COMMUNITY SPOTLIGHT: Reaching Hearts Women’s Outreach tackles community needs

What started with a casserole is now a vibrant ministry that touches the lives of thousands
Updated: Jun. 10, 2021 at 5:17 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - More than 20 years after its inception, Reaching Hearts Women’s Outreach is still tackling the needs of the Cape Fear community.

“Our only goal really is to spread the gospel of Jesus to our community and we’ve always been really creative in looking for different ways to do that and try and react and for how we can help in that moment,” said director Hannah Chitwood.

You might know them by their Valentines from Jesus effort, where they give away hundreds of red heart shaped balloons and boxes of chocolate.

You might have heard of their little buddy backpack program, distributing 1,000 bags stuffed with school supplies. The group also has a history of holding a thanksgiving turkey outreach, and has years of experience with their Grace Girls day camp for teen girls.

Grace Girls is is back after a brief hiatus, and leaders say this year’s two-day event will cater to an estimated 150 young women.

“We just want these girls to know that God has made them absolutely perfect the way that they are and help them learn how to flourish and grow in that we do it through — we’ve done a little make up tutorials, hair tutorials, we talk about safety on social media which is so important for teenagers these days,” said Chitwood.

Chitwood took over the nonprofit eight years ago after her mother, the founder, died unexpectedly.

She was practically raised in the ministry and saw it grow from humble beginnings to an impressive network of faith leaders tackling whatever it is the community needs.

A photo pinned to the walls of the nonprofit’s office shows Chitwood as a young child, standing on the edge of the group’s white trailer, wearing an oversize t-shirt.

“Reaching Hearts started with my mother preparing a breakfast casserole and opening up her home and saying, ‘Hey, we’re just gonna have a women’s meeting if you have anything you wanna talk about, we’re gonna go through this bible stud,’’' said Chitwood.

What started with a casserole is now a vibrant ministry that touches the lives of thousands; everyone from school children to families struggling to make ends meet during a pandemic can benefit from the group’s outreach efforts.

“I know all those years ago when I was just a little kid running around during these outreaches I certainly didn’t see myself being in this position, but I don’t — now I don’t see it any other way. God put me here, and I just hope I do her proud and I’m able to help it grow even beyond what it has.”

If you are interested in helping the group, you can learn how to donate or volunteer on their Facebook Page here.

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