Helping Hands - St John's Outreach Project

Helping Hands Food Pantry

600 S. Cochran, Charlotte, MI 48813

Dear Friends of Helping Hands,

Every day we hear media reports of an improving economy and looking around we see activity that seems to back up some of those claims. However, if you talk to anyone involved with the various social services offered within Eaton County, it seems that economic recovery is lagging or non-existent for many of our residents. People with fixed incomes such a senior citizens, people with disabilities, low wages, insufficient hours, transportation issues all contribute to a seemingly invisible society that has very little choice but to rely upon the generosity of their community to help them get by,

Helping Hands Food Pantry, serving the community since 1982, completed 2014 honoring a record number of 4,789 requests for assistance (representing over 14,000 people) with 338,000 pounds of food and personal care items. One of the questions I often hear is, “Where do all these people come from in a town of 9,000?” Allow me to break down some of these numbers for you.

Clients of Helping Hands are allowed (like all mid-Michigan food panties) to frequent only one pantry once every 30 days. The average client frequency is 3 times per year. (Interestingly enough fully 35% used our services just once during the entire year. Only 14 of the over 1,400 individual households we served actually came in all 12 times allowable!) We serve Charlotte and Vermontville addresses. Census data shows that there are 8,700 households and 21,000 people residing in the 48813 zip code. Vermontville (49096) has 1,207 households with 3,285 people. Together that is a potential 9,907 households with approximately 25,000 people! This means we offered assistance to approximately 15 percent of the populace at least once during 2014 or about 1 in 7, which according to figures from Feeding America, is the national average.

I would also like to briefly address some “misinformation” being circulated on Facebook, certain websites with self proclaimed righteous names and other dubious sources, about how people receiving food stamps (SNAP benefits, Bridge Card) and disability are living large on our tax dollars. Our records indicate that the average amount received in disability is about $900 per month, the average amount of food stamps is $162 per month and the average number of people in these households is 3!

All Helping Hands clients are subject to low income guidelines, residency requirements and required to sign a statement attesting to the accuracy of the information given us. During the first 10 months of 2015 we find the numbers of requests still running about even with the record number of requests we received in 2014.

We receive no government funding of any kind. All of our funding comes from private sources such as individuals, local churches, service organizations and some grants from private foundations. Because of special purchasing opportunities, we have been able to leverage over $7 worth for every $1 spent on food. (Feeding America estimates the wholesale value of food at $1.66 per pound. Using this metric, the value of the food distributed through Helping Hands to the community in 2014 was $527,880, for which we paid slightly less than $61,000)

Believing that transparency is essential to successful and sustainable efforts of any non-profit, I am available to share additional accountability measures we take to assure we are being good stewards of the donations entrusted to us. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at or call or text me at 517-231-2205.


Phil Grimwood


Helping Hands Food Pantry


“ . . . when you did it

for one of the least of these

my brothers and sisters,

you did it for me.”

Matt 25:40