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Susan Mathis, left, and her sons Aden and C.J. look over Aden's scrapbook of information about his mission project for the Knoxville Ronald McDonald House. Aden will be collecting donations this Saturday, Aug. 18, at Kroger from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

A 13-year-old Martin Elementary School student plans to raise the funds to cover the family costs of staying a night at the Ronald McDonald House in Knoxville, TN.

"I decided I wanted to raise enough money to cover a whole month (of overnight stays) for September," said Aden Mathis.

The Ronald McDonald House is a home near the East Tennessee Children's Hospital (ETCH) in Knoxville that allows families of children who are hospitalized to stay so they won't have to travel back and forth every day.

Families are asked for a donation of $5 per night for a room. The house provides facilities for sleeping, cooking, laundry and play. Relatives are also welcome to stay in this house, including grandparents and siblings of the child receiving medical treatment. The Ronald McDonald House environment breaks all socio-economic barriers, as families from varied backgrounds experience similar situations with their children and draw support from each other.

Mathis wants to raise enough for a whole month's worth of donations — that’s 480 nights for a total of $2,400.

"I already have about half the money raised," Aden said.

To help raise funds for his project, Aden will be collecting donations at the Crossville Kroger grocery store this Saturday, Aug. 18, starting at 9 a.m.

"He'll probably be there all day, but at least until four or five," said Susan Mathis, Aden's mother.

This is Aden's fourth "missionary project" for sick children and their families at the Ronald McDonald House.

The projects began last year around Halloween.

Aden, who has been a patient in the past at ETCH, was at ETCH having a test done when he met another young patient.

"I told him I was afraid of having the test done and he said, 'that's nothing to be afraid of' and he took his hat off and showed a big scar he had on his head from surgery," Aden said. "After a while I thought about it and I thought it's not fair. It's not fair these kids have to be in here sick. So, I decided I'd try and help them."

Aden then collected and donated Halloween candy for the kids who were in the hospital and couldn't go out trick or treating.

"I wanted to help make them feel better," he said.

For his next project, Aden collected funds and toys and put together stockings for kids and families at Christmas for the Ronald McDonald House.

Aden also collected cleaning supplies and donated them to the house and his family has also cooked meals and taken them to the families who are staying at Ronald McDonald House.

"I'm just doing this on my own to help others," Aden said.

"He has a big heart and he wants to help people," Mrs. Mathis said.

Aden's brother, C.J., also helps with the projects.

The staff of the Ronald McDonald House appreciates Aden and his family's generosity.

"Our wonderful Ronald McDonald House exists solely on donations, so whenever we receive a donation, it is always welcomed. But the fact that a young man has such a heart to be so philanthropic and partner with us at such a young age, it's heartwarming. It's kids helping kids and that means the world to us," said Sue Beverly, director of the Knoxville Ronald McDonald House.

Aden, who is in eighth grade, enjoys hobbies of fishing, hunting, bike riding, camping and canoeing. He is involved in the Boy Scouts and is a member of the 4-H Honor Club.

Aden's father is Clark Mathis. Aden is the grandson of Gladys Weismuller and great-grandson of Daisy Holt.

Aden plans to present the donations to the Ronald McDonald House in the near future.

Those who donate will be given a certificate to sign that will be presented to the families at the house, explaining their night has been paid.

For those who are unable to visit Aden at Kroger on Saturday, donations can be mailed to him at Aden Mathis, 1411 W. Creston Rd., Crossville, TN 38571.

Donations can also be dropped off for Aden at A Cut Above on Birchwood Dr., East Tennessee Dodge on Hwy. 127 N., and at Victor's Restaurant on West Ave.

For more information about making a donation, call 787-9296.

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