A Touching Gift for the Crossing Guards at Meadowlark
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By Kim Underwood
Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools
DECEMBER 18, 2019 – For the past year, Meadowlark crossing guard Kalina Gidley has been driving a car with a banged up door that had a sheet of plastic taped over the space where the window once was.
Now, thanks to the Meadowlark community, she is driving a car with a new door and window.
Asked how she felt about the gift, Gidley said, “Appreciation. Happiness. Warmness. Relief.”
“It makes her life a lot easier,” said her brother, Bryson Gidley-Wade, who also serves as a crossing guard at Meadowlark. While his sister is directing traffic at the car entrance, he directs the traffic at the bus entrance.
On the afternoon of Tuesday Dec. 17, Neil Raymer, the principal at Meadowlark Elementary came out to say hello to Gidley and Gidley-Wade when they arrived and Gidley parked her car at the car entrance to the campus.
“They do a great job,” Raymer said. “They do it with such a kind spirit. They haven’t missed a day this school year.”
On Wednesday afternoon, the presidents of the Meadowlark PTAs – Donna Dixon of Meadowlark Elementary and Kristen Yount of Meadowlark Middle – make their holiday even more special with a gift of money collected from parents and others in the Meadowlark community.
Here’s the story:
Meadowlark Elementary and Meadowlark Middle share a campus, and, each year, the parents at both schools give a gift to the crossing guards to thank them for all they do.
Gidley and Gidley-Wade are new to Meadowlark this year. People appreciate their dedication.
“They keep us all safe,” said Donna Dixon, the PTA president at Meadowlark Elementary. “They keep traffic moving.”
“They support everybody’s day. They stand out in the pouring rain.”
Dixon has children at both schools. Dorothy is in fifth grade Meadowlark Elementary, and Van is in seventh grade Meadowlark Middle.
T.J. and Jenny Truskowski have two children at Meadowlark Elementary - Logan is in the fifth grade and Bowen is in second grade. Jenny Truskowski is active in the PTA and, as the people at the Meadowlark Elementary PTA were talking about possibilities for this year, T.J. Truskowski said he had noticed the damage to Gidley’s car and thought that fixing it might make a nice present.
Others thought so, too.
Truskowski knows Dustin Shoaf, the shop manager at Pat’s Body Shop. Shoaf’s daughter McKinley Sartin went to Meadowlark Middle before heading to Reagan.
On Friday, Shoaf and Truskowski caught up with Gidley when she and her brother arrived at Meadowlark, talked with her a bit while Shoaf took a look at the damage, which had happened about a year ago when an 18-wheeler banged into her 2000 Dodge Neon.
Shoaf ordered a new left rear door for the car and made arrangements to fix the car when the door came in. They had it back to her the same day. Thanks to Sandra Scarlette, the owner of Pat’s Body Shop & Towing, the work was done for free.
“We decided to help them,” Shoaf said. “We just did it.”
“It makes you feel good.”
When Gidley saw her fixed-up car, she said, “I was in complete awe and thankful and excited.”
It was an amazing gift, she said. “I have had to work hard for everything.”
By no means was that the end of it.
At both Meadowlark Elementary and Meadowlark Middle, volunteers have been working to collect donations from parents.
Meadowlark Middle PTA president Kristen Yount has twins – Nick and Alex – in sixth grade at the school, and Abby is now a freshman at Reagan High.
Yount made the point that the PTAs at both schools have had lots of help in putting it all together. They put the word out though Facebook and emails and, more recently, volunteers have been checking in with parents in the drop-off and pick-up lines.
On Tuesday morning, it was raining when Yount and other volunteers were collecting. When someone said something to Yount about her being dedicated enough to stand in the rain, she pointed out that, whenever school is in session, the crossing guards are out there working no matter how unpleasant the weather.
“They keep us safe,” she said.
Yount was happy to do it. It’s Christmas time, she said, and she wanted to do what she can to help them enjoy the season.
Gidley and Gidley-Wade also serve as crossing guards at West Forsyth High. The West Forsyth day starts and ends later than Meadowlark, so after finishing up at Meadowlark, they head that way.
Gidley likes serving as a crossing guard.
“I like keeping parents and children safe,” she said.
She also enjoys seeing how happy parents are to be back with their children at the end of the school day.
Every now and then, an impatient driver who’s not connected to the school might become annoyed.
When that happens, she doesn’t let it get to her. She tells them: “These parents – these kids take priority. The school comes first.”
The people at Meadowlark take good care of her and her brother, she said. Earlier this school year, some parents gave her and her brother waterproof jackets to wear when it rains.
Gidley’s day is quite full. She cares for her mother, as well as helps out with a niece and great-niece. She is also studying to become certified as a veterinary technician.
Her favorite animal?
“Dogs, of course,” she said. “Always happy to see you.”
Principal Matt Dixson of Meadowlark Middle, who was there for the presentation of the gift on Wednesday, also spoke highly of the two.
“Our crossing guards provide a thankless, yet valuable, service to our school,” Dixson said. “With so much traffic on Meadowlark Drive, they have done a great job ensuring that our traffic gets on and off campus as safely and quickly as possible.”
“What they do each day often goes unnoticed, and this is one way our parents can say thank you (without slowing any traffic!)”