Hope College student-athletes worked together this semester to help prevent child hunger in West Michigan.

Led by the Athletes Coming Together/Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (ACT/SAAC), Hope’s 22 varsity teams combined to raise more than $2,000 in donations. The money Hope student-athletes raised provided the opportunity to pack more than 2,000 snack packs at DeVos Fieldhouse for the Hand2Hand organization.

Based in Hudsonville, Michigan, Hand2Hand provides food for youth and children facing weekend hunger in West Michigan. Many of Hand2Hand’s recipients get free or reduced-price lunches during the school week.

Three Hope student-athletes pose for a group photo holding food for children in West Michigan.
From left, Hope College student-athletes Kealeigh Usiak, Evan Thomas, and Keaton Hamilton

“It’s super special and says a lot about our student-athletes and athletics program as a whole when we were all able to get together to work with Hand2Hand,” said Evan Thomas, a junior on the men’s basketball team and a biology major. “Everyone there has a genuine interest in giving back to something bigger than ourselves, and doing anything we can to help.”

Added junior Kealeigh Usiak of the women’s soccer team, “It was really cool to see so many Hope student-athletes coming together to support something bigger than our individual teams, and bigger than Hope College.”

Inspired to Help

Usiak, who is majoring in communication and computer science, said she was shocked to see how much money was raised and how many snack bags were packed.

“It was cool to see all of the teams work together to get enough funds to really make a difference,” Usiak said. “I’d say the Holland community inspired me to take part in this effort with Hand2Hand. The Holland community supports Hope Athletics so much and does so many things for us, so I felt driven to give back to the community in this way.”

Participating in ACT-SAAC for the first time last year inspired Thomas to join the organization’s community service team this year.

The mission ACT/SAAC at Hope College is:

  • Serve student-athletes as a liaison between the student-athletes and the Hope College Athletic Department Administration regarding the needs and concerns that impact their academic performance, athletic performance, and personal well-being.
  • Promote unity, camaraderie, communication and common purpose among all Hope College student-athletes.
  • Actively encourage a strong commitment to service, and uphold positive athletic, academic and social experience for all student-athletes.
  • Represent, endorse, and support athletics at institutional, conference, and national levels including the review of policies and proposed legislation at these various tiers.

“I knew I wanted to be more involved if I could, so that I could help put together events like this,” Thomas said. “Last year’s Hand2Hand event was such a great experience that was so fun that we knew we wanted to try and do this again this year and raise even more money.” 

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