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A Time to Help Haiti

As I try to put the complexity of this into words, I cannot help but acknowledge the beauty of an early spring that is bringing forth new life here in Texas.  As much hope as that brings, Haiti sits in dark contrast. 

Very little media coverage has documented the events of the past week.  Due to political unrest, large demonstrations have paralyzed most of the country. Roads are barricaded preventing Haitians from accessing food, water and medical care.  Gas and diesel are difficult to find, if one can even make it out of his home. Businesses and schools are closed. Gangs control many of the major roadways.  Their money has little purchasing power.

 The problems are so complex and it’s hard to begin to understand the corruption, injustice and unfairness that we will never personally know. 

However, the people of Haiti are resilient.  They are survivors.  They are beautiful.  But, they need our help.  We are asking you to stand with HUGG during this time.  Here’s how:

  1. PRAY! We will update prayer needs daily.  Only God can bring hope and peace to this beautiful country.
  2. DONATE! While we continue to operate on our founding principal of providing a hand up and not a hand out, we need to stand with our Christian brothers and sisters in Haiti to support them during this time.  Many people we know and love there are unable to purchase the necessities of life right now – water, food, medical care and fuel.  Help HUGG be the hands and feet of Jesus today.
  3. PURCHASE our products!  We have an amazing inventory here in the states of beautiful HUGG products.  Not only will your purchase encourage our artisans, it will provide the necessary funds to continue programs in Haiti.  

We are in constant communication with our Haitian staff.  All are safe and riding out this storm in their homes. In the meantime, we make sure they have access to food, water and basic living supplies. Our founder’s brother, Denim, said it best today:

“In these situations, trusting the Lord takes on a whole new meaning. Here at the HandUp house we have fuel, food and God’s favor.”

Denim Ramirez, Director of Manufactoring
Maxiben mastering macrame while the streets outside are in turmoil.
Maxiben mastering macrame while the streets are rife with turmoil.

Thank you for supporting us during this critical time.  We know that God is in control.  We pray that calm will return soon, and our artisans can work.  Our Spring collection is AMAZING and we are working hard to overcome the chaos and deliver the goods that you love.

Kandis Dennis, HUGG Founding Board Member

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world!”  John 16:33

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Why I Said “Yes” to the HUGG Story

Four years ago, I found myself burdened by the number of orphaned children in the world. Even though our family had adopted and fostered and become active members in the orphan care community—the burden for me grew heavier.

Until one day, my husband came back from a trip to Haiti and gifted me with a handful of bracelets. He told me that orphaned young men made these colorful street bracelets and how they had just aged out of a Haitian orphanage and were struggling to survive. “Survival bracelets” I called them.

The burden I had carried for so long changed into a God-sized dream to stop children from ever having to become orphans in the first place. By equipping these young men with Jesus first and jobs second, they would stop perpetuating the problem of poverty and orphans and lead their spheres of influence for the glory of God. And that is exactly what happened.

These young artisans are earning a fair wage, receiving spiritual discipleship and the best part is they are giving back to their communities. Max, one of our original 8, lost both his parents at a young age, he knows what it feels like to be homeless and hungry. For this reason, as soon as he started earning a salary, he began feeding children in Canaan, a village close to his heart. In the last three years, he has started a foundation and now houses and provides for 12 boys.

He uses the same principles he learned with HandUp and applies them to his own ministry in Canaan. In fact, I am happy to announce that we recently launched Max to lead his own artisan cooperative in Canaan. Why is this so significant?

Because he has chosen to employ several of the mamas in Canaan so they can keep their babies out of orphanages. This is orphan prevention through job creation. Jesus first and jobs second. The HandUp model is working!!!

What started out as survival bracelets has flourished into the HUGG Mission Market concept. The items you buy are tokens of success for the makers with whom we partner, but they are also reminders to all of us that everyone deserves the chance to earn a dignified wage.

