Tuesday, November 10, 2015

5 Reasons You Should Give Through HopeMatch this Holiday Season

The holidays are the time of year where many people look to be generous and find a way to make someone's Christmas special.  Look no further!  HopeMatch provides a very meaningful way to give to a local family in need this holiday season.  Here are the top 5 reasons to join us this holiday season in our goal to reach 150 families with the gift of HOPE:

1.  It Helps People in Transition:  

We often hear about helping the poor this time of year.  But, have you considered the group that often goes overlooked in our society...the working poor? There are so many people here in our community who are trying so hard to make life work, but their paycheck barely covers rent and utilities, much less anything else.  Many of these people struggle to find hope in their daily lives and often suffer silently.  At HopeMatch, we focus on helping this population of people in our community.  We help people who are in transition, maybe have had an unexpected medical challenge, are under-employed, or work 2 and 3 jobs trying to make ends meet.  We focus on giving a Hand Up, not just a hand out. If you know of a family in the Greater Charlotte area that fits this description, you can nominate them (as a surprise!) for a Christmas blessing on our website through November 30th.

2.  We get Personal:   

It would be easy to buy everyone socks, or give every boy a football, but at HopeMatch we want to personalize each family's Christmas.  Donors receive detailed wish lists that they use to hand select items that the family members want and need.  Imagine the surprise on Christmas morning when families open gifts they would have given each other if they had the money to do so.  And, the hard-working parents, who usually haven't been given any gifts in over a decade, get to feel like little kids again at Christmas by getting presents too!  We also make it personal for the donor as well.  Each family receives a blank thank you card that they can fill out and mail in after Christmas to thank the donor that helped them.

3.  Follow Up:  

Holiday giving is really fun and very rewarding, but what happens after the decorations come down and life goes back to normal?  Many of our families needs are so great that we want to continue to serve them to help them get back on their feet.  We do this through hosting events throughout the year that benefit the families we serve, while also leaving them with their dignity.  Some of our yearly events include financial classes, support groups, Swap Shop, and Back to School.  Our last event of the year is called "Give Back" and we encourage families who have been touched by HopeMatch in the past to come and volunteer to pay their blessing forward to the new families who will receive help for Christmas.  

4.  Brings People Together:  

There is not a better way to focus on the true meaning of Christmas than to get a group together to shop for a family in need in our community.  Workplaces, church small groups, Sunday school classes, exercise classes, neighborhoods, and even just groups of friends often come together to support a family through HopeMatch.  It is so much fun to shop together and it is a great team building activity.  It is easy to gain support when you get a little bit about the story of the family you will help.  This opportunity has the "warm fuzzies" all over it.  Consider sponsoring a family for the holidays today by visiting our website: www.hopematch.org.

5.  Our Culture:  

At HopeMatch, we realize that any of us could be in a similar situation as any of the families we serve.  Everyone is an equal at HopeMatch and we love that many of the families we have served in the past come back and volunteer with us in various capacities.  This is the best "thank you" we can get.  We promote a culture of giving back.  Everyone has something they can give, whether it be resources, time, or even an encouraging smile.  HopeMatch is a family and we invite you to into our family this coming holiday season.

For more information on how you can get involved, please visit www.hopematch.org.

Thursday, February 5, 2015


In October of last year, HopeMatch leaders met to pray and ask God who was on His heart to minister to in the upcoming Christmas season.  Through that time, one of our leaders felt that we were supposed to help non-profit leaders and/or ministry leaders.  They give their lives to service and helping others, when many times they are in need themselves and rarely let anyone know.  As we started reaching out to different leaders, the response was overwhelming. At first, they did not want to except the help, saying that there were others in more need than them.  But, after an explanation and a little arm twisting, they all excepted.  It was their time to be blessed for all the times they have been a blessing to others.

One such leader is Erica.  Her and her husband have been called to serve ministry leaders themselves through coaching and training, as well as marketing resources.  HopeMatch leaders have been the recipients of their acts of kindness and learned a great deal from Erica.  After they moved north of Charlotte, we fell out of touch for a little bit, but we are so glad to be back in contact with them through this past season.  They have been through some things in the last couple of years that would bring most people to their knees and make them question God.  However, they have remained strong and positive and we believe through all of those experiences, God will be glorified.  We were able to bless them through HopeMatch this past Christmas.  It really encouraged them and brought their challenging year to a happy ending.  

