As they pulled up outside the teenager’s humble home, Matt White’s stomach sank. When the boy had said he was poor, he hadn’t been exaggerating. And White just couldn’t stand the thought of the youngster struggling, so he decided to help him out in the most extraordinary way.
In June 2016 White was doing his grocery shopping in Memphis, Tennessee. He had finished his shop and was making his way to the parking lot when a sheepish looking teen approached him. The young boy offered to help White carry his bags – with one catch.
The boy introduced himself as Chauncy Jones Black. And in exchange for helping, he asked White to buy him a box of donuts. After taking a good look at Jones and weighing up the situation, White agreed to the deal.
“This kid looked like he had been turned down 100 times. He looked ashamed, hungry and broken,” White explained on a Facebook post in June 2016. “In my heart I screamed a loud ‘yes!’ but to him I just chuckled and said, ‘Yeah dude, we’ll get you some donuts.’”
As the pair loaded the groceries into White’s car, they got talking. Black revealed that he’d made his way to what he believed to be a very prosperous neighborhood of Highland all alone. And he’d made the long journey simply to get his hands on some food.
Indeed, Black explained that he was starving. He lived with his mother, and the pair of them had ran out of food. As a result, the teen had no choice but to approach total strangers for charity. He could only hope they would take pity on him.
Black had no phone and no money either. In fact, all he had was a bus pass to get back to his neighborhood at the end of the night. As he listened to Black speak, White’s heart broke; he knew he had to do something to help.
“He and I went on a shopping spree,” White revealed on Facebook. “We had so much fun! We got cereal and chips and frozen veggies, pizzas, Cheetos, melons and pasta, peanut butter, milk, soap, tooth brushes, just a little bit of everything.”
And when they had finished their shop, White gave Black a ride home. All the while the teen explained how he was a grade A student. Furthermore, he revealed that he had ambitions to become a business owner and turn his fortunes around.
And not only did Black want to change his own life, but he also dreamed of helping others in his community. The young boy’s drive and ambition astonished White. So when they arrived outside the teen’s home, White’s respect for Black grew even more.
“He and his mom had nothing,” White told his Facebook friends. “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.”
At just 16, Black was responsible for providing for himself and his disabled mother. And while he was doing his best, the family were struggling to survive. Once more, White knew he couldn’t turn his back on Black.
“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,” White wrote. “I’ll never forget that hug. It meant more to me than any possession I have.”
White decided to set up a GoFundMe page to raise funds for Black and his mother. “[Black] wants to work and help his mother financially,” he wrote on the crowdfunding site in 2016. “What so many can take for granted, he wants. He wants food, he wants a bed, he wants to work and he wants a chance.”
White wanted to help Black set up his own lawn mowing business too. But to do this, they would need cash to buy the proper protective clothing and, of course, the mower. He reached out to local businesses who may have been able to provide the teen with a job as well.
He also appealed for kind strangers to donate any unwanted items. “They really don’t have any possessions except a couch and a few lamps,” White explained on GoFundMe. “So if you have any items you think might be useful to him or his mother, I know they will greatly appreciate it.”
Soon the donations began to flood in. Not only that, but a local business owner offered White a job at his lawn mowing business. And the delighted teen was quick to impress his boss too. “He didn’t stand around just waiting to be told what to do next,” a post on Hamilton’s Lawn Care’s Facebook page in 2016 revealed. “He kept himself busy.”
Within five weeks of the crowdfunding campaign going live, more than 14,000 people had raised over $341,000 for Black and his mom. The total was enough to buy beds and help Black save for college. Moreover, the impressive sum helped the family to purchase their own home.
Consequently, Black will be forever thankful for White’s kindness. “I’m so grateful – people have been wonderful. Me and Matt White are pretty much family now,” he told PEOPLE in 2016. “He’s my best friend. He changed our lives.”
Black and White’s amazing story shows how ordinary encounters can have life-changing consequences. Because although Black always had big dreams, he now has the means to realize them without having to worry about where his next meal is coming from. So in a way, White fixed the teen’s present so that he can prosper in the future.