No one wants to spend Christmas in the hospital, but those who have to in order to be near loved ones are in for a treat.
Jerry Hatcher Jr., 13, made a special trip to the Scottish Rite Hospital at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta on Christmas Eve to treat patients and visitors to breakfast or lunch at the holiday cafeteria.
The preteen saved up $1,300 from his allowance and other various odd jobs over the last year for the generous occasion – a tradition he’s kept alive for the past several Christmases.
“It’s Christmastime,” Jerry said in a statement to the hospital. “No one should be suffering at the hospital at this time.”
He said his hope was not only to spread some cheer, but offset some of the financial burden of a stay at the hospital.
“It’s the small things that make the biggest difference because the hospital bills are enough,” he explained. “You can pay anywhere from $6 to $25 just on meals and that adds [up].”
Jerry explained this tradition was inspired by his own family’s stay in the hospital, shortly after his brother Javier was born.
His family explained their younger son was born with a mass that took up two-thirds of his lung. Little Javier was admitted to the hospital in 2013, and what was supposed to be a two- or three-day stay turned into three weeks, lasting over Christmas.
Javier left the hospital with only one lung that year but is now otherwise a healthy, happy 5-year-old.
Inspired by his family’s plight, only worsened by the price of hospital cafeteria bills, Jerry asked his dad if he could donate the $500 set aside for his new PlayStation 4 that year to instead treat other families to meals at the hospital cafeteria.
It quickly became a tradition, and after saving up all year round through raffles, allowance money and other donations, Jerry makes his way to the same hospital every Christmas to support the other families in need of a little holiday cheer.
“It’s not something you should have to go through,” he said. “It’s supposed to be the happiest time of year.”