We want to share with you the thank you letters we received from Erica's family.  Get your tissues ready...it's definitely worth the read.  If you have played any part in HopeMatch, there is something in this for every single one of you.  Thank you to this family for opening their hearts and lives to share their experience with us in great detail.

Dearest HopeMatch Donor,  

I have been intimidated about writing this thank you since Christmas morning. Not because I do not wish you thank you, rather, because I doubt my ability to put into words the overwhelming gratitude I feel for your generosity and the sacrifice you made for our family. 

For us, the last two years have drawn challenge after challenge to our young and growing family. We’ve experience an unexpected move to a new city followed by a unexpected rent increase on our new home, a major medical emergency with the birth of my second daughter, and discouraging and persistent health challenges with my son, Levi. We’ve seen the sudden loss of my husband’s baby brother, Matthew, at age 27 with 4 young kids at home under the age of 11, as well as the death of my cousin Nick, also 27, with a 3 year old son--all within the last year and a half. We’ve also experienced our own loss with my miscarriage last year on my daughters 2nd birthday.
Throughout the whirlwind of life, on a day marked out as my favorite holiday, Christmas would just seem to pass us by while we tried to breathe through the challenges of life and remain faithful to a God who called us here to serve leaders in His Church. You cannot imagine the relief and gratitude I felt when our family was nominated for Christmas this year, and the excitement I felt while filling out our “wish list” paperwork. I thought through every possible need, carefully calculating the sizes and whether the kids would be in the months following Christmas and what gifts would leave lasting memories and give us lots of family time together. It was as exciting as shopping! 

When we submitted the paperwork, my thought was HopeMatch would purchase one item off our needs list, and if they could afford to, an item off our wants list and I was thrilled and anticipating what the item might be.  When a pickup truck with two HopeMatch volunteers pulled up to our home and began unloading boxes—B.O.X.E.S!-- of things, my husband and I were speechless. The kids, however, were not. They were SO excited—actually, that's the understatement of a lifetime! They were jumping on the couch (which they know is not allowed!) and completely unable to contain themselves.
Picture Courtesy of Priscilla Green Photography 

We left all the wrapped gifts in the box until Christmas Eve when we came home from serving at church. When my husband and I unpacked the boxes after returning from church, we were amazed. We walked through the doors after   just watching hundreds of people give their life to Christ during our Christmas Eve worship experience, completely exhausted after serving 8 hours with 3-5 year old kids, and beside the Christmas tree, we got to have our own moment that I will truly cherish forever. We got to remember how faithful God is, and has always been to those who love him and how generous He is with those who commit to serve Him, providing for their every need….and even the wants! 


I cannot begin to explain how thrilled we were on Christmas morning to open each gift. Our kids had never seen anything like it and my husband said the last time he saw a tree like that was when he was 5 years old and his father kicked him, his mom, and his brothers and sister out of their home on Christmas morning and the church community rallied around them. We were just amazed. 

Our children have never owned clothes with original tags on, so as they opened their gifts and tried on EVERYTHING they were so excited to have clothes that fit and that was exciting for me. To see my children in warm, clean clothes was overwhelming. Levi loves his globe and plays with it every day before nap time and before bed. Faith Michael loves all the art supplies, the piano, and all the clothes—especially having jeans for the first time. Her favorite gift was her new jacket! She wore it all day. My husband has new work clothes which means so much to him, and shoes! Shoes that aren’t falling apart. I was thrilled to have warm clothes and boots that didn’t have holes in the bottom—in my last pair my socks got wet in the rain! By the time we got down to the last gifts my face hurt from smiling so much. I was so, so very thankful to see my family enjoy Christmas morning without a care in the world, just like every other kid their age would be doing. As I opened the last gift, an envelop with our family’s name on it, I was overwhelmed with tears and gratitude from the bottom of my heart.

