An appetite for stopping youth hunger in West Michigan galvanized Hope College student-athletes this semester.

Led by the Athletes Coming Together/Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (ACT/SAAC), Hope’s 22 varsity teams combined to raise more than $3,200 in donations for Hand2Hand

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.

The money Hope student-athletes raised provided the opportunity to pack 2,340 snack packs at DeVos Fieldhouse this week and contribute financially to the Hand2Hand October Fundraising Campaign. Initially, ACT/SAAC aimed to raise enough money to provide 1,000 snack packs.

Senior Bailey Chorney of the women’s tennis team is thrilled that ACT/SAAC’s fundraising efforts went above and beyond their original goal.

“I am blown away by how much money we were able to raise for Hand2Hand. Hope student-athletes really showed up and exceeded our expectations,” Chorney said. “I can’t think of a better time for us to be providing these snack packs for kids than during this pandemic. It felt so amazing to physically pack the bags knowing that a kid will get to bring it home and enjoy all of the treats inside.” 

Tripling the Initial Fundraising Goal

Hope student-athletes donated their money, returned pop cans and encouraged teammates, fellow student-athletes and alumni to donate.

“Seeing how much money we raised and how many snack packs we were able to make was incredible,” said sophomore Daniel Romano of the football team. “I felt many people in ACT/SAAC were surprised to see how well our fundraising went for this event, but everyone was so happy and excited to see that we tripled our goal. 

“It shows how well Hope College responds to the call for help, not only meeting the needs of people who need help, but going above and beyond for them.”

Hand2Hand delivers nutritious food to students over weekends and extended school breaks by mobilizing support from churches, schools, individuals, foundations, and businesses in West Michigan.

In Holland, Hand2Hand feeds 952 students at 13 different schools and Escape Ministries. In Zeeland, Hand2Hand feeds 276 students at 13 different schools.

During October, Hand2Hand is trying to raise $200,000 to help feed the 8,007 students they are currently serving as well as the 10-percent growth they anticipate feeding in 31 current partner schools due to COVID-19.

On Monday, Hope student-athletes gathered to pack applesauce, crackers, granola bars and other nutritious snacks into individual bags for Hand2Hand to distribute.

“It was great to see all of our teams united in their support of Hand2Hand,” said assistant athletic director Caroline Dykstra, who oversees ACT/SAAC at Hope. “The fact that we were able to pack over 2,000 snack packs for kids in the local schools and have money to donate is a testament to the heart of our student-athletes and their desire to give back to the Holland community. I am so inspired by the way ACT/SAAC and our student-athletes engaged with this opportunity.” 

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