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Matt White from Memphis, Tennessee is an ordinary person just like us. One night, when he was on his way back home after shopping at his local grocery store, he came upon a boy who offered to carry his groceries in exchange for food. Little did they know that their lives would be intertwined from this moment on and their story would hit the headlines. So what exactly happened?
This is Matt White. At the time our story began, he was a 30-year-old college graduate who studied the music business. Every week, he would go to his local grocery store to pick up food and general supplies.
The store was a Kroger located in an upper-class part of an otherwise poor area of Memphis, Tennessee. On this particular day, Matt went to the Kroger, paid for his items as usual, and started to walk towards the exit. Suddenly, a teenage boy started walking towards him.
Matt noticed that the boy was alone and that he looked kind of sad and ashamed. The two strangers made eye contact and a whole bunch of scenarios flashed through Matt's head.
Was the kid a beggar? Or he just wanted to ask for directions? Then the boy opened his mouth and started to speak.
The little boy introduced himself as Chauncy Jones Black. He was 16 years old at the time and he had traveled by bus to the "rich people's Kroger," hoping to find somebody who would let him work for supper.
Chauncy was willing to work for his food - he wasn't just asking for spare change. He needed to catch the last bus home in an hour, and he turned to Matt for some sympathy.
Chauncy looked underweight. Matt later said that "he looked ashamed, hungry, and broken." Chauncy told Matt that he would do anything for a bite to eat. He offered to carry Matt's groceries to the car in exchange for a box of doughnuts.
Matt later said, "In my heart, I screamed a loud 'yes!' But to him, I just chuckled and said, 'yeah dude, I’ll get you some doughnuts.'"
Matt felt terrible for Chauncy Jones Black. He couldn't believe that Chauncy was in such rough shape that he was begging for a box of doughnuts. He wondered about the boy’s life and how he got to this point. He then started asking Chauncy some questions.
Chauncy told Matt that he lived with his mother and that they didn't have very much money. All he had on him was a bus pass and the clothes he was wearing. The two strangers began walking towards the doughnuts. Chauncy had no idea that he was in for a big surprise.
Matt got Chauncy a pack of doughnuts, but he felt like that was not enough. There was a boy here asking for his help and he didn't want to send him away only with a box of sugary treats.
Matt knew Chauncy was willing to work for what he would ask for. He saw this as an opportunity to help a kid in need.
The two continued to talk as they walked around the grocery store. Matt led Chauncy down different aisles, filling his cart with all kinds of household staples - everything from cereal and snacks to pasta, milk, toothpaste, and toothbrushes.
Chauncy couldn't believe what was happening. He was thankful to Matt for helping him out without hesitation, and for doing it so casually like it was no big deal at all.
Nothing could have prepared Matt for what he would learn about Chauncy.
While the two strangers-turned-friends were talking, Matt poked more into the boy’s personal life and asked him how school was and how his mother was doing.
"All the while we talked and he told me how he makes straight A's in school and is trying to get a job to help his mom pay rent. This kid was amazing," Matt said when he recounted the story.
While Matt and Chauncy were talking, Chauncy kept referring to himself as "poor." Matt knew that Chauncy didn't have much money, but he noticed that "poor" was part of Chauncy's identity.
Chauncy said that his goal was to become a rich entrepreneur. Once he made a fortune, he would give back to other people in his neighborhood and buy them groceries like Matt was doing for him.
Matt paid for Chauncy's grocery and Chauncy thanked Matt. Chauncy thought that was going to be the end of their interaction, as he had to catch the last bus back home before his mom started to worry about him.
Matt decided that he couldn't watch this kid carry all of those groceries home on a bus. He offered to drive Chauncy home. What Matt saw next completely shocked him.
Matt said, "I gave [Chauncy] a ride home so that he didn't have to take the bus and when we got to his house I was truly humbled." Matt quickly realized that Chauncy wasn't exaggerating when he said earlier that he didn't have any food at home.
Matt continued, “They had two lamps and nothing in their fridge. Nothing.” However, that was not the worst part of the house.
When Matt entered Chauncy's house, he met Chauncy's mother, Barbara. She was genuinely thankful for what Matt had done for Chauncy. Barbara also seemed to be fragile and in pain.
She had a condition that caused her to shake all the time, which made it difficult for her to get around on her own. Matt realized that there was a lot more he could do to help this family.
Before Matt could do anything else, he had to help Chauncy unpack the groceries. Chauncy looked so happy to be home and to receive so many groceries. "He looked like a kid again," said Matt.
The Black's refrigerator was now full, and it was time for Matt to leave. Matt gave a hug to each of them and headed out. Chauncy didn't know it yet, but that wouldn't be the last time he saw Matt.
After leaving Chauncy's house, Matt couldn't get the Black family out of his head. He started asking around about Chauncy and his mother. What he learned really troubled him. Apparently, the poor two were barely getting by on Barbara's disability checks.
Chauncy had not bought new clothes in years. Matt knew that the groceries would only last for a week or so, but he really wanted to make a lasting difference in the lives of these two people.
Matt had enough money to buy groceries and to afford his own place. But he did not have enough to make a lasting impact on Chauncy's life all by himself. He decided to use social media to call on others to help Chauncy.
He shared the story about his encounter with Chauncy on Facebook hoping to inspire other people the way Chauncy had inspired him. What happened next was going to completely restore your faith in humanity.
