A six-year-old South Carolina boy had saved up money for a trip to Walt Disney World. But when he learned that evacuees from Hurricane Dorian were heading through his town, he decided instead to use that money to buy food for them, Augusta, Georgia’s WJBF-TV reports.
Jermaine Bell is due to turn 7-years-old this weekend, and he had been hoping that, for a birthday gift, he’d be able to go to Florida’s Walt Disney World. In particular, he says he wanted to go to the resort’s Animal Kingdom theme park so he could see “lots of lions and have a Lion King party.”
However, the young lad was moved to use his money for a greater purpose when he learned that Hurricane Dorian had forced people in the Carolinas to evacuate their homes. He didn’t want the evacuees traveling through his town to get to their destinations hungry, so he used the money he’d saved up to purchase hot dogs, chips and water for the evacuees.
Then, says his grandmother Aretha Grant, he set up a stand along South Carolina’s Highway 125 with a hand-made sign that read “Dorian Evacuees Free Hot Dogs & Water.” He made sure that there were signs on both sides of the road so that travelers in both directions of traffic could see it.
“The people that are traveling to go to places, I wanted them to have some food to eat, so they can enjoy the ride to the place that they’re going to stay at,” Jermaine said.
All told, Jermaine had purchased enough food, water, and snacks to provide meals to about 100 people.
Jermaine Bell was supposed to spend his seventh birthday at Disney World. He'd saved up money, but after Hurricane Dorian, he emptied his piggy bank to buy hundreds of hot dogs and serve them for free to evacuees passing through his South Carolina town. https://t.co/Mbqc5QdW3U
— CNN (@CNN) September 4, 2019
A few evacuees took him up on his offers of free food and water. And when they did, Jermaine asked them if he could pray for them, says his grandmother.
“He actually even prayed for a family while they were here in reference to their house being okay when they got back, so that was really tear dropping,” she said.
One passer-by, who was not a Dorian evacuee but was just passing through at the time, noticed the hot dog stand and was compelled to take action. Kristin Hutchins Brown writes that she didn’t know the story behind the signs or the stand, but when she learned what was happening, her “heart leapt.”
Brown has set up a GoFundMe account to raise money for the lad so he can go to Disneyworld, and it looks like his dream is going to come true in the biggest possible way: as of this writing, the account has raised almost $12,000, well beyond its original $5,000 goal.