm 139)
There is hope. And Hand2Hand will always seek to deliver His hope to the families we serve and to all who join us in feeding them.