'Mattress Mack' helps families in need

May 22, 2009 3:10:47 PM PDT
Jim 'Mattress Mac' McIngvale regularly gave to countless charities throughout our area. But he is maybe best known for what he does each holiday season, giving away homes full of furniture to deserving families. [PHOTOS: See images from the blaze]

"The best part is the joy on the faces of the people who are receiving the furniture," said McIngvale. "That's what it is all about."

McIngvale says he likes to give...and he does give. Just this past December, he helped 30 families by giving them homes full of new furniture.

McIngvale says he started the program 25 years ago, inspired by a car dealer he used to watch on television as a young child.

"He used to give away three to four used cars every year at Christmas time," said McIngvale. "So I figured if I ever became successful at business, I would do something to help the needy people in the community."

One of those families was the Vegas.

"We forgot to bring the TV, so here's a $2,000 gift certificate. Ya'll can come out to the store and buy some TVs," he told them last holiday season.

"In less than a year, the Vegas suffered the deaths of two family members and the loss of their apartment home to fire. And it wasn't just once, but three times.

"The fires, the first was in March. It was a shock, same day my uncle passed a away," said Gina Vega. "And we lost a puppy in the fire, so it was like, you know, really hard. When I lost my grandbaby, it was like, you know, nothing compares to life. That was like the hardest blow. Then just a few weeks after that was the other fire."

The Vegas remained strong, relying on their faith. It was rewarded in a small way by a man who now finds himself the victim of a fire; a man who told us as the flames still burned Friday night, he was turning to his faith.

"The good Lord has a plan for all of us. And he has a plan for us," said McIngvale. "My daughter asked why this had to happen to us and I said, 'Things happen and you gotta be resilient and get through them.' That's part of life's lessons. The good Lord has a plan for us and we'll be fine."

Of course, the furniture giveaway is just one of the ways we often find Mattress Mack helping our community. He's also been involved in countless fundraising efforts for victims of natural disasters and recently took on an initiative to fight crime in west Houston.

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