We all go to the grocery store at least once a week if not more, and since we are creatures of habit, most of us go to a particular store on a regular basis. This means you might get to know the staff and occasionally even have conversations with them.
However, our trips to the store are generally little more than a necessity and hardly noteworthy. However, for one man, a trip to the grocery store was something he’d never forget again. That one trip changed Matt White’s life forever.
Matt White often frequented a Kroger store in what was considered an “upper-class” part of a poor area in Memphis. It was while there that 16-year-old Chauncy Jones approached him. White immediately saw the look on the boy’s face.
Chauncy looked ashamed and defeated as he explained that he had taken the bus to what he referred to as the “rich people’s Kroger,” in hopes of using the hour he had before he needed to catch the bus home to work for some money to buy food hor him and his mother.
We never consider what impact something like our choice of grocery store actually makes. To this boy that particular store was his best bet for earning some money to buy food for his mother and himself.
Going to the store for groceries is something most of us take for granted and often even resent needing to do as it means leaving our comfortable homes. However, unlike most of us, Chauncy could never count on a full stomach before bed.
Chauncy’s request was simple. He asked if he could carry White’s shopping bags to the car in exchange for a box of glazed donuts. “He looked ashamed, hungry, and broken,” White recalled in a later interview.
White immediately felt a tug at his heart strings and agreed to get the boy some donuts. However, that wasn’t enough. White was determined to do something for this boy. Neither of them had any idea that that one decision would only be the start of a life-changing story.
It broke White’s heart to see the look of shame and defeat on Chauncy’s face as he made such a simple request. The idea that this boy was so beaten and ashamed as he asked for donuts was simply too much for White.
He knew that he had to help the boy further. A box of donuts wasn’t enough, he deserved much more. That’s when White made the decision to do something that would ultimately change both their lives.
“I just met the most inspiring person ever,” White wrote in a now-viral Facebook post. “His name is Chauncy Jones. He’s a 16-year-old from Memphis. He approached me while I was shopping for produce asking if he could help me carry my grocery bags to my car in exchange for buying him a pack of glazed donuts.”
“This kid looked like he had been turned down 100 times. He looked ashamed, hungry, and broken. In my heart, I screamed a loud ‘yes!’, But to him, I just chuckled and said, ‘yeah dude, we’ll get you some donuts.’”
White soon found out that Chauncy and his mother had no food in the house. It was then that White decided to take Chauncy on a shopping spree. “We got cereal and chips and frozen veggies, pizzas, Cheetos, melons, pasta, peanut butter, milk, soap, toothbrushes, just a little bit of everything.”
“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.” The more he learned about Chauncy the more amazed he was by this young boy.
“Chauncy kept calling himself poor, but he told me that one day he was gonna be wealthy and own his own businesses so that he could help other people in his neighborhood and buy them groceries like me. I was in awe,” White wrote.
Chauncy eventually told White that his bus would be there soon and he needed to get to the bus stop. However, White didn’t feel like letting Chauncy ride the bus. Instead, he offered to drive him home himself to deliver the groceries. The sight that met him, however, broke his heart.
Being poor, as we all know, doesn’t necessarily mean you have nothing. More often than not it means that you have very little and struggle to get by from day to day. White had heard that Chauncy and his mother were poor, but he was in for a surprise.
When he finally arrived at the house, what White saw absolutely crushed him. He had been prepared to not find much or for things to be bad. However, nothing he could have imagined prepared him for what he found.
“I gave him a ride home so that he didn’t have to take the bus and when we got to his house I was truly humbled,” he wrote. “He wasn’t kidding. He and his mom had nothing. They didn’t even have beds or furniture.”
“They were sleeping on pads made out of sleeping bags; they had two lamps and nothing in their fridge. Nothing.”
That was the moment when White realized that the boy and his mother were not only unsure of a full belly before bed, but they were so poor that they could barely call what they had a bed at all.
This boy and his mother were in greater need than White ever imagined.
White was particularly taken aback by Jones’s mother, Barbara, who was “so sweet but very fragile.” She has a condition that makes it difficult for her to walk, and she shakes. The love the boy and his mother feel for one another was obvious.
White felt like there had to be something more that he could do. While he had already done so much — the food and supplies would help them out for a couple of weeks — the singer/songwriter still felt a pull to do more.
“As we unpacked the food into their kitchen, you could see the hope coming back into Chauncy’s eyes. He knew he wasn’t going to be hungry,” White wrote. “He looked like a kid again. As I was leaving, I gave him a hug and told him how much God loved him and that he was going to grow up to be an incredible man.”
“I’ll never forget that hug. It meant more to me than any possession I have. Our God is an awesome God, and we can never be thankful enough for the blessings we have.” But that wasn’t the end.
“I found out they’d been living like this for years, getting by on Barbara’s disability checks,” White said, “and I just knew I had to do something. Chauncy hadn’t had new clothes in three years. I’m not wealthy, but I live a comfortable life. I saw how he was living, and it touched my heart.”
So he took to his Facebook page to share the story, not to brag about his charity, but to see if anyone else could help out. He hoped to get enough donations to buy Jones a lawnmower to earn some summer cash before returning to high school as a 10th grader in the fall.
The post quickly went viral, with offers of jobs, food, clothing, dental care, and furniture pouring in from complete strangers. The post was shared more than 14,000 times and has more than 3,500 comments.
Overwhelmed — in a good way — White set up a GoFundMe account to raise money for a new home for them, along with a college education for Jones. What happened next is more than anyone could have predicted.
We all know how difficult it can be to raise money for any cause. White hoped that the story of Chauncy and his mother’s plight would make enough people open their hearts to help him reach the target.
He really wanted to help this boy. He created the account, and then it was time to wait.
That GoFundMe page? It has raised more than $340,000 for Jones and his mother, a mother who has been on disability after years of raising her seven adopted children despite a multitude of health problems like blood clots, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
“I did the best I could,” Barbara said. “The past few years, Chauncy has been taking care of me. He’s a good boy. I couldn’t ask for better.” And now their lives were about to change.
All of this launched into something even greater, which White called the “Chauncy’s Chance” movement. “As of today, Barbara and Chauncy have a new life. God has provided for them a home, a car, a new school, he has restored Barbara’s health, and continues to present them with endless opportunities for the future,”
White explained in a GoFundMe update. “Every dollar donated to Chauncy’s Chance was put into a protected trust that will provide them a secure future for decades. In every sense of the word, God has provided.”
Just as Jones and his mother now have a new lease on life, White wants to encourage others to “look for Chauncys out there, look for them and their stories.” “I live to fulfill God’s heart and God has a heart for the fatherless and for the needy,” White said.
“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.” And what do they think about that?
“He’s the nicest person I’ve ever met,” Jones 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.” White added that It’s so rare that we get an opportunity to affect so much change on one life, and hope people pay it forward. “I think back to how many people poured into my life with their generosity, time, money, encouragement, and it brings me to tears,” he said.
“The impact that those people had on my life can never be measured. I am so grateful for the lives we share with one another, so grateful for each and every one of God’s children. I cannot thank you enough for caring about Chauncy. This is his big chance, and you’re making it possible.” And to think, every day we’re given that chance — if we’re willing to take it.