As the number of families served increases, other local churches begin to volunteer time and resources. Together they form Caring Hands Outreach Center with the mission of serving the entire Southeast Polk community. Matthew 25 Ministries outgrows its space at Adventure Life Church and Caring Hands is charged with finding it an independent location.
The Caring Hands Food Pantry explores sharing space with the Clothes Hanger, which provides gently used clothing for all ages. The Clothes Hanger is a program of Central Place, the local school district’s family resource center. Caring Hands and Central Place partner to share space to make it easier for families to access both programs at the same time.
After changes at Central Place, Caring Hands takes ownership of the Clothes Hanger in July and both programs continue to thrive. Donations consistently increase to meet the demand for clothes, food, and rent/utility assistance. The Food Pantry expands its space for food storage. The programs now serve up to 260 families each month and the numbers grow significantly every year.
Caring Hands begins the Larry O’Connor Cooler Corral Capital Campaign in honor of retiring Food Pantry Coordinator and longtime volunteer, Larry O’Connor. The campaign hopes to expand Caring Hands' cooling and freezing capacity by installing two outdoor units.
Caring Hands announces the successful completion of the Capital Campaign begun in 2017. The funds raised not only pay for the cooler & freezer expansion, but also retire the Altoona property's mortgage.
The Online Sales store opens to take donations of collections and estates and convert them to cash, supporting the many ongoing ministries of Caring Hands.
A resource center called Caring Hands Uplift begins to help clients access additional resources and make life changes to escape cyclical poverty.
2020 & Beyond
Matthew 25 Ministries begins as an outreach of Adventure Life Church, to provide food boxes to local families struggling to meet their basic needs. In the first month they serve 14 families and are astounded by the local need. Eventually, families begin to also receive partial assistance with rent and utility bills.
Matthew 25 Ministries receives a new name: Christian Community Food Pantry. It is the first of several ministries to be developed under the umbrella of Caring Hands.
The number of people served grows under this new partnership and it is quickly apparent the Food Pantry and Clothes Hanger need a larger, permanent space. After an extensive search, the Caring Hands Board purchases property in the northeast area of Altoona, in a homey brick house that was previously the site of a gift shop. Local volunteers oversee extensive remodeling and in October the doors open to a location that easily serves both programs and offers room to grow.
Caring Hands Outreach Center updates its Bylaws to include a Partners Assembly that meets twice a year. This Assembly includes the churches, local businesses, civic organizations, and individuals that have become part of the team serving Southeast Polk County for more than 20 years. Caring Hands also hires its first Executive Director, Ned Looney.
Caring Hands opens its second food pantry, located at 4101 E. 42nd Street in Des Moines, in the lower level of Eastview Community Center.
Caring Hands will continue to look for ways to best serve its clients; this may include launching additional pantries, opening a thrift shop, or offering job training and skill development.