By Jill Harper
From a Coach/Teacher's perspective, it is a rare occasion to catch a student in the act of doing something right. Maybe it is because we are so ingrained to look for ways to instruct and train young people into becoming mature and successful adults, but we tend to look for those attributes that need to be corrected. Regardless of the reason, and despite our best intentions, we tend to focus so much of our efforts on the negative, rather than the positive. For this reason, it is incredibly refreshing to catch a student in an act of kindness, not because it was spurred on by "kindness week", a Bible class assignment, or an opportunity of community service, but simply of her own volition.
Last week I was driving a van of varsity cross country girls to a special practice in Salinas. As we were waiting to turn onto highway 101, we saw a homeless man holding a sign and standing on the median. As I pulled to a stop I heard Morgan Lira in the back seat yell at me to roll down my window. She passed up a "hobo bag" and asked me to hand it to the man and tell him, "God Bless." I did as she asked thinking this was part of a community service project. After I rolled my window back up, I asked her what it was for. She told me that this was something she had thought of over the weekend and she had six or seven more in her work-out bag.
Despite it's slightly politically incorrect moniker, her idea was thoughtful and moving. In the bag she included items such as: shampoo, soap, a loofa, deoderant, snacks, etc. As we went throughout the rest of day, each time we encountered homeless man or woman on a median, we gave him or her a "hobo bag". We also brainstormed as a group other items we could include and the possiblilty of asking fast food restaurants to help pitch in with a $5 coupon. For Coach Small and I, this was a welcomed opportunity to see a student do something right and to be able to encourage her even further in her ambition. It was also a reminder to me of my own calloused heart towards the homeless who stand and inconvenience my conscience as I sit and uncomfortably wait on the light to turn green.