INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana - When the coronavirus started to impact central Indiana, it didn’t take long for many, including Indianapolis resident Hunter-Michael Hutchins, to recognize the heroic work of local hospital nurses, physicians and support staff. And like, many others, he wanted to find a way to thank these professionals for their dedication to their now much more difficult work of caring for patients.
So, he thought about how he could do something to help, which includes the use of his recycling business to raise funds for his project. Since founding his business three years ago, Hunter-Michael has collected more than 15 tons of metal for recycling, including aluminum beverage cans and tabs, food cans, gutters, pots and pans and other discarded items.
Not bad for a third-grader.
The plan started small. First, he chose a hospital to serve: Franciscan Health Indianapolis. Hunter-Michael has played in the St. Francis Soccer League-Travel Academy since 2017, and Franciscan Health has sponsored their recreational league and travel club for several years and maintains the fields just a few blocks north of the hospital.
Second, he thought of a way to jump-start his fundraising. He asked his parents if, instead of spending money on his birthday party and gift, they would give him cash that he could donate to his thank-you project.
His parents, Kelly and John-Michael certainly were surprised by the request, but not by the idea or person behind it.
“He’s always wanting to find ways to help others,” said Kelly, a clinical psychologist with Adult & Child Health. “We’ve talked about COVID-19 and how it is affecting our community, and we had brainstormed about ways to serve others during this time.”
His birthday seed money amounted to $200 plus $20 from his business. From there, he contacted family, friends, teammates, businesses and the clients of Hunter’s Can Business and asked for donations; more than 40 have donated.
Hunter-Michael also produced a video for YouTube to explain his project. Before long, he had more than $2,000 in donations and pledges.
With the help of Joann Henry, wellness manager at Franciscan Health, Hunter-Michael has decided to purchase frozen yogurt treats and soft pretzels for employees.
“They’re the ones that are caring for us, saving lives,” he said. “I wanted to do this to remind them that people care for them,” said Hunter-Michael, “to remind them they are not by themselves.”
His father, who helps his son with the recycling business, couldn’t be more proud.
“He’s a phenomenal young man,” said John-Michael Hutchins. “He has great ideas - a pretty awesome kid.”
By Jennifer Hawke
Marketing Coordinator, Franciscan Health Central Indiana