For one North Carolina family, Christmas didn’t seem like a possibility this year. Recently escaped from an abusive relationship, the single mother and her children, who live in the small city of Albemarle, didn’t expect anything spectacular. Instead, they decorated their trailer with a single Christmas tree and ornaments collected over multiple years.
“The children understood that Santa might not be able to come this year,” as their mother works multiple odd jobs to try and keep the family above water, including donating plasma twice a week, says the woman’s sister.
Enter the Ace & TJ Show, a Charlotte-based radio talk show, and their traditional Breaking and Entering Christmas giveaway. For the past 10 to 15 years, the radio hosts have partnered with various sponsors to provide families in need with the Christmas of their dreams. While the deserving family is out of the house, the hosts and their team of Hoodlum Elves break in and fill the home with Christmas presents, decorations, new furniture and more.
“It started as a joke really,” say Ace and TJ. “We did a story on air about a guy who broke into a store and stole something, and then broke back in to return it because he felt so guilty. And we got to talking about how you never hear about people breaking in and leaving stuff. And we just kind of went from there.”
Families and friends can nominate deserving families through the Ace & TJ Show website.
Applications are reviewed by a committee, and families are selected based on the level of immediate need, and often the age and number of children involved.
Beyond the two families whose surprise is chronicled on-air, the Ace & TJ Show refers needy families to callers who wish to help out on their own. “We tell people to contact us if they want to help people in their area, and then we send them a couple families to choose from,” Ace says. “There were probably 20 families that received direct help this year.”
Movement steps in
After hearing about the program, Thrive Director Aimee Dodson knew that Movement could help.
“With us being in the housing industry, and our mission to help people, it just felt like a natural fit,” Dodson says. So she mentioned it to National Sales Director Deran Pennington.
That’s all it took.
Pennington and the team members in his region donated almost $8,000 to pay for the single mother’s rent for all of 2017.
Most incredible of all, the Ace & TJ Show doesn’t leave any record of their involvement.
“It’s all anonymous,” the hosts say. “The main feeling we want to give these people is hope, and to let them know that people care about them — that they are blessed, even if they don’t feel that way all the time.”