Inspirational 13-Year-Old is Growing Love!

This Jakob has a ladder that aims for the stars.

Feb 6, 2020

Meet Jakob, a friendly teen from Pennsylvania with a warm, open smile and a big heart that just wants to help others. Jakob has made it his mission to bring happiness to kids and youth undergoing medical treatment by giving them treats! And his main route to securing these goodies is through his budding produce-growing enterprise!

This young guy knows firsthand how challenging illness can be. A pupil at Central Cambria Middle School in Pennsylvania, Jakob Zernick has lived with Crohn’s Disease since he was eight. Once he got his condition under control, he decided that he wanted to make a real difference to the lives of other sick kids. 

Thinking back to his earlier experiences with medical treatments, which can be daunting for kids, Jacob clearly remembered how little gifts like an exciting toy, a fluffy blanket or a great book, helped distract him from the tests and infusions he needed. Then he had a light bulb moment. As he explains on social media:

“I started to plan a garden, and sold the produce. I raised $175 in 2017 from the sales. I decided that I would use the money to buy blankets and take them to the hospital for my next visit. A local news station shared my story and I started to receive donations from people I didn’t even know. I realized this could grow into something much bigger.”

And it did. Fueled by Jakob’s drive and compassion, this sapling was growing rapidly: “One day, at the dinner table, I asked my Mom and Dad if I could start my own company to give back. I was excited when they said yes.” He was thrilled that his father, sister and grandparents also came on board, especially as he needs to balance these efforts with his schoolwork.

 
 
 
 
 
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Our Founder is quite photogenic!!

A post shared by Seedz 4 Needz Inc. (@seedz4needz) on

Officially launched in 2018, Seedz 4 Needz was able to raise $5000 in 2018, beating this to a total of $15,000 in 2019. His cause is shared by many on social media, while the seedz4needs website acts as a news hub and donation space too. There’s even a gardening tips section to help other budding green-fingered folk.

Donations are used to buy books, cuddly toy animals, and art supplies for kids and their siblings. All of these are bought with his sister’s help.

“You have no idea how much each child appreciates each blanket to help them stay warm while getting an infusion.  Or that kid that holds their teddy bear while getting their blood drawn for the first time.” he says simply.

Funds raised are also used to help transport families with sick kids traveling long distances to get medical care. Jakob explains that a proportion also goes to other charities providing care for kids battling illnesses. He spends some of the donations on maintaining his greenhouse and garden too.

While Jakob delivers goodies to young patients every eight weeks when he heads to the hospital for treatment, he also makes house calls! The benefits to the kids are relayed to him instantly. As Jakob explains:

 “A lot of times when we deliver items to these families, their parents tell us that they haven’t seen their child smile like that in weeks!”

Jacob is modest too. He is fully aware that the success of Seedz 4 Needz is bolstered by the help of so many, as it takes multiple kind hearts to activate and maintain a project like this. He is quick to acknowledge this “support team” who’ve helped make it all possible:

“To each of you that have donated time, services, money, toys, bought my vegetables, shared social media posts, took their shirts on vacation with them and invited me to speaking events, thank you. To you awesome kids who have collected toys from their  birthdays and donated them, to all the businesses who have donated. To the awesome family in Pittsburgh who have donated an entire greenhouse. Thank you… .”

Jakob is a glowing example of how someone can turn adversity into something positive. As Jakob himself says: “I never knew that getting a diagnosis with Crohn’s would give me an opportunity to meet [and help]  so many awesome people.”

And how does it make him feel? “It makes me feel great, like awesome,” Jakob says with a laugh.

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DAPHNE KASRIEL ALEXANDER, EDITOR IN CHIEF
Daphne has a background in editing, writing and global trends. She is inspired by trends seeing more people care about sharing and protecting resources, enjoying experiences over products and celebrating their unique selves. Making the world a better place has been a constant motivation in her work.