About Hands Across America
Hands Across America (HANDS), a project of USA for Africa was launched in October, 1985. Considered at that time to be the largest community participation effort in our nation’s history, HANDS was just impossible enough to be possible.
The dream quickly erupted into an unparalleled show of heartfelt concern. The event brought together millions of people to generate a national consensus that hunger and homelessness existed and that we must answer the call to help shelter and feed those in need. It was an impassioned outpouring in tandem with America’s response to the famine in Africa in 1985.
The Coca-Cola Company became the founding sponsor of Hands Across America in October, 1985. Ultimately some 700 companies, including CITIBank, joined the movement and several thousand celebrities took the HANDS message across the nation.
Over 100 national organizations helped get the word out and urged their local affiliates to participate. National and local news organizations launched public service and community programs. Religious leaders preached the word while government and political leaders sought initiatives to resolve the tragedy of homelessness and hunger.
Students from kindergarten through college initiated projects to tackle the problem in their neighborhoods, and raise money and awareness. For many young people, both “We Are The World” and Hands Across America provided their first involvement with social issues.
In many ways, the challenge of HANDS resembled the challenge of hunger itself. There is plenty of food to feed everyone, just as there were plenty Americans to make a line 4,124 miles long. But how do we get food and bodies to where they are needed?
New York (The Start, Battery Park)
California (End of Line, Queen Mary Long Beach)
There were off-line events and there were many, many people in other state and countries who wanted to participate in this historic venture. The following are places across the country and outside the country that also had HANDS events on that day in May, 30 years ago; Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Lousiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin.
HANDS events in other Countries; West Germany, South Korea, Guam, New Foundland, Japan, Puerto Rico, Bermuda, Virgin Islands
Hands Across America and the millions who made it a reality, played a vital role in creating public awareness of hunger and homelessness which spawned a groundswell of mass public support for its resolution. Maybe most importantly, people continued to stay involved. A Gallup Poll, taken a year after Hands Across America, showed volunteer activities continuing to increase in the U.S.