“V” began volunteering in the 4th grade classroom just helping in general – – sitting beside a child who couldn’t be quiet, or helping another catch up on a reading assignment or math problem. She once defined her role as “the one who sits next to kids.”
So – when the day came that “J” was assigned to her that is what she did. She walked into the classroom and sat next to him.
“WOW!”- – he smelled so badly she had to hold her nose.
All of the teachers had told her that he was a loner. No one would sit with him. Now she knew why. 4th grade boys and girls are not necessarily being mean when they choose not to sit with a boy that smells so bad. They just know they don’t want to be around that smell. The poor boy gets lost in the situation.
“J” looked up at “V” and said, “Are you sure you want to sit by me?”
And that is all it took. “V” would find a way around this obstacle.
She found the “why” behind the smell. “J” was a bed-wetter. He slept on his dirty sheets night after night. Mom was in and out of detention centers. Dad was in and out of jobs. There was no washer or dryer and no money for laundry. He often wore his stained pajamas under his clothes for lack of underwear.
Without a friend in the world it is hard to want to try. But “V” looked right into “J’s” eyes and told him they would find a way to get more people to want to sit with him at school.
Care For Kids facilitated a way to get some laundry help for the family from a local church. “J” was given some new clothes and a wash schedule through the ministry. It inspired the family and Mom began to wash the clothes and sheets according to plan.
By Christmas three children were readily sitting by “J” at lunch and during reading time…by their own choice.
When the special Christmas lunch day rolled around there was a gift with “J’s” name on it. “V” had done a little special shopping: a soap-on-a-rope, body wash, shampoo and a big card that read, “Thank you for being my friend….I’d sit by you any time!”