In an increasingly hectic world, today is unique in and of the fact that it’s intended for us to slow down, take time off from the regular hustle and bustle and to stop and reflect on what we’re thankful for. It may be something simple like a day off from work and school or a chance to eat your mom’s almost famous stuffing or the chance for a Lion’s win or it could be something much more profound like being thankful for having a meal at all.
At first glance, it may not seem as though there is an issue of hunger in our community but organizations like Hand2Hand, based locally in Hudsonville, remind us that many families in Jenison are among those in need of the basic necessities like regular meals.
But thanks to our schools and Student Council leaders, we are combating this need with compassion, generosity and a little bit of fun.
Schools district-wide participated in various fundraising projects from November 14 — 21 to raise money for Hand2Hand that will be directed specifically to Jenison families. It seems hard to imagine but many of our children risk going hungry over the course of a weekend due to financial strain. Hand2Hand works with principals to identify children in need and each Friday they confidentially distribute meals for the weekend. During the 2013 – 2014 school year over 86,000 backpacks were given to West Michigan children! Excited recipients are taking home healthy options such as fruit, soup, pasta, granola bars, boxes of cereal and more. “That’s really where our focus is. To make sure that our friends and peers have those things to take home for the weekend.” Mrs. Mallory DeFouw, JJH Student Council Advisor
Each school coordinates different fundraising projects to get students interested in and excited about giving. At Jenison Junior High the Student Council partnered with teachers to build friendly competition between 7th and 8th graders. Money is collected during 5th hour so as to capitalize on those extra coins leftover from lunch. Special events such as Hat or Pajama Days where students can choose to pay $1 to participate and the funds also contribute to the Junior High total for YCCCH.
“I see that kids are willing to give up their dollars that they would normally spend in the vending machine, they give to Hand2Hand; kids would bring in their own money from their savings accounts. That just speaks volumes to the types of kids we have in the Junior High.” -Mrs DeFouw
Student Council officers and representatives passionately stand by the effort to support this important work and aren’t afraid to look inward in the process. “It makes you thankful for what you have when you see that other people don’t have has much as we have. For me to think that [someone] is scared to go home on the weekend and not have enough food, it just makes me want to give because I know that that can be kind of a scary feeling to not know.” Maddie Tease, 8th grader
“Sometimes we take it for granted that there are people who aren’t as fortunate as we are.” John Maday, 8th grader
“In Elementary, I didn’t really realize that people in my community could be hungry too, it’s not just other places.” –Maddie Tease
It’s also important to remember that the holidays are not the only time to give or to remember those in need. “It’s not just a concern this month. It’s not just an issue this month. Hand2Hand Ministries needs the support all year long in order to provide for these families.”
Last year Jenison raised $11,960.65 for Hand2Hand and the goal for this year was $12,000. And while the totals are still being counted, we can confidently say that the efforts of all of our students is appreciated and is making a difference right here in our midst! Thank you Jenison students and families; you inspire us!