Tag Archives: helping others

“Beth Anne is the hero.”

Beth Anne finished

Beth Anne walked through the tall grass to the edge of the pond. She looked into the pond and saw tiny fishes swimming just under the surface. Dipping her hand into the water, she wiggled her fingers, scaring the fish away. The water felt cold. Continuing on around the pond, she noticed the grass was shorter and there were rocks along the edge. A lizard sat on one of the rocks, sunning itself.  Tiny bugs had landed on the water. Beth Anne wondered if the lizard would try to catch them for food.

After watching the lizard for a few minutes, Beth Anne decided to join her friends on the other side of the pond. She was making her way there, when she noticed a little girl about three years old, splashing her hands in the water. Suddenly, the rock on which the little girl was standing gave way and she fell into the pond. Beth Anne yelled for help. When no one came, she jumped into the pond and pulled the little girl out just as her head was going under water. Amber and Laura finally heard the commotion and came running around the pond. They helped Beth Anne get the little girl out of the water.

“Where is your mom?” Laura asked the little girl when they had her safely away from the pond.

“Over there,” The little girl pointed in the direction of the picnic tables.

As the girls walked toward the picnic tables, the little girl’s mother saw them and came running.

“Why are you all wet?” The mother asked, upset.

“I fell in the pond,” the little girl answered. “She pulled me out.”

“Thank you so much,” the mother said to Laura.

“It wasn’t me,” Laura said. “Beth Anne is the hero.”

“I can’t thank you enough for saving Tiffany. I didn’t even realize she wandered away. If you hadn’t been there, she might have drowned. You really are a hero.”

Since Beth Anne’s clothes were wet, the girls decided it was time to go home. They got on their bikes and rode back to Doris Duncan’s house.

“I’m a hero!” Beth Anne shouted as she ran in the house.

“Why are you wet?” Her Grandmother asked.

“Because I’m a hero,” Beth Anne said again.

“Well, hero or not, you’d better go change your clothes before you catch a cold.”

Just as Laura and Amber were leaving, the doorbell rang. When they opened the door, they found a reporter and cameraman standing on the porch.

“Is this the house where the little girl lives who saved Tiffany McDonald from drowning?” The reporter asked.

“You mean Beth Anne,” Laura said. “I’ll get her for you.” Laura left to get Doris and Beth Anne. Amber stayed at the door with the reporters.

“How did you find out so fast?” Amber asked.

“We were at the park doing a story on the improvement plans the town council is working on. Mrs. McDonald, Tiffany’s mother, came over and told us the story. She pointed you out as you were leaving the park, and we followed you.”

Laura returned to the door with Doris and Beth Anne, who was now wearing dry clothing. “What is this all about?” Doris wanted to know.

“Your granddaughter saved a little girl at the park. She would have drowned if Beth Anne hadn’t pulled her out of the pond. “

“She told me she was a hero,” Doris said, amazed. “But I thought it was just one of her adventure stories. She likes to make up adventures.”

“I’m Veronica Lyons, a reporter for Marshallville Area News. I’d love to interview Beth Anne for tonight’s broadcast.”

Beth Anne went with Veronica and sat down on the sofa in the living room.  While the reporter asked questions, the cameraman filmed the interview.

“What were you doing at the park?” Veronica asked.

“I went there with my friends, Amber and Laura to look for fish in the pond,” Beth Anne said. “I didn’t know there was a little girl by the pond.”

“How did you notice her?” the reporter continued.

“Laura and Amber were looking for . . . What was it?” Beth Anne looked at Laura.

“Crayfish,” Laura said.

“Oh, yeah, crayfish,” Beth Anne went on. “I was walking around the pond. That’s when I saw the little girl. I thought she might get hurt in the pond. Then she fell in. I tried to yell for help but nobody came. Then I went into the water and pulled her out.”

“You are a brave girl,” Veronica said. “Our television station has a reward fund. We’re going to give you twenty-five dollars. What do you have to say about that?”

“I don’t know what to say about that,” Beth Anne said, hesitantly. “I’m happy to get twenty-five dollars. I can help my grandma buy groceries.”

“That’s very sweet of you,” Doris said, “but that’s your money. You should use it to buy something you want.”

“Watch the news tonight at six,” Veronica told them all. “You’re going to be on it.”

From The Handy Helpers: Seven is a Perfect Number  available on amazon

Raising Kids Who Care

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I have been a teacher for most of my life, and I consider myself pretty good at it. But when it comes to knowing how to help others, my daughter Kirstin has been my teacher. She knows how to reach out to people in a way that I will never be able to do. She genuinely cares about others and they feel her sincerity. In my book, This Little Light of Mine, a woman with Down syndrome shines brightly in the world, I call her and others like her “angels among us.” If you will permit me to quote myself, “They care for others, even those who are not kind to them, without any expectation of reward. They are patient, gentle, and loving. They hold back nothing but share their feelings openly. They forgive and forget.”

I believe we are all born with a desire to help others. Consider the small child who wants to help his mom in the kitchen, or make the bed or feed the dog. How often does the busy parent dismiss this desire to help and instead hurriedly complete the task on her own? Later, when those same activities are the child’s chores, they become the source of argument because the child no longer wants to do them. I’m not naïve enough to suggest that by allowing our toddlers to help with chores, they will necessarily grow up to happily do them as teenagers, but it is certainly something to think about.

By cultivating in our children the desire to help others, we are developing in  them a lifelong spirit of giving. While they are young, and their lives are less complicated, it is easier to find the time and opportunities to help others. As we become adults with adult responsibilities, it is more of a challenge to do our part as loving, caring citizens of this planet. If helping others is already a natural part of our lives, we are more likely to continue it into adulthood.

The characters in The Handy Helpers books seek out opportunities to help. While their parents encourage them, it is the children themselves who are choosing to serve others. Sometimes children become involved in volunteering through church groups or scouts. These are very good ways to start. Sometimes the entire family volunteers together. How ever it happens, children will always benefit. Rabbi Shumuley Boteach, who hosts a show on Oprah Radio, says, “When we don’t give kids responsibilities, we pay the price. Kids become lazy and complacent and too self-focused. Volunteering and giving back prevents that and helps others.”

Part of my vision in writing The Handy Helpers books is that someday there will be groups like the Handy Helpers in communities all over our country. I don’t know exactly how that will happen, but I pray every day that it will. On the back cover of Seven is a Perfect Number, I quote one of my young readers who says, “I love the great moral values talked about in the book. It inspires me to want to start a Handy Helpers group myself.”