Geary Community Hospital recently received a generous donation of $13.96.
The donor was Graceson Gfeller, a 7-year-old boy from Chapman, who mailed his donation to the hospital tucked into a handwritten card.
Graceson specified his donation was to be used for supplies for hospital staff, because he’d heard those were especially needed. Items such as gloves and masks were in short supply at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and he wanted to do what he could to help.
So he began collecting money in a jar with the intent of donating it to the hospital.
“I had a Hildebrand jar and I wanted to figure out what to do with it and I decided to raise money for charity,” he said.
Graceson said he chose to send the money to the hospital because that was where it was needed. He saved for months, asking for donations and placing spare change he found around the house, into the collection until he felt he had enough to send a decent-sized donation to GCH.
His parents, Stephanie and Heath Gfeller, said Graceson collected the money for the hospital by asking family members for donations and occasionally by doing chores and helping out around the house.
“He started it last spring,” Stephanie said. “He wanted to make sure (the card) had enough in it and that it went to healthcare workers."
When he sent the money to GCH, it never crossed his mind that the hospital would call him and his family to meet with the hospital’s staff and CEO or that CEO CEO Frank Corcoran would be there to personally thank him for his donation.
But that’s exactly what happened, late this week with a small get-together in the hospital’s front lobby.
There, Corcoran thanked Graceson for his selfless contribution to the hospital, presented him with a gift from the hospital — a teddy bear and a t-shirt with GCH’s logo on it — and informed him that his gift would be matched by Corcoran, by GCH staff members and by members of the GCH executive board. Members of the staff and the board attended the gathering where they each thanked Graceson in turn for his kindness and generosity and added their matches to his donation.
“All the nurses are very happy because you specified that you wanted this money to go for supplies,” Corcoran told him.
He said he was impressed by Graceson’s decision, at such a young age, to collect money to help other people.
Corcoran recalls sitting at his desk, opening Christmas cards. He knew upon picking Graceson’s card up that there was something a little more inside it. Corcoran opened it and saw, along with Graceson’s handwritten note, the money the boy had collected for the hospital.
“It touched my heart,” he said.
Corcoran decided then and there that he would do something special for Graceson — he would match the donation. Corcoran mentioned his idea to fellow hospital leaders and they decided to match the donation as well. They chose to start a fund in his name, put his donation in it with their own donations, then put the donations into the general ledger to be used for supplies.
“Just from a selfless, compassionate young 7-year-old, it just really touches your heart,” he said.
Corcoran said the hospital appreciated the gesture.
“It’s for supplies for the staff and the nurses,” he said. “We go through masks and gowns and gloves and we’re always trying to find enough supplies and buy enough supplies. So what a great thought and (we’re) just so appreciative."
GCH has started a special fund, named for Graceson, to house his donations and the donations made in response to it. The hospital plans to purchase supplies for hospital staff using money from the fund, as Graceson requested. By the end of Thursday morning, the fund had about $427.92 in it.
Anyone who would like to donate to Graceson’s fund can contact the hospital at 785-238-4131 and speak with the accounting department, to Corcoran’s assistant, Johna Ward or to GCH Director of Communications Ashley King. Donations to the fund can also be mailed to the hospital at 1102 St. Marys Rd. with specifications that it go to Graceson’s Fund.