In 1985, when Johnny Jennings was just 18-years-old, he visited the Georgia Baptist Children’s Home in Ringgold, Georgia, which immediately changed his life forever. Jennings recalled the single event which sparked him into action was when three little boys grabbed him by the knees as he was leaving and asked him “Will you be my daddy?”.
Young Johnny realized that although he couldn’t care for the children himself, he had to do something about how they were cared for and to give them the best possible life.
The children’s home describes themselves as handling the “heart of a child” after they were broken and shattered, coming from substance abusive homes with some being victims of human trafficking and domestic violence. The home provides support and care to the children, they require extensive financial aid to pursue with the incredible work that they do. This is where Johnny Jennings stepped in. Although Jennings was not wealthy in his own right, he took the initiative to raise huge amounts of money for the home in a unique way.
Jennings began collecting paper and aluminum products and then cashing them in for money to donate. In his efforts over the past 32 years, he has resold 9 million pounds of paper amounting to around 79,000 saved trees, along with collecting $20,000 in pennies, equalling to an extensive 24 miles worth of copper coins. Amazingly, all of this collecting and recycling has amassed to $400,000 which is donated directly to the children’s home.
Jennings’ incredible efforts have attracted the attention of others in the surrounding area, leading them to bring the materials to Jennings’ doorstep to assist him in his hard work. Now at age 86, Jennings continues to raise money for the children’s home, going above and beyond to ensure their prosperity, thus earning him a place on the board for four five-year terms, being a 20-year trustee. Despite suffering from two strokes in the last few months, Jennings has never failed in his duty to deliver the paper and coins to the recycle center.
Jennings kindness and generosity has not gone unnoticed with the President of the Georgia Baptist Children’s Home, Dr. Kenneth Thompson stating that “Johnny Jennings is one of the most gracious individuals I have ever met.” He continued, “I have always admired his quiet, humble spirit, his commitment to helping others and most of all, his love for the children in our care.”
Jennings’ favorite time of the year is at the Church’s annual meeting where he presents his check, and gets to spend time interacting with the kids who live in the children’s home. Jennings will always be a huge part of the organizations family, with much of their success being down to his altruism and graciousness.