Save Money in this Sunday's paper

Empty Stocking Fund

comments

Family’s shop closes, leading them to Salvation Army for help

  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2013/12/14/14/07/DFXHq.Em.138.jpeg|209
    T. Ortega Gaines - ogaines@charlotteobserver.com
    Eric, Jack, Joe and Terry, from left, at the Salvation Army Christmas Bureau. The brothers have grown closer through the family’s hard times.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2013/12/14/14/07/xeoPC.Em.138.jpeg|264
    T. Ortega Gaines - ogaines@charlotteobserver.com
    The Moore family, clockwise from bottom left, Eric, Jack, Joe, Terry and Sue pose for a family portrait.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2013/12/14/14/07/1vCmmK.Em.138.jpeg|209
    T. Ortega Gaines - ogaines@charlotteobserver.com
    Sue Moore shows the stack of families to adopt in the Angel Tree program, “There are more families and not enough donation(s).” Moore once sponsored an angel tree at her coffee shop, until the shop went out of business. Now she’s among the needy families registered in the program to get free toys for her youngest son, Jack, who is 10.

More Information

  • Donors to Empty Stocking Fund
  • Empty Stocking Fund: Put some joy under a tree
  • 2013 Giving Guide: How you can help
  • Holiday Guide: More ideas, events
  • How to help

    Send checks to: The Empty Stocking Fund, P.O. Box 37269, Charlotte, NC 28237-7269. To donate online: charlotteobserver.com/emptystockingfund and use PayPal. For questions about your donation, call 704-358-5520. For questions about helping families, call Salvation Army Donor Relations: 704-714-4725.

    Total raised so far: $152,224.10.


  • The Empty Stocking Fund

    Charlotte Observer readers have given generously to the Empty Stocking Fund since about 1920. Last year, readers gave more than $286,000 to buy gifts for children in need. All contributions go to the Salvation Army’s Christmas Bureau, which buys toys, food, clothing and gift cards for families. To qualify for the gifts, a recipient must demonstrate need. The name of every contributor will be published on CharlotteObserver.com, with the latest contributors listed daily on Page 2A of the Observer. If a contributor gives in someone’s memory or honor, we’ll publish that, too. Contributors also can remain anonymous. To donate by check: The Empty Stocking Fund, P.O. Box 37269, Charlotte, NC 28237-7269. To donate online: charlotteobserver.com/emptystockingfund.



When Sue Moore decided it was finally time to live out her dream of opening a coffee shop, she made sure The Nook Coffee Bar in Huntersville had a Salvation Army Angel Tree among the tables so customers could help children in need.

Three years later, the shop is closed, the family’s savings are used up, and they’ve barely kept their house out of foreclosure twice. The only Christmas gifts their youngest son will receive this year are from the Salvation Army Christmas Bureau.

Jack, who is 10, is among 12,200 kids being helped this year by the Christmas Bureau, which gives away toys paid for in part by The Charlotte Observer’s Empty Stocking Fund.

The bureau’s mission is to help families who are struggling during the holidays and can’t afford gifts, which describes the Moores.

Sue Moore’s husband, Mike, 49, lost his job as a contractor for Time Warner Cable in 2009, which meant the 70 people working for him also lost their jobs. The Charlotte couple tried to bounce back in 2010 by investing their savings in a coffee shop and drafting their two oldest sons, Terry and Joe, to serve as staff.

But their timing was smack in the middle of the worst recession in a generation.

The shop closed in the summer of 2012, leaving the couple from Buffalo, N.Y., in debt and facing the threat of a lawsuit over breaking their lease.

Sue Moore, 50, admits it’s been quite a tumble from charity donor to recipient, from business owner to part-time greeter at a restaurant, and from living the dream to selling her wedding ring to keep the house out of foreclosure.

During the tough times, her husband resorted to doing maintenance at a local college.

“My husband is the hardest working man I’ve ever met, and this all hit him hard. When he lost his income and I had to close the coffee shop, it was like two Titanics going down,” she said.

“I wallowed in pity for a couple of days after it closed. But I have children, and I had to show them that you keep going, no matter what life throws at you.”

They have four sons, three of whom have gotten jobs to help the family cover its bills. The two oldest, 20-year-old Terry and 22-year-old Joe, are waiters at the same restaurant where their mother is a greeter. Eric, 18, works at Food Lion.

Hard times seem to have made the brothers closer, an example of which occurred last December when the three oldest boys asked their cash-strapped parents not to buy them Christmas gifts.

Instead, Eric, Terry and Joe told their mother to spend any spare cash on toys for Jack, who was 9 at the time.

“We’d all had plenty of Christmases as kids,” said Terry Moore. “And it was only fair that Jack have his.”

“Jack was still believing in Santa,” said Joe Moore, “so it was the right thing to do.”

This fall – after Jack turned 10 – Sue Moore explained to him that Santa was not a physical person but a spirit of giving that lives in the hearts of people. “Then I told him that his brothers didn’t get gifts last year because they wanted him to have all the presents, and he started crying,” she said. “He told me that next Christmas, he didn’t want any toys. He wanted them all to go to his brothers.”

The family is grateful to the Christmas Bureau this year – not only for Jack’s toys, but also because it has given Sue Moore a temporary job connecting homeless families with sponsors willing to buy gifts for entire groups of siblings. So far, she has helped 70 such families. It’s only two months of work, but Moore is glad to have it.

Lindsay Duncan, who coordinates the agency’s holiday programs, said she has seen Moore cry more than once listening to the stories of parents who are jobless and even homeless. “It has come full circle for her, from donor to client to staff,” said Duncan. “People pour their hearts out to her because they can tell she understands.”

One of the hardest lessons Moore said she learned is that sometimes things fall apart no matter how hard you work. She was putting in up to 80 hours a week trying to keep her coffee shop going, and her sons postponed college to be there with her. They did it without pay, too, she added.

Toward the end, her dream became a burden for the people she loved.

But some good things came from all that failure, she said.

Moore knows now that the man she married 25 years ago actually meant it when he said “for better or for worse.” Her sons have become men with good hearts, who will sacrifice their own dreams for the sake of each other. And she found a new perspective on life that came only after the so-called necessities had been sold off one by one to pay bills.

The family is finally regaining its financial footing through reinvention.

Mike Moore recently earned his state certification for car inspections and is the manager of a garage. Sue Moore said she has been offered a job working at a veterinary clinic, starting in January.

And the three oldest boys are thinking about college again, though the family isn’t finding the money easily.

Sue Moore will be among those helping when toys are passed out starting Wednesday. She knows that some parents will walk in believing the world is a bad place and that God has abandoned them.

The greatest gift the Christmas Bureau can give, she said, is proof that they’re wrong.

“The Christmas Center is the face of hope,” Moore said. “That’s what we do here. We give these people hope for a new year, and hope can change the world.”

Price: 704-358-5245
Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.

Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email local@charlotteobserver.com to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.

  Read more



Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.

Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email local@charlotteobserver.com to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.

  Read more


Quick Job Search
Salary Databases