Hody Childress was an Air Force veteran living off social security and his meager retirement savings, in the small town of Geraldine, Alabama (USA).
One day, learning that there were families in town who could not afford to pay for their medications, he decided to give the pharmacy owner a $100 bill, all folded up, and asked her to use it for anyone who was unable to afford their prescriptions. And he went back on the first day of every single month for about ten years.
He had just a single request – that nobody knew where the money had come from.
An Air Force veteran, Hody Childress was a passionate farmer living off social security and his meager retirement savings, in the small town of Geraldine, Alabama (USA). Having faced his own share of hardships in life, one day he decided to walk into the local pharmacy, Geraldine Drugs, and discretely ask the owner, Brooke Walker, whether there were families in town who could not afford to pay for their medications. Learning that, unfortunately, that happened rather too often, Childress handed the pharmacy owner a $100 bill, all folded up, and asked her to use it for anyone who was unable to afford their prescriptions.
He had just a single request:
“Don’t tell a soul where the money came from – if they ask, just tell them it’s a blessing from the Lord.”
The following month, Childress returned to the pharmacy to hand Walker another folded-up $100 bill. And he went back on the first day of every single month for about ten years – until late last year, when he became too weak to make it all the way to the pharmacy, due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Upon Childress’s passing, on New Year’s Day, at age 80, Walker thought it was time to let his family know about the secret donations – which had generously helped several hundred people in the farming community, for almost a decade.
Only his daughter, Tania Nix, already knew about his compassionate gesture – as he himself had decided to tell her about it, just before his death. Nobody else in the family, including Nix’s stepmother, Martha Jo Childress, knew about his monthly trips to the Geraldine drugstore.
“We were all amazed, but we knew he was full of goodness,” Nix said.
After Nix’s mother, Peggy Childress, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a long time ago, and was eventually unable to walk, her dedicated husband spent years caring for her and lovingly carrying her everywhere she wanted to go. “I’m not sure exactly what inspired him to start taking $100 bills to the drugstore, but I do know that when my mom was sick, her medications were expensive,” Nix said. “So maybe that had something to do with it.”
Walker recalls that a single mom who benefitted from Childress’s donations went back to the pharmacy several months later and asked to pay it forward. “I believe that Hody sparked that in her heart.”
“He established a legacy of kindness.”
People in Geraldine who wish to keep that legacy going are now coming to the drugstore with donations of their own, Walker said. “We’re calling it the Hody Childress Fund.”
Each state should provide good healthcare and welfare for every citizen, but that is unfortunately not the case. Many people are unable to afford their medication, having to choose between getting their prescriptions filled or putting food on the table.
Hody Childress’s compassionate gesture fills in for what should be provided by the national health service.
Recent research studies have demonstrated that our brains are neurobiologically wired for altruism. Indeed, we are genetically predisposed to promote the welfare of others, even at a risk or cost to ourselves.
In other words, we are born to be kind.
Hody Childress is a perfect example of human kindness.
Quoting his daughter: “It was just who he was – it was in his heart.”
This story was originally published by the Washington Post.