How we’re remembered once we are gone is important. Our legacies can live on forever. Thanks to his kindess to his community, the memory of one Alabama man will never be forgotten.
When family members shared stories of their beloved father and uncle Hody Childress during his funeral, they were in for a surprise. They learned a secret he’d kept for years and saw just how special he was, not only to them but their whole town.
During the service, the family learned that Hody had been donating money to Geraldine Drugs for anyone who genuinely needed help paying for their prescriptions. He started making donations monthly about seven or eight years ago and wanted to remain anonymous, Brooke Walker, the pharmacy owner, said.
“He told me he never wanted anyone to know where the money came from when it was given,” Brooke said. “He also didn’t want to know how it was used. He told me to use my judgment. We always told the receiver, ‘this is from someone that felt led by God to help another.’ We left it at that.”
Over time the secret fund grew to thousands of dollars and thus helped even more people in need.
“He was a man of modest means,” remembers Brooke. “Giving $100 a month was quite a gesture. I knew that helping people was in his heart.”
Eventually there was enough money to help two people per month who lacked insurance or sufficient health benefits to cover their prescriptions.
In late 2022, Hody’s health changed due to his fight with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and other health problems. He sensed that he was approaching the end of his days here.
With it becoming harder to get around, he needed someone to take over his mission of delivering his folded-up $100 bill to Geraldine Drugs. He entrusted the task to his daughter Tania.
Tania told Brooke that she was unaware of his actions all this time, saying: “I was shocked — I had no idea that he was helping people at the drug store.”
“He told me he’d been carrying a $100 bill to the pharmacist in Geraldine on the first of each month, and he didn’t want to know who she’d helped with it — he just wanted to bless people with it,” she said.
Hody’s kind heart definitely blessed a lot of people in his community. Brooke recalled a time when that secret fund was needed more than ever. His niece Ashley Darnel Sargent shared one of Brooke’s memories on Facebook:
There once was a young, single mom. Her and her daughter both needed a medication that her insurance didn’t cover. There were no alternatives. When I handed her the medication with the receipt attached, she started crying. That’s not even the best part. Several months later, she returned to pay it forward. She wanted money added back to the account. She didn’t have to do that, nor did I want her to do that…but she had a desire to help others in difficult situations. I believe that Hody sparked that in her heart, and that she will carry that forward her entire life. He was creating a ripple effect, and he didn’t even realize this.
Brooke said that many people he’d helped often returned to pay it forward for someone else. They even offered to put money back into the fund. The spirit of giving continued.
After his daughter shared her father’s philanthropy at his funeral recently, news of his giving spread and has inspired his family, friends, and others to start contributing to his fund to allow it to continue as a community resource.
Geraldine Drugs pharmacist Heather Walker told WVTM that she could not think of a better way to honor Hody.
“There are so many people in Geraldine who have lived longer because of Hody,” Heather said. “Hody was a true humble servant who will always be loved.”
Hody died on New Year’s Day, 2023. The 80-year-old, who loved farming, wore many hats. He was a US Air Force veteran and had once worked for the aerospace company Lockheed Martin. He leaves behind his second wife, Martha Jo, two children, three stepchildren, 15 grandchildren, and many others.
He also leaves behind a beautiful legacy of generosity. Share this story in honor of Hody and to celebrate the power of paying it forward.
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