Six-year-old Jermaine Bell had been saving up his allowance to go on a trip to Disney World. The soon-to-be seven-year-old was planning to see the newest Lion King attraction for his birthday on September 8.
“I was saving for a long time. I wanted to have a Disney party,” Bell tells Yahoo Lifestyle. But that all changed when Bell heard reports of the countless families losing their homes and evacuating from Hurricane Dorian as it approached South Carolina. Bell, who “loves giving hugs and enjoys helping people” according to mom Lauren Creech, knew his birthday fund would be better spent helping the hurricane evacuees.
“When he heard about the storm and knew people were going to lose their houses and be uprooted, he just started thinking, ‘How can we help?’” Bell’s grandmother, Aretha Grant, tells Yahoo Lifestyle.
Creech adds that because Bell was born during hurricane season, he knows firsthand what it’s like to consider fleeing from potentially devastating storms. The mother and son live in Florida, a state particularly vulnerable to being impacted by hurricanes.
“He was born during a hurricane season. It happens for him every year, where we have to think about if we need to evacuate or take cover. It’s just in his nature, he’s a very giving person,” says Creech, who lives with Bell in Florida.
Instead of using his birthday money to fund his trip, Bell spent the money on hot dogs, chips and water for the Dorian evacuees. “I wanted to be really nice and I was thinking they’re not going to have food or drinks,” Bell says. “So I wanted to give out hot dogs and water.”
With the help of his grandmother, who he was visiting for Labor Day, Bell set up a roadside stand in Allendale, S.C. to pass out free food and drinks. Bell created signs advertising the free food and water and stood right off a major South Carolina highway to catch residents on their way out of evacuation areas, local news station WJBF reports.
“If some of the people were trying to get to their destination, they honked and waved. Even though it seemed like a small gesture it wasn’t unnoticed,” says Grant. “They said, ‘Thank you, you have such a kind heart.’”
Over the three days that Bell set up shop, he served over 100 Dorian evacuees. For those who were unable to make a pit stop at Bell’s stand, they passed by in their cars, honking and waving.
“They were kind of emotional and gave donations for me to go to Disney,” Bells recalls of the evacuees he served. “It made me feel really good,” says Bell.
While Creech says she was not surprised by her son’s selfless act, she did not expect the kind messages and overwhelming support that Bell received online and in person. Creech says she’s just glad that her son has taken the core values she’s tried to teach him to heart. The kind 6-year-old has even developed his own life motto: “Live to give.”
“Gratitude is one of the biggest things that we teach. Because we always say that there are always people who have more and people who have less, so we stress always giving out love and you’ll get it right back,” Creech says.
“It’s really encouraging and I hope he can show other people his age that you don’t have to do much — you don’t need to be a celebrity or have a platform, but when you do good things people do notice it.”
While Bell won’t be able to sing along to “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” with his favorite Lion King characters at Animal Kingdom, he still plans to have a Disney themed party surrounded by family and friends.
“I’m looking forward to having a Lion King party,” says Bell.
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