Good Wednesday morning! I almost didn’t write my usual Good People Doing Good Things post for this morning, because … I thought this was Tuesday! My schedule is off by a day, since I was driving home from Pennsylvania all day Monday, and Tuesday seemed like Monday, and … well, you get the picture. But, as I was perusing information about the upcoming French elections for what I thought would be this morning’s post, it suddenly hit me that today would be Wednesday, so I quickly switched tracks. Today I have rounded up a few people who, though their good deeds may seem small compared to some, are no less meaningful … they are doing what they can to make the world just a little better.
Last Thursday, some 650 children, the entire student body of Pepperhill Elementary School in North Charleston, South Carolina received a very special gift … the gift of wheels … they each received a brand new bicycle! Credit for this goes to a teacher at the school, Katie Blomquist who, after a conversation with one student who admitted that he wanted a bike more than anything but knew his parents could not afford one, realized that many of the students in her school had never owned a bike, and had few hopes of doing so. “It’s the basic childhood right – it’s joy. Every single child deserves that, and a bike is one of the top things that represents that. I wanted to make family memories, a sense of ownership. A lot of Title 1 kids don’t own anything that is theirs,” said Katie.
But, Katie herself is not wealthy … she lives on a teacher’s salary, after all … so how to make this happen? Well, Katie may not be wealthy in terms of money, but the lady is resourceful. She set up a GoFundMe page, then spent hours each evening working to get the word out. Her initial goal was to collect $65,000 in donations, but at the end of just three months, Blomquist had amassed over $82,000! Among those who made donations were people with only a few dollars to their names, people living in other countries, major corporations and star comedian and talk show host Steve Harvey. Radio Flyer donated 100 big-wheel tricycles and training bikes for the pre-school students.
But it didn’t end there. Getting the money to purchase the bikes was one thing … but how to get 650 bikes assembled? This is where the community really stepped up to the plate. A local church volunteered to serve as a staging area for the assembly process, and as the word spread, members of the community answered the call, coming out to volunteer, some even taking off work to help out. Even so, they were only able to get about 100 bikes assembled, and then a local business, Afford-A-Bike, pitched in and, at no charge, assembled the other 550!
On Thursday, the dream became reality when the tarps were pulled back to reveal 650 shiny new bikes, and Katie Blomquist yelled from a loudspeaker, “Every student at Pepperhill Elementary is going to get a brand new bike!” The students jumped with joy, hugged one another and squealed with delight, which was all the reward Katie Blomquist needed. Hats off to this special teacher!
Who says today’s youth are selfish, lazy and spoiled? There is at least one group of young people who cannot fit into any of those categories. These are college kids on spring break last month … kids who, instead of spending their spring break on a beach or partying with their friends, are installing solar panels on homes for low-income families. The program is called Solar Spring Break, and is a voluntary program through non-profit GRID Alternatives, which provides free solar arrays to low-income families.
Tatyana McAllister, along with 18 classmates from North Carolina Central University, installed solar panels for a family on the La Jolla band of Luiseno Indians Reservation, near Palomar Mountain in northern San Diego County. Another 25 students from the University of Michigan and Arizona State University contributed by installing panels at the nearby San Pasqual Band of Mission Indians Reservation.
GRID deploys volunteer labor to construct infrastructure projects for families in need. The San Diego effort was part of a national campaign involving 100 students from 15 colleges and universities, aimed at curbing climate emissions and helping cut electric bills through solar power. GRID obtained a half million dollar Department of Energy grant for the solar installations, and matched that with another half million of its own money and tribal funds. GRID Alternatives is, in and of itself, a story of hope in a nation where the leadership has shirked its responsibility to the environment and to future generations. Perhaps one day soon I will write a post about this organization, but meanwhile, check out their website. Theirs is a story of hope in our new world of alternative facts and disregard for our planet.
A number of the North Carolina students are majors in biology and environmental science. For them, the solar project was a practical example of class topics such as sustainability and energy conservation. It’s also in line with what the historically black university describes as a tradition of preparing students “to become global leaders and practitioners who transform communities.”
Twenty-six-year-old Alvon Bailey, who is researching sustainability and watershed protection for his master’s degree in Earth Science, said he wanted to visit California to learn about practices that are still in early stages in his home state. The students also learned about local culture, sampling what they described as “Native American lasagna” — enchiladas — and enjoying native bird singers and traditional Luiseno games. That cultural connection was important for Katherine Gates, 22, an environmental and geographical science major, who said she appreciated the environmentally friendly traditions of Native American communities.
GRID is a prime example of what is right in this country, and these young volunteers are the future we all want for our nation. They are environmentally conscious, ambitious, and put helping others above indulging in their own pleasure. I am so encouraged by these kids … they are our future and I give a two-thumbs-up to both GRID and the volunteers!
And to wrap up this Wednesday morning, who said only ‘people’ could do good things? Meet Peanut. A year ago, Peanut arrived at the Delta Animal Shelter in Escanaba, Michigan, with two broken legs, a belly full of carpet, and broken ribs. Her owner was arrested and convicted of animal abuse, Peanut healed from her wounds and found a wonderful new forever home. But the story doesn’t end there.
Early one morning last month, Peanut began acting very strangely, running up and down the stairs, barking and yelping. The man in the house thought she wanted to go outside to attend her business, but as soon as he let her out, she ran into the field behind the house at full speed. Puzzled, the man followed her to the field where Peanut had come to a ditch, stopped, and looked back at the man. For those of us old enough to remember, it rather reminded me of an episode of Lassie! In the ditch, the man found a naked, shivering, 3-year-old girl curled up in a ball. The man quickly took the girl back to the house, called an ambulance and police, and the girl is well and fine. Stories like this abound on the internet … some are true, some are not … but this one was verified by Michigan’s Delta County Sherriff’s Office.
So see … humans are not the only ones who can do good things! Thumbs up to Peanut!
And that wraps up yet another Wednesday morning! Thanks to all those good people out there who are doing good things, making the world just a little bit better.