I remember Anthony Martin from our days as Carolina co-eds.
But it’s been a long 30-plus years since then. And even though I’m certain we weren’t in the same social or study circles, exactly how and why I know him escaped me.
To the rescue: Facebook.
I first recognized Martin in “You know you went to UNC-CH in the 80’s if you remember ...,” a Facebook group that helps alumni reconnect and reminisce.
As I clicked, my focus switched from the past to what’s happening now. This month, Martin is raising money to save three area families from eviction at Christmas.
“If I’m able to help them enjoy the holidays, I’ll feel like I’ve made an immediate difference,” said Martin, 50, of Raleigh.
Martin, who uses the tag line RunTellIt!, believes in the power of social media to reach a lot of people, raise awareness about various social issues and show people how they can help without spending a lot of money.
Last year, donations as little as $5 helped raise about $1,500 in three days so Martin could help a single mother of three avoid being evicted around the holidays.
This year’s goal is to raise $2,000 to help three families.
“It’s not about an ulterior motive,” said Martin, who used to work as a communications sales representative for Time Warner Cable. “It’s just to help people – and to help other people help people.”
In bygone days, “We were always doing things for other people. Then the world got mean all of a sudden,” he said. “But one of the things I’m most proud of is being part of a generation that showed respect and courtesy to everybody.”
For Martin, it’s perennial – from a young boy to his high school student council, and from his Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity to now.
“I’ve always been a service-oriented person. It gives me a really good feeling, knowing I’m making a difference,” he said. “Even if it’s on a smaller scale, it’s a difference nonetheless.”
Each January, Martin gears up for a lawn care ministry that provides services free of charge to widows, the elderly and financially disadvantaged in Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill.
“Let me be the first person to show that doing good to make someone feel better about themselves, to lift their self-esteem, doesn’t have a face,” Martin said. “It’s just an act you do for others that has an immediate impact.
“If you can’t feel how people you’re dealing with are feeling, you’re not human anyway.”
From March through May, with lawn care services still underway, Martin bounces to his daughter’s Jump Rope for Heart school fundraiser for the American Heart Association.
For the past three years, Antoinette Martin, a fourth-grader at Wildwood Forest Elementary School in Raleigh, has contributed more than $1,000 in donations each year.
“I’m really happy helping people who have heart problems when I give the money,” 10-year-old Antoinette said. “I really do think it’s a good thing because when you help people, they might help you back or they might help somebody else.”
Paulette VanPelt agrees.
“Everyone has their season of giving and helping and, in that time, the Lord blesses us to help others,” said VanPelt, 49, a single mother whose 13-year-old son has become Martin’s mentee. “But we also go through a storm, a time of struggle, God wants us to remember because you’ll know what to do when someone comes to you for help.”
VanPelt said Martin has taught her son, Lathan Gant, the importance of hard work and that “doing something nice for someone gives you deeper reward than money.”
Now I know I remember Martin because I saw him doing when we were at UNC.
I hope you’ll remember him, too.
Want to help?
Donate at paypal.me/runtellit.