MATTHEWS – A campaign to support the Matthews HELP Center is $20,000 shy of its $100,000 goal and is looking to the community to help finish the effort by Labor Day.
“We think that if people can give a dollar or are blessed enough to give $1,000, it all adds up. If 20,000 people give a dollar, we would be right there,” former mayor Jim Taylor said. “It is attainable in our mind.”
In April, community leaders asked the public to give to the Matthew HELP Center through a GoFundMe campaign called “Matthews HELPing Matthews.” The idea came from Mumukshu Brahmbhatt, owner of the UPS store in the Sycamore Commons Shopping Center.
Brahmbhatt helped organize a steering committee that includes Taylor, Mayor John Higdon, video producer and photographer Steve Huff and other town leaders and business owners.
The Matthews HELP Center, located at 119 N. Ames St., helps to ease poverty in zip codes 28104, 28105, 28226, 28270 and 28079. In addition to its food pantry, the nonprofit also offers crisis assistance and runs back to school, backpack, Thanksgiving feast and holiday support programs.
Part of what makes it possible to help so many in need is Matthews HELP Center’s Backporch Treasures boutique and thrift shop. Sales make up 65% of the organization’s budget. The rest comes from donations from the community.
While the nonprofit is well-positioned to provide for the “normal” level of need throughout the year, volunteers have been giving groceries to more people during the COVID-19 crisis than they’re used to. It is estimated more than a third of the people served are first-timers.
The need continues to grow as the economic impact of COVID-19 spreads, which is why contributions from the community are so important. All of the money raised from the Matthews HELPing Matthews campaign will go directly to meeting this need, whether that’s feeding families, paying utility bills or offsetting housing costs.
As of Aug. 18, the campaign has raised about $80,000. Taylor said the money is a combination of direct contributions to the HELP Center, donations made on the GoFundMe page and the value of in-kind donations from local corporations and businesses such as food, child care products, women’s apparel and restaurant gift cards.
So far, Taylor said social media has been helpful in spreading the word, but the struggle lies in converting those connections to contributions. He said the Town of Matthews also shared the effort in its newsletter and corporate partners and individual donors have been generous.
“We feel very confident, very honored and very pleased with the response so far,” Taylor said.
The HELP Center has been in Matthews for over 40 years and has an infrastructure in place, a strong group of volunteers and a proven client screening process. Taylor said this makes the nonprofit one of the most efficient distributors of funds to people in need in the community.
“As wonderful a town as Matthews is, there are still people in and around our town that are struggling. Any one of us could need to rely on the HELP Center in the future,” Taylor said. “Nobody wants to ask for help, but it’s wonderful to have an organization like the HELP Center to be there when something terrible happens.”