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Metro Detroit nonprofit organization distributes food to families with children in need

Bill Birndorf creates Higher Hopes

Higher Hopes
Higher Hopes (WDIV)

DETROIT – This week in Your Neighborhood, Local 4 introduces you to a man who started a nonprofit organization after watching the news.

Higher Hopes started with a simple goal to feed people during one holiday, and now it’s turned into a year-round effort.

“My wife and I were getting ready to go to sleep, and there was a story on the news about a woman who was trying to get a turkey for her family for the Thanksgiving holiday," Bill Birndorf said. “She was on her way to a food pantry and her car broke down.”

Birndorf said it was that very moment that led him to want to do something to help others in need.

“I said to my wife, ‘You know, we should go buy 1,000 turkeys and pass them out next year in the city of Detroit,’” Birndorf said.

Just like that, Higher Hopes was born.

“Higher Hopes is a nonprofit organization that helps families by distributing food to families who have children enrolled in Head Start programs,” Birndorf said.

He and his team have been running Higher Hopes for the past seven years, and it keeps growing. The program started out by providing food to families during the Thanksgiving holiday. Now, Higher Hopes provides food to 1,000 families every single month, with help from Gleaners.

“We do raise money," Birndorf said. “We go out and we go to corporations, family foundations, families and friends and we ask them to help with financial donations. We take that money and we buy a number of different food products from Gleaners.

“They have four tractor trailers that deliver 1,000 full Thanksgiving meal kits to four different Head Start locations. We have friends and family that volunteer and we load up their trucks with all of the food.”

The process is repeated throughout the year. Birndorf has turned his office -- where he runs Apple Marketing -- into the headquarters for Higher Hopes. All of his staff there help keep the nonprofit operating.

He said the reaction from the food recipients makes the work worth it -- and it’s even emotional at times.

"Big smiles -- just huge,” Birndorf said.

“How does that make you feel?” Local 4’s Evrod Cassimy asked.

“Really good," Birndorf said. “When a car pulls up and somebody looks at you and they have this look on their face, like relief, like they’re going to be able to have Thanksgiving at their own home with their friends and families without having anything that can go wrong. That’s what comes to my mind -- the smiles.”

Those smiles are providing Higher Hopes for people month after month. Higher Hopes relies on donations from the public to feed people receiving services from Head Start programs.

A simple $10 donation goes to buy one meal kit, which contains 35 to 45 pounds of food. Click here for more information, to donate or to volunteer.

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