MUSKEGON, Mich — Hospital workers across Michigan are stretched thin, fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, so when a boy in Whitehall heard some staff barely had time to eat during their shift, he decided to do something about it.
12-year-old Ben Hayes said he didn’t want the staff at the Mercy Health Hosptial campus in Muskegon to feel forgotten or tired, so he started thinking of ways to deliver healthy snacks.
Hayes said, “I like to be helpful, kind, and what it feels like to be a hero.”
Rebecca Shannon, Ben’s mother, explained to FOX 17 News that the effort began on a whim.
Shannon said, “It started out with a simple Facebook post asking how many people worked at the hospital.”
But within a matter of hours, that post grew to a full-on project. Hayes made calls on his own to community groups, local orchards, and grocery stores and gathered about 1,000 different donations.
“It’s amazing because, Ben has always been helpful and always thinks of other people, so this is a big step towards that,” Shannon said.
On November 17th, Ben and his Mom were able to drop off 120 healthy snack bags to hospital workers.
Claudine Weber, the Chief Philanthropy Officer for Mercy Health Muskegon said Ben was the first person to ask how they could help during this second wave of the pandemic.
She said, “We are grateful that he stepped up so quickly and it such a big way.”
Weber added that they were able to pass out the snack bags to every department and the response was overwhelming.
“They ranged from just smiles and high-fives to really, tears of gratitude,” she said.
Hayes is on the Autism Spectrum.
Shannon said, “Ben didn’t talk until he was about eight, at least not in complete sentences, so he always struggled to fit in and the Boy Scouts has made a dramatic change in him.”
Shannon said that being in the Scouts, Troop 1048 in Whitehall, has really helped Hayes thrive and pass his generosity on to others.
“They are heroes and going above and beyond to help take care of everybody. Even if not everybody sees it, the kids are seeing it,” she said.
Hayes has earned more than 100 merit badges and completed more than 50 service hours this year. This latest act of kindness, certainly has not gone unnoticed by the community and the hospital.
Weber said, “When they can grab a healthy snack, a granola bar and some fruit snacks, it kind of gives them the fuel that they need to push on to get through their shift.”
If you would like to make a snack or food donation to Mercy Health Muskegon, snacks must be individually packaged and food must have been professionally prepared and commercially packaged.
Items can be dropped off at the Mercy Campus main entrance on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2 to 4 p.m. and on Wednesdays from 5 to 7 p.m.
All meal donations must be coordinated through the Office of Philanthropy at 231-672-4890 or email MHPhilanthropy@MercyHealth.com
To learn more about monetary donations or to give online, visit www.MercyHealthMuskegonGiving.com
Shannon said that she and Hayes have plans to try to drop of snack bags at least once a month to the hospital for the foreseeable future.