Jermaine Bell was going to Disney World.
No matter how long it took, or how much birthday money he would have to save, the 6-year-old South Carolina boy would spend his special day in “The Happiest Place On Earth.”
And, as local TV station WJBF reports, he was pretty close to realizing that dream, planning for a visit to Disney’s Animal Kingdom just in time for his seventh birthday this month.
Then he heard the story of the hurricane: how it transformed the Bahamas into the unhappiest place on Earth — and how it continues to churn up the East Coast, leaving a trail of tears in its wake.
How could Bell dream of Disney World when so many others were living a nightmare?
So the boy gathered his savings — and went to the grocery store. Instead of a romp in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Bell bought much-needed food and water for thousands of people forced to leave their homes in advance of the storm.
“The people that are traveling to go to places, I wanted them to have some food to eat, so they can enjoy the ride to the place that they’re going to stay at,” Bell told WJBF.
Indeed, Bell made it hard for anyone to miss his offer. He hauled a couple of homemade signs to Highway 125 in Allendale with the words “Free hot dogs and water” scrawled on them.
And he stood at the side of that highway, calling out to motorists, many of them tired and traumatized after leaving their homes behind. In all, he served more than 100 evacuees.
“I am very proud,” his grandmother Aretha Grant told CNN. “We knew Jermaine was very special, but we didn’t know he was special in this way, to be such a giver like this.”
Indeed, at his little stand in Allendale, Bell is giving people something much more precious than hot dogs. He’s offering hope — and along the way, the little boy with the big heart is making his own magic kingdom.
Want to follow Bell’s shining example? Click here to help people affected by Hurricane Dorian.