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Real Estate Company turns holiday party into a way to help nonprofits

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PORTLAND (WGME) -- A local real estate company is doing more than home-buying and selling, taking time to highlight the work of local nonprofits.

Benchmark Real Estate's third annual Four-A-Cause Holiday Party is Friday, November 30th and one family says it's making a big difference.

Jacob Thompson captured hearts across the world last year with his request for early Christmas cards as he battled cancer.

"He just loved getting cards," says his father Roger Guay, "And it made him smile, so it made me smile."

What started as a simple request, went viral, and caught Tabaitha Steward's attention. She's the co-founder of Team Hailey Hugs, a nonprofit in honor of her daughter Hailey, that focuses on fundraising, awareness and giving grants to families dealing with childhood cancer.

"Knowing that others were going through the same thing made me angry," Steward says, "And I didn't want it to happen anymore."

Steward is devoted to helping families going through the same pain.

"The kids, they all have a purpose and they all have meaning and their lives matter," says Steward, "No matter how long they're here, their lives matter."

"Just showing how you can take that situation and say, 'I can't let this happen to other families and I need to do what I can do in honor of our children so that this doesn't happen again'," says Thompson's stepmom Tara Artinyan.

That's why Team Hailey Hugs is one of four nonprofits being highlighted as Benchmark Real Estate's third annual Four-A-Cause Holiday Party. The community chose them out of 20 by voting online.

"They will have a place at the event," says owner Tom Landry, "Their video will be on the continuous stream with three other organizations, so four total, and then they'll have an opportunity to meet and greet people and have that face-to-face time with people at the event. There's also going to be funds raised at the event for these organizations."

Co-owner of Benchmark Real Estate, Amy Landry, says they focused on small nonprofits that aren't as well-known.

"We're a locally owned non-franchised organization and always have been," says Amy, "And we take that very seriously. We want to support our local, hyper-local economy, our greater Portland economy."

The goal is to spread awareness about Maine groups doing good, which Steward hopes could lead to more families getting the support they need.

"Grateful, honored, and humbled," says Steward, "To feel that we're that important to others that our organization, our children, my daughter, they all matter."

The other three nonprofits being featured at Four-A-Cause are The Healing Tribe, which provides free massage and energy work for those who suffer from anxiety, depression and chronic pain, Prosperity Maine which offers financial services to low-income individuals, and Special Surfers, which gives people with special needs the chance to surf.

Four-A-Cause also features food, drinks, live music and dancing. The free and public event is Friday, November 30th from 4pm-9pm at Aura in Portland.

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