Lending Tree employees surprise Center of Hope graduates

Lending Tree employees surprise Center of Hope graduates

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by AMY COWMAN / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @amywcnc

WCNC.com

Posted on December 18, 2013 at 7:51 PM

Updated Wednesday, Dec 18 at 9:52 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A Christmas gift came from an unexpected place for a group of families who’ve spent months at the Salvation Army Center of Hope. The families are ready to spread their wings, and employees from one Charlotte company made that move much easier.

There were tears of joy and shock at the Salvation Army Center of Hope Tuesday.
"This has been a really hard trial for us and the gift – the surprise was overwhelming," said recipient Judy Johnston.

Johnston, along with Vanessa McDonald and her daughter, are part of a group that has lived at the Center of Hope since October. They’ve done the work and now are ready to move out on their own.
"It means a new start that we will actually get to what we wanted," said Johnston.

And right before they do, they received a $200 gift to help them. It came from employees at Lending Tree. The company gave each employee $200 to give to whichever charity or place in need of their choice. They chose these survivors.

"The fact that they've accomplished so much by just getting back out on their feet, but now they still have so much more they need to get and not sure how they're going to get it -- So the reactions spoke for themselves," said  Lending Tree employee Meredith Brantley.

Between getting new jobs, and finding new homes, the money they say won't solve all their problems, but it sure will help whether it's to buy cleaning products or clothes.

"It’s socks, it's blankets, comforters because it's getting cold, it's a winter jacket for my daughter. It's a blessing," said McDonald.

Or a way to ease the stress of Christmas time.

"I know that my daughter will be able to have a gift for Christmas," said Johnston.

Most of all, the gift gives them hope for the future.

"It means there are angels out there. There really are Christmas angels out there, people who have a heart and compassion  for other people," said McDonald.

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