How A Chance Encounter At A Grocery Store Changed Two People’s Lives Forever
Like most other human beings on the planet, 30-year-old Matt White from Memphis, Tennessee would go to a local grocery store every week to stock up on food and other essentials. As Matt was making his way home from the grocery store one night, however, he came across a young boy who would forever change his life.
It all started with a simple offer from the youngster – something that Matt just couldn’t refuse. From that point on, their lives would become intertwined in ways that Matt never would have imagined. Keep reading to find out what happens next.
Who is Matt White?
Our story begins when Matt was 30 years old. Matt, the son of a medical malpractice attorney and a homemaker, had a day job in the music industry. Once a week, Matt would go to the grocery store to buy food and other necessities.
Matt’s favorite grocery store was a Kroger located in an upper-class neighborhood of an otherwise poor section of Memphis. On this particular day, Matt picked up everything he needed, paid for his purchases as usual, and made his way towards the exit.
The First Encounter
As Matt was leaving the grocery store, he noticed a teenage boy walking towards him. The youngster was alone and appeared to be in some form of emotional distress.
Several scenarios popped into Matt’s head when he and the young man established eye contact. Matt wondered whether the boy was a beggar or if he was just someone who was lost and wanted to ask for directions. Then, the boy smiled at Matt, opened his mouth, and began to speak.
His Name is Chauncy Jones Black
The young man identified himself as 16-year-old Chauncy Jones Black. He told Matt that he had taken a bus from his neighborhood to the Kroger where rich people usually shop hoping to find someone who would allow him to work for food.
The boy was willing to put in some effort to get his food – he wasn’t simply asking for loose change. The last bus home was leaving in about an hour, so he begged Matt for some sympathy.
He Was Willing To Do Anything
Chauncy had a slender frame and appeared underweight. Matt subsequently described him as looking “awkward, hungry, and broken.” A desperate Chauncy told Matt that he was willing to do just about anything for some food.
Chauncy volunteered to carry Matt’s groceries to his car in exchange for a box of doughnuts. In an interview, Matt recalled that on the inside, he was screaming “yes!” to the boy. On the outside, however, Matt said that he simply chuckled before agreeing to get the boy some doughnuts.
An Exciting New Chapter Begins
Matt couldn’t believe that Chauncy was in such a poor situation that he was begging for a box of doughnuts. Matt felt terrible for Chauncy. He also wondered about Chauncy’s background and how he came to this point in his life, so he started asking some questions.
As they walked towards the doughnuts, Chauncy began to tell Matt his story. Chauncy told Matt that he lived with his grandmother and six of his siblings and that they were struggling financially. According to Chauncy, all he had on him was his bus pass and the clothes on his back.
Going Above and Beyond
Matt bought Chauncy a box of doughnuts, but he didn’t think it was enough. Matt began to wonder what else he could do for Chauncy – the kid needed help, and Matt didn’t want to send him away with just a box of sweet treats.
Matt knew it wasn’t his job to feed Chauncy, but he admired Chauncy’s willingness to put in the effort to get what he wanted. Matt saw this moment as an opportunity for him to lend a helping hand to someone in need.
Matt Takes Chauncy Shopping
Matt escorted Chauncy around the store, filling up his cart with all sorts of items like cereal, milk, snacks, produce, pasta, toothpaste, and toothbrushes. As Matt led Chauncy down different aisles, they continued to talk.
Chauncy thanked Matt profusely for helping him out in his hour of need. The kid couldn’t believe that this man he barely knew was doing all this for him like it was no big deal. Matt didn’t realize it at the time, but he was about to discover something about Chauncy that would absolutely surprise him.
Matt wanted to know more about Chauncy, so he decided to probe further into his new buddy’s personal life. As the two began making their way towards the checkout counter, Matt asked Chauncy about school and how his grandmother was doing.
Matt listened intently as Chauncy told him that he was a straight-A student. Matt also learned that Chauncy had been helping his grandmother pay the bills by doing odd jobs around his neighborhood. Matt couldn’t help but be impressed by the young man’s determination to succeed despite his circumstances.
Chauncy’s Dreams and Aspirations
As Matt and Chauncy talked, Matt noticed how the young man repeatedly referred to himself as “poor.” It’s not as though Matt hadn’t yet understood that Chauncy’s family wasn’t well off, but it certainly caught his attention because of what the kid told him next.
Chauncy shared that his goal was to become a rich entrepreneur so that he could help other people in his community and even buy them groceries, much like Matt was doing for him. Matt was stunned, but the story doesn’t end there.
