Harding’s Markets donates to Helping Hands of Cass County


By Sarah Culton

Published in LeaderPublications, Thursday, August 20, 2020

CASSOPOLIS — In July, many Cassopolis residents chose to round up their grocery bills to the nearest dollar. By doing so, one local food pantry can now feed dozens of families in need.

The Cassopolis Harding’s Markets recently donated $1,056 to Helping Hands of Cass County’s food pantry. The money was collected through the Harding’s “Round Up” program during the month of July. For the program, community members could round up their order totals to the nearest dollar, with the change going to support local food banks. Across all Harding’s locations, nearly $80,000 was raised to support local food banks.

“This all kind of started during the coin shortage, so we developed a program that allowed round up their totals,” said Matt Riggs, the store director of the Cassopolis Harding’s. “We held the change for the whole month and donated it to local food banks.”

Riggs said the donation was a community effort.

“It was a donation, but the community came together,” Riggs said. “It was more from them than us. We just organized it. I’ve always felt that Cassopolis was very active with helping each other out. Not every place is like that. I feel it’s wonderful to be a part of this community and work for an organization that is willing to give back.”

Mary Tompi, of Helping Hands of Cass County, said she was grateful for the donation, adding that it would help the pantry provide healthy food and meats to pantry clients.

“It’s very heartwarming, and it’s always wonderful when the community can come together like this,” she said. “We can’t thank the community enough for their generosity.”

Since March 31 and the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Tompi said Helping Hands’ food pantry served 1,777 Cass County residents with food boxes that are delivered curbside. She said the donation from Harding’s and the community would allow the pantry to continue to provide to Cass County throughout the pandemic and beyond.

“In receiving this generous check, we will be able to continue providing quality food boxes to those facing food insecurities,” Tompi said.

Tompi said the donation from the “Round up” program was just another example of the kindness and giving she has seen from the Cassopolis community over the years.

“I think a lot of people help because, as the pandemic has made clear, a lot of people are one paycheck away from needing assistance, and you never know when your family might be the one that needs help,” she said. “We are so grateful to the community and hope to continue to bless people with our blessings.”

Helping Hands of Cass County – Recipient of GCC Food Drop 2020

IMG_1066On Saturday, January 25, 2020 Helping Hands was one of the 15 area food pantries that received non-perishables during the annual Granger Community Church (GCC) Food Drop.  With over 2,000 volunteers, 75,000 pounds of food were packed and delivered to 10 different cities in our area.  Helping Hands received 450 cases of canned goods and ready to prepare meals that were used to re-stock our pantry.

Cindy and Dave Graf and their team of college volunteers help load and stock the non-perishables in our pantry.  We are very grateful to have Granger Community Church as one of our community partners in providing food to those in need.

By Submitted Published 1:06 pm Friday, February 3, 2017

Helping Hands of Cass County will soon expand the services it provides to local families in need, offering monthly food baskets to selected households.

“With the high cost of groceries, the need for food continues to be great in our community,” said Helping Hands Coordinator Mary Tompi. “In 2016, we provided 634 food baskets to families. Beginning in 2017, Helping Hands will provide monthly food baskets to families that qualify.”

The agency’s board is also working on offering boxes that meet particular needs, such as personal care products, cleaning products and baby products.

The nonprofit organization, which has been located in downtown Cassopolis since 1984, provides food, clothing, medicine, transportation funds, household items and, on occasion, support for utilities to residents of Cass County.

“This year has been extraordinary for us,” said President Diane Seifert. “We have received generous donations from many local groups, including the Edward Lowe Foundation, Community Foundation of St. Joseph County, Michigan Gateway Foundation-Youth Advisory Group and the Ladies of the Moose.”

Many other organizations conducted food drives that have provided a substantial amount of food for distribution, including Cassopolis Dental, Sam Adams Elementary School, the Diamond Lake Yacht Club, Cassopolis Family Clinic, K & M Welding and students from the Ross Beatty “Rangers to the Rescue” campaign.

Helping Hands also regularly receives funds or food from area churches, including St. Ann Catholic Church, Pleasant View Church of Christ, Cass United Methodist Church, and the United Presbyterian Church of Cassopolis. There are also many anonymous donors.

Two large food donations made an impact on Helping Hand’s food resources.

In 2016, United Way of Southwest Michigan provided grants for three Feeding America trucks and seven are planned for 2017. On Jan. 28, board members and volunteers were busy stacking 130 boxes of food donated through the 14th annual Food Drop, organized by Granger Community Church.

Helping Hands pantry and shop is located in downtown Cassopolis, and is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday.