Every year, companies just like ours deliver gifts to their valued clients. For a good reason, too — our clients mean the world to us and drive us to be the best at what we do. Two years ago, however, we decided to shift gears and, instead of giving client gifts, we kicked off Angels on the Streets. Our goal was to take the money we would have used to buy gifts and, instead, infuse it into our communities and help those in need at this time of year.
Alongside companies across the country that wanted to partner with us on Angels on the Streets, we planned on distributing $50,000 in $100 increments. That year — our first — Payday HCM and other companies combined, exceeded their goal and made $100,000 worth of gifts to those in need, in communities around the country. Here at Payday HCM, we were able to make a heartfelt total contribution of around $6,000. That means we were able to help 60 people throughout the greater Albuquerque metro area.
Here is the story that sparked the idea for our gift:
The year was 1933 and Christmas was just a week away. Deep in the trough of the Great Depression, the people of Canton, Ohio, were down on their luck and hungry. Nearly half of the town was out of work. It was then that a mysterious “B. Virdot” took out a tiny ad in the Canton Repository, offering to help the needy before Christmas. All he asked was that they write to him and tell him of their hardships. B. Virdot, he said, was not his real name, and no one would ever know his true identity (in his lifetime). He pledged that those who wrote him would also remain anonymous.
Letters poured into the post office by the hundreds. From every corner of the beleaguered town they came – from the baker, the bellhop, the steeplejack, the millworker, the blacksmith, the janitor, the pipe fitter, the salesman, the fallen executive. All of them told their stories in the hope of receiving a helping hand. And in the days thereafter, $5 checks went out to 150 families across the town. Today, $5 doesn’t sound like much, but back then it was more like $100. For many, it was more money than they had seen in months.
Angels on the Streets was created to replicate what B. Virdot did in 1933.
“I want our holiday gifts to have meaning, warmth, love, and to make a difference this holiday season, says Payday HCM President Andrew Seigel, “Which is why I am so pleased to bring Angels on the Street to the communities we serve.”
This November, each Payday HCM employee received a $100 bill to give to someone who was less fortunate. We’ve asked employees to share some of their giving stories with us so we can experience the reactions of the recipients collectively as a company and as members of our community. Here are some stories from our Angels on the Streets.
Stories From Payday HCM’s Angels on the Streets 2015 Team
Lilly’s Story: When the police officer took us behind the dumpster.
My husband and I wanted to make sure the person we selected would be a good choice.
After breakfast we made our way out to locate a police officer to assist us. We informed him about Angels on the Street and how our company’s owners generously asked the employees to accomplish this journey as his street Angels.
The officer said he knew a family. We followed him to a dumpster behind a restaurant where a young gentleman was just jumping out of the dumpster. Behind the dumpster was a young lady and a small child. We could only see the eyes of the girl who was tightly tucked in her mother’s jacket.
As we approached, the young lady started to cry, as though she knew why we were there. I explained to the family that the company I work for has made it possible to give joy and hope, and handed the envelope to the young man.
He opened it as his eyes filled with tears. He said God was answering their prayers. Both he and his wife had lost their jobs three months earlier. Then they lost their apartment and car. He had applied for a job on the previous Wednesday and had been going back every day to check in with them. On that Friday he was offered the job, to start on Monday.
The young man proceeded to tell us that he was worried to leave his wife and daughter alone while he worked. He asked if we could take him and his family to a nearby hotel, he needed to get his wife and daughter out of the cold. He needed them to be safe.
The officer drove them to a nearby hotel as we followed. The officer and I paid for two weeks’ stay. The young man said “I just want my wife and child to be safe and I will get paid in two weeks and be able to start a new life, thank you to your boss and God bless him and his angels.” The little girl (4 years old) said thank you with the biggest smile. The young lady expressed her gratefulness with all the tears of joy.
Andrea’s story: Paint and cement-covered work boots.
My family and I were at Walmart, shopping, and I saw a gentleman wearing work boots with paint and cement on them, a sign to me that he definitely works long and hard hours. I saw that he was wearing a wedding band. I noticed that he had just a few items in his shopping cart.
I approached him and introduced myself. He said his name was Jose Raul. I gave him the envelope and told him what our boss and company do every year. He listened to me and looked surprised, a little in disbelief, but he received the gift and thanked me/us and blessed us many times over. I could see kind of a sense of relief and happiness in his eyes. It was a wonderful feeling to see such a genuine happy face. I feel extremely blessed to have a job and to be part of a company that cares and does things like this.
Ryan’s story: Two families get a Christmas dinner.
To find a home for my Angels on the Streets money, I teamed up with an organization through my church that connected me with two families that need Christmas dinner. For the allotted money I was able to purchase a full meal for a family of seven and a family of four. I will personally deliver the food next weekend and will update you on how it goes.
Kristi’s story: The lights will stay on this holiday.
My Angels on the Streets does not come with a picture as the individual I helped does not know. I was in the customer service line at Smiths and ahead of me was a gentleman trying to make their PNM payment to prevent their heat from being turned off. From what I was able to determine they did not have enough to make the minimum payment. Once I was at the front of the line I had the clerk pull the account number from the individual and applied the $100.00 to their account.