The Mission Market is a powerful way to do missions as 100% of the proceeds go back to our mission to equip young men who’ve aged out of orphan care in Haiti with Jesus first and jobs second. For 2019, HandUp aims to:

  • Hire an on-the-ground Program Director to oversee all program-related initiatives
  • Develop a 6-month character-based development program (LeKol HandUp) targeting young Haitian men
  • Formalize our Christ-centered business training workshops for program participants to launch their own businesses
  • Extend our HandUp House lease for another two years to provide a safe working environment for our artisans

So it turns out that this burden I had in my heart had a purpose. God planted it there to answer the prayers of 8 orphaned young men in Haiti and of course—in true God-sized fashion, He turned it into something so much bigger and beautiful than any of us could have imagined. All it took was a “yes” and one small step of obedience on my part……and countless other “yesses” from family, friends, supporters and shoppers!

We have learned that it takes local community to make a global difference and I am asking that you take a moment to ask God what your “yes” looks like today.

You can click here to make a donation or check out our HUGG Holiday Market and pick up a gift with a powerful story. It’s a win win!

May His name continue to be made famous among the nations. To God be the glory….always.

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Have you Met Max?

A long time ago Max had a vision that one day he would be a leader in a village called Canaan in Haiti. His heart hurts for the people there, because of his role with HandUp Global Goods—he gets to do his part to bring relief to the fatherless children there.

He and two others (pictured below) from our program, are providing shelter, nannies and discipleship to 16 children. Max is in the center.

THIS is what happens when you think BIG about tackling problems like extreme poverty and orphan care.

Our formula, Job Creation + Spiritual Discipleship = Orphan Prevention comes ALIVE through the hands of young men like Max. He believes in the power of our formula and he invites you to become part of this story of redemption.

He wants you to know he believes in this revolutionary way of thinking—your investment in HandUp provides Max with essential training and tools to be able to guide his people in a more impactful way. 

He personally wants to make a piece of jewelry for every donor that donates to HandUp.

Donate today and let’s help them become the spiritual leaders God created them to be.

Learn more about Max here. 




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Revolutionize Your Giving

We’ve all heard the ancient proverb,

“Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach him how to fish and he eats for a lifetime.” But what if I told you that together, we can revolutionize the fishing industry?

Have you ever wondered how much of a difference your donation makes in the lives of the people to whom you donate? Efficiently run organizations maximize your dollars to create deep impact for the people they serve. But often, good intentions fail to stimulate economic growth for the people in need of a handUp.

The irony is that most of the time it is the lack of economic stimulation in communities that keeps people relying on handouts. Although your donation helps for a day, months or even years—

Does it revolutionize entire communities & promote lasting change?

80% of orphans actually have living parents.

Up to 80% of children in Haiti are poverty orphans. Many of them have parents that love them but can’t scratch out enough of an existence to meet the basic needs of their sons and daughters. The lucky ones end up in institutions.

But many of these poverty orphans end up on the streets, sold as slaves, trafficked, exploited, the list goes on and on.

And who is doing most of the exploiting?

The broken men raised in these impoverished communities.

At HandUp, we believe we can equip former street boys to radically change their trajectories from broken men and future orphan makers to leaders and future hope makers. We do this through one powerful formula:

Job Creation + Spiritual Discipleship = Orphan Prevention

 When you say “yes” to investing in HandUp Global Goods—you forge new pathways for economic development in communities as we seek to:

  • Employ 100 Haitian young men by 2020
  • Diversify production in order to meet the demands of the global marketplace
  • Scale our current Spiritual Discipleship program to create a strong, replicable model
  • Expand both U.S and Haiti marketing efforts to create more streams for revenue
  • Seek to sustain Haiti operations through sales revenues

What does this all mean?

Each HandUp work day begins with a devotional.

It means less orphans, less extreme poverty and more strong men making a positive impact within their communities. Let’s stop settling for handouts and give them a HANDUP together.

Do you want your resources invested in this kind of revolution? Learn more here!

