Teen Uses His 'Green Thumb' To Buy Gifts For Sick Children
He got exceptional care when he was in the hospital. He wanted a way to give back.
An eighth grader in Ebensburg, PA is literally growing hope in his backyard.
After having terrible stomach pains that didn't seem to go away, Jakob Zernick was diagnosed with Crohn's disease when he was 8-years old.
He was treated for his illness at UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. Jakob was so impressed by the care he got there that he decided he wanted to help other sick kids.
Jakob is treated for Crohn's disease at UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. Seedz 4 Needz Inc/Facebook
When Jakob thought about what he wanted to do to help, he turned to his love of gardening. He decided to grow and sell vegetables to raise money, so that he could buy toys, games, gifts and blankets to help comfort kids who are battling various illnesses.
"I thought of how much Children's did to me and I decided to give back to them and use half of the money to get board games and blankets," Jakob told WJAC-6.
Jacob started Seedz 4 Needz in 2017 and has been busy planting and selling his produce ever since. Through local farmstands, donations and fundraisers, Seedz 4 Needz has raised over $10,000 and has given thousands of gifts to children in need.
Jakob has raised over $15K for his organization, Seedz 4 Needz. Seedz 4 Needz Inc/Facebook
As the organization grew, others started pitching in to help his cause.
A couple from Pittsburgh was so inspired by Jakob's efforts that they bought him a greenhouse to keep his planting going year 'round.
"Right now, with winter, we're growing herbs right now, lower temperature stuff. So with all this more room to grow, we'll be able to help a lot more people," Jakob said.
At a pep rally last week, Jacob was presented with a check for $8,700, thanks to two local high school juniors who raised the money at basketball games for their senior projects.
Other community members have helped with various projects along the way, like helping to build the greenhouse, putting on fundraisers and giving the family gardening tips.
"I think it shows the community that just one small act of kindness can really have a true ripple effect and can continue to grow," Nicole Zernick, Jakob's mother, said.
Jakob recently received a donation from the local Rotary club. Seedz 4 Needz Inc/Facebook
Along with a variety of vegetables, Jakob plans to grow flowers this year in hopes of raising even more money for his budding organization.
While Jakob is still being treated for Crohn's and has to return to the hospital every 8 weeks for infusions, his family no longer views it as a burden.
"We never thought that a diagnosis of Crohn's would lead us to meet so many wonderful people," Nicole said. "Every day we meet different people who want to give back or help out in some way. We never realized what a blessing in disguise it was."