by nathan oster
In Jack Pharoah’s world, every day is Christmas, and in every moment, there is an opportunity to give a gift.
The big-hearted and enterprising 10-year-old runs Jack’s Box, and all of the money that his business generates, he redirects back into the community.
It’s all about doing good and helping people in need.
Take Thanksgiving, for example.
Jack contributed more than 800 dollars of his own money, much of which was raised on soda and popsicle sales this summer, on a collaboration with Mike and Andrea Laird and the Cody Lions Club that put Thanksgiving dinners on the tables of 37 families in the Big Horn Basin.
The Lairds donated 21 of the turkeys, the Cody Lions the remaining 16.
But Jack paid for everything else — all the stuffing, potatoes, cranberry sauce, yams, etc.
Sixteen of the turkey dinners went to veterans and their families living in the Cody area.
The rest went to families in need across the Big Horn Basin.
Earlier in November, Jack and his parents, Misty and …., celebrated the one-year anniversary of Jack’s Box.
It’s been quite a year.
Most kids his age are focused on other things — playing with their friends, video games or competitive sports.
“I used to be like that, too” said Jack.
That changed a couple years ago, when a friend didn’t have money to pay for lunch. Not a school lunch. Or even a sandwich from home. Jack started packing a little extra each day and giving it to his friend. His mother eventually noticed. She didn’t ask him to stop, but did ask what was going on.
Not long after that, Jack and his family went to Salt Lake City, where he noticed “more than 16 people living on the streets with nothing more than a jar with a couple dollars in it and a cardboard box. They needed food and shelter, and in a lot of cases, all they had was a bag with some of their belongings. I decided right then that I wanted to help. I didn’t think anyone should be treated like that.”
Last year, a month after opening Jack’s Box, Jack distributed Christmas gifts to five foster kids.
This summer, he gave away free school supplies. He’s now a fourth grader at GES.
With the turkey dinners delivered, Jack’s thoughts turned to Christmas. He had more than $1,000 to spend on gifts, his coffers having recently been boosted by a $500 donation from Whitlock Motors of Cody.
“I thought when he started it that after a couple of months, he’d lose interest and it would fall to the wayside,” said Misty. “But he hasn’t lost interest in it. He’s never done. He finishes one thing and immediately, he’s thinking about the next thing.”
Jack has developed a list with the names of 15 kids. He wants to spend about $100 on each of them, getting them things that they need and will enjoy this holiday season.
Which brings us to Tuesday, the 30th of November.
Jack was invited to BT’s Diner, which of course is owned by the Laird’s.
He found a lot of familiar faces. Among them were the parents of the late Isaac Rosser. A Greybull High School student, Isaac was killed in a car accident in July. He and Jack were friends; Jack called him the “noodle stealer,” said Misty, explaining that Isaac would often threaten to take Jack’s ramen noodles, even though he couldn’t eat them because he had to watch his weight for wrestling.
Also in attendance was Mike Howe. The organizer of the summer drag racing at the airport, Mike let Jack sell popsicles and sodas at events this year and struck up a friendship with the young man.
Jack was enjoying his bowl of macaroni and cheese when Mike Laird walked over to his table to make an announcement.
“I know how much those veterans enjoyed what you did … they are still talking about it,” said Mike. “We want to make a donation to Jack’s Box.”
As he handed him a check for $500, Mike urged Jack to “keep doing what you’ve been doing.”
The surprises didn’t end there.
Misty then announced that Go Fund Me had selected Jack as a “Kid Hero.”
Jack’s jaw dropped when he learned that it came with a $1,000 donation.
It left him speechless.
“So what are you going to do with all this money, Jack?” asked Howe. “I want to know.”
Jack contemplated the question for a moment.
Then he spoke.
“I’m going to find as many veterans as I can and I am going to give them as many presents as I can.”
Thanks to these unexpected donations, Jack will have a few extra dollars to spend this holiday season.
He’ll find a good way to spend them.
It’s just what he does.