Changing the Face of Charity Work: Mateo Hollain

Mateo Hollain's energy for good works seems endless.

Photo by John Emerson

Mateo Hollain is only 14, but he already has several years of volunteering to his credit. Since 2014, the Whitehouse Station youth has even had his own charity website, Live for a Cause—which happens to be his motto in life. For his first charity event, a Halloween party at his home, Hollain asked each guest to bring donations for the Flemington Food Pantry. They filled more than five bins with food.

Hollain, whose birthday is in December, routinely asks friends and family to donate Christmas gifts to homeless children in lieu of receiving birthday presents. He started doing this when he was 11. “I realized I needed nothing,” he says. When he went to Family Promise of Hunterdon County, a homeless shelter, to deliver the gifts, he was overwhelmed by the reaction. “There are kids that live there that are the same age as me,” says Hollain. “It felt so good to drop off [the gifts] for them.”

For several years, Hollain has participated in an event called Box City, during which participants spend the night in a cardboard box and raise money to help bring attention to homelessness. He also organizes fundraisers to benefit the Readington Police Department, the Whitehouse Rescue Squad and other organizations.

As student body president at Readington Middle School, Hollain helped create a field-day event for the special-needs community through the Hunterdon Outreach Program. In May, he hosted a dinner to honor veterans at the American Legion in Whitehouse Station, with the support of food donations from a local restaurant.

Hollain’s energy for good works seems endless. “You may have heard of the show Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” says his older brother, Nico. “In our house, it’s keeping up with Mateo.”

Now that he’s a high school freshman, Hollain has even bigger plans. He hopes to expand Live for a Cause by starting a YouTube channel to showcase his charity events. He’s also considering the launch of a Live for a Cause club at Hunterdon Central High School to get more of his peers involved in volunteering.

“I want to change the face of charity work,” says Hollain. “You can do fun things, and it can still be for a good cause.”

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