Jocelyn’s story: Harried mother in grocery store with a calculator. Her kids cried as they put food back on the shelves.
I was at Smith’s this weekend and a mother with three little ones caught my attention. The mom had a list she was going by, but I also noticed that she had a calculator that she kept using to add her totals. Then I overheard her tell her oldest child to return a few things because she didn’t have enough money on the card.
Her little one, around two years old, started crying when she attempted to take away the box of cereal she was hugging. She just kept saying “mine” and her tears just overflowed.
So I started following them around as she replaced more things in her cart and got rid of a lot of things. The mom just kept hugging the little girl and saying “I’m sorry, maybe next time.”
I can just see the hurt in her eyes, there’s nothing worse for a mother than having to take away something so little that made her child happy. At the end she ended up with, basically, just necessities in her cart: milk, eggs, generic cereal, peanut butter, bread, chicken drumsticks, and top ramen soups.
I have four kids and I know that’s not enough to feed my kids for even a week. I got behind her at the register and when she got the total she asked the lady to put $18 in her card and she dug up $3 from her purse to pay the rest. I followed her outside, I explained what we do and I handed her the envelope. When she opened it and saw the money she just cried, and I cried…. She told me that she had lost her part time job and the little money she gets from WIC every month just isn’t enough for a single mom.
Adam’s story: The woman with the oxygen tank and the mechanic.
On November 27th, during the Thanksgiving holidays I was in the Wells Fargo Bank conducting personal business. I looked over and there was a lady there with an oxygen tank, doing her business with the bank. She looked so destitute, weak and infirmed. After she finished her business a man came over and assisted her. Turning to go they met up with 3 children ranging in age from three years to nine or ten. They all looked as if they were wearing hand-me-downs for some time.
I followed them out into the parking lot and caught up with them, telling them I was curious about their story. Elaina Hernandez, the elderly lady, was the great aunt of the man, Henry. The three children (Anna, Henry, Jr., and little Inez) were, of course, his. It turns out that a month prior the man had lost his job as a mechanic and his wife left him, leaving the children with him. Because they had nowhere else to go, Aunt Elaina took them in. Henry was still looking for work and they were living on Aunt Elaina’s social security.
It is times like these when having the means to help others makes life worth living. I told them that I was with Payday HCM’s Angels on the Street and had something for them. I gave the envelope to Mrs. Hernandez and asked her to open it. The look on her face, and the shine in her eyes, made my heart melt. She told me she didn’t like taking charity and I told her that because of the help she is providing her nephew and his children by letting them live with her it’s not really charity, it’s a blessing, and to think of it in those terms. She said she would and that their next stop was Walmart so the extra funds would certainly help with some necessary food and such.
Thanks to the generosity of Payday HCM and Andy Siegel we are able to do things like this that actually make a difference. I am so proud and thankful to be part of the Payday HCM team.
Misty’s Story: Barefoot hugs.
For the past two years my husband and I have delivered Thanksgiving dinners for The Humble Fish Foundation and this year I thought what a great opportunity to give to a family that we know is in need for a little extra help.
We delivered a couple of dinners and on our third house I knew this was the one. When we knocked on the apartment door, a little girl snuck a peek at us through her bedroom curtain, which happened to be a towel. Another daughter answered the door and a third came to help bring in the bags. The mother was very grateful for the food and thanked us.
We walked down the stairs and when I got to the truck I knew this was the family that I wanted to help. I ran back up the stairs and knocked on the door again. When the daughter answered I handed her the envelope and said, “Here is a gift from me and Angels on the Street.” The daughter thanked me and shut the door.
As we were looking up the address for the next delivery, the whole family came running down the stairs, barefooted, and gave us a big hug. The mother was crying and said thank you over and over.
It was such a touching moment for me to be able to help a family with children that we knew was in need during this holiday season.
Lisa’s story: I don’t know who is more blessed that night, them or ME?
I have an ex-coworker who has three young children, including a seven-year-old girl who lost her eye to cancer when she was 2 years old. This person lost their job. The only income they have is an income from his wife’s job, baking bread at night.
I made arrangements to stop by and visit and took one of my apple pies which my ex-coworker just loves. I then shared the story that Andy shared with all of us. I then told them about Angels on the Streets and what a wonderful company I work for.
I handed them the envelope and told them that when I was told about Angels on the Streets their family immediately came to my mind, that they should be the beneficiary of this generous gift. I said that I knew it was hard being unemployed at any time but especially at Christmas, and I was hoping that the $100 could make Christmas a little better for them and those precious children.
When they first opened the envelope and took the money out they seems a little shocked and not sure what to say. They then shared just how difficult it had been with only one income and what a blessing Andy’s gift would be would be.
I don’t know who is more blessed that night, them or ME. Andy is absolutely right, it is far better to give than to receive!!! I am grateful to Andy for giving me this opportunity to give.
Experience has proven that it is a true gift to hear each story. We want to share these stories with you, so please visit our website to hear the stories and podcast, and watch videos about the program.
Please consider joining us in giving to our community this way. Our goal is to collectively, along with the help of companies like yours, infuse $100,000 into the community to help individuals and families in great need during the holidays this year.
For more information visit: www.AngelsOnTheStreets.org