DONATE TODAY & we will send you a handmade gift from Haiti.

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Here’s a Coupon for your Support!

Because you said “yes” to giving a “handup”; he can say “yes” to lifting himself out of poverty with the work of his hands.

Here is how YOU changed the harsh reality for these teens through your purchase or donation:

  • 23 young men who were facing life on the streets are part of the HandUp program
  • 10 new teens in transition are under the loving guidance of our new TNT House Parent
  • A new Program Director oversees production and programming
  • 16 former street boys work at HandUp & earn a fair wage, health insurance & more
  • We achieved highest monthly sales to date this November
  • An artisan microloan system has been implemented into our savings program
  • All 3rd year artisans were able to pay their housing this year
  • HandUp artisans founded two ministries; Be the Change & Ti Moun Canaan

The good that you’ve poured into these young men is spilling out into their communities and fueling social change one bracelet at a time!

Thank you for supporting our work. We can’t wait to see what we can do together in 2018!!!

Donate today and help us create jobs for 7 more teens in 2018!

$5 off your purchase of $25 PLUS Free Shipping:  Use Code THANKYOU

There’s still time to do your holiday shopping HERE!

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I believe that good resides in all people because God made people.

AND there is a little bit of HIM in every person—even when we don’t recognize that it comes from Him. ALL GOOD COMES FROM HIM. I try to remind myself of this when I am disappointed in people. I think of Brene Browns comments in Rising Strong that she MUST choose to believe that everyone is trying her best. Seriously. It helps a great deal when I choose to believe in these two things:

That there is a little bit of good in everyone AND that everyone is doing the best they can.

But I have to confess, sometimes things happen that shake my heart a little bit and these two thoughts are tossed out the door.

Let me explain.

We recently had a fundraiser so that we could bring on TEN more teens in transition that have aged out of our partner orphanage. Instead of these boys ending up on the streets and perpetuating the problem of poverty—they get to be part of a story that is seeking long-term solutions to poverty. The lives of young men aging out of orphanages are changing and we believe that they will one day become the leaders in their communities.

THIS is why we give a handUP; to break them free from a life of handouts.

This is WORLD CHANGING stuff I’m talking about!

Yet at our fundraiser—we failed to raise the $60K that we so desperately needed to bring on these ten teens. Although the event itself was pretty amazing, we did not bring IT home. IT as in being able to offer our FOUR CORNERSTONES to all of these young men.

I was striving to find my peace with this lack of resources and was doing okay until I saw this:

As a country, we spent $3.4 billion on costumes that we will most likely use once. I know-I know—it’s fun and we’re making memories and visiting with neighbors and eating chocolate. But for me, it’s a REAL struggle. It’s like choosing to have a Pina Colada at a pool while knowing there’s a kid drowning in it!!!

Okay–so maybe it’s not a fair analogy but I’m confessing to you that this is how it made me feel. It’s times like this that make me wonder if I’m cut out for this kind of work. But then I get footage like this:

This is Richardson teaching English to impoverished children from a nearby village:

This is Patrick and he’s started a street ministry where he teaches young boys on the streets how to read.







This is Jean Ricard and he teaches the older boys at our partner orphanage how to make jewelry so that they can have the skills they need to get a job at HandUp.

THIS. This is the reason to keep moving forward and advocating for what we believe is right.

I believe that there has never been a better time to come together and put an end to extreme poverty.

I believe that HandUp is on to something revolutionary for Haiti’s aging out youth and that there is a BIG YES around the corner.

Will you believe alongside us?

The ripple effects of your donation to HandUp doesn’t stop at these young men. It spills out into their communities & THIS is what it takes to tackle poverty.

You can still TEXT to DONATE at 41444, TYPE in HUGG & follow the prompts.

At the end of the day, we want to know that we inspired you towards being part of this amazing story of redemption. We want YOU to know that you have the power to effect change on a global scale–so let’s tell this story TOGETHER!!!


