Ben Hinkle is your typical 9-year-old boy. He loves golf, West Virginia University football, and his family.
But there's something about him that's not only special but inspiring, touching, and even heroic.
"I saw a pack of gum at a Dollar General and it had a soldier on it. And I said 'let's send this to our soldiers'," said Ben Hinkle, founder of the Ben Gum Soldier Project.
"When he saw a pack of gum with soldiers on it, he said 'Mimi, I wanna buy this gum and send it to the soldiers so they can stay awake and stay safe,'" said Sharon Hopkins, Ben's grandmother.
Last year Ben collected enough money to send more than 600 packs of Jolt Energy Gum overseas. This year, he's aiming for 1,000 packs.
"They keep us safe and I wanna keep them safe," Hinkle said.
But those soldiers Ben is helping, aren't the only ones demonstrating selflessness.
"I donate my allowance and I didn't ask for gifts for my birthday," Hinkle said.
"He asked them instead of buying me a gift, donate to my soldier project. He's very generous. Thinks about other people," Hopkins said.
Ben has met some of the men he is helping, including U.S. Army Spc. Christopher Crispen, now a good friend of his.
"One of my friends in Parkersburg, he is in the army. He took me to his army base one day. And I met all of the rest of the soldiers," Hinkle said.
"The flag that they presented to him, and the dog tags and the military ring. I was very proud of him," Hopkins said.
"They said it's an honor for a nine-year-old to be helping us out with that," Hinkle said.
A fundraiser to help Ben with his project is being held on Sunday, Oct. 21 at 2 p.m. at the VFW Post 573 in Clarksburg.
"80's Enough" will be performing at the benefit. It costs $3 for adults and $2 for children. All proceeds benefit Ben's project. To view the benefit's poster, click the link to the right of the story.
Send Donations to:
Ben Gum Soldier Project
Rt. 1 52 L1
Lost Creek, WV 26385
Or click here.