In 2004 Craig and his wife Jodi made a decision to forgo giving each other Christmas gifts and chose to help a few hard-working families that were giving it their best efforts, but they were going to come up a little short in providing Christmas for their kids.
The previous year Craig had lost his best friend, hero, and inspiration- his father to cancer. He wanted to honor his father, who instilled in him to help others in need when you can, for it is the most fulfilling gift one can receive. Craig’s previous work experience was in social work and included counseling and mentoring adults battling mental illness, and later as a counselor and court liaison for youths. After leaving the social work field, he had always felt a void and wanted to continue to give back in some way.
Through the inspiration of his father and his desire to give back, the journey to what would eventually become Heaven’s Helping Hands was born.
The first couple of years Craig and Jodi were able to help 3-4 families a year. A few of their friends took note of what they were doing and asked how they could help. This started the ball rolling, each and every year more friends and families joined together to help provide holiday joy to those who needed a hand. This eventually led to Craig reaching out to several churches and local agencies to help get lists of families that needed some help. Last year Craig and Jodi had the pleasure of meeting with leadership from the Grace and Glory Fellowship in Cuyahoga Falls and the Directors of the National Youth Advocate Program in Tallmadge, OH.
The church provided a list of families in need as did the N.Y.A.P. who specializes in helping place kids in foster homes and with continuing care. Craig provided a list of first names of the kids on the lists to his friends and a Christmas miracle began.
The Dyers, with outstanding support and assistance from friends, family and complete strangers in some instances,
provided Christmas gifts, clothes, and, in some cases, food for 233 kids during the 2016 Christmas season. In 2017 they began working with multiple agencies including the Mentor Network in Green and Caring For Kids Inc. in Cuyahoga Falls. The number of children taken care of jumped from 233 to 440 in 2017 and in 2018, that number increased to 516!
We work closely in conjunction with local foster and adoption agencies and their caseworkers to help provide Christmas to youth’s in foster care or at group homes.
This includes at-risk youths and those in outreach programs. We use social media as a means to spread the word and put good people together for a great common cause that transcends race, religion, and politics. It helps the foster families and takes some of the burden off of the agencies we work with economically so they can focus on necessities that are needed throughout the rest of the year, but most importantly lets these wonderful kids know that people care, that they matter and they are worthy of the love and caring being bestowed upon them.
At no point in time will any member of Heaven’s Helping Hands receive any type of salary. We are all volunteers and as our mission statement reads- ordinary people doing extraordinary things for families and youths that need a helping hand.