A farmer living off his little retirement savings from Geraldine, Alabama, made a massive impact on the lives of people in his town when he walked into a local pharmacy and started giving $100 a month to cover the pharmacy bill of those who can’t afford it.
Brooke Walker, the owner of Geraldine Drugs, recalled around ten years ago, Hody Childress asked her if there were families in their town who couldn’t pay for their medication.
Walker said yes and added: “Unfortunately, that happens often.”
The retired farmer then handed her a folded $100 bill and asked her to distribute it to everyone who couldn’t pay their pharmacy bill and keep it secret.
“Don’t tell a soul where the money came from — if they ask, just tell them it’s a blessing from the Lord,” said Hody.
Later that month, he returned with another $100 in folded bills to give to Walker and did it every month for years.
Late last year, however, he could no longer go as the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease had rendered him too frail.
After Hody passed away on New Year’s Day at 80, Walker said she wanted to inform his family about the donations that had helped hundreds of people in the rural village about 60 miles from Huntsville.
Before he passed away, Hody told his daughter Tania Nix about his donation.
“It was just who he was — it was in his heart,” Nix said, adding that her father was not a big spender but always donated what he could.
She continues to talk more about how caring her father was. She recalled that her father spent years caring for and carrying her mother, Peggy Childress, after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and couldn’t walk.
“Everyone in town remembers my dad carrying her up to the top row of the bleachers to watch the Friday night ballgames at the high school. He continued to do that until he had heart surgery in 1998 and could no longer lift her,” Tania said.
Tania believes that her mother’s expensive medical bills inspired her father to help others with their pharmacy bill.
Hody served in the Air Force and had seen his fair share of life’s difficulties. Tania says a tornado in 1973 killed her brother and grandfather.
“That was really hard on him, but he never complained,” Nix said. “He never lost his optimism.”
Tania stated that even when her father worked as a product manager for Lockheed Martin in Huntsville before retiring, he still managed to spend time on his farm.
“Being on his tractor was his therapy, and he spent a lot of time helping neighbors get their gardens planted,” Tania said. “Every time he went to the post office, he’d take the postmaster an apple or some sweet potatoes, squash, or okra he’d grown on his farm.”
Tania and Brooke have heard other accounts of people receiving anonymous support from Hody.
According to Brooke, a woman got his son a $600 EpiPen because of Hody’s donation but didn’t know who helped her until Hody died.
Brooke added that once, a single mother and her daughter needed medication, but their insurance did not cover it. The woman started crying when Brooke paid for the medicines using Childress’s funds and handed the prescription to the woman with the receipt.
Brooke said she’s grateful to Hody for entrusting her with his monthly donations.
“His kindness motivated me to be more of a compassionate person,” she said. “He was just a good old guy who wanted to bless his community, and he certainly did. He established a legacy of kindness.”
Meanwhile, Geraldine people are keeping Hody’s legacy by donating to the pharmacy.
“We’re calling it the Hody Childress Fund, and we’re going to keep it going as long as the community and Hody’s family want to keep it alive,” Brooke said.
Help sometimes comes from the person you don’t expect to do it, but often, this kind of help is the best kind of help as it doesn’t expect anything in return.
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