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Feeding the Homeless

Cy-Fair Helping Hands feeds homeless,

Article by Erica Hernandez

Photography by Pat Hudson

Originally published in Cypress Lifestyle

Whether assisting the homeless or getting school supplies to needy children, Cy-Fair Helping Hands is all about finding ways to uplift the community.

The non-profit, volunteer-run organization got its start with the husband-wife duo Jean and John Dreyer who made it their mission to help the homeless of Northwest Houston. The couple collected and stored food, clothing and basic supplies for the homeless in their own garage before ultimately deciding to create Cy-Fair Helping Hands. The Dreyers eventually sold their antique business to fund and establish the non-profit in 2010.

Since then, the organization has grown to include a food pantry, community garden, holiday drives and school-supply distributions.

“Many of our clients see us as a beacon of hope in an otherwise difficult time,” says Patricia Hudson, executive director of community outreach for Cy-Fair Helping Hands.

Food distribution is one of the group’s biggest efforts. Since March, the pantry has distributed more than 60,000 pounds of food. The Helping Hands food pantry provides non-perishable foods, dairy products, bread, and produce to about 300 monthly clients. Organizers rely on donations from businesses, churches, schools and local residents to meet their monthly needs. In light of the coronavirus pandemic, Helping Hands now offers drive-thru food distribution. Clients pop their trunks and volunteers load their cars with boxes of foods.

When Cy-Fair Helping Hands isn’t distributing pre-packaged meals, the group is busy growing its own food supply. The group grows fresh vegetables from its community garden made up of 27 raised beds. Since January, the garden have provided about 1,700 pounds of fresh produce which is then distributed through the food pantry and offered to homeless people on the streets.

The group organizes teams that travel the roads searching for homeless individuals and families. The goal is to offer encouragement, food, water and services to help those who are chronically homeless or people looking to transition off of the streets.

Cy-Fair Helping Hands work extends beyond the streets and into the schools. The group offers vocational scholarships for homeless high-school students, as well as financial assistance for homeless students who need help paying for extracurricular activities or graduation costs.

Helping school-aged children get a jumpstart to the new school year is yet another one of Helping Hands notable efforts. The group distributes hundreds of backpacks filled with school supplies for local elementary, middle and high school students each year. Last year, they provided more than 450 backpacks for students in need.

The group is always in need of volunteers with “a heart for serving” the homeless and those struggling to make ends meet, says Patricia. Volunteers with clerical experience, fundraising, case management or who are bilingual in English and Spanish or English and Vietnamese are needed the most.

WAYS TO HELP

Volunteer – Help stock the food pantry or run the food distribution drive-thru. Bilingual volunteers who speak Spanish or Vietnamese are especially needed to assist clients Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and on the first and third Saturdays of each month. Volunteers are also needed to pick up supplies from local grocery stores and deliver food to Cy-Fair Helping Hands. Volunteers must be able to lift crates of produce, gallons of milk, etc.

Food Donations – Due to increased demand, Cy-Fair Helping Hands is struggling to keep its pantry stocked. Organize a food drive to help fill the need. Much-needed items include: bagged or boxed pasta, spaghetti sauce, family-sized jelly, hearty soups, canned vegetables, Ramen, macaroni and cheese, canned fruit, and bagged or boxed cereal.

Compassion Bags – Create a care package for homeless clients or donate the needed items. These packages can include pop top cans of hearty soups, beans, chili, pouch tuna, snack sized fruit, crackers, cookies, granola bars, Beanie Weenies, applesauce, and wrapped plasticware. Pack these in a gallon-sized Ziploc bag.

Toiletry Drives  – Create a collection event for personal care items like the following: family-sized shampoo, toothpaste, individually-packaged toothbrushes, stick deodorant, disposable razors, full-sized bars of soap, toilet paper, body wipes, baby wipes and toilet paper. No hotel sized toiletries are needed at this time.

Cleaning Supply Drives – Host and event to collect basic household supplies such as dish soap, dish washing liquid, laundry detergent or laundry pods, hand sanitizers, Lysol, sponges and scrubs.

CyFairHelpingHands.org 7710 Cherry Park Drive #T-385, Houston, Texas

“Many of our clients see us as a beacon of hope in an otherwise difficult time”

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