No child should ever go to bed hungry.
Fortunately, and with thanks to an army of volunteers and donors in Sussex County, childhood hunger is being reduced by a local charity with an ambitious mission.
It all started with the vision of a Rehoboth Beach jeweler, Harry Keswani, who has spent several years addressing the very same issue in his parents’ native India. He was taught from an early age while growing up in England that it is a responsibility to care for others in need. Shocked to learn that childhood hunger is relatively prevalent in areas of Sussex County, he created the Harry K Foundation. Its mission is to fight the growing issue of food insecurity (defined as limited access or ability to afford adequate, nutritious meals).
It has been Keswani’s calling since the foundation’s creation in 2013. The H4 Initiative (Helping Harry Halt Hunger) has since become a massive lifeline for the Delaware Food Bank, the state’s main distributor of food to families facing food insecurity. With an enormous heart, Keswani donates 100 % of his time and all donations towards children’s initiatives.
“The partnership with Harry K has delivered so much hope and so many meals to Delaware,” says Larry Haas, director of Delaware Food Bank, which handles more than 9,000 visits per month. H4 has helped to fund programs like school backpacks, filled with meals and snacks for kids to take home.
Delaware estimates that one in five children in the state live in poverty. School meals are often the only food a child can depend on, and with current school closures (not to mention summers and weekends without adequate nutrition) the issue is compounded.
“Harry K has been a leader in the efforts to get the job done,” enthuses the state’s First Lady, Tracy Quillon as she presented a recent recognition reward for the foundation’s massive drive to feed kids and their families through the school pantries and meal events.
Local businesses, restaurants, civic and church groups, charitable foundations and the media have generously responded to the call. More than 500 Thanksgiving meals were distributed last fall by volunteers, followed by even more meals at Christmas.
The community response has been overwhelming! Schell Brothers has donated a bus for food distribution. Perdue donates hundreds of chickens for holiday meals. Local restaurants donate extra food and a percentage of sales. Creative fundraisers such as 5K races pop up all year long. Our favorite? A diaper drive named “No Babies Wet Behind!”
The showpiece fundraiser is its annual holiday ball, which this year raised over $190,000 – even though it was held virtually! Several local businesses donate generous products and services for the annual ball’s silent auction, while Harry himself donates a custom made, exquisite jewelry item each year for the coveted live auction!
You can get involved! Whether it’s collecting or distributing non-perishables from your neighborhood’s HOA, or organizing special events, volunteering or donating to the H4 Initiative is one of the most nourishing experiences for you and a lifesaver for our local children in need!