While people with healthy families can enjoy their holidays together, Christmas can be a turbulent time for many families with loved ones who are sick.
Being surrounded by beeping machines, medical bills and uncertainty really puts a damper on things as days begin to melt into one another as you wait for a loved one to pull through or show improvement.
In the meantime, you have to keep yourself going. You have to eat, so you trudge down to the hospital cafeteria, not really hungry but in need of sustenance.
Jerry Hatcher Jr. knows that feeling. When he was very young, he and his family spent three weeks at Scottish Rite Hospital with his new baby brother, who had developed a mass and needed to have an entire lung removed.
The family spent Christmas at the hospital, and Jerry saw the toll it was took everyone. He could tell, even at that age, that adding cafeteria charges to their mounting hospital bill was causing more stress.
So at the tender age of 7, Jerry decided to do something about it. Instead of getting the newest gaming console, Jerry asked his dad if he could use the same amount of money to pay for people’s food at the Scottish Rite Hospital.
“That first year had me in tears,” his dad admitted to AJC. Ever since, Jerry has shown up at the hospital to pay for meals on Christmas Eve, to give friends and family of sick loved ones a little break and a spark of joy during an otherwise trying time.
“It’s Christmastime,” said Jerry, according to Inside Edition. “No one should be suffering at the hospital at this time.”
That first year, Jerry managed to pay off about 100 people’s meals with around $500, but this year he rounded up $1,300 to really bring the Christmas cheer.
“It’s the small things that make the biggest difference because the hospital bills are enough,” Jerry said. “You can pay anywhere from $6 to $25 just on meals and that adds (up).”
“It’s not something you should have to go through. It’s supposed to be the happiest time of year.”
The photos tell the story loud and clear: The poor souls wandering through the hospital cafeteria have been blessed by the young man’s generosity.
Jerry knows the power of a free meal, and his charitable actions are an example for young and old alike.
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