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Hand 2 Hand celebrates ribbon cutting at new Jenison location

The non-profit provides thousands of school children with weekend food by partnering with local churches.

JENISON -- An Ottawa County non-profit is celebrating a ribbon cutting at its new location in Jenison Tuesday. The newly renovated facility houses its offices and warehouse under one roof, for the first time. 

Hand 2 Hand focuses on feeding hungry children over the weekend, when free breakfasts and lunches aren't available at school.

13 ON YOUR SIDE's Meredith TerHaar spoke with the founder about how this newly renovated building will help the organization feed more kids.

Hand 2 Hand ministries launched in 2008 reaching 19 students. Now, "This fall we will be in 241 schools in West Michigan. We serve kids ages 3 to 18 because no child at any age should be hungry over that long weekend, 68 hour gap," said founder Cheri Honderd.

They don't do it alone.

"Our focus now is we partner with local churches to go into their local schools and they are the boots on the ground praying over the kids and bringing them that weekend food."

And they do it without embarrassing students.

"We discreetly placed these backpacks in students lockers for them to enjoy together and then they bring the backpacks back every week," explained Emily Bult, community engagement specialist.

This new-to-them facility will help them do even more of that.

"We were saying no to donated food pallets of food -- we didn't have the space," explained Cheri.

Not anymore. Now they have more room for donations, more room for volunteers, more opportunities to reach kids who need their help.

"This space will allow us to continue to say yes to 10,000 more students within West Michigan. We try to get the food in and out as quickly as possible to our churches, but just being able to reach that vision of every child in West Michigan having access to weekend food, this building will help us reach that vision by 2030," said Cheri.

Want to help? Hand 2 Hand is always looking to partner with more local churches to donate food, pack the backpacks and deliver them. For more information, visit their website.

The ribbon cutting is Tuesday at 10 a.m. and the public is invited! The address is 306 Chicago Drive in Jenison. The ribbon cutting will be followed by an open house from 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m., and 7 – 8 p.m. 

The building used to be an Aldi store. Cheri says much of the lighting and office furniture was donated from other local businesses.

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