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The Idle American
"A Smile That Started Something..."
Wednesday, August 14, 2013 • Posted August 15, 2013

Man’s inhumanity to man is well documented. Goodwill toward others, however, often goes unnoticed, unheralded and unappreciated.

Teachers, on the cusp of another school year, play major roles in helping others daily. Following the “do unto others” admonition, most of them routinely toil beyond duty’s call.

We owe ongoing salutes to committed educators, and to all folks who offer smiles daily as they celebrate life….

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One such celebrant is Megan Harris, a 23-year-old Amarillo woman. She worked at Pak-A-Sak Express that opened a few years back in an unoccupied Starbucks building. Smaller than the 18 other Pak-A-Saks, it has a drive-thru window. Thus, “Express” is tacked on.

Megan knows the window well. For two years, she arrived there at 5 a.m. for 8-hour weekday shifts, with much of her time given to dispensing 99-cent soft drinks. Last year, many of her “regulars” were teachers and staffers from nearby AACAL—Amarillo Area Center for Advanced Learning. (It offers specialty training in half-day blocks for students from the city’s four high schools and other area districts.)

AACAL teacher Sue Sanborn, who daily purchased the 44-oz, jump-starting drinks, mentioned Megan to her colleagues in February. “Have you noticed how she smiles every single time we stop?” Another pointed out that Megan was pregnant with her first child….

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Few knew her name; none knew her circumstances. They didn’t know she dreamed of starting a family, or that it was “start-over time” for her and husband Aaron. Two years ago, a wildfire destroyed their home and most others in the neighborhood.

The couple, now married four years, has clung to Christian values. The fire took all—“just things,” though, claims Megan, a graduate of San Jacinto Christian Academy and former Amarillo College student.

Neither did the educators know that for more than a year, she also worked four hours daily at a clothing store, stretching work days to a dozen hours. And they weren’t aware the couple lived with her parents for 714 days after the fire. It takes a while to build a house when one person does it. Aaron, a fulltime Xcel Energy employee, worked late most nights and weekends on their home. His dad and dad-in-law pitched in, and it was ready four weeks before the baby arrived….

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The AACAL folks wanted to do something for the “redhead,” as several called her. Quickly, they planned a “drive-thru baby shower.”

On the day before Valentine’s, they organized an 18-vehicle caravan. From the first car, Tammy Newsom handed the stunned honoree an invitation to the drive-thru shower. Occupants in the second car offered a corsage made of baby hats, and the third, punch and cupcakes.

Gifts from educators in the remaining 15 vehicles included diapers, clothes and gift cards. Then, they crowded inside to celebrate. Laughter, with some crying, ruled….

    *****

Readers of the Amarillo Globe News read Jon Mark Beilue’s excellent account with thanksgiving. It’s good news well worth sharing with my readers round about!

Much more has occurred since that unique act of goodwill. Computer science students, inspired by a guest speaker from “Snack Pak 4 Kids,” designed a logo for the local charity—a simple “hug” design on its website.

Realizing many of their classmates are from “hungry homes,” students continue their “give back” spirit with a school pantry. From there, food is sent home discreetly in students’ backpacks. The Student Council has spear-headed campaigns to collect thousands of food items, and health science students have helped with public service announcements about teen hunger. And the beat goes on….

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What about Megan and Aaron? Well, their daughter arrived safely on March 13—two weeks before the Easter due date. Weighing in at 5-lb, 11-oz, Phoenix Renee is a “stay at home” baby. Her mom’s there, too, in her dream come true.

The “joy bundle,” or “cuddle bunny” as her mom calls her, is doing fine. And she has her mother’s smile.

Their folks can be proud of this well-grounded couple. So can their “adopted family” at Pak-A-Sak. So can citizens whose taxes make schools possible. And so can you, gentle reader. Wish a school employee well in this new year, even if only with a smile. And offer prayers for them and the students entrusted to them….

    *****

Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Speaking inquiries/comments to: newbury@speakerdoc.com. Phone: 817-447-3872. Web site: www.speakerdoc.com. Twitter: @donnewbury.

Attachments: Column #534; logo, Snack Pak 4 Kids; pic of Megan Harris with baby, Phoenix Renee.

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