BILLINGS - For nearly a decade, Aiden Fouhy has been collecting and donating children's books to St. Vincent Healthcare's Pediatric Unit.
Fouhy, who's now a high school senior and 17 years old, came up with the idea when he was eight.
"I felt like I wanted to do something for somebody," Fouhy said at the Billings hospital Wednesday. "I felt like I wasn't doing enough, so I wanted to do something that impacted a lot of people."
The process first began when Fouhy earned some money for selling livestock. At that time his parents encouraged him to be charitable, but they never could've imagined the idea he came up with.
"I always thought, 'Well, when I don't feel good, I like to read,'" Fouhy said. "So I was like, 'Well kids in the hospital are an awesome way to do it.'"
And so the Fouhy's have been making the nearly 400-mile trip from their home in Peerless, Montana, located near the Canadian border, all the way to Billings since 2014. Fouhy has donated books every year during that span except one.
"I thought it was wonderful," Aiden's mother Cindy Fouhy said of the original idea. "It wasn't out of the ordinary for him to want to give books to others because he realized the value of books and wanted to share that with kids that were his age, younger and older."
While his mom said it isn't out of the ordinary for Aiden, St. Vincent Healthcare's Chaplin John Jamison disagreed. Jamison has blessed the books every time a donation was made, so he's had the chance to watch Aiden, and the project, grow.
"I don't know another eight-year-old that comes close to doing what he does," Jamison said. "He's matured mentally, spiritually. We refer to him as a kid, but he's not a kid. He's a young man and he's going to do wonderful things in the world."
In the first year, Aiden managed to donate 76 books. On Wednesday the total was 619.
"I never thought it'd get this big," Fouhy said. "But I'm really glad it did."
This year's donation came with a first for Aiden, who plans on becoming an airplane pilot and got his chance to fly the plane himself. In the past, he and his mom would fly on Cape Air to Billings to make the drop-off.
"With the weight of the books and me and my flight instructor, it was 80 pounds under the max weight that that airplane could take off with," Fouhy said. "So it was kind of rocky when we were loading up."
They managed to make the trip, however his mom was forced to fly by herself because they had collected too much additional weight in books. And while it's always a long trip, Fouhy said seeing the smiles on children's faces always makes it worth it.
"I can't even describe it," Fouhy said. "It's amazing. It's the most fulfilling happiness you can feel."