7-year-old Jermaine Bell had been saving up money for nearly a year to go to Walt Disney World for his seventh birthday. But instead of going to the most magical place on Earth, Bell decided to use the nearly $500 he had saved to help Hurricane Dorian evacuees in South Carolina.
Bell, who lives in Jacksonville, Florida, was visiting his grandmother in South Carolina when area residents were told to evacuate. He decided to buy food and water to give out to people as they quickly left town. Bell, aided by his grandparents and some neighbors, set up a table along Highway 125 and handed out food and water to nearly 100 evacuees.
“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. “I wanted to be generous and live to give.”
Days after his kind charity, Bell was surprised by a team from Disney who arrived at his home with Mickey Mouse, balloons, and a birthday cake.
In a video shared by Disney, embedded above, Bell runs up to Mickey to give him a big hug, as a brand ambassador shares the exciting news that Disney officials will be sending Bell and his family to Disney World for a VIP trip.
“We were contacted by a team from Disney … and they were able to surprise him for his birthday with Mickey and a cake and some gifts,” Bell’s mom, 31-year-old Lauren Creech, told People. “We’re coordinating with them to go [to Disney] later this month!”
Bell’s mom continued, “I have a budding philanthropist! I just really want him to know that I am extremely proud of him. I don’t even think I could put it into words.”
“I’m really excited,” Bell says. “‘Cuz I’ve wanted to go to Disney for a long time.”
And his advice for others? “Be strong. And if you do good things for others, you will be rewarded.”
Words to live by, little guy! We hope you have the time of your life at Disney World! You deserve it!
When I’m not hanging out with my three-year-old and husband in Brooklyn, I’m busy writing stories for Mamas Uncut and managing PR + Marketing for Magnolia Bakery, based in New York City. On weekends, you can usually find me at a local park or playground pushing my daughter on the swings, “researching” the best almond croissants in Park Slope or launching into impromptu family dance parties at home, the sidewalk or, every once in awhile, a restaurant bathroom. I’m still trying to master the whole parenting thing, but I have learned that copious amounts of coffee, humor and humility are involved on a daily basis.