Macaroni KID Publisher and Her Kids are Ambassadors of Good

The loss of a baby in 2013 started the Matthews family on the road to giving back

By Macaroni KID March 29, 2022

Kristen Wright Matthews has positively impacted her community through her years of publishing Macaroni KID College Park-East Point-Morrow, Ga.

Her philanthropy work dates back nearly three decades, and her positive example has helped set her two young sons on their own paths of leadership.

After pregnancy loss, she co-founded a nonprofit called Blankies 4 My Buddies with her son Chris "CJ" Matthews, 14. The organization donates blankets to kids dealing with traumatic situations from chronic illnesses to homelessness. They host annual blanket drives and food giveaways, and also provide parents, caregivers, and educators with resources for helping kids cope with grief.

Kristen Wright Matthews, and her sons, CJ and Kollin.

They started the nonprofit as a positive way to help CJ process grief after losing the baby sister he expectantly waited for when he was five. His work has been recognized in a variety of ways: He was featured on CBS News in 2020 and, most recently, was recognized as a 2022 Prudential Emerging Visionary for bringing powerful vision and meaningful change to the community through his work. As one of 25 students from across the country selected for this award, CJ received $5,000 in funding and a business mentor from the company.  

Writing their family story to help others

The profound impact of their loss led Kristen and CJ to co-write a children's book called And Then There Was One. It is a story about one little boy's determination to help others and keep his little sister's spirit alive while coping with his grief.

"The loss of a baby during pregnancy is an unexpected, traumatic, and life-changing event that one in four women have experienced. While there is support for grieving mothers, sometimes the living sibling's grief is overlooked," Kristen says.

In the end of And Then There Was One, the main character finds purpose, strength, and greatness through small acts of generosity. Complete with fun exercises, journal activities, and a coloring page, the book aims to empower young readers with tools to help them discover new ways to handle hard situations.

"We hope our story empowers families wherever they are in their journey, offering insight, healing, and hope," Kristen says.

After losing her daughter, Kristen became pregnant again with her "rainbow baby." Kollin is now 6, and, like his brother, is on his own journey of making a difference through service. He was even recently invited to join the elite group of kid changemakers in the Giving Tuesday global generosity movement called the Sparks because of his work with Blankies 4 My Buddies. His brother is also a leader in the Sparks, a crew of young do-gooders ages 6-21 who lead the movement to encourage young people to take action around the causes they care about most on GivingTuesday. 

Macaroni KID is proud of Macaroni KID College Park-East Point-Morrow, Ga., publisher Kristen Wright-Matthews and her sons, and how they've found such an impactful way to share their story and help others. 

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