Hands to Hearts, Inc. began in 2009, and has continued to expand beyond the original goal of providing food to children and the rest is history. An idea developed after a group of men went to South Africa to build a schoolhouse for children and their community. When they returned and looked in their own "Backyard " they thought “What can we do to help children in Kansas City?” Pen to paper, countless hours of discussions and making contacts, with a little bit of prayer, Hands to Hearts was born.
Since 2009, we have become Harvesters’ largest community partner in the BackSnack program in the Kansas City area, on the Kansas side. We now provide BackSnacks for nearly 1000 children in 3 school districts. But we didn’t just stop there.
On a cold, winter day, a children arrived to school in wet clothing. She asked the child why their clothes were wet. The child responded that they only have one set of clothes, their mom worked nights and they had no way to wash their clothes. Each night, the child would wash their clothes and hang them over the radiator to dry. That morning when the child got up for school, the clothes were not dry. Only having one set of clothes, the child put the wet clothes on and walked to school in the cold.
Within weeks we were collecting hundreds of items of clothing and distributing them to stock clothing closets not only at Silver City, but as the word spread, in other elementary schools as well….just in time for the winter cold spell.
We now offer free clothing to all our partner schools.
One day a board member suggested we add a book to every BackSnack. The statistics of children not reading at grade level was staggering. We learned only one book in three hundred homes is owned in Kansas City’s lowest income neighborhoods. We put a request to the community for books and the response was OVERWHELMING. Books, hundreds of books, flooded in. We gave one book to every child in the BackSnack program for those schools that requested them.
We bought a bookmobile and collected books to keep it stocked. Over the years our bookmobile handed out thousands of books to children in the metro. In 2020, our bookmobile retired. However we continue our book program by offering free book fairs.
We collect and distribute books for free to children ages preschool-middle school.
Because of our significant volunteer base, we are able to make decisions and respond quickly as opportunities arise. For instance:
We work with the homeless liaison in the Kansas City, KS Public Schools to provide gifts for families in need. Each holiday season, volunteers have the opportunity to adopt a family for the holidays.
We learned of an apartment complex with 119 units. The manager estimated that 150 families lived there, but was unable to give us a more accurate count because of the large number of homeless/transient families living with their residents. The complex contains many refugee families, some of whom have no grasp of the English language. Two weeks after visiting with the apartment manager, we were able to do a “morning market” offering a pancake breakfast and distributing food, clothing and other necessities to the residents—just in time for school starting.
The need has never stopped and Hands to Hearts continues to grow to support whenever and wherever they are able to help. The significant numbers of volunteers willing to join has made it possible to grow and respond quickly as more schools call for help. Emails and calls come in from people that wish to get involved and help where help is needed most. Often we are able to respond IMMEDIATELY — providing clothing and necessities within days for refugee children who had just lost everything, delivering hats and gloves to schools so they can distribute among the grades and children, or providing a much-needed cot for a school nurse’s office.
Hands to Hearts was founded on Christian principles and we are blessed to have many volunteers from many different denominations, different faiths, some who profess to have no belief system at all but have a desire to help . Working side by side, we can make a difference.