Farmer Hody Childress secretly helped his neighbours cover their healthcare costs for years in a bid to give back to the community. Childress brought hundreds of dollars to local pharmacy Geraldine Drugs after agreeing to cover prescription expenses. The Alabama farmer donated anonymously for over a decade before he died earlier this month at the age of 80.
Childress’s daughter, Tania Nix, has pledged to protect the farmer’s legacy with other locals by continuing to help the small community of Geraldine.
Nix said: “I think he felt like he couldn’t not give. Giving that way, that just got on his heart and he felt like he needed to do it.”
Childress was raised in a house without electricity until he was seven and grew up poor as his family survived off farming and hunting small game, according to his son Doug.
An Air Force veteran, Childress worked at Lockheed Martin until his retirement in 2001 and was remembered by his son for carrying his mother, who suffered with multiple sclerosis, up the bleachers of the local high school to catch the weekly football games on Fridays.
Geraldine residents say the small town, which had a population of 910 according to the 2020 census, has a long tradition of the community helping each other.
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The latest census also showed nearly 20 percent of the population currently lives under the poverty line – higher than the national average of 11.6 percent.
Dr Walker said Childress first approached her in 2011, asking whether she had noticed locals struggling to pay for their prescriptions.
The pharmacist said she recalled the farmer saying: “‘I have a question. Do you ever have anyone who can’t pay for their medication?’
“‘Well, yeah, that happens a good bit’.”
She told the New York Times that Childress then proceeded to pull out a folded hundred-dollar bill, saying: “The next time that happens, I want you to use this.
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“I want it to be anonymous. I don’t want to know any details on who you use it on, just tell them this is a blessing from the Lord.”
Dr Walker said he proceeded to hand her another contribution the following month and continued to show up at the pharmacy every month until illness prevented him to move from his home in 2022.
She said Childress’s contributions had helped an average of two people a month cover prescriptions for their medicine.
Bree Schlageter and her family were greatly helped by Childress’s generosity after they were left facing an $800 bill to pay for her son Eli’s EpiPen following a hornet sting.
The farmer’s fund helped reduce the bill to nothing after Dr Walker used some of the money to cut down on the price completely.
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Schlageter said: “I just started squalling.We’re a two-income family, but still, $300 is a lot.
“Miss Brooke told me, ‘It’s taken care of. No questions asked.’ I asked how. She never would tell me.”
She added: “All of a sudden it comes out that Mr Hody did it. What he doesn’t know, now that he’s in heaven, is that he helped a kid that works on a farm that he started. Look at that circle.”
After reports emerged about Childress’ actions, Dr Walker reported more donors have reached out to add to the fund and to keep his legacy alive.
A KFF poll of 1,146 US adults carried out between September 23 and October 4, 2021, reported eight in 10 adults found the cost of prescription in the United States to be “unreasonable”.
A 2019 report found the US had spent an average of $1,126 per person on prescriptions, $574 higher than any peer nation.