Matt hoped that all of the attention his Facebook post was getting would turn into tangible donations for Chauncy and his mother. He attached a GoFundMe page to the post so that people could donate to Chauncy’s case. The page included information about Chauncy's size in clothing and shoes. It also included a video interview with Chauncy where he talked about his life story.
Viewers quickly fell in love with Chauncy, and all of that love translated into financial contributions to the GoFundMe page.
The GoFundMe account was quickly picking up traffic, and donations kept coming in. Matt and Chauncy were getting very excited. They started coming up with a plan for what they were going to do with all the money received.
Matt planned to raise enough money to get Chauncy a lawnmower so that he could earn some cash by cutting lawns in the summer. Then he would have some money when he began tenth grade in the fall.
Matt's post kept picking up more traffic on Facebook. It seemed like this story was going viral. Strangers started donating all kinds of things to Chauncy, including food, clothing, dental care, and even jobs. At this point, Matt’s Facebook post was shared 14,000 times and commented 3,500 times.
Matt was starting to think that he should raise his goal on GoFundMe. Why stop at a lawnmower when he was likely to get Chauncy a college education or even a new home? So how much money did they raise?
We already know that the post got a ton of likes and shares, but exactly how much money did they raise? Well, at last, $340,000 poured in for Chauncy and Barbara. Chauncy and Barbara were ecstatic, as this money was life-changing for them.
Barbara said, "I did the best I could. In the past few years, Chauncy has been taking care of me. He is a good boy. I couldn’t ask for better.” She couldn't have predicted what his son was about to do next.
Matt turned the GoFundMe page into a whole movement, which he called "Chauncy's Chance." Pretty soon, all of the major news networks were talking about Chauncy's story. People even started recognizing Chauncy on the street.
Chauncy said in an interview with People magazine, “It’s so awesome - my life has been completely changed. I can’t go anywhere now without people recognizing me. They go, 'Oh, my God, you’re Chauncy!’ And I’m like, ‘Yes, ma’am.’ I’m very happy and very grateful to everybody.”
Though the news coverage didn't exactly turn Chauncy into a household name, many people in his neighborhood now knew he had a lot of money. Chauncy was not exactly living in a safe area, and he and his mother really had to be careful.
Chauncy said, "My relatives were like when you get some money, can you help me, asking for help in business and all that kind of stuff."
$340,000 is a lot of money to get all at once. Matt and Chauncy wanted to make sure that they could make that money last.
Matt and the Black family were going to get in touch with a lawyer "so that they take the least amount of hit on taxes. So it's set-up in a trust and not at risk of anybody trying to come and claim it."
If you're wondering why Matt would take time out of his busy day to help strangers, you're not alone. It seems like a stretch that one would go above and beyond like this. It turns out that Matt is a practicing Christian and his faith is a big reason that led him to help the Black family.
Matt thanked a higher power for stepping in and appointing him as an agent to help Chauncy and Barbara. Matt believed, "In every sense of the word, God has provided." However, Matt's mission still wasn't over.
Thanks to Matt, Chauncy got the opportunity of a lifetime. Matt said that rather than praising him, people should "look for Chauncys out there." There are so many ways you can make a difference in someone else's life.
“The focus of this is not me and what I did, because I really didn’t do anything. I just captured a story and put it online, but our community, Memphis, picked up this family and put them on a platform,” said Matt.
Though Matt believed that everything happened for Chauncy because of God, Chauncy and Barbara knew that Matt put God’s plan into action.
"He's the nicest person I’ve ever met," Chauncy said. “Nobody ever cared more than he did.” “He’s family, that’s what he is,” Barbara added. “He’s in our lives forever now. He’s family.” Chauncy and Barbara were also grateful for everyone who donated their money and time to Chauncy's cause.
Matt White has made a habit of doing nice things for others. Charity work is kind of his thing. His whole Facebook page is full of evidence that he's dedicated his life to helping kids in need. Even when he is not directly involved in a charity project, he still shares charity success stories on his page.
Matt has found a way to use social media for good. In fact, Chauncy isn't the first person he opened a GoFundMe page for.
Several years earlier, Matt set up a GoFundMe account for a blind bottle collector named JB Kibbler. Matt just came across Kibbler in one of the rougher areas in Memphis. At the time, Kibbler was digging through the trash for cans so he could feed his daughters and granddaughters.
The account that Matt set up for JB Kibbler eventually received $36,000. That money made a huge difference for JB and his whole family.
According to a report from the University of Memphis, as of 2017, Memphis was home to the largest share of poor people out of all of the larger American cities. The poverty rates are even higher for the African American community.
Dr. Elena Delavega, a professor at the University of Memphis who conducted that poverty report, said that the alarming poverty rates are due to a low minimum wage, transportation issues, and a number of other factors.
Children bear the brunt of the city's poverty. Delavega said, "What that means is that when you see a child walking down the street, when you see a child, there’s a 50-50 chance […] that that child is living in poverty."
That statistic is extremely disturbing, but people like Matt are out there trying to make a difference. If we all work together, there can be change.
GoFundMe is a for-profit fundraising platform. It allows people to quickly raise money for important causes online. The thing is, this company takes 5% of all donations, plus a 2.9% processing fee. The company has to make money somehow.
Although GoFundMe is a for-profit endeavor, it can be a very useful tool for people who want to collect money from a large group of people. Just look at what Matt accomplished.
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