West Michigan’s 100 Businesses That Care chooses first charity to support

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The organizers of West Michigan’s 100 Businesses That Care initiative selected their first charity to receive a $50,000 donation.

A consortium of West Michigan companies led by BDO, Charter Capital Partners, Hylant, Lambert & Co., Mercantile Bank, Miller Johnson and Strategies Wealth Advisors said Thursday that they chose the Hudsonville-based nonprofit Hand2Hand as the first recipient of a $50,000 donation by 100 Businesses That Care.

The philanthropic initiative in West Michigan follows the model of other “100 Who Care” initiatives throughout Michigan and across the country that aim to make unified charitable contributions toward a local impact. The group formed in October, confirmed 100 registered members by November and now is up to 108 participating companies.

Each company agreed to donate $1,000 per year, split equally between two West Michigan 501(c)(3) charities.

After reviewing 31 charities (many of which were nominated more than once) and considering the potential impact on the West Michigan community, a panel of the founding members chose Hand2Hand, Boys & Girls Clubs of Grand Rapids Youth Commonwealth and Well House as the three finalists.

The group’s inaugural virtual meeting took place last month and featured presentations from the three finalists. Hand2Hand was chosen as the winner and will receive the cumulative donation of $50,000.

Hand2Hand delivers nutritious food to students over the weekends and extended school breaks by mobilizing churches, schools, individuals and businesses to join together, providing hope and an opportunity to thrive. The nonprofit began feeding 19 students in one elementary school in 2008 and today feeds weekend meals to more than 8,000 students, ages 3-18, in 220 schools across West Michigan.

Cheri Honderd Courtesy 100 Businesses That Care

The donation will assist Hand2Hand with recruiting efforts and startup resources to add new schools and feed additional students.

“We are so grateful and honored to have been selected by 100 Businesses That Care for a generous gift of $50,000,” said Cheri Honderd, Hand2Hand founder and director. “More than ever, our Hand2Hand students need food on the weekend. Because a hungry child hurts, together we are committed to eliminating weekend hunger in West Michigan for kids ages 3-18.”

Of the other finalists, Boys & Girls Clubs of Grand Rapids Youth Commonwealth serves youth in the community with mentorship from the Grand Rapids Police Department, and Well House is a nonprofit working to expand, provide and safeguard low-cost housing for vulnerable populations.

Mark Augustyn Courtesy 100 Businesses That Care

“Although Hand2Hand was chosen as our very deserving winner for this giving cycle, all three of the nominated organizations are doing incredibly important work throughout our communities,” said Mark Augustyn, founding member and chief lending officer at Mercantile Bank. “We encourage anyone seeking giving options to donate directly to these worthy charities.”

While 100 Businesses That Care is not a nonprofit or incorporated business, founding members are community volunteers dedicated to making a difference in their communities. All donations will go directly to the chosen nonprofits, enabling each active company member to realize the tax benefits of their charitable contributions.

Those interested in learning more about the next round of giving or becoming involved as a member can visit 100businessesthatcare.com.

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