After Matt paid for Chauncy’s groceries, Chauncy thought that that was the end of their encounter. Chauncy then told Matt that he needed to catch the last bus back home. It was getting late, and he didn’t want his grandmother to worry about him.
Matt couldn’t bear the thought of watching Chauncy get on a bus with all those bags of groceries in tow, so he offered to drive the young man home. What he was about to see as they got to the young man’s house, however, would completely take him by surprise.
Matt later said that he was “truly humbled” by what he had seen after arriving at Chauncy’s house. He quickly realized that the young man hadn’t been exaggerating when he said that they didn’t have anything to eat at home.
According to Matt, the Black family only had two lamps in their house and not much else. They slept on sleeping bags on the floor, and their fridge was completely empty. However, it wasn’t just the state of Chauncy’s house that Matt found disturbing.
Meeting Chauncy’s Grandmother
When Matt entered Chauncy’s house, he was greeted by Chauncy’s grandmother, Barbara Black. She was genuinely appreciative of what Matt had done for her grandson. Barbara’s warmth and friendliness struck Matt. However, he also couldn’t help but notice that she seemed to be in a lot of pain.
Matt soon discovered that Barbara suffered from a disorder that caused her to shake uncontrollably. She was also unable to get around on her own because of it. It was then that Matt realized that Chauncy and his family needed all the help they can get.
Unpacking the Groceries
Matt proceeded to help Chauncy and Barbara unpack the groceries. Chauncy was brimming with excitement as they took the groceries out of the bags and placed them in the kitchen. Matt later remarked that Chauncy “looked like a kid again.”
After unpacking the groceries, Matt bid farewell to Chauncy and Barbara. Matt gave both of them a big hug before heading out. Neither Matt nor Chauncy knew it at the time, but that wouldn’t be the last time they’d see each other.
Matt Finds Out More About the Family
Matt couldn’t stop thinking about Chauncy and Barbara. Not long after his encounter with the Black family, Matt started gathering more information about them. Apparently, the family had been living in poverty for years and was barely surviving on Barbara’s disability checks.
Matt also remembered how Chauncy had been wearing tattered clothes. Matt then realized that he needed to do more than buy the family food that would only last for a week or so. He wanted to make a difference in their lives for the long term.
Matt Asks for Help
Matt lived a fairly comfortable life. However, he wasn’t wealthy enough to make a significant impact on Chauncy’s life on his own. Matt needed to find a way to reach out to other people who could help the Black family out.
Matt took to Facebook to talk about his experience at the grocery store days earlier, hoping to find someone who was willing to help. He hoped that Chauncy’s remarkable story would inspire others the same way it inspired him.
GoFundMe Campaign For Chauncy
It didn’t take long before Matt’s Facebook post started gaining traction. Matt hoped that all the attention would turn into donations for the Black family, so he eventually included a link to a GoFundMe page where people could contribute to Chauncy’s cause.
Matt also included information about Chauncy’s shirt and shoe sizes. At the bottom of the page, Matt posted a video interview with Chauncy in which he talks about his life. Viewers were immediately captivated by Chauncy’s story, and donations started pouring in.
Where Will The Donations Go?
As Matt’s Facebook post gained more attention, so did his GoFundMe campaign. Matt and Chauncy were ecstatic! Matt then started coming up with a plan for what they would do with all of the money they were raising.
Matt hoped to raise enough money to buy Chauncy a lawnmower so that he could make money cutting lawns during the summer, and so that he’d have some money for school supplies and food when he enters the tenth grade the following fall.
The Donations Kept Pouring In
Matt’s Facebook post got more and more attention as time went on. Total strangers from across the country began offering Chauncy food, clothes, dental services, and even jobs. At the time, Matt’s Facebook post had been shared around 14,000 times and had over 3,500 comments.
As the money continued to pour in, Matt started thinking about setting the bar higher. Rather than settling for a lawnmower, why not raise enough money to pay for Chauncy’s college education or perhaps even a new house?
How Much Money Was Raised?
Matt’s fundraising campaign went viral, but how much money did it raise? In the end, Chauncy and Barbara received $340,000 in donations. Barbara, who had survived on disability checks as she raised Chauncy and his siblings, was completely overwhelmed.
Barbara later said in an interview that Chauncy had been taking care of her for the past few years. She described him as a “good boy”, adding that she couldn’t ask for more. Barbara was indeed lucky to have a grandson like Chauncy!
