Introduction to The Helping Hands Network
The Helping Hands Network was established in 1983 to serve residents in southern Stark County, including the communities of East Sparta, Magnolia, Sandyville and Waynesburg. Through community support the center provides yearlong food pantry and clothing giveaway services as well as school supplies, Thanksgiving turkeys, Christmas hams, Christmas presents and Easter candy for local children. The center began in a house located on Main Street in Waynesburg; in 2008, it moved into the former Waynesburg United Methodist Church at 126 S. Main Street. The church property was sold to Helping Hands for $1.00 by the former church members when the church closed.
Our food pantry offers a generous five-to-seven-day supply of nutritious food to income-eligible clients twice a month. Clients may also come in the other weeks of the month to get bread, produce and pastries. Gently used clothing is available to anyone during weekly business hours and on the third Saturday of the month. Community support provides all of the clothing, school supplies, Christmas presents, and Easter candy. The food pantry is supported financially by many local churches, individuals and businesses, and the Stark County Hunger Task Force.
Helping Hands served an average of 652 individuals per month in 2022. In 2022 we passed along over 177,171 pounds of food including 24,354 pounds of fresh produce.
The Helping Hands Network exists to help our community. For 40 years we have provided a "helping hand" to those that have a need for food and clothing. Since our community consists of small towns and rural areas, we are often a "forgotten" area when thinking of people in need. We have no large metropolitan area and therefore few community services. Our area has been identified as a "food desert" in the Stark Community Foundation "Food Desert Analysis of Stark County" completed in 2013. The fact that our center has thrived for 38 years speaks to the need for our services as well as the generosity and strong support for our programs from our community. We are meeting the needs of the food insecure in our neighborhood.
The Helping Hands Network is governed by a ten-member board of directors and has three paid staff, Becky Larson, Director, Cathy Jennings, Assistant Director, and David Bowers, Inventory Manager. All other services and duties are provided by a dedicated team of 25 volunteers. Volunteer activities include sorting donated clothing, driving our van weekly to the Akron Canton Regional Food Bank and grocery stores to pick up orders and bread, stocking shelves, packing up groceries for clients, and general maintenance.