Houston Boy, 14, Sells Homemade Baked Goods After School to Help His Mother with Medical Bills
A Houston teen is doing his part to help his mother cope with expensive medical bills that have piled up after she suffered a serious health scare.
For the last few years, Elijah Cossio has been assisting his mother Tina Hernandez with her hospital bills by holding a daily bake sale after school, ABC affiliate KTRK reported.
The 14-year-old routinely wakes up at 5 a.m. each day before school to bake desserts and once classes have ended, he sells his homemade goods to classmates, parents, and community members, according to the outlet.
Hernandez, a mother of three who nearly died from a bacterial infection in 2017, couldn’t be prouder of her son.
“It feels wonderful because I raised him that way so I’m very proud of him,” she tells PEOPLE.
But Elijah’s baking hobby wasn’t something he ever expected to be doing in order to support his mother and siblings, the teen revealed on a GoFundMe page set up by his mother on his behalf.
“I started baking as just a hobby and to learn how to make my own money,” Elijah wrote on the page. “My mom has always taught me to work for what I want because nothing is handed to you for free.”
“Not knowing this knowledge was being given to me to prepare me for what there was to come,” he added.
The teen’s world was flipped upside down in June 2017 when Hernandez contracted a “horrific” bacterial infection from the gym that led to a three-month hospitalization.
“It spiraled out from there,” she tells PEOPLE. “I had to undergo five surgeries and three blood transfusions and I died for 14 minutes after the first surgery… I don’t remember those three months of my life.”
During that traumatic time, Elijah said he had no idea what his mother’s future held, recalling on the GoFundMe, “I did not know if that would be the last time I would see her.”
After she recovered from the multiple procedures, Hernandez says she required extensive therapy and had to “relearn everything,” including “walking and simple tasks, like using the restroom.”
Because she was in the hospital and unable to work, Elijah said on the GoFundMe he “knew [he] had to step up to help support her.”
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At that point, Elijah was already selling baked goods on the weekends to earn some extra cash — a talent he learned from his mother, who tells PEOPLE she’s been baking for over 15 years.
With his skills already mastered, he decided to increase his income by selling homemade treats every day after school.
“I remembered how much my mom taught me with baking so I decided to step up,” Elijah explained on the GoFundMe. “I started grinding and baking daily so that I can go store to store to sell and raise money.”
Some of the desserts he currently offers include strawberry cupcakes, red velvet cupcakes, cherry cheesecakes, fudge brownies and chocolate chip cookies, according to KTRK.
Since September 2017, the teen’s sales have taken off, with thousands of people supporting his endeavors both in person and via GoFundMe.
Hernandez notes her son has made anywhere between $60-150 per day for two and a half years straight, with weekends bringing in even more.
On the new fundraiser, which launched on Tuesday, Elijah has already surpassed his $100 goal, reaching over $6,100 in donations.
“It first started as a weekend thing, but after the accident, it turned into an every day thing,” Hernandez explains to PEOPLE. “I’ve always pushed my kids [and told them] there’s nothing you can’t do… I said, ‘All you gotta do is find something you’re good at and try it!'”
Added Elijah on the GoFundMe: “Now that my mom is doing better I found a passion. I want to continue to help out as well as save money to better myself.”
The teen said his goal is to become an engineer in the Army and attend culinary school, according to the fundraiser.
Hernandez also tells PEOPLE that her son hopes to own his own cupcake truck one day — something Elijah is already certain he’ll achieve thanks to the work ethic that was instilled in him from the time he was young.
“There’s more to life than just sitting and playing games,” he explained to KTRK. “I was raised to go get and I went and got it.”