Acts of Kindness 2003

Hometown Heroes, People
on December 21, 2003
Mike Schulte uses his truck to help neighbors plow snow of their driveways in Wapakoneta, Ohio.

When American Profile asked readers to tell us about acts of kindness done for them, we received hundreds of letters about kind souls who went miles out of their way or took hours from their day to make someone’s journey a little easier.

“I didn’t know they made people like you anymore,” contributor Donna Hanback recalls saying to her “rescuer.” Indeed, they do, as these stories show.

Clearing the way
As a youngster, Mike Schulte frequently shoveled snow from elderly residents’ driveways or offered to help in any way, yet he never asked for payment, says Lisa and Jon Barrett of Wapakoneta, Ohio.

“Well, Mike’s all grown up now, yet he’s still out clearing the neighbors’ driveways, though now he has a pickup truck to plow with,” they say.

When several inches of snow falls in the Ohio Valley, Schulte is hard at it, before work, clearing driveways.

“He’s also been known to stop and plow for people he sees out struggling with shovels as he drives past an area,” the Barretts write.

“We’re pretty sure that not everyone chooses to pay Mike,” they say, “but that doesn’t stop him from clearing their drives.”

Beauty inside and out
Verta Campbell, of Easley, S.C., decided to treat herself to a manicure and the affable Campbell easily struck up a conversation with another customer.

When the manicurist asked her what she would like, Campbell replied she never had allowed herself such a “fancy” indulgence and simply wanted something nice for Thanksgiving.

The technician suggested “the works,” but Campbell replied she couldn’t afford anything that extravagant, says her son, Rock White.

“To her amazement, the new friend said, ‘Give her everything. I’ll pay for it.’”

“Mother managed a tearful, ‘I am so grateful,’ as the thoughtful woman patted her on the back and wished her a wonderful holiday,” White says.

Campbell didn’t get the woman’s name, but she’ll never forget her.

“Perhaps she will never know how warmly she affected my family,” White says, “but then, again, maybe she does and that’s why she did it.”

Compassion for a child
When Sammy and Donna Hanback’s daughter, Tori, 3, was undergoing chemotherapy for lymphoma, they usually traveled to Nashville, Tenn., from their home in Cypress Inn, Tenn., on Sunday afternoons and stayed overnight, so Tori wouldn’t be so fatigued for Monday treatments.

Last January, en route to Nashville, the Hanbacks’ car broke down on Interstate 65, near Franklin, Tenn., about 25 miles south of Nashville. No motorists stopped to help the young family.

“Then, the Franklin Police Department came to our aid,” Donna Hanback says.

Two officers—Hanback can’t remember their names—called a tow truck and arranged for the Hanbacks and their car to get to a nearby motel.

“The next morning, the tow truck driver, Chris Watson, came back and towed our car to be worked on. He didn’t charge us anything for both towings,” she says.

While Sammy Hanback waited with their car, Watson’s brother-in-law, Tony Self, drove Donna and Tori to Vanderbilt University so the little girl wouldn’t miss her chemo treatment. “Before we got out of the truck, he prayed for her,” Donna Hanback says. “I told him, ‘I didn’t know they made people like you anymore.’”

“We will forever be grateful for their kindness,” she says.

Wrapped in warmth
Glenna Hoff, of Prescott, Ariz., has immersed herself in the area’s rich history. As a museum volunteer, she dresses in authentic 1860s costumes to re-enact a settler’s life on the prairie and teaches crafts and skills of that period.

Anne Foster, the museum’s young assistant archivist, asked Hoff to teach her to knit. Foster then left to do post-graduate work in Colorado.

Two years later, Hoff received a package from Foster with a note: “Dear Glenna: There is a Hopi tradition that says the first item you complete after learning a traditional craft should go to the person who taught you the skills. I think this is a wonderful idea. So, after almost two years, here it is—my first shawl.”

The pattern was from an 1851 book of crafts.

“With tears in my eyes, I lifted the most beautiful shawl out of the box from a very special person, busy with studies and commitments, who took the time to give back,” Hoff says.

Christmas cheer
Amy J. Gardner of Loogootee, Ind., was a recently divorced mother of three young children, ages 8, 6, and 4.

Wages from her factory job barely paid the rent, child care, and utilities.

“The children knew we were poor, but we were getting by,” she says. “Christmas approached, and I explained to them that were would be very little Santa would bring. They understood.”

Co-workers talked about their children and off-handedly asked Gardner about hers.

“A couple of days before Christmas, our company put on a Christmas party and I reluctantly attended. As I walked into the room, all of the employees yelled, ‘This is all for you!’

“I looked at the huge Christmas tree, then at the large piles of boxes under the tree.” Gardner’s co-workers gave her enough food and gifts to fill three vans. “It was,” Gardner says, “a great Christmas after all.”

One good deed
Rosetta E. Samuelian, of Warwick, R.I., was taking a coffee break when she confided to a store co-worker that if she couldn’t pay off the remaining $100 for her surgery, she would be taken to court.

A customer overheard the conversation and handed her a single bill.

“She said she was a born-again Christian and God told her to help someone out,” Samuelian says. “After she left, I found out it was a $100 bill.”

Samuelian continues that stranger’s kindness by aiding others. “When a homeless person asks me for money, I give it to them,” she says. “One good deed deserves another good deed.”

Feeding the spirit
Kristy Dryden of Canon City, Colo., like most young people, struggled financially in her early 20s.

“It took all my money to pay deposits, first and last month’s rent, etc.,” she says. “There was no money left for food and one had to work for two weeks to get the first paycheck.”

A nurse at the hospital where Dryden worked nearly 30 years ago seemed to understand the struggle.

“She showed up at my door with a box of food staples to get me through until payday. I felt that I was in heaven,” she says.

The Good Samaritan wouldn’t allow Dryden to repay her. “She just said, ‘Do it for someone else along the way,’” Dryden says. “I have repaid that favor by doing just the same thing.”

Helping hand
Martha Barham, of Bolivar, Tenn., and a friend had taken a shopping trip to a variety store in nearby Memphis and parked in a handicapped space because of Barham’s severe arthritis.

When the store’s loudspeaker paged the owner of the blue Lincoln parked in the handicapped space, Barham figured she’d forgotten to display her handicapped placard.

She was met by a young couple who noticed she had a flat tire and wanted to change it for her.

“I assumed they were store employees, but I later discovered they simply were customers leaving the store who had seen the flat tire,” she says.

She tried to pay them, but the couple declined. “I have a grandmother and I’d like to think that if something like this happened to her, someone would help her,” the young man said.

The young strangers’ kindness touched Barham.

“Their thoughtfulness and concern for someone they didn’t even know will forever be a cherished memory for me.”