Open Standard Media Player version 1.3
GRAND RAPIDS - "We've been doing this for 18 years," Susan Estee said. "To make sure that the people who are in need are served by the community."
Holiday ornaments dating back to 1995 hang at the Second Harvest North Central Food Bank: each one signifying another year of their holiday program that provides meals to families in need.
"If you're already struggling and are barely able to make ends meet, getting the food needed to have that holiday meal might be difficult," Second Harvest North Central Food Bank's Executive Director Susan Estee said.
Throughout the year, the food bank and its volunteers provide a variety of services, including their year–round food shelf and "kids packs to go" program; ultimately serving 27,000 people in the seven county region.
However, it is the Holiday Program along with its toy drive that often leaves the most lasting impression on families.
"People every day when they come in to get the food boxes say 'we wouldn't have been able to do this without you, we would not have had gifts for our kids if it weren't for you,'" Estee said.
Each $75 donation provides more than two Holiday Boxes filled with groeceries and a $15 grocery store voucher.
All in all, they must raise $80,000 to make the program possible.
A few days into the fundraising and donations for the program are making their way in and it's the people making it all happen that benefit, too.
"We hear from a lot of volunteers who say it makes their holiday to participate in this program," Estee said.
"I think we all just like to give if we can and we hope that we'll never be in that position, but you never know, we might be the ones that need help at some point," volunteer Rhonda Axtell said.
Despite their inspiration, or how much one gives, people at Second Harvest said it is all those small gestures that make a big difference during the most special time of the year.
"I think we give people hope that tomorrow's better," Estee said. "They're struggling every day, but this little piece of help makes the holiday brighter for them."