LAS VEGAS - Two years ago during the holidays, Shawn Funches decided he wanted to make a difference. A Las Vegas resident for 20 years, he knows there are many families struggling here.
"There are systems in place in Las Vegas, but when there's no more food and no more money, there's no place to go," he said.
Shawn decided to start a group called Baskets of Hope. The group is made up of local residents who want to give back to their community. They find families in need around the valley and, once a month, meet and deliver baskets of food and supplies to them.
This month's recipient is Carrol Anderson, a grandmother who is taking care of her six grandchildren. Besides delivering several baskets of food to them, Shawn and his group are going to find mattresses for the kids, so they don't have to share one.
"They are angels in disguise. They are angels. They are angels," Anderson said. "I pray that God will bless their club some more, because there are a lot of families sitting out here - especially with the times right now - that need help. We need help."
Shawn isn't without his own struggles. He was in the Air Force and landed a sales job in Las Vegas. Six months ago, he was laid off. He is now taking care of seven family members who live with him and his wife. This hasn't slowed his charitable efforts.
"The gratification we get is… you know what? We helped a family. We helped them be better off today than they will be next week, not knowing if they'll have a meal for their kids, not knowing if they can pay a bill, and that's what we do," he said.
Shawn's motivation is that the struggles these families face are familiar to him.
"One time when my wife and I first got married, and it was our first Thanksgiving, and we weren't going to have a Thanksgiving dinner and you know what? Someone knocked on my door," he said. "It was a basket with turkey and all the stuffings, and you know that feeling you get that someone cared enough to think of me? I made a promise to myself that if I was ever in the position to help someone else, I'm going to do that," he said.
8 News NOW decided it was time to help Shawn. As part of its new series Acts of Kindness, 8 News NOW rewarded Shawn Funches' efforts with a gift of $800.
"I know that this is definitely going to help a lot of people, so we'll just make sure and use it right and do what we've been doing and pay it forward," Shawn said about the gift.