It’s no secret that children suffer disproportionately during a crisis. Especially when education is disrupted and the chance for normal, daily childhood activities vanishes. For By The Hand, the urgent question quickly became how to care for the futures of children during a pandemic.
Yolanda, who oversees the By The Hand Club Emergency Care Fund, could see that caring for the children—mind, body and soul—might need to look different during this time. She put it plainly, “If a child doesn’t have basic needs met, they’re not going to level up in their reading or be able to focus on their homework.” By The Hand realized, in this historic moment, the best way to serve their kids was to provide extra care and support to their families. In her role, Yolanda has seen first hand that families have lost so much, whether she is sending flowers for lost loved ones, gauging financial needs due to lost jobs, checking in on parents who feel a loss of connection or referrals for additional care where there is lost hope. As this global crisis presses on, Yolanda shared, “The needs of our children and their families have obviously increased.”
She went on, “You have two or three generations at home together. And there’s a lot of fear.” Older folks are afraid of getting sick, younger folks don’t know how to make ends meet, the kids don’t know how long this will last, and nobody knows what comes next.
Yolanda’s team has risen to the challenge as they tackle the incredible surge of needs. They regularly check in with families to pray, learn about their current situations and assess their list of needs. Groceries were often at the top of the list. So Yolanda worked out a partnership with Forty Acres Fresh Market to donate thousands of pounds of fresh produce every single week. The produce is boxed and delivered to By The Hand, full of greens, veggies, and fruit. Then, following careful safety guidelines, staff and volunteers deliver the boxes to their designated families. Like Michelle Hyles’ family. Michelle got very sick with COVID-19 and had to quarantine. “I couldn’t see my kids for two weeks. And then, I was furloughed from work for over a month with no income.” Michelle says it was a very hard and lonely time. “The fresh produce box blessed my family. I didn’t have any income to buy groceries. Plus I was so sick, I couldn’t even go outside.” She went on, “By The Hand was very concerned about me and my family’s well being. Every day someone took the time out to call and text and say a prayer. I am deeply touched by what they did for us.”
Yolanda has hundreds of similar stories, “We’ve delivered over 320 boxes so far. People are grateful for the fresh produce boxes. And the kids are ecstatic to see familiar faces!”
“The fresh produce box blessed my family. I didn’t have any income to buy groceries. Plus I was so sick, I couldn’t even go outside.”
But that’s not all. Yolanda and her team have also helped parents with rent and utilities during this strained time. Parents like Shaniqua. She shared, “I lost my job almost immediately. There was a lack of supplies and I didn’t have the income I needed to support my family.” But she soon discovered hope and help were on the way. “By The Hand brought me food and supplied me with one month of rent.” Shaniqua admits, “When I found out By The Hand was going to help, I was shocked. It felt really good.”
To meet so many additional needs, Yolanda also created an Emergency Care Kit list. She explained, “This is a list of families who need periodic help with essentials. Toothpaste, hand sanitizer, diapers, coloring books, puzzles, all kinds of things.“ In just over two months, more than 200 of these boxes have been quickly filled by donors and delivered to By The Hand families.
What better way to the fight fear and despair of a community than to fuel the futures of their children by supporting their families? And what better reason than God’s great love?