There’s a quote that goes like this, “Practice random acts of kindness” and I’ll add, “or organized acts of kindness.” The random part is great, sort of a seize-the-moment kind of thing. But sometimes you have to plan ahead. For approximately nine months (the school year) about sixty of us have been involved in a wonderful program that has brought us great joy.
Yesterday was a big day in the life of our church as well as the lives of many teachers and staff at a local elementary school. You see, this school does not have a PTO, but it does have certain needs that caused some of our church members to take a call to action. I have been blessed to be a part of that for three years now.
We have a prayer partner program in which volunteers from our church are given the name of a teacher and a brief description of her/his hobbies, passions and needs. This is a “silent” prayer partner (again, voluntary) in that they don’t know who we are (individually) until the end of the year. We friends, on the other hand, send them cards during holidays, birthdays and other special occasions. We often send small gifts or tokens of appreciation as well. We drop these items off in a basket at church and our leader, Christina, takes them to the school. (Christina is an ex-teacher with a child at home and her husband, Jackson, has just been promoted to the position of principal at a nearby high school.) In this program, we pray for these teachers and we are kept abreast of any big changes. We also have a staff appreciation day and serve breakfast during the middle of the year.
But, at the end of year (yesterday) we celebrate by having a luncheon and best of all – we get to meet our prayer partner. We treat them to a covered luncheon – we Methodists love to cook and we love to eat – and it’s a hearty meal, complete with Southern fried chicken and awesome desserts. Yum.
Our daughter Katie and I sat with our prayer partners; and as we shared laughter and learned about each other’s lives, you could just see the beautiful dance of friendship and appreciation come to life. It just so happens our other daughter, Kelly, teaches first grade in Raleigh. Both of my sisters taught school (one retired) and I have so much respect and love for all teachers.
Even our minister was there, sitting with his prayer partner, a coach from Mount Airy. In the event we are short of prayer partners, a volunteer at church simply doubles up. It was amazing to see the look on everyone’s face as we made a huge circle in the cafeteria, holding hands – Pastor Scott started off with a prayer – announcing your partner’s name. I stepped forward, said my partner’s name and she ran over enthusiastically, baby in tow, on her hip. It turns out the little one (a year old) wasn’t feeling well and had to be picked up early. But I felt so blessed as I love babies and tried to help out, as did others – though she wanted her mama, as they always do during those times. And then she surprised me with a gift of Lindt chocolate truffles, my favorite. How did she know? I knew all about her but she knew nothing about me.
And finally, a shout-out to their principal, Jakki Jethro, who was named 2013-2014 New Hanover County principal of the year. And you can believe our entire church shares the joy and victory, just as her teachers, staff, students, family and friends do.
I’ve often heard if you’re feeling blue, find someone who needs your help, then go out and serve. I don’t know if that’s true in every case, but it’s such a good feeling to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” And in this case, it’s a double blessing.