Teach them well, and let them lead the way


Sorry to put that song in your head all day now, but is it just me or our children leading the way this holiday season?

You hear all the time all the bad stuff and the fear that exists that our children are becoming too dependent on digital devices and making bad decisions. I was having a conversation with a former Keokuk school teacher who said, as part of the Bridges Out of Poverty orientational meeting on Thursday, that we need to do more for youth. “They’re our future leaders,’ she said.

But in recent months we’ve seen some children taking the lead and showing us that, “Hey, we’re here and not all is lost.”

It started several months back when Lexi Miller was watching the news and saw some elderly people who were standing in water that had flooded into their homes as a result of the savage hurricanes that battered the southern United States.

Miller said something to her mother while watching, that she wanted to do something to help. Two months later a semi trailer full of goods was headed to Florida and then to Puerto Rico for much needed relief. This was a teenager.

Then we hear of Lila Shephard who started collecting LEGOs a couple years ago to send with retired Central Lee teacher Ernie Schiller to Nepal for the children there to use for toys and educational purposes. People keep comparing the apropos nature of sending the building toys that can be torn apart and rebuilt to a region ravaged by an earthquake.

That same week a Fort Madison Middle School student, Abbygail Wheeler, revealed that she had donated more than $200 to an area Toys for Tots program by selling homemade dog pillows that are all the rage at The Madison. Wheeler’s family donated the supplies for the pillows and then took the money and bought toys for underprivileged children in the area.

And then Sunday, Samantha and Nicole Pothitakis were tying scarves to trees in Central Park for anyone needing a bit of warmth this winter. The twins are the daughter of Nico and Carrie Pothitakis, the same family that donates a good portion of the turkeys used in Fort Madison’s Community Thanksgiving dinner.

So in just four months Pen City Current has been fortunate enough to write four different stories of children in our area who are giving back to their community for no other reason than it’s just the right thing to do.

I spoke with Schiller after he and Lila presented to her classmates at Central Lee. As a teacher for more than three decades, I thought he would have a unique perspective on why we’re seeing these efforts from children.

He had an interesting perspective that because the parents, or parent, is so busy in today’s society that children have more time to themselves and although some may not do the right things in that time, some are using that time to their advantage to come up with ideas.

There has to be something inherent in wanting to do good deeds. Some of these kids are doing this for a sense of self-worth. And the fact that that’s still a priority with kids is a wonderful sign.

Shephard is trying to take her project nationwide by trying to attract the likes of Ellen Degeneres, Oprah Winfrey, and the Today show. The Pothitakis twins said they are going to monitor the scarves hanging in the park and add more if the supply runs down, Wheeler wants to keep selling her pillows and donate the money to P.A.W. or other animal advocacy groups and Miller fulfilled her goal of sending a semi worth of goods to help those still suffering.

For more information on these projects visit www.pencitycurrent.com and search the kids’ names.

About Chuck Vandenberg 2169 Articles
Pen City Current and pencitycurrent.com are products of Market Street Publishing, LLC, a multi-platform media company delivering hyper-local news, sports and advertising information to Fort Madison, IA and surrounding communities.

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