The last gift contained a gift card for groceries. Now to some, this might be not that big of a deal compared to all the amazing gifts we got to open all morning. But to OUR family….this was the most God ordained gift of all.  Because of my son’s health challenges and numerous food allergies, and my own food sensitivities, groceries are a very big expense for our family. Each week I approach meal planning with crippling anxiety trying to hop from grocery store to grocery store getting the lowest priced foods that our family can actually eat and not get sick. Not an easy task with 3 kids in the winter with wet socks :) Having this gift card meant I could shop at one store without the fear that we would have more week than we would have food! And for me, that’s a feeling of relief I will always, always remember.
Picture Courtesy of Priscilla Green Photography

Thank you. Thank you for the impact you’ve made on our family and the joy we felt on Christmas morning. Thank you for giving when you don’t have to. For believing in an organization like HopeMatch that made this possible. Thank you for everything you gave, and every moment you trusted God to work through you. We cannot thank you enough. Though we may never get to meet you, we will not cease in praying for you. 
On Christmas morning my husband said, “I can’t believe they would do this. For people they don’t even know.” and every time I think of his words my eyes fill with tears. Thank you for allowing us to have these life changing moments through your work in making our Christmas unforgettable even though you don’t even know us.  


Dear HopeMatch Volunteers!
Thank you so much for the part you played in making our Christmas so fantastic! From shopping, to wrapping, to sorting and delivering, we were so very blessed by the tremendous work of your hands. God can use anyone to accomplish His work. I’m so thankful He chose you and called you worthy to play a part in this great miracle. Thank you for blessing our family and making serving His kingdom a top priority. Your sacrifice is so worth it. For years we will get to tell animated tales of the volunteers who worked hour after hour to make our Christmas as wonderful and amazing as it was. You will go down in history to our three little ones as the faithful few who wrapped relentlessly and labeled and taped and precisely slid scissors in a straight line--like David’s mighty men, our children will know you as great hero’s in God’s work. 

Picture Courtesy of Priscilla Green Photography

Thank you, thank you for every moment of time you gave, for every prayer you prayed, and for every dollar you invest in this work of God. Praying you will reap what you sow, ten fold and that God’s abundance will be abounding in your life! 


Dear Brian, Erin, and Leadership Team at HopeMatch, 
There are no words to thank you for your hard work, faithfulness, and sacrifice these last few years. As I have prayed these last two weeks for God to show me what I can say to your team, He simply tells me "Thank You". 

Picture Courtesy of Priscilla Green Photography

Thank you for every unsure moment you’ve had in launching this ministry and every fail and face-plant along the way as you figure it out. Thank you for stepping into unknown territory, and for trusting God to help you navigate all He has called you to. Thank you for meeting, after meeting, after meeting, and patience, after patience, after patience required to fulfill this call God has placed on your lives. 
Leading a charge is not easy. Knowing that something needs to be done and being willing and creative enough to figure out how to do it is an exhausting at best and are the challenges great leaders face. Thank you for being willing to face it. Being willing to push for it, and pray for it, and give your time, and your money, and your garage space to it. The work you do does not go unnoticed. The people you have become through this process is not unnoticed. Great is the reward in Heaven for servants like you who will give without expecting in return and who would see the need, and simply meet it.
Whatever you do to the least of these, you do to me. And my Father in heaven sees and will reward you. Thank you. From every fiber of my being I thank your entire team for how you have blessed our family. 

Picture Courtesy of Priscilla Green Photography

Erin & Brian—thank you. From the moment I met you guys I could see there was something special about you. Your passion and love for God is luminous. Thank you for giving your energy and time consistently every Christmas, and all year long, to the work God has called you to. Don’t ever look back. You are doing a good work. Don’t ever come down. What you are building is too important to get distracted. God is faithful. He will provide for you just as you provide for so many. Thank you for trusting in Him and His work. I pray blessing after blessing on your marriage, your home, your ministry, and the team you lead. Lead diligently, and completely dependent, and God will accomplish a great work through your lives. Thank you friend. 
And to him who is able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine….

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Thank You Letters (Part 2)

Here are more Thank You's from families who were served by HopeMatch this past Christmas...

