CHARLOTTE – Former Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart and his wife, Natalie, wanted to make it possible for more people to have what they need during the COVID-19 pandemic. So the Stewarts partnered with the Steve Smith Family Foundation, Convoy of Hope and Elevation Outreach to raise $35,000 to bring an 18-wheeler filled with 40 tons of food, water and other supplies to Charlotte.
The process is simple – visit the donation page, pledge any amount, and the community benefits.
"Whether it's a dollar, five dollars, a hundred dollars, $5,000," Stewart said. "Whatever it is that someone feels led to do is accepted with gratitude."
As Stewart saw people in Charlotte and around the world suffering from job insecurity and a lack of essential supplies, he wanted to use his platform to help. The decision with who to partner was easy.
"Our first thought was Convoy of Hope," Stewart said of the nonprofit organization that specializes in disaster relief aid.
"They have a bunch of resources and organizations that they've partnered with to where they have access to goods and products that they're able to help assist others."
Once Stewart and Co. hit their goal, the truck will make its way to Charlotte carrying the goods that will be distributed through Elevation Outreach, a ministry of Elevation Church.
"Our thought process, too, is when the community is in need, what organizations should be the ones to lead that process? We just thought of our church. We go to Elevation Church, and they do a lot of good globally and within our community," Stewart said.
"They set the tone when it comes to what a church is supposed to be doing. Obviously, you have services, but the real message is being spread by the gift of service, actually serving others and the community, finding out what a person's needs are and helping in any way possible."
The fundraiser has so far totaled nearly $13,000 of the $35,000 goal. But beyond one truckload, Stewart hopes the spirit of giving leaves a lasting impact on the community.
"At the end of the day, who knows what's going to happen or what's going to be needed down the line," Stewart said. "Even if this thing lasts for a month or two months or however long, when it does end, we hope the act of kindness doesn't. You're now open to the fact that, hey, there are people out here that are always going to need assistance.
"We're all going to need assistance from someone at some point in time in life, so why not create the culture of giving now and let it just run the test of time?"
To join the Stewart and Smith families in donating to the drive, click here.