The McElroy brothers are not experts, and their advice should never be followed. But their example is one of the best around and we hope you’ll join us once again as we lend a helping hand to a monstrously good cause and bring some Candlenights joy to folks who really need it.
As many of you know, the McElroys hail from Huntington, West Virginia. West Virginia has struggled with poverty for many years and Huntington is no exception: It and many of the surrounding communities struggle with economic depression and have been severely impacted by the opioid crisis, among other issues. While the McElroys help us all to feel warm and jolly around Candlenights, there are hundreds of people in their community struggling to find much to be jolly about and, in some cases, even to stay warm. This is NOT COOL.
Back in 2014, the Brothers decided to do something about it. Each year their local paper, the Herald-Dispatch, publishes a list of individuals in Huntington who are asking for the littlest of somethings to make their holidays a little brighter. They reached out to all of us, their fans, and asked if anybody would be willing to take a look at the list and maybe knock one or two off of it to give back to Home Sweet Huntington. Justin dubbed the project the MBMBaM Angels.
MBMBaM listeners stepped up to become Angels and demolished the list in literally one afternoon. Every year, we come back together to make another miracle happen for Huntington and each year is bigger and better than the one before. Last year, you seriously cool babies bought beds for kids sleeping on floors, appliances to ensure families could share a warm, home-cooked meal together, clothed a whole lot of folks, got people to work with bus passes, and lit Huntington up with your kindness and generosity.
In Twenty-Frankenstein-teen, it’s time to become the monster and give into your generous side.
Here’s what to do:
The MBMBaM Head Angels are also collecting monetary donations to help cover big-ticket items like appliances, furniture, and other things that would be difficult for one person to claim alone. Sr. Mark and Mike are back with a new and improved process to collect your funds and do great things with them; feel free to check out our answers to frequently asked questions below to learn more about the donation process!
And with that, all we have left to do is thank you from the bottom of our hearts. This is a community of 30,000 Under 30,000 Charitable Luminaries and we are so proud of every one of you.
Your Head Angels (Carrie, Sr. Mark, Mike, Jeremy, Willem, and Valerie)
MBMBaM Angels is about as grassroots as it gets. Each year, a group of us get together and join in the spirit of Candlenights to connect MBMBaMbinos with those in Huntington who need our help. Most of us donate our time and a little bit of our money to keep things rolling. In the interest of making sure we're as transparent as possible, we've answered a few questions.
We take donations through PayPal! Use the email address firstname.lastname@example.org.
When you donate, an email gets sent to the head angels to notify us. This year, we set up a special bank account just to process your donations: the only money that will go in and out of that account is earmarked 100% for this campaign. Three of us are involved with the fundraising and management part of the campaign: Carrie set up the bank account and provides regular copies of the account statements to Sr Mark and Mike, who keep independent records of donations and purchases. We all communicate regularly throughout the campaign to compare numbers and make sure everything matches exactly; we talk daily when there are a lot of donations, and every few days if things are moving more slowly.
It is really important to us that donations are tracked by multiple people; this helps us make sure that all donations are accounted for at all times, and that nothing even as simple as a math error gets in the way of using those donations to fill empty stockings.
The records Mike and Sr. Mark keep list the donor’s name, the amount donated in US dollars, and any messages that you included with the donation.
We collect the messages that you send and forward them to the McElroys! It makes us feel like Santa’s elves.
Your personal information never leaves our care. The information in Mike and Sr. Mark’s spreadsheets stay with them, and email addresses entered on the website stay with Willem and are deleted after each year. The Head Angels do not sell your information, share it, or publicize it on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter. The only time you might get an email from us is if we need to clarify something about an item you have claimed or a donation you have made. Nobody except the Head Angels will know if you donated or what you donated unless you choose to share that information (which you are free to do if you like!).
We do share the total number of people who donated, and we make regular updates on Facebook and Twitter stating the total amount of donations received.
At some point in December, Mike and Sr. Mark, along with any Head Angels who want to help, pull up the list of items that the donations will cover and start to go shopping. These are usually the most expensive items, like beds, appliances, and home renovations (for example, making a house accessible for a wheelchair user).
When we’re choosing what items to buy, we work to strike a balance between affordability and quality. Although we don’t buy designer items, we will never buy an item we would be unwilling to use ourselves. We do our best to make sure that items are good quality, truly fill the needs of the recipients, and meet the recipient’s taste, if we are able to find out what that is. Getting gifts at the holidays should be fun, and just because many of these gifts are practical does not mean they are an exception!
The fact is, there are many, many more needs than the Herald-Dispatch is able to list. A lot of those needs are the big, substantial things that your donations were meant to cover. So as soon as we know that we have enough donations to cover the items mentioned in the Empty Stockings list, we start calling organizations to find out who else we can help.
During the holiday season, we work closely with the organizations to help bring Candlenights joy to some of the folks who didn’t make the original 100 stockings and try to make sure they wake up to something special on Candlenights morning. However, eventually even Amazon Prime can’t get a gift there in time for the holidays! Once we hit that point we will usually write a check to some of the organizations to fund after-holiday needs as well. In the past, your funds have gone towards buying hearing aids for more than half-a-dozen people, furnishing new apartments for folks getting back on their feet, and putting an absolute ton of bus passes in people’s pockets so they can continue to travel in greater comfort throughout the year, not just in the wintertime.
Our goal is to use every cent of the donations to buy items for people in need. We will send items or fund the purchase of specific items from any organization that we are in contact with. Funds do not go to support the work or overhead of any organization.
We do not make donations to schools or religious institutions.
We do keep in touch with the sponsoring organizations to help as many people as we possibly can!
Your Head Angels come into this process when you do: when the list is published in the Herald-Dispatch. We aren’t involved in any way with coordinating with the newspaper or the volunteers in Huntington to identify the individuals and organizations on each year’s list.
We only do what we can to help make the Candlenights wishes of specific individuals, not their sponsoring group, come true. We dedicate our focus and your funds 100% to the person in need. We don’t contribute to any of the organizations’ overhead costs or administrative functions.
We’re all here for the same reason: to leave the world a little better and a lot kinder than we found it by spreading the joy of Candlenights and offering what help we can to ALL in need, regardless of who first identified that need.