December News
Hitting the Pause Button: Cafe at Fifty-Five and Caterers Who Care

Like so many restaurants in these COVID times, we have decided that it's time for the Cafe at Fifty-Five and Caterers Who Care operations to go on hiatus, effective December 31. The impacts of COVID sure are showing their colors in terms of increased community needs and continued struggles for restaurants and catering businesses, ours included.

We hope you that you'll come by sometime this month for breakfast, lunch or a hot cup of coffee or tea. Megyn has been making some extra-special baked goods so there's always a sweet treat waiting for you here. And those who have gift certificates - now's the time to use them! You can even donate them for the pay-for-a-neighbor program. .

We are happy to report that the kitchen space here at our Center for Community will continue to be used for our Community Meals Program, Holiday Meals, and of course by our Shared Kitchen members. Our beautiful Cafe space will be enjoyed by Community Meals guests. And we continue to welcome visitors to our Center and the coffee and teapot will be on for your visit.

We thank all of our wonderful and loyal customers for joining us for meals and coffee, and we look forward to the day we can reopen both Cafe and Catering. In the meantime, a group of us will take advantage of this time to explore what's next for this mission-driven and mission-supporting enterprise.

Special thanks to Chef Andy and the wonderful Megyn and Daryl for sticking with us during these oh-so-difficult times, and to the many volunteers who lent a hand in the cafe and kitchen this year.

Stay tuned for more information about future plans in the new year. 
The Impact of Your Support
To our many friends and supporters, please know what an incredible difference you make in our community and how much we appreciate your gifts and your time that makes it all possible.

Did you know that on a recent Tuesday, HOH team members Stephanie and Roberto went to two encampments (see below) where folks are living outside and invited several individuals to join us for a meal at our Community Meals Program (and they did indeed come the very next day). And during that same week, with your support, 13 individuals who were living unsheltered now have spaces in local shelters where they will be helped along the path to a place to call home. Every life in our community is precious and you make that evident when you put your caring into action - thank you!
Hand On Hartford Holiday Happenings
Thanksgiving at Hands On Hartford was bountiful and a time of great gratitude. 440 families picked up a turkey (including Halal turkeys for Muslim families) and all the ingredients for a Thanksgiving dinner the week before the big day. Huge thanks to Foodshare, the Hometown Foundation, and the Hispanic Police Officers Association for donating turkeys, and to Travelers employees and many others for donating all the stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy and so much more!
On Thanksgiving Day we hosted a meal for the community so that folks with no where to go for the holiday could enjoy this special day. The wonderful volunteers who joined us helped greet, serve and sanitize (over and over again), and our good friends at Travelers donated much of the meal. 160 guests were very appreciative of both the meal and the gifts of warmth we were able to provide.
Toy Shoppe Coming Soon!

For the past 28 years, Hands On Hartford has partnered with Avon Old Farms School to host the Toy Shoppe celebration for the families whom we serve. This annual tradition provides parents with the unique opportunity to “shop,” free of charge, for holiday gifts for their children. We’re so excited to be planning this festive event, while putting safety protocols galore into place. Toy Shoppe is going to look a bit different this year due to COVID-19, yet the spirit of the event will remain the same. In addition to Avon Old Farms, we are so grateful for the sponsorship of Cricket Wireless, First Church of Christ in Simsbury, and the Gengras Center School.
Christmas Day and New Year's Day Meals for the Community

As we do every year, we'll be hosting a meal for the community on Christmas Day and New Year' Day. Our Christmas meal this year is sponsored by Dell/EMC, the Goodman family, and the Gengras Center School. We'll have toys for young children who attend, and gift bags with gifts of warmth for adults. The New Year's Day meal is sponsored by Max Cares Foundation and First Church of Christ in Simsbury. We are delighted as always to welcome folks to our Center for Community and so grateful for the support of the community to make it all possible.
Shopping on Amazon for the holidays?
Check out Amazon Smile – for all shoppers, start your shopping at Select Hands On Hartford as your charity, and you’re off and running!  .5% of eligible purchases will go to Hands On Hartford.
Faith In Action

We were honored to attend the Muslim Coalition of Connecticut's 14th Annual Leadership Banquet, and even more honored to be presented with this award "In recognition of Serving as a Beacon of Hope During Times of Crisis." We are so grateful for our partnership with the Muslim Coalition, allowing us to open our doors wider than ever for our Muslim neighbors, and for the support of this community who make all of this possible.
Special Thanks
Wow! Our friends from Brown Butter Creations (a former HOH Shared Kitchen member) hosted a food drive and donated 160 pounds of food for the Backpack Nutrition Program. Such wonderful friends and giving community members! And talented bakers of course!
We were thrilled to welcome Dylan and Stephanie from Lefty Cycles who collaborated with a number of businesses and groups in their community on an amazing food drive and brought 543 pounds of food for the pantry. Thanks to everyone who donated!

Some amazing folks from West District School in Unionville brought a huge collection of food for the pantry weighing in at 1,028 pounds - that's over half a ton!
Thanks to the generosity of Footwear with Care, some folks who could really use the help got some high quality, warm and weather-proof boots. When you're spending your days outside, warm dry feet are essential and this gift was truly appreciated.
Volunteer Opportunities Available!

Christmas Day and New Years Day Meals

Seeking volunteers help to clean and sanitize tables and chairs, assist with set up and break down, serve our meals (in take-out containers), among other tasks to ensure that the meal runs smoothly. The time commitment is approximately from 9:30am-2:30pm. 

Toy Shoppe Event - December 11th

We are looking for volunteers to fill the following time slots: 12:30pm-4:00pm and 3:30pm-7:30pm. 

Snack Bags

We are looking for two groups of about 5 volunteers to make snack bags for our Christmas and New Years meals. The first date is December 21st from 3-5pm and the second is December 28th from 3-5pm.

Community Meals Program and MANNA Community Pantry

Seeking volunteers Monday-Thursday during business hours
About Hands On Hartford
Hands On Hartford, in partnership with others, strengthens community in Hartford by responding faithfully to people in need through programs that change lives and renew human possibility.

We are committed to increasing food security and nutrition, improving health and providing housing while we engage volunteers and connect communities.
How Can I Help?

Go shopping! If you're an online amazon shopper, be sure to start your shopping at and select Hands On Hartford as your charity. .5% of eligible purchases will automatically go to Hands On Hartford.
Make a donation! You will be part of a network of donors, volunteers and staff who work together to provide food, housing and related services for families who are struggling to make ends meet. To make a financial donation, click "Donate Now" or mail your check to Hands On Hartford, 55 Bartholomew Avenue, Hartford, CT 06106. Our inkind donation wish-list is HERE

Or contact Kate Shafer at for more in-kind donation ideas.
Request a matching donation from your employer! Many employers will match all or part of your donation - a great way to double your impact.

Add us to your estate plans. Contact Executive Director Barbara Shaw to explore planned giving ideas and to join our Legacy Society. or 860-706-1502.

We are grateful for this amazing community and the love, caring, compassion and support we see every day.