Last month at eBay Open, when sellers Laurie Wong and Patrick Martell crossed paths, neither could have predicted the difference Patrick was about to make in Laurie's life—and, possibly, the lives of the hundreds of people served by her charity.
Laurie, the 2016 Winner of the SHINE Awards for Small Business, runs the eBay store Reflections of Trinity. Through her eBay store, Laurie funds a community resource center and food pantry, helping food-insecure families, individuals, and seniors in the local community. In 2016, Reflections of Trinity distributed nearly one million pounds of food to people in need in the greater Atlanta area.
Patrick was at the fateful dinner as the guest of his wife, 2017 SHINE Awards Finalist and winner of the Global Business award Denise Martell of Al’s Snowmobile Parts Warehouse. Over dinner, Patrick asked Laurie about her biggest need for her charity. Her response: a refrigerated truck. “Reflections of Trinity serves between 400 and 500 boxes of groceries every week,” Laurie says. “Although we endeavor to serve a balanced box, we are unable to consistently provide milk and milk products, eggs, cheese, and butter, because we do not have a refrigerated truck to keep these products at the proper temperature during transport.”
Patrick, Denise, and another SHINE Awards Finalist and winner of the Rising Star award, Katy Zilverberg of A Boutique for Him, were impressed with Laurie’s passion and dedication to her cause. They launched a Go Fund Me campaign to secure the $13,000 needed for Laurie’s truck. As news of the fundraiser spread around the eBay community, donations began to pour in.
Katy Zilverberg secured several donations from her community, “The Thrifting Board.” 2017 SHINE Award for Small Business winner Angie Cardona-Nelson of eWaste Direct is donating 15% of her eBay sales through eBay for Charity. And, dozens of individuals have made donations. Within 12 hours, $2,000 had been secured. Within twelve days, that number had nearly tripled.
Denise says she’s not surprised. “I really was expecting a great response from the eBay SHINE and eBay seller community. After attending eBay Open—my first eBay event—my eyes were opened to this community’s huge heart and willingness to give and share.”
For Laurie, it feels like more than just a random act of kindness. “We recently got an unexpected offer to pick up donated food three days per week at two large grocery chains—but, in order to secure this deal, we need a truck. The very day we got the email with the offer from the grocery chains, I got the initial call from Patrick Martell sharing that he and Denise wanted to help us acquire a refrigerated truck. Patrick had no idea I had just received the offer from the grocery chains just before he called. The sequence of events was just too uncanny to be mere coincidence. I sense a divine intervention at work here.”
This wouldn’t be the first time the eBay community impacted Laurie’s life and the lives of the people she serves. She used the prize money from the 2016 SHINE Award for Small Business to purchase a freezer, which allowed her to distribute even more food to the local community and begin a food delivery service to shut-in seniors. She also learned about the power of eBay’s amazing seller community. “I’ve come to realize just how fantastic the eBay community really is,” she says. “I came to eBay Open in 2016 as a ‘deer in headlights.’ This year, I came back as family.”
And, Laurie’s eBay family has rallied around her. The Go Fund Me campaign has already reached one-third of its goal, thanks to the generosity and support of eBay sellers. As Laurie said, “This has truly been a community effort. What a beautiful thing to behold!”
Denise plans to keep the momentum going. The campaign inspired her to start a fundraising group with many of the 2016 and 2017 SHINE Award Finalists. She’s calling it “eBay SHINE Awards—Share the Light” and hopes “the bonds we created and the light we received from being a SHINE Finalist can continue a legacy, and we can ‘share the light’ in many ways within the eBay community.” Denise says she hopes the group can put its collective support towards making many communities shine brighter in the future.
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