Erin Villareal worked with friends at Minnesota Teen Challenge to decorate MatterBoxes which she gave out as favors at her wedding, encouraging her guests to bless others in the community.

Erin Villareal worked with friends at Minnesota Teen Challenge to decorate MatterBoxes which she gave out as favors at her wedding, encouraging her guests to bless others in the community.

When Hope for the City changed its’ name to Matter in 2014, one of the many reasons we chose to be “Matter” was that we wanted our name to reflect our desire to empower others to see the value of what is in their own two hands. Together, Matter believes we can create a world where we all matter more.

Recently, Erin Villareal (Olsen) was preparing for her wedding day, and considering how she could bless the guests at her wedding in a meaningful way. “I know that the real blessing comes from blessing others, and I wanted to put my money towards something that mattered,” Erin says. She wasn’t sure how she could possibly empower all of her 375 wedding guests to make a difference in the Twin Cities metro, specifically in the lives of those experiencing homelessness, until she found herself a Matter.

“I know that the real blessing comes from blessing others, and I wanted to put my money towards something that mattered.”

“How many times do you drive through the cities and see a homeless person on the side of the road?” Erin says, “And most say, ‘I wish I had something to give them.’ Well, this gave our guests the opportunity to give. Food, money, mittens and socks are nice but, the gesture is what touches the heart.”

Matter agrees, and when Erin approached us to purchase 250 MatterBoxes to give as favors at her wedding, we were so excited about this creative idea. The MatterBox is shelf-stable, and therefor versatile: it can be stored anywhere, from a school councilor’s desk drawer to the trunk of a squad car. It is filled with healthy food and nutrition information.

Erin and her husband Anthony pack MatterBoxes into their car, ready for distribution.

Erin and her husband Anthony pack MatterBoxes into their car, ready to give out.

With these supplies, Erin then went to work to complete the vision. She worked with women from Teen Challenge to decorate each box and prepare them to be handed out. The guests at her wedding were then each given a box with the instruction to find someone they could bless.

Since her wedding day in April, Erin’s friends and family members have been giving these boxes to those they meet all around the Twin Cities, sharing photos on social media and inspiring hope and joy.

We are deeply inspired by Erin, her creativity and her compassion. Through these simple acts of being resourceful, she is making a difference in our community and blessing so many people!

There are so many ways you, too, can use the MatterBoxes or be involved ways to create change and matter more. Check out our Service Learning Opportunities, or email hannah@matter.ngo. We love to be inspired by your visions of being resourceful!