Thinking about classic Christmas movies can conjure all sorts of fuzzy, heartwarming feelings. These films, in many ways, shaped our conception of the true meaning of the holiday. And yet, none of them truly compare to the real stories of compassion and generosity that are hard to find, but always out there.
One such case, is the story of a brave South Carolina mother. Struggling with drug addiction and an abusive relationship, social services took her three young children from her and placed them in temporary foster care. Though she was hurt by this, she persevered, overcame her addiction and got her children back, though life was still very difficult and the family struggled just to survive.
But these struggles did not go unnoticed and one kind family resolved to make sure that this Christmas, as well as future ones, were going to be much happier for Jessica McCutheon and her children.
2017 had been a difficult year for Jessica McCutcheon.
South Carolina-resident Jessica McCutcheon had her three young children taken away from her by South Carolina Social Services earlier this year (2017). She was at the same time battling substance abuse issues and in the process of leaving a relationship that was physically abusive, and so the state had no choice but to separate her from her children and send them to temporary foster homes.
That was when Meredith and Steve Shannon came into McCutcheon and the kids’ lives. They took in McCutcheon’s youngest daughter, then 1-year-old Harper. The Shannons took good care of little girl and soon came to know about McCutcheon and her situation. Through their interactions with McCutcheon they soon recognized that while the struggling mother was in a rough patch, she was still a loving mom.
And so, they resolved that they would not only take care of her child but also support McCutcheon on her road to recovery and financial stability.
With the help of the Shannons, McCutcheon managed to beat her addiction and reunite with her kids.
With the Shannons’ support and through her own perseverance and inner-strength, not only did McCutcheon beat her drug addiction, but she found work that paid enough to support herself and her children. Finally, in October she was reunited with all of them.
Of course, despite being reunited with her children, life was still difficult. McCutcheon worked two jobs to make ends meet, and she often had to borrow family member’s cars just to get around.
The Shannons watched and were proud of McCutcheon’s recovery, but they wanted to do more for her. And so, they decided to make this year a very merry Christmas for the struggling family.
In secret, the Shannons plotted a fundraiser and raised over $1,000 in gift cards for the struggling family.
In secret, the Shannons contacted their neighbor, Kate Sepko, head of the cheer-leading squad for South Carolina’s North Greenville University. Sepko then approached the school’s athletic director and signed on five different teams to take part in a fundraiser to buy Christmas gifts for McCutcheon and her children. Altogether, the students raised over $600 in gift cards.
“Some of them were giving $5, $10, $20,” Sepko said according to The News and Observer. “It just impressed me so much, you know, $5, $10 is a big deal for these kids. That’s a meal or a couple meals.”
This amount was further augmented by the Shannon’s own contribution: $400 slipped into the front cover of a Bible.
But there were more surprises awaiting McCutcheon and her kids.
“I’m scared to touch them.”
Our AMAZING student athletes and coaches and members from the community stepped up BIG TIME to help a local family! God works through our kids everyday! #NGUCares #WeAreNGU #SeasonofGiving
Posted by North Greenville University Athletics on Saturday, December 2, 2017
On December 3, when McCutcheon opened the box containing the $1,000 in gift cards, she also found something special: the keys to a 1999 Honda Accord.
When McCutcheon saw the keys, she began to sob. The generosity of these people were beyond her wildest dreams.
“I’m scared to touch them,” McCutcheon said between sobs in a video posted by North Greenville Athletics.
But it gets even better. Inside the car were more gifts for McCutcheon and her children, including birthday presents for Harper, who turned 2 years old on December 4.
McCutcheon was deeply touched and unable to speak.
And still, there is more.
But the Shannons were still not done.
As well as giving McCutcheon a wonderful Christmas, they also plan to arrange for McCutcheon to move closer to them so they can continue to support and help her find more lucrative job opportunities in their area.
This incredible story, just in time for Christmas, is stark reminder of just how much of a difference a little bit of goodwill can make.