Dearest HopeMatch Friend (more like family :),

First, I want you to know how much we appreciate the love you shared with our family.  We went through so much last year.  In January 2014, we learned that Jordan (the baby) would have to make regular visits to Blume Hematology and Oncology Pediatrics because there was a threat of Sickle Cell.  Then, I miscarried a "paragard baby" (a baby girl) on Mother's Day.  She was to be born on December 24th, Christmas Eve.  Then I got pregnant again immediately after; I didn't know after miscarriage your body "plots" to conceive again.  Well, I miscarried that little one in September (a baby boy).  By this point I'm beginning to question God's love and attentiveness.  But, praises to my husband for his strong faith!  He prayed for me and firmly, but lovingly told me to remember God's amazing love, trust His heart and let Him lead our lives.  Things started to improve with my hurt, I surrendered my pain to God and trusted that He is in full control!  My faith was being restored!  Then, our engine went out in November, how could this happen?  Right now?  At the holiday season?  Well, it did and after a total cost of $1500 in repairs for our vehicle, we had no clue how we could afford Christmas gifts for our children let alone each other.  But you, you and your gift of love!  I still get teary when I think about the joy on the boys' faces!  I can tell a lot of thought and love was behind each purchase.  You allowed Jesus to use you to bring joy to our family!  We don't know who you are, but we pray for good health, peace, and lots of love for you and your loved ones. Please continue to keep us in your prayers.  My husband and I are pursuing the completion of our bachelor degrees.  
                                                                                Love to You!  --Family 130


Happy New Year!  I don't think there are enough times that I could say thank you.  I am so thankful that you took the time and money to help me and my son have a lovely Christmas.  As a single parent it is hard just providing the daily needs.  I cried like a baby when I opened the box.  I couldn't believe it.  It has been several years since I personally had gifts under the tree.  From the bottom of my heart, thank you.  I am blessed to have you, HopeMatch, and the person who nominated me.

                                                                               --Family 137


Thank you so very much for blessing our family with such a generous Christmas.  My husband loved all of this Panther gear, it meant so much to him.  I myself was very grateful for the pots and pans set, I have always wanted that set and have never been able to purchase it.  I loved my clothes, they fit perfect.  Our son Ryland loved opening his presents.  He is 19 months and enjoyed Christmas so much this year.  After my husband was laid off of his job and then had a total hip replacement at 34 years old, it took a hard hit on our marriage.  You providing us with Christmas blessed us so deeply. There's not enough words to express our gratitude.  I pray that every person who took the time to make this happen for us and many other families were blessed for your generosity, love and kindness. Thank you so much for blessing our family.

                                                                           Love, Family 119

To Our Angels,

From the time we got the delivery of our presents, all I saw were smiles from my family.  Big smiles I haven't seen in such a long time.  Then, on Christmas day, that morning was unbelievable.  My kids had the biggest Christmas they have had in years.  My husband and I had presents which we never have on Christmas.  Wow, this experience was such a blessing.  It was a perfect day for my family. Such a blessing to be able to see my family get things not only they wanted, but also they needed. Thank you to all the angels who made this possible for my family.  I only wish you were here that day to see how happy everyone was.  God bless you!
                                                                         Love, Family 128

There are no words that can express our gratitude to those that helped this Christmas!  My son and I received so many wonderful gifts...thank you!!  The clothes fit wonderfully and both of us love them! This was my son's first Christmas away from our family and receiving such generosity made it so much brighter for him!  He was excited about his new cologne and put it on before bed.  I had to specify that it goes on in the morning, not on pajamas before bed!  We've been playing the bag toss and I have to say I'm the champ! :)  Thank you for the MU shirt, makes us feel like home away from home.  Makhi absolutely loves his new tablet and has taken many pictures of himself and many videos of him singing!  We're looking forward to the months worth of karate, he's been missing his lessons--Thank you!!  Thank you again for making this an amazing Christmas!! I cannot thank you all enough.

                                                                       Love, Family 122

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Gratitude is the Best Attitude (Part 1)

Join us in celebrating the amazing difference HopeMatch made in the lives of the families we served in the 2014 Christmas season.  Here are some thank you letters we have received that convey why we help the people who often fall through the cracks and feel forgotten...that is until HopeMatch arrives on the scene!

Dear HopeMatch,

Christmas is typically a stressful time of year with shopping, hoping to find the "right" gifts, and finding a way to pull it all together in time for Christmas morning.  This year however was different than in years past.  Being unemployed made the Chirstmas holidays a bit more stressful than usual and both my husband and I knew that the gifts under the tree would be sparse this year.  We had managed to put together a little bit of money, but with 4 children, 3 of which still absolutely positively believe in Santa, we were a bit afraid we might not pull it off.  That was until we go the phone call from HopeMatch.  What a difference that one phone call made for us this holiday season.

