"We were initially drawn to Hand2Hand because we become more aware of how many children in our own community who we're struggling to find enough food and it broke our heart and we wanted to do something about it."
Why did you decide to get involved with Hand2Hand?
We had been praying about getting involved in the community near our 3rd campus that was opening in the South Wyoming/Grandville area. We have relationships with another school in GRPS and we wondered and were praying about a school near our South Wyoming Campus.
I'd heard and did some research about Hand2Hand, and had scheduled a meeting with Jodi Joseph to find out more.
We then had conversations with Vanguard about what their needs were, and we mentioned Hand2Hand, and we entered into a partnership and started providing bags of weekend food in January 2017.
Since then, we've launched Hand2Hand with two other schools, and we currently are serving four schools, each week and providing food to 225 students.
What did it take to get your church meaningfully involved with Hand2Hand and the school?
Getting started at Vanguard meant getting a team created to carry out the ministry. We needed a Leader Coordinator, a Food Procurement person and a delivery person. We had three people that were willing to attend a training meeting and they all jumped in to get Hand2Hand started within Cornerstone Church.
Our biggest challenges to provide for the schools were lack of space at our churches to solely dedicate "pantry space". We were creative and Streams of Hope Food Center, who we already work with, allowed us to use their warehouse space to hold and pack food for the Kentwood School.
The GRPS school, Campus Elementary, has provided us a space at the school to use as a pantry and we pack in the halls of the school, in the evening, every other Thursday.
Now we do things a little differently, but that's how we started. We needed a lot of people to carry out this ministry regularly, so we publicized to the congregation what we were doing and how they could be involved and God has supplied the people to do this.
We also have shopping carts (donated to us from Spartan Nash) at each of our Cornerstone Church Campuses to collect donated food. We encourage the congregation to bring in food items we use.
What has been a “cool moment” that have happened in the time your church has partnered with the school?
We received a phone call from a local hair salon saying they were collecting food for us. They were calling to see how they could get it to us and where we needed it. In calling the owner back I had some questions.
"Angie, do you attend Cornerstone Church?" No she didn't.
My follow up question was, "How did you hear about it?" Her answer was, "Karen, from your church, was telling me about it. I just couldn't believe their were kids right here in our community that were hungry over the weekends and I couldn't NOT do something about it! So I'm collecting food all school year! I'm encouraging people to bring in food and anyone who does, will be entered to win a $50 gift card to our salon!"
That just warmed my heart.
Then, interestingly, Karen, who was the person from Cornerstone who shared about this with her stylist, Angie, was not involved with Hand2Hand of Cornerstone. She wasn't a volunteer.
Now, Karen is the volunteer who picks up the donated food brought into that salon and takes it to our pantry at our South Wyoming Campus.
What would you say to a church considering connecting to Hand2hand?
I would say, "Do it!"
It engages people in your church in great ways. People of your church are excited to be part of blessing community kids in this way.
It takes a committed team and prayer, and it's worth it!
We have our student ministry involved and really, it's a great way to engage families with young kids.
Packing the food doesn't take long at all, but the key is to get a committed team to secure the food, organize volunteers and deliver the food to the schools. The packing is where many people will engage.
The teachers and staff at the school, also see the impact it's having on their students, and they're so, so grateful!
(These questions were answered by the Lead Coordinator of Cornerstone Church)
We are eager to help YOUR CHURCH feed hungry children on the weekend.
Let's start the conversation.