Lara Shovlin is the Founder & Executive Director of Helping Hands Gifts, a local 501 (c)(3) nonprofit in Shelby Township, MI. Before founding her own nonprofit she worked for a nonprofit for 5 1/2 years and was in nonprofit sales for 1.5 years.
Helping Hands Gifts blesses children, families, and charities. Their mission is to use their gifts, tangible and intangible, to bless others in small and large ways. Their purpose is threefold: They fill the gaps where no other charities are or can’t. They focus on one main issue each year affecting Macomb County that needs additional help to solve, regardless of public, private, or non profit resources available. They serve as a connector to and support other charities doing good work in the community. They promote and share events, volunteer opportunities, rally and request donation needs, as well as locate specific support or hard to find things such as building space or services. They also volunteer for other charities and support their events.
Starting Helping Hands came out of a conversation about a friend’s family member not giving her kids a Christmas due to a financial emergency. Lara realized very few places can help people who need temporary help; a hand up and not a hand out. When she started the charity her goal was to help as many as she could by accessing all the wonderful people and businesses in the community to help do this. When she started she hoped to help 100-300 and this year they helped 5000!
2017 brought unprecedented growth and support. With their donations (including the donations given to other charities) they helped over 5000 kids, as well as supported over 50 organizations.
Since 1/1/18 Helping Hands Gifts has collected over 700 coats and winter wear items for homeless. Helping Hands Gifts started out providing low cost shopping events to struggling families in need at Christmastime and will continue to do so. These events will provide gifts, stocking stuffers, wrapping, Winter Wear items, food and paper products. It is a new addition in 2018. They have been asked to run the entire City of Sterling Heights Giving Program where hundreds of families will come to one specific event.
Lara’s past life includes being born and raised in Texas, post high school education, corporate ladder and the opportunity to travel all over the U.S. She moved to Metro Detroit in 1998 and quickly fell in love with the people and even the winters. Lara says, “I was always helping people and would get in trouble for speaking up even at a young age and fighting for the underdog.”
Lara is a divorced, single mom to 2 wonderful sons, Greg 15 and Grant 13. She loves spending time with friends, traveling in Michigan and beyond, volunteering and nice warm weather with cold drinks. Besides the work she does here, she is involved in her Parish and with other local groups. She is proud to serve the Kiwanis of Utica-Shelby Township club as a Board Member.
To learn more about Helping Hands Gifts, you can contact Lara at firstname.lastname@example.org.