When HopeMatch volunteers delivered the boxes full of wrapped gifts it was hard not to feel a bit uneasy.  My family has never received assistance of any kind before, and it was hard to put our egos aside and just accept the fact that everyone deserves a break once in awhile.  It was especially hard on my husband, since for him it meant that somehow he wasn't doing his "job" as provider for his family.  However, the volunteers were so kind and made us both feel at ease.  Bringing the boxes into the house later that evening, and putting the presents under the tree, was amazing.  It was like being a kid all over again with the excitement of Christmas.  Even as an adult you couldn't help but sit and wonder what could possibly be inside all the beautifully wrapped gifts.

Christmas morning finally came and the children were up early as usual.  They simply couldn't wait to unwrap the gifts any longer.  My husband and I sat down with slight trepidation since we also had no idea what they might find under the tree.

Gavin found not one, but two Slinky toys--a real treat to get a spare "just in case."  He was delighted and even stopped to play with them for a while....

With Liam we were a bit more skeptical.  This year he as been a bit harder to please.  We quickly found out there was no need to worry.  He also found an airhog helicopter under the tree.  He slowed his progress since he had to open it and try it out immediately!  We found him slowing down and taking time to appreciate each item he opened, taking time to really check it out, take it out of its packaging and wanting to play a bit in between opening gifts.

Zachary was the one child we worried about the least.  Being the oldest meant he knew more about the current situation than the younger children in the house.  He was aware of the phone call from HopeMatch and realized how much it meant to everyone to get help this Christmas.  He loved all of his gifts and for him it really meant something.  It touched him to know that someone, a perfect stranger, had made Christmas happen for him.

Caitlin is always the easiest in the bunch.  She gets excited to open anything.  She loved the tea cup game...

As far as Alan, I think this year hit him the most.  Getting a watch, which he now wears daily, was huge.  His broke months ago and it's made him nuts not knowing the time.  Also, he really needed new tennnis shoes, although he'd never admit it to anyone.  It was hard not to notice the sole peeling off and the hole that was now in its place.  Findng the new shoes under the tree brought him to a standstill.  It was obvious he was touched.  For me, clothes!  I honestly can't recall the last time I bought myself anything new.  With three growing boys, my getting new clothes is always at the bottom of the "to-do" list...The gift cards were also a wonderful surprise, and made both my husband and myself a bit teary eyed.

Although watching the office close in August, and seeing my husband lose his job was hard, watching Christmas approach and not being able to find work was worse.  Wondering how you are going to pull things off, scared that you might ruin what every child thinks of as "the best holiday of the year" is terrifying.  HopeMatch is a glittering beacon of hope for families like mine - knowing that there are people out there who are willing to help you, perfect strangers, is simply incredible.  I can't begin to express how much being a part of HopeMatch has meant to us.  Until this year I had no idea that an organization like HopeMatch existed, but I am sure glad that they do.  So thank you to everyone who brought smiles and joy to the faces of my family this year.  We appreciate you so very much!

                                                                                                            --Family 162

Thank you so much for extending your kindness and resources to our little family this Christmas.  2013 and 2014 were very difficult years for us.  We were blessed to grow our family by one miraculous micro-preemie, but have endured much pain and heartache in receiving difficult diagnoses for our little man.  

Your gifts were practical and so welcome!  Hundreds of people prayed for us and reached out to us during our son's NICU stay. But, honestly, it has been much harder and much more lonely since we have brought him home.  We were not prepared for the difficulty of caring for a medically fragile child.  Gifts of diapers and wipes and diaper bags may seem so basic, but to us, they were the equivalent of gold!

You will never know how you blessed us during this lean time.  Our hope is to continue to bless others, espeically those who "have, but don't have enough."

                                                                                                         --Family 218

I would just like to say how much I appreciate your thoughtfulness.  I looked like a little girl, as I opened all my gifts.  I must say that my angel sure did know me.  And everything was perfect.

Thank you again.  It really meant so, so very much to me.  I love the Lord I praise Him every day.  I'm so blessed.  May you and your family also be blessed each day.  Again, thank you so much.  

