When Chris Matthews II—better known to friends and family as C.J. —was 5 years old, his family experienced a pregnancy loss. To help him cope with the loss, the Matthews’ family created a charitable program called Blankies 4 My Buddies that would help their young son honor his baby sister while providing an extra dose of comfort to sick and displaced children with cozy and colorful, child-themed blankets. At 12 years old, C.J. continues to host an annual collection of blankets via an ongoing GoFundMe campaign. He has donated thousands of blankets to children’s hospitals, shelters, orphanages, and in the streets from Charleston to Atlanta.
“I wanted to help kids who felt like I did when my little sister Karsen didn’t come home, and also those who might feel lonely because that’s how I thought she felt,” said C.J.
In 2017, C.J. received a $500 Disney Be Inspired grant from Youth Service America, which he used to launch “The Giving Bowl,” an annual charitable 7-on-7 flag football game that promotes kids playing football with the purpose of helping others.
“I wanted to combine my love for football with my passion to help kids,” said C.J.
During the game, children’s-themed blankets and nonperishable foods are collected. The first year, over 50 families were provided with food to help them through the holiday season, and that number doubled in 2018. Blankets have been donated to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Sunshine House, and other agencies that provide services to kids in need. This year, the event is scheduled for November 24, and C.J. hopes to get more local kids and families involved to play, volunteer and benefit from The Giving Bowl.
“My vision is to make it a family affair, a day where families can come help, be helped, and have fun,” said C.J.
Chris Matthews II was born in Charleston, and his family relocated to Atlanta in Summer 2015. He is currently a 7th grade student at Fulton Leadership Academy in East Point and plays on the 11U football team in Union City. He is also the proud big brother of 3-year-old Kollin, born when C.J. was 8 years old.
For more information, donations or to volunteer, contact Kristen Wright Matthews at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit Blankies4MyBuddies.org.