Making A Difference was founded in November of 2016 when Chef Tony Hilker helped a friend with her non-profit, Feed My Peeps, a few months prior. He was struck by how many resources weren't being used in our community and he wanted to utilize them to make a difference. So, he rustled up some friends & local volunteers who wanted to help, they gathered their first collection of donations and were ready for their first mission to feed, clothe & serve the homeless! MAD grew not only out of need from the homeless but also because the local communities wanted to be involved and be a part of something that made a difference, hence the name. Tony came up with the motto, 'Making a difference because they matter' and we use that on social media and the website as it's the basis of MAD - our homeless friends do matter, very much!
The year 2017 brought us a few milestones as we continued to grow & serve the community. Making A Difference was granted a 501(c)3 status from the IRS, officially becoming a federally tax exempt non-profit charitable organization. On April 13, 2017, MAD became a confirmed charity PayPal account and in May, our Facebook page was declared a confirmed non-profit account. Shortly after, BJC Behavioral Health blessed us with a 20-passenger shuttle bus to accommodate our continuous growth, which also enabled us to pick up donations and serve our displaced friends in Belleville & East St. Louis, IL and St. Louis, MO. We named her #ServingShuttle and she's a very important part of our organization. Kelly Tracy Ad & Design designed the new logo and in July, the shuttle bus was wrapped with decals, which made her stand out on the street. Making A Difference was invited to join the Collinsville Chamber of Commerce and became a member on September 7th and a week later Shannon Stelling donated & created our website, which enabled us to reach even more people! Facebook has been a tremendous help in reaching the public & getting the word out about MAD and we were thrilled to receive 5,000 likes in September. If you haven't liked us yet, stop by & give us a like! On December 18th we were honored when Making A Difference was featured in the Belleville News Democrat's Annual "Blessed to Give" program!
2018 was a busy year! On January 10th, we were approved through St. Clair County Il to receive community service workers, which provided us with much-needed help and the 13th brought us to another special goal, we achieved 10,000 likes on Facebook! FB has been invaluable to us, causing us to help more people in need and connect with volunteers, donors & sponsors. It truly takes a village and we have a very special village working with us! We were invited to join the Belleville Chamber of Commerce and became a member on January 26th. February brought us an extra-special blessing, another shuttle bus, this one a 12-passenger with a wheelchair lift, donated by BJC Behavioral Health, now known as the Blessing Bus, which has enabled us to help even more people! We became a charity on Amazon Smile which means when our supporters shop online at Amazon, a small amount is donated to MAD! August brought MAD our first corporate grant thanks to Jessica Harrison-Wilkins Allstate in Troy. In September we had our first dine-in fundraiser at Bob Evans Restaurant in Collinsville. November kept us busy serving! Making A Difference was thrilled to get an invitation to the Collinsville Community Awards Banquet and were honored to received an award for Spirit of Excellence which we dedicate to everyone who has ever helped MAD make a difference including all of our volunteers (former & current), Board Members, donors, supporters, sponsors, other homeless groups, all of the businesses & individuals who help us plus all of our Facebook followers who share our posts, which helps us spread the word that our homeless friends need help. Also that month, we were thankful to be featured along with many other charitable organizations, in Belleville News Democrat's section on local non-profits in the Metro East!
March 2019 brought us an invitation to the Unsung Heroes of Belleville event and we were awarded a Certificate of Appreciation for helping the poor and homeless in Belleville by Mayor Eckert, and the Angels of Saint Clair County. Shortly afterwards, Making A Difference Founder Tony Hilker announced he was leaving Illinois and moving to California in May, and handed the ownership of MAD to Board of Director members Jerry Price & Michelle Dodson on March 20th, who are now both Co-Directors. Before he left, the founder donated the #Serving Shuttle to Alpha & Omega Christian Fellowship, a church & food pantry that specializes in helping teens, which will help them make a bigger difference themselves!
Volunteers since December 2017, Jerry & Michelle have dedicated a lot of their time to Making A Difference and helped run the non-profit. The Blessing Bus has been their responsibility and they've used it to serve downtown St. Louis and Belleville, the former homeless camp in East St. Louis and now one in western St. Clair County, and eventually started taking donated fresh fruit & produce along with food, clothes & basic necessities to help families in need in Fairmont City during produce season. They pick up donations at our donation locations, bring them home or to our storage unit and spend hours sorting them then load them back on the shuttle bus. Another responsibility of theirs has been picking up donations of food & clothes from various non-profits and taking them to local food pantries, the homeless camps or churches and passing them out when they serve. Michelle likes to make a meal on Tuesdays evening for 50-80 people and feed them, and most importantly, she & Jerry are there for the people they serve, always listening to them and trying to help.
Making a Difference plans to continue serving the homeless & needy in the Metro East and we're going to spread our wings a little more. We're going to focus more on individuals who need help in our area, we'll be helping homeless & needy pet owners with pet food and we'll be gathering more resources & making them available to those who need them. We'd like to focus on getting more Blessing Boxes placed around the Metro East and help keep them filled, we'd like to make more meals to pass out when we serve, and we plan to build more relationships with groups, churches, organizations & individuals in our community so we can make more of a difference together! Would you like to help us? Contact us, we'd love to hear from you!
As a non-profit organization, all donations are tax deductible and 100% of every donation goes to our homeless friends. Our staff is a very small group of dedicated volunteers who donate their time to help us make this world a little better for those in need.
About Making A Difference
A small non-profit that strives to make life better for those in need
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