The Rapidian

Start a new tradition this year

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Food pantries offer thousands of ways for the community to give back this holiday season through the Access Holiday Giving Network.
Underwriting support from:

Here’s a few ways to get involved:

1. Provide Thanksgiving or Christmas food to a family in Kent County.

2. Give grocery store gift cards or monetary donations to help us ensure that every family is provided for this holiday season.

3. Hold a holiday food drive with your congregation, office, or small group and donate the items to a local pantry (we can connect you with your local food pantry).

4. Volunteer at one of our pantry sign-up sites to assist with intake, data entry, or other needed activities.

/Grand Rapids Press 11/25/2010

Dozens of individuals wait in line outside of United Church Outreach Ministries (UCOM) on a cold and rainy day in November, eager for the food pantry and community center to open and welcome them into the warmth of its cheery environment. It’s holiday sign-up time again, and these individuals are just a few of the over 7,000 families, or over 20,000 individuals, that will register to receive a Thanksgiving or Christmas meal this year.

UCOM is just one of 11 Pantry Resource Centers that are currently signing up families across Kent County to be a part of the Holiday Giving Network, an annual anti-hunger program coordinated by Access of West Michigan.

“Getting families to sign-up is the easy part,” says Emma Rosauer, Hunger Response Director at Access. “The difficult part for us year after year is getting the response from people willing to help to match the need. Community members are always surprised to find out that each and every family that signs up for the program provides verification of their income level, number of family members, and more. The sad truth is that too many of our near neighbors in Kent County are desperately in need of help this season.”

The outset of the program is simple: families in need sign up for a basket, and then a family, business, congregation, or other group gets matched to the family and brings them a supply of food items a few days before the holiday. It’s that easy.

“It’s a tangible way of putting a face on hunger in our community. It’s a great opportunity to get your office, family, and friends involved in giving back this holiday season. We have 7,000 families that are waiting to hear from a provider and I am confident that we have more than 7,000 groups in our community that are willing to give.”

The Holiday Giving Network offers an opportunity to start a new holiday tradition by providing for a family in neighborhoods across Kent County. Willing providers can contact Access as soon as possible or at least a week prior to Thanksgiving or Christmas. Community members can also get involved by volunteering time, donating monetarily, or designating grocery gift cards to the Holiday Giving Network.

For more information, call Emma at 774-2175 x 5 or fill out the online provider form. If you or someone you know is in need of a holiday basket, please call United Way’s 2-1-1.

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