It's a piece of Christmas mail that has made a difference to an untold number of people.

A prominent homebuilder sent $500 cheques to hundreds of its customers with a challenge to give back to the community during the holidays.

"The holidays make us think about sharing and going above and beyond the give back to the communities in which we live," wrote Scott Haggins, president of Cedarglen Homes. "We have enclosed a $500 cheque and challenge you to find your own way to give back."

Haggins said he and his staff began the innovative giving initiative last year with letters and a challenge to the company's trades and suppliers. This year, Cedarglen Homes focused on its customers.

Haggins says it's up to each person to decide what to do with the money, but the hope is they will pay it forward, which seems to be happening.

"I just received a note from one of our customers. He matched it and they went and found a family and made their Christmas for them. So things like this do make a difference," Haggins said.

Carrie Poole said she couldn't believe it when she found the letter in her mailbox just before Christmas.

"It was a complete surprise. I just opened the envelope and read the letter. I read it twice and thought, ‘Seriously?'" she said.

Poole says she used to the money to help a local retired senior who prepares food hampers out of home for the less fortunate.

"I feel good that I can donate this money to someone who is putting it towards so many families and I hope everyone does the same thing," Poole said.

Cedarglen Homes says it's been such a success, it will continue the initiative in some form next year.