Helping Hands reaching out for fifth year

by Geoff Fox

This Saturday, August 11, Hancock Helping Hands, a community outreach group, is celebrating their fifth anniversary of helping families in the Hancock area get ready for school.

The outreach event will take place in Widmeyer Park, rain or shine, from 10 a.m. until 12 p.m. or while supplies last.

“We are looking to once again help families in need in Hancock, Maryland as well as the surrounding communities in West Virginia and Pennsylvania,” Director Kristie Stotler said in a release.

The outreach organization will be handing out free backpacks with school supplies, free personal care items, free household care items, free baby care items, a free lunch, and more.

All items are available on a first come-first served basis and no advanced registration is required.

Organizers said all children and adults wishing to receive items must be present at the park.

Last year, Helping Hands provided backpacks filled with school supplies to approximately 300 local children and touched the lives of over 500 family members.

Over the last four years, 2,500 local individuals have been served by the organization. Stotler said it has been “very eye opening” at the number of people who have been helped over the years.

She did say there has been a slight decline in the number of people who have come out in search of help and hopes that people are doing better.

“This is an incredible opportunity for our community to come together and help those who may not be able to afford or obtain the basic items needed for their kid’s school year,” Stotler said.

While there are more resources available at Christmas time, Stotler said the burden at back to school could be just as much.

She said the event is at the right time to help folks get ready for a new school year.

It’s not just the kids who are being helped during the Helping Hands event.

Stotler said there have been lots of single adults and parents who have needed household items and other things as well.

Last year, she noted there were “quite a few” senior citizens who came out for needs as well.

Hancock Helping Hands was an idea taken from a similar event in the Mon Alto, Pa. area called Project Big Love, Stotler said