Kristen Sobanski of Fenton knew she wanted to help children in need. She searched for a service organization to join, but struggled to find one that fit her vision. “My passion was to help children in need,” said the mother of four. Her husband Eric asked her, “Why don’t we start our own organization?” So, in 2014, the determined young couple co-founded Delivering Hope for Kids, which provides food assistance, coordinating with the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan, to help feed needy kids in the Fenton area. “We had the passion and the commitment to do it,” she remembers. “And there are Fenton area children at risk for hunger. We want to make sure their bellies are full.”
For Delivering Hope for Kids, the mission is “for every child to have a pathway free of roadblocks, ensuring today’s children can grow into tomorrow’s successful leaders.” And the work of the 501(c)3 organization has expanded to not only provide food assistance, but also to support educational programs for children and support for any child striving to meet their full potential.
According to Sobanski, the Food Bank had already established a food program and Delivering Hope helps pack and deliver food where it is needed in three school districts: Linden, Lake Fenton and Fenton. The organization partnered with the schools to bring the Food Bank’s Backpack Program to their students. The community-funded program does not receive any government funds, Sobanski explains. Delivering Hope also helps to provide weekend food assistance for children on the wait list for the Backpack Program, ineligible younger siblings of participants and Head Start Program students. Delivering Hope’s Summer Food Assistance Program helps families provide food for kids during the summer break. Delivering Hope for Kids also works with area churches including St. Jude’s Episcopal Church in Fenton, which provides food for kids during spring break.
Nourishing kids’ minds as well as their bodies is important to Delivering Hope for Kids. The organization helps reduce “summer slide” with a Book Giveaway Program that provides children in need with books to read over the summer months. Last year, the organization gave away over 3,000 books to needy families who had no access to reading material. “We give each child three to eight books at their skill level,” the founder stated. The organization also has a School Supplies Giveaway Program. “We believe that having the proper school supplies is one way to remove worry and distraction and help children reach their full potential,” she added.
In late 2019, Delivering Hope launched a new program, Project Hope. The goal of the program is to help children obtain food, clothing and other assistance in emergency situations (parent job loss, house fire, illness, etc.) in coordination with other service organizations. The program also helps provide for children during the holiday season, allowing families to enjoy the season. Donations of new toys and monetary donations are always appreciated. “We come together as a community to support kids who are in need.”
As it has many others, the pandemic affected this organization’s ability to help. They were not able to hold their annual bowling fundraiser this year, which typically raises about $15,000. “This will impact us significantly as the needs are even greater,” Sobanski says. “We are working to come up with other ideas.” Individuals can donate on the organization’s website to help and donations of new books and school supplies are much appreciated.
Delivering Hope for Kids has many volunteers that help, including the Fenton High School Key Club members who help pack up food. They also have two volunteers at each school, packing and distributing food for the weekly and weekend programs. “Our donors, volunteers and supporters are critical to our success,” Sobanski says.
Operating the organization from their home, the Sobanskis are proud that they have no overhead costs. “We want every penny to go to children in need,” Sobanski states. “Anyone who donates money is assured that it will help a local child.”
For more information about Delivering Hope for Kids and to donate, visit deliveringhopeforkids.org.
Did you know?
- More than 17,000 Genesee County children face food insecurity.
- Under-nutrition leads to lower math and reading scores due to reduced cognitive and academic ability.
- Under-nutrition increases behavioral and social issues resulting in increased need for mental health counseling.
- Providing food and educational resources will help children in need reach their full potential.
Photos by Kristen Sobanski