                                                                                                       --Single eldery lady 126

From the bottom of our hearts we are so thankful for what you all have done for us.  We could not believe when we got the phone call, or when the gifts arrived.  Just unbelievable!!!  We CANNOT begin to thank you all enough.  Everything was so perfect, and our Bibles are so great.  We all got to use them today at church, and they each come with daily devotionals which we will be doing as a family.  This organization and people involved have the biggest hearts ever.  My childrens Christmas was amazing thanks to you.  Thanks so much for everything!!

                                                                                                     --Family 182

Monday, January 5, 2015

What Do HopeMatch and Taylor Swift Have in Common?

There's been a lot of buzz this holiday season about how Taylor Swift personally gave Christmas presents away to her fans.  We saw the video she created to show how she made it happen, and couldn't believe how her approach was so similar to how HopeMatch makes a difference in families' lives in our community.  Watch the video and then read on and see how much we have in common with Taylor Swift.

1. WE BOTH PERSONALIZE: Taylor Swift searched her fans social media to find out specific things they like, then bought them those things.  She wanted to make sure what they received was special.  At HopeMatch, we also go the extra mile to find out what our families need and want so that they can have a special, magical Christmas, and it makes all the difference.  One of our families wrote to us after Christmas and said, "The presents were absolutely amazing.  It's like you knew my family personally and each gift was thought about.  I personally haven't received a Christmas gift since I was 13. To open the gifts along with my children was such a joyful experience."

2.  WE WRAP THE GIFTS FOR THE SURPRISE ELEMENT:  Taylor Swift personally wrapped the gifts she bought and boxed them up.  At HopeMatch, we have special wrapping volunteers who make sure all the gifts are packaged and wrapped and ready to go under the tree.  We do this so that the parents can be excited too, not knowing what they are getting!  One of our families wrote this to us recently, "When the van came and the two young men came with the delivery, I felt like a big kid not knowing what the packages contained and extremely thankful."  Another parent wrote, "Not only was Christmas exciting for my children, but on Christmas Eve I could barely sleep I was so excited about our Christmas.  My excitement was escalated by the fact that we were all opening complete surprises."

3.  WE INCLUDE A PERSONALIZED CARD:  Taylor Swift wrote a long card to each of the fans she surprised with a box of Christmas presents.  We imagine she thanked them for being them and told them how great they are.  At HopeMatch, we have special Scribe volunteers that write personalized cards to each family speaking LIFE and HOPE into their situations.  Many times, the families say these cards mean just as much, if not more to them than the gifts.  One family wrote us and said, "Gratitude...that is the only word that comes to mind.  We are so incredibly thankful for you and what you provided for our family for Christmas.  More importantly what you said in the card...those are the words we cling to during this difficult season!"

4.  "WE GIVE A CRAP":  I think we can sum up what Taylor Swift and HopeMatch do with this one statement:  We give a crap.  This is a quote that one of our families said about us and I believe the same can be said about Taylor Swift.  She doesn't have to stay in touch with her fans on a personal level.  She didn't have to buy presents herself, wrap them herself and mail them herself.  I'm sure she employs many people who could do that for her.  But she did...and it meant a lot to her fans.  At HopeMatch, I'm not sure if we can call our supporters and volunteers "fans," but they are people who could spend their time and money many ways, and they choose to serve and give through HopeMatch.  We believe it is because they care.  We could serve the poorest of the poor families, however we choose to make "fans" out of the overlooked and forgotten; the ones that won't ask for help for themselves because someone else is always in worse need than them.  Those are our fans and we are humbled to served them.  We received a card from a recent widow we served this past season and she summed up what means the most to her, "It's more than the gifts wrapped in paper; it's the gift of the spirit that changed my season and touched my heart."

Thank you to everyone who gave of their time, resources, and prayers this past season.  We are so grateful for you, and so are our "fans."  You can expect to hear about much more from HopeMatch this year as we serve the families we helped this past Christmas.  We are excited about giving them a Hand Up, and not just a hand out.  We are excited about helping to restore dignity and respect to their homes.  We are committed to encouraging them to continuing fighting and hoping... and in return, we will most definitely become THEIR fans.

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