The word used here is 'kapah.' It is referring to the gesture 'she opens', although blueletterbible.org does not use the word for this verse. It does not even use the word used in the previous verse. The lexicon lists the word as 'kaph' which means 'spoon'. The translation from the Hebrew is 'she opens'. Just as a spoon holds something in the bowl of it, her hand is not empty. There is something in her hand for the poor.
In every Jewish home there is a small box, called a tzadakah, and coins are dropped into it each week. This money is meant to be used towards a charitable cause or a person in need. So this woman has something in her hand and opens it in order to allow the other person to receive that offering.
. . .and reaches her hands out to the needy...
She's moved beyond merely giving the occasional coin from her tzadakah box. She has been moved to such a state of compassion that she extends out her arms, holding them out, hands reaching outward in a gesture of wanting to gather the needy in towards her. This is spiritual growth!
How often have any one of us ignored the needs of others, aware that we are doing just that and walking away? We may be charitable...at a distance. We like to give but we prefer not to deal with those whom we're giving to. This woman has moved beyond that place and has publicly reached out, moving out of the comfortable distance and into an awareness of the needy who are right before her.
Matthew 25: 35-40 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’