• We’re so grateful for all of the volunteers who show up early at Burlington High School on Christmas Day to do some final gift wrapping, card writing, and gift bag filling. We did 400 gift bags this year!

HANDS is a small non-profit originally founded by Megan J. Humphrey to fill some gaps in providing food to older Vermonters….with the help of hundreds of organizations, businesses, and volunteers. Specifically, we: provide a meal and giftbags for about 350 folks on Christmas Day throughout Chittenden County; provide funding so that two senior centers can offer an additional meal each week; and are now developing gardening programs at senior housing, long-term care nursing centers, and community garden sites so that older participants can get their hands in the dirt again and grow some of their own food. We’re making a special effort to include older veterans and older New Americans. Some of the sites are intergenerational.

This summer, we have garden sites at Archibald Street Community Garden in the Old North End of Burlington, Canal Street Veterans Housing in Winooski, Ethan Allen Residence in the New North End of Burlington, Thayer Commons in Burlington, and St. Michael’s College in Colchester. We’re partnering with Burlington Parks & Rec, Camp Johnson, Committee on Temporary Shelter, Charlie Nardozzi, St. Michael’s College, Vermont Community Garden Network, and Veterans Administration to bring programming to each of these locations. If additional funding comes our way, we can grow to even more sites!

For the past 12 years, we have come together as a community to provide a non-denominational Holiday Dinner for Seniors on Christmas Day, a difficult day for so many. Some years ago, the Champlain Valley Agency on Aging requested that we take over their Christmas Day meal delivery program as well. Last year, we prepared and delivered about 350 meals to older Vermonters. In addition, we collaborated with the Elks Club to help provide a delightful sit-down dinner for 100 seniors and their families. Each person received a wrapped giftbag which, in many cases, was the only gift that a senior received during the holiday season.

We depend on volunteers and businesses to provide donations for the meals and giftbags, wrap gifts, make the meals, staff the sit-down dinner, and deliver meals. We have created a 501c3 non-profit organization to continue and expand our services.

We’re setting this year’s fundraising goal at $20,000 and encourage you to donate online in order to lend a hand (get it?) to older Vermonters. Even $5 will help us to meet our goal. On behalf of older Vermonters, of whom 7,800 experience some form of food insecurity according to 2013 Hunger Free Vermont statistics, thank you so much for your generosity!

Thank you for your support and for making the life of a senior a little bit brighter!

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