Veterans often have a difficult time reintegrating into their communities. One Alabama veteran, however, used secretly paying citizen’s bills as his way to re-integrate into his community.
Many post-war vets who successfully get back to normal life don’t necessarily thrive due to a lack of resources.
That wasn’t the case for Hody Childress, an Alabama veteran who built himself an amazing life as a farmer and decided to pay it forward by anonymously paying pharmacy bills.
Even though his post-war life was not free from suffering, he continued to shine light wherever he went, especially his local pharmacy.
When he resumed his life as a civilian, Childress was known as a farmer in his small town of Geraldine, Alabama.
He worked at Lockheed Martin as a Product Manager to provide for his family, but farming was always his first love and priority. After his retirement, he spent even more time tending to his farm. When he had time off, he ran errands in town, frequently stopping in at his local pharmacy, Geraldine Drugs.
“Being on his tractor was his therapy, and he spent a lot of time helping neighbors get their gardens planted. 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 Nix
One day, he walked into the store and asked the owner, Brooke Walker, if there were any families in town who were having trouble paying their pharmacy bills.
Brooke told him that it happened quite often. That was when Hody handed her a $100 bill and told her to use it to cover the bills of anyone who wasn’t able to pay their bill. He made Brooke promise to keep it a secret; he wanted to stay anonymous.
“He said, ‘Don’t tell a soul where the money came from — if they ask, just tell them it’s a blessing from the Lord,’”– Brooke Walker
The following month, and every month afterwards for 10 years, Hody Childress returned to the pharmacy with $100.
Hody passed away on New Year’s Day at the age of 80, so Brooke was finally free to tell his family about all the good their father had done in the community. Despite his modest means, Childress had helped countless families afford their medication.
His monthly $100 added up to thousands of dollars over the years, covering costs like epipens and children’s medications.
Childress’ daughter, Tania Nix, was flooded with information about how generous and kind her father was as she prepared her father’s funeral. He had confided in her about the pharmacy donations shortly before his death.
“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.”– Tania Nix
His daughter remembers her father as always leading with love and generosity despite any hardships he suffered along the way. In one devastating blow, his father and son were killed by a tornado. Then, his wife developed multiple sclerosis and passed away. Luckily, he always had faith that something good was around the corner, and he kept his chin up and his attitude positive. After his death, his inspirational story motivated the town to follow in his footsteps.
“He didn’t spend a lot of money in life, but he always gave what he could. If he took you out to eat, you had to be quick to grab the ticket, or he was paying for it.”– Tania Nix
When the news came out about what Childress had been doing all those years, people began dropping by the pharmacy in droves with donations of their own. As pharmacist Brooke Walker put it, Hody had established a “legacy of kindness”. She has created a fund with the money the community is donating.
“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 wants to keep it alive.”– Brooke Walker
While the thousands of dollars Hody donated over the years have certainly had an impact on the people whose medications it helped pay for, his generosity has an even more lasting legacy. His optimism and kindness have inspired a new generation of people striving to do good in Geraldine, and that is priceless.
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