OGDEN -- The first night Matthew Stone and his little sister spent at the Christmas Box House was a night for him to remember.
"I don't think I ever sat in a more comfortable chair and wondered if I would be able to watch a TV that big," Stone told a crowd of about 400 recently at the Eccles Center.
Stone was one of two keynote speakers at the annual "Let's Do Lunch" event, sponsored by Christmas Box International and a group of Ogden locals that started sponsoring the event for the Christmas Box House 16 years ago. The event is to raise money for the House, and a silent auction is held each year with tables of baskets and items to be auctioned off.
"Christmas Box" author and founder of Christmas Box International Richard Paul Evans was the other main speaker; he speaks at the event each year.
This is the first time someone as young as Stone was asked to speak at the event, said "Let's Do Lunch" founder Patrice Couch. The board of directors for Christmas Box International and the staff at the Ogden Christmas Box House agreed Stone would be a good candidate to speak, Stone said.
Stone and his sister first came to the House three years ago when they were pulled from their mom's care because of problems with their stepfather. In the last three years, Stone has spent six months at the House -- longer than any other child that has spent time there.
He has made an impact on everyone there, said Melonie Brown, Director of the Ogden Christmas Box House. "We all have a special place in our heart for him," Brown said.
Stone told the group how nervous he was as he began speaking, but as he spoke he told his story of going to the House, going into foster care and then trying to return home. Each time he started the process and ended up back at the Christmas Box House, the people at the House gave him something he needed badly -- confidence.
"I love the things he said about us giving him confidence. That is always one of our goals," Brown said.
Stone said that when he spent time at his home he found himself falling into a deep pit of depression and addiction and had desires to act in a way he knew he didn't want to act. When he finally decided it was time to leave his home for good and came to the Christmas Box House to wait to be placed in foster care, his counselors made him feel like he could change and that he could make goals and make something of his life.
"They showed me a way out ... I want to be a writer and now I know I don't want to be anything like my step-dad," Stone said.
After he spoke, Stone smiled as he talked about how nervous he was to address the crowd.
"I thought, 'Oh Lord, why,'" he said with a laugh when he was asked to speak.
He now lives with foster parents and is beginning to adjust to a somewhat normal lifestyle.
His foster parents, Dorothy and Corey Leishman couldn't wipe the proud smiles off their faces when talking about Stone and the small triumphs he is making all the time now.
"We have our ups and downs," Dorothy said.
The Leishmans were thrilled for Stone to have the opportunity to speak to the lunch group.
"It's good for him. It's really wonderful," Corey said.
Gina Barker is the Development Coordinator for Christmas Box International. She said that usually they get speakers that out of the system and they are sometimes hard to find and track down. This year, having someone still in the system is unique.
"He is still living this. He is showing everyone what we are doing to help these kids," Barker said.
Evans was impressed with Stone and the things he has overcome. He compared some of his childhood to Stone, but told Stone that he has overcome so much more.
Stone also had some time to meet with Evans and was carrying out a large bag of books and items courtesy of Evans. He also had a big smile.
His foster parents and those at the Christmas Box House are hoping for a bright future for Stone. He said his goals are set and is looking forward to the future.