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It’s a Valentine’s Giveaway!

Tomorrow is THE day. The day of candies and hearts and showing all of those who are important to us just how much we love them. And because of this, we have an awesome giveaway that you do not want to miss out on.

HandUp Global Goods has teamed up with two different companies to bring you today’s super cute giveaway!

You cannot have a proper Valentine’s Day without chocolates. So, our first giveaway is delicious chocolates direct from Haiti. Les Chocolateries Askanya is Haiti’s only premier chocolate company. This bean-to-bar company is produced and ethically sourced from over 3,000 Haitian cacao farmers. Haitian cacao is one of the toped ranked in the international cacao market.


We also have the privilege of partnering with Magnolia Mey. Magnolia Mey is a super cute, one of a kind store in Huntsville, TX with various assortments of fair-trade and American-made items. They have donated a beautiful Bridgewater candle for our Valentine’s giveaway. What a perfect pairing of chocolates and candles to enjoy a nice date-night in. Bridgewater candles are American-made and with every purchase of their candles, a portion goes to Rice Bowls to help provide food for orphans around the global. You can read more about them here.


To add the frosting on the cake, the cherry on top of the ice cream, the tiara on top of your fresh do: HandUp is pairing the delicious Les Chocolateries Askanya chocolates and the amazing smelling Bridgewater candle from Magnolia Mey with His and Her HandUp Global Goods bracelets. A handsome looking HUGG original for Him in navy with burgundy and cream beads. And for Her, a stunning red focal bracelet with a beautifully hammered silver oval.


For your chance to win this giveaway: Like this post on Facebook or Instagram, follow HandUp Global Goods, Magnolia Mey and Askanya, and tag a friend in the comment section! Winner will be announced tomorrow, Tuesday, February 14th.

From all of us at HUGG, Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Give Your Good Away

I didn’t know how to respond. The pictures that I was seeing unveiled what a roaring storm leaves behind.  Devastation.  The HandUp team felt grateful that Port-au-Prince had been spared this brutal blow, but we mourned for the people of Southern Haiti.

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 Photos by Katelyn Henry

We decided that we would redirect donations to Mission Aviation Fellowship.  They were already on the ground (or in the air) assessing the damage and figuring out a plan to get food, water and supplies to the hurricane victims. But….

We knew we could do MORE.

The more pictures we saw and reports that we heard, the more we knew we had to do something.  So we did what any other concerned citizen would do, we posted it on Facebook!  We offered to donate half of our HUGG Original sales to relief efforts.  Neighbors and friends were asked to contribute.  Our Facebook feeds were filled with information to generate attention towards Hurricane Matthew relief efforts.

As a result, one neighbor responded to my call for action and donated $500. Later that week someone in my church Life Group asked about what the needs were.  I responded with a brutally honest, “Whatever damages you can imagine in your head, it is far worse than that.”  The situation required a better answer but I couldn’t really provide that answer because I didn’t know.

I don’t know what it feels like to weather a massive hurricane with sheet metal and sticks as shelter.   My heart and mind can’t fathom what its like to have crying babies on my hip with no food and contaminated water.  How can one convey the magnitude of grief in a simple word like “damages”?

No shelter.  No food.  Contaminated water.

I can’t even process it because my hard has never been THAT kind of hard.

Thanks to that one question by a concerned church member, our class collected another $500.  We now had $1,000 for me to take to Haiti.  I was already pretty grateful that evening. While grocery shopping, someone texted me asking if it was alright to donate to HandUp and earmark the money for relief efforts.  “OF COURSE!” I replied.  That night, we got an additional $1,000 from a lady whose heart had been burdened by what she heard that Sunday morning.

Once in Haiti, our team came up with a plan to bring help to some families in Ley Cayes in the Southern Penninsula of Haiti. I had no idea how far the $2,000 would stretch but it was SOMETHING and I knew it would do SOMETHING.

