For Eric Smith and Caitlynn Houser, giving back to their local community isn’t work, but they’ve built a “company” around the idea.
In January 2016 the Concord High School alum founded The Charity Company, which is based on the simple concept that when strategically directed, heart and a little creative ingenuity can make a world of difference in the lives of children.
The friends both have regular day jobs but felt like they could carve out time each month to do something special for underprivileged youth in Wilmington. According to Smith, their desire to help kids was easy. “Children don’t have a choice of where they are born, their families’ financial situation; they are vulnerable.”
So the pair set about to collect donations and make a plan to give everything away.
Within their first year they were able to collect over 17,000 donated items including food, books, clothing, school supplies, backpacks, gifts, and hygiene products to distribute to less fortunate children and families living in Delaware.
“We try to give kids hope, love, and happiness,” said Smith.
Every month The Charity Company hosts new supply drives, collecting donations of different items. The donations collected are distributed to non-profits, schools, the police, children’s groups, or directly to individuals.
And their efforts have made it easy for others to become more charitable.
“There are a lot of people who want to help in our community but don’t know how,” said Smith. So they’ve leveraged Facebook to spread the word about which items they need, when they are needed, and where they can be donated. (If you want to donate, click here.)
The result: an overwhelming willingness of neighbors throughout the community to make an impact by donating. In partnership with The Delaware Community Foundation, all donations are eligible for tax-deduction.
Time and care is taken to ensure donations are given to individuals and groups with the greatest need. The Charity Company often contacts groups to identify which items would be most beneficial so the supply drive can be customized.
Books are of course always a treasured gift. In February Eric and Caitlynn collected thousands of new and gently used children’s books by asking schools to host collection drives, and they recruited local businesses to chip in funding. They were all distributed the same month to kids in underserved communities.
Last December The Charity Company granted holiday wishes for two special families. Working with school counselors, The Charity Company “adopted” families in Wilmington and Claymont who were struggling to make ends meet. Both were singles moms with multiple children and little to no support. Between the two families the children were gifted over 100 toys and gifts.
Eric and Cailtynn are passionate about their charitable enterprise and feel even better that others are starting to take notice. “It doesn’t seem like work for me. To have an impact in the community is fun,” remarked Smith.
For them, it’s about giving back to the community they grew up in and making the future brighter. “We always talk about our legacy and what type of community we want our kids to grow up in. We are helping to create the type of community where kids can thrive,” said Smith.