What began as a simple fundraiser soon turned into a movement that Matt called “Chauncy’s Chance.” Soon, major news networks and publications like ABC and Daily Mail were covering Chauncy’s incredible story, turning him into somewhat of a celebrity.
In an interview with People magazine, Chauncy said that his life had been “completely changed” by this whole experience. He also talked about how he couldn’t go anywhere without people recognizing him. Nevertheless, the young man said he was happy and grateful for all the support.
Fame Has Its Drawbacks
After earning a small fortune seemingly overnight, Chauncy and Barbara, who lived in an impoverished neighborhood with a high crime rate, now needed to be careful. All that publicity meant that many of their neighbors now knew that they had a lot of money.
After the fundraising campaign went viral, many relatives began reaching out to Chauncy and Barbara, including those they hadn’t seen in years. According to Chauncy, some relatives had asked him for money to help fund their business and other household expenses.
Managing the Money
$340,000 is a lot of money. Quite often, people who receive this much money all at once need the help of a professional to help them figure out how to spend the money wisely and how to make it last.
According to Matt, he and the Black family contacted an attorney about handling the money to help minimize their tax burden. Matt added that the money was set up in a trust to avoid the risk of anyone trying to claim it.
You may be wondering why Matt would even invest so much time in helping another family. What’s in it for him? As it turns out, Matt is a devout Christian and his religious beliefs were a significant factor in his decision to assist the Black family.
Matt thanked a higher power for intervening and using him as an instrument to help Chauncy and his family. Matt stated that it was God who provided and made everything happen. Matt has already done so much for the Black family. However, his mission was far from over.
Urging Others to Take Action
Chauncy had been given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. However, Matt said that he shouldn’t be praised for what he did to help Chauncy and his family. Instead, he urged people to look out for other Chauncys who may need their help.
Matt added that people shouldn’t be so fixated on him and what he did because he really didn’t do anything. He explained that he merely posted a story online, and it was the community that picked up the story and put the Black family on a platform.
One of the Family
Despite Matt’s insistence that Chauncy’s luck was because of a higher power, Chauncy and Barbara believe that Matt, who Chauncy described as the nicest person he’s ever met, should be credited for putting his plan into action.
Chauncy added that no one had ever cared for his family as much as Matt did. Barbara, meanwhile, mentioned in an interview that she considers Matt as another member of the family and that he would forever be a part of their lives. Chauncy and Barbara also expressed their gratitude to everyone who donated to Chauncy’s cause.
Matt loves doing charity work. His Facebook account is replete with examples of his unwavering commitment to the welfare of children. Even if he’s not directly involved in a certain charity project, he still posts about it on his Facebook page.
While some people would rather post selfies and talk about their day, Matt has figured out how to utilize social media for the greater good. In fact, Chauncy wasn’t the first individual for whom Matt has set up a GoFundMe campaign.
Matt’s Previous Campaign
Chauncy was not the first one to experience Matt’s kindness. A few years earlier, Matt set up a GoFundMe account to help a blind bottle collector he had met by chance in one of the rougher neighborhoods of Memphis.
JB Kibbler had been going through the trash looking for cans to sell so he could feed his family. The GoFundMe campaign that Matt launched for JB and his family managed to raise $36,000. For JB and his family, that money was a huge help.
Memphis' Alarming Poverty Rate
In 2017, a report by the University of Memphis found that Memphis had the biggest share of people living in poverty out of all major American cities. For the African American community, the poverty rate is even greater.
Dr. Elena Delavega, a professor at the University of Memphis who came up with that report, explained that the high poverty rate in the city can be blamed on a variety of factors, including a minimum wage that she believes is too low and the city’s poor public transportation system.
More Troubling Statistics
In her 2017 report, Delavega mentioned that the child poverty rate in Memphis was at 44.7 percent. According to Delavega, this means that there is a 50-50 chance that any child you see walking down the street in the city is living in poverty.
That statistic may be troubling, but it’s comforting to know that there are people like Matt White who are out there doing their best to make an impact. If we all work together, we can make the world a better place.
The Power of a GoFundMe Campaign
GoFundMe is a crowdfunding platform that allows people to raise money for various causes. The company takes a 5 percent cut of funds raised from all campaigns, plus a 2.9 percent processing fee and an additional 30 cents for each donation.
Despite GoFundMe being a for-profit corporation, it’s still a great way to collect money from people from all over. It certainly worked for Matt White – thanks to his hard work and generosity, a young man’s life had taken a turn for the better.