Yesterday morning, as I was sipping on a hot cup of Chik-fil-a coffee watching my 3 and 4 year olds play in the jungle gym, I received pictures from Haiti.  I choked back the tears when I saw what the $2,000 accomplished. As I scanned through Jude’s photo journal of his time in Les Cayes, I thought of the couple from my neighborhood who donated the $500. I remembered the collection can going around in my Life Group and the text I got from lovely lady who donated $1,000.


I see these pictures and I am reminded that a little bit of good goes a long way.  It took a few people saying “yes” to reaching beyond their own lives to bring a little bit of good to hard lives.

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A few people gave a little bit of their good away.  And now these people pictured will get to sleep under new shiny roofs with full bellies.  I dedicate this entry to what I am calling, the Angels of Ley Cayes.  This includes Jude, our new on-the-ground director’s husband, who made the trek south in order to deliver these life-giving supplies.

Imagine the impact if a few more people joined in and provided roofs and rice for more families and widows.  What if we provided seed money for the people of Ley Cayes to replant their lost crops?

What would happen if we all gave our good away?

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Why a HandOUT Ushers in a Season of Hope

If you are familiar with HandUp’s approach to poverty alleviation, then you know that we are resistant to giving out charity to people who have the potential to work and to lift themselves out of poverty.

We strive to maintain the dignity of the young men with whom we work by equipping them with training and jobs and with opportunities to partner together.  This is the HandUp philosophy.

But in the wise words of Ecclesiastes 3:

…. There is a time for everything….a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh….

We rejoice that Port-au-Prince, for the most part, was spared from destructive rains and wind.  Further, our team is in good spirits and grateful for the grace that protected them from the storm.

I wish I could say the same about the people in Southwest Haiti. At this time, they mourn for lives lost, villages demolished and crops swept away in an already food-scarce land. Now is the time to give.  According to on the ground sources, the most immediate needs in the area include:

1.    Water
2.    Medical care for the injured
3.    Food
4.    Construction Assistance

Our view from the HandUp House
Our view from the HandUp House

Mission Aviation Fellowship

One day after Matthew hammered the Western Peninsula of Haiti, I followed updates of an on-the-ground pilot living in Port-au-Prince.  The organization he works for is Mission Aviation Fellowship.  Although I didn’t make the immediate connection, there was something about MAF that drew me in.  The pilot, Michael Broyles, is currently assessing damage because he can fly to these inaccessible areas (bridges and roads have been washed out).  He is able to get aid workers in and out so that they can deliver life-saving supplies to desperate people.

So, last night at church, I mentioned MAF to a friend and she responds, “Wait a minute, wasn’t that the organization that Roland Sedlmeier flew for?”  It was!  This family of 4 was tragically killed in a car wreck last September and their death shook our community.  In the days following the accident, they were on the hearts and minds of moms, dads, children and church leaders as they were involved in the lives of so many here.  It seemed like everyone I spoke to had a connection to this sweet family.  To mark the anniversary of their story, loved ones hosted a 5K on September 20th and our very own Kay Peterson ran in it with her son.


A Time to Help

I knew I had to help!  Both the Broyles and Sedlmeier families were involved in work that seeks to share the love of Jesus Christ with remote people through aviation and technology.  The Sedlmeier family shared this love with the people in Africa and Broyles family is currently serving the people of Haiti.

Although I am choosy about organizations that I support, this connection sealed the deal for me.  Donating toward their efforts in Haiti is the right move for our family and it just might be the right move for yours.

Hurricane Matthew ushered in a season of weeping and loss for the people of the Western Peninsula.  September 20th, 2015, rained down deep mourning for the loved ones of the Sedlmeier family.  But the same God, who allows these seasons of loss, is the God who seeks to restore the hearts of men.  Redemption is a powerful thing and the mystery of it all is beyond my comprehension.  But, I do know this, He uses you and me to restore, rebuild, and relieve.

Donate Now to Support Hurricane Matthew Relief Efforts.

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