ATLANTA, Ga. (WSB-TV) — A local third-grader who passed up a new PlayStation gaming system to feed the families of sick children instead is being called a Christmas hero.
Jerry Hatcher Jr. said he wanted to do something big to help others at a hospital this Christmas, but he needed money. So when his parents offered to give him what they planned to spend on his big Christmas gift this year, he jumped at the opportunity.
"I have enough. I want to help those who don't have as much as I do," Jerry said.
That simple idea prompted the 8-year-old to turn down a new PlayStation this Christmas in exchange for the cash to cover breakfast for the families of sick patients at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. They are families Jerry can relate to all too well.
"I wanted to repay the people there as much as I could for what they've done to help my baby brother. If it wasn't for them, he wouldn't be here today," Jerry said.
So on Christmas Eve, photos and video show Jerry standing in the hospital cafeteria dressed in his Sunday best, surprising hungry diners by jumping in, wishing them a merry Christmas and paying for their meals.
"Some were hugs and tears, some were handshakes and 'thank-you's,'"Jerry said.
They were hugs and thanks for a little boy with a big heart for others.
"Seeing the looks on their faces, the surprise, the warmth in my heart from knowing that I did something good. It's better than any gift in the entire world," Jerry said.
And Jerry's gesture was contagious. When his $400 ran out, Jerry's father said others stepped in to keep the kindness going.
"It's just wonderful. He's just absolutely my Christmas hero," Jerry's father said.
When it was all over, the Hatchers estimated Jerry spent about $600 to feed 100 families. They were families whose Christmases, Jerry hopes, were made just a little brighter.
"Small act of kindness can do a world of change for that person," Jerry said.
Jerry and his family were so touched by their experience at the hospital that they plan to start a charity called "Feed the Family" to cover meals for families at a local children's hospital every Christmas Eve.