Hope for Hornell: Charitable coalition delivers holiday cheer

Published onApril 1, 2018

HORNELL — Poverty hits especially hard during the holidays, as those in need try to stretch every penny to provide the basics, as well as a merry Christmas for their families.

Pastor Joel Bolduc came to Hornell in January 2016, and was shocked by the level of need in the area. When he found out that all students in the Hornell district qualified for a free lunch because nearly 70 percent fell within the poverty threshold for the federal program, Bolduc knew he needed to act.

Pained by seeing children in need, the organization began when the pastor asked himself the nagging questions: “How do we help, how do we do more?”

The solution was to band together to do the most good, and Hope for Hornell, a coalition between local churches, businesses and schools to simply do good deeds, was born.

“Doing good together just made sense,” the pastor said.

Bolduc outlined the simple mission, “We want to create a hope movement in our city, that way when there is a need people don’t have to struggle. There will be a team of people there to help them out.”

So far, the charitable endeavor has been a success. This holiday season, with great community support, the group sponsored 57 families for Christmas, gathering enough food to feed them three square meals on Christmas Day.

Spearheading that effort were North Hornell Elementary School, Bullfrog Construction LLC, ALDI’s, Wegmans and Five Star Bank, along with New Life Church.

“I’m a life-long Hornell resident and it means a lot that kids will get what they need and come back to school after Christmas vacation happier and healthier. It warms my heart to know that we have this community support,” said Barb Kramer, Principal at North Hornell Elementary School, in a Facebook video promoting the cause.

Teachers volunteered, packing up the care packages after the donations were received.

“It’s the time of year to give and give back unselfishly to others who have needs,” said Elise McCollumn of Bullfrog Construction.

The food was collected on Thursday, and distributed to families in need the following day. The event answered prayers for help, that might otherwise not have been met ahead of Christmas.

Upon delivery of the goods, one household provided an especially impactful experience for the pastor, when a single mother and her four children expressed their thanks.

“The kids were thankful for the presents, but they opened the food first. They said ‘Mom, we have a ham!’ She just said thank you and teared up … People were really moved by it,” Bolduc recalled.

Other organizations partnering with Hope for Hornell include the Hornell Rotary Club and Living Waters Church, who each donated gifts for several families.

In the past, Hope for Hornell has even provided coats for children who showed up to school without one.

More community outreach events are planned for the early part of 2018, including a book reading program that will put new books in the hands of 250 students at North Hornell School, which is slated for January; followed by a hygiene program in February; and a family fun day tentatively planned for a later date.

Hope for Hornell needs a constant stream people to donate money and physical goods to keep filling the need. Everything given goes right to our community, and overhead costs are taken care of by the church.

The group is working on a website that will go live in one month, with portals to sign up to help or receive help. In the meantime, to learn more about the kinds of philanthropic activities Hope for Hornell has on their agenda, visit New Life Church’s Facebook Page, or email Pastor Bolduc at pastorjoel@newlifehornell.com.