Pleasantly Surprised By Teen Samaritans

Aloha Pamela, I just wanted to take a few moments for a big mahalo to the guys who really helped get me out of a jam in Kapalama.

Having just picked up a heavy load of custom wood flooring at the warehouse, I was waiting at a stoplight on North School Street. Because the load was just a little longer than my pickup bed, the tailgate was open. A couple of hours before, I’d safely made a trip with a nearly identical load, so I had not thought it necessary to further secure the boxes, leaving the loading to the judgment of the warehouse crew.

To my absolute shock, as I slipped the truck into first gear on the green light, the entire load slipped out of the bed onto the road.

I quickly parked my truck and hustled back. Almost immediately, a middle-aged gentleman bystander quickly stepped into the roadway to lend a hand. But, to my surprise, two young teen boys, neatly dressed in their school best — shirts and ties — also jumped to my aid. With their added help, we made quick work of getting the load out of the road.

With the load out of the way of traffic, the boys quickly took off to join their friends. I wish I’d taken a little more time to thank them properly. We so often think of teens as being too self-absorbed to help a complete stranger. These guys, moments before, had been waiting to cross a street, joking with their friends, messing with one another — just being typical teens. They could have walked away, but they didn’t. I’d like them to know that I appreciate very much that they pitched in, helped and did what needed to be done without being asked, prompted or properly thanked.

I was able to thank the gent who stepped up to help. He was kind enough to stay with me to get me on my way again. I appreciate all he did for me, but the kids pitching in, unasked, really helped save the day and probably saved me a traffic citation! Please pass along my mahalo to my good Samaritans in Kapalama.

Jim Turse

Dear Jim,

Your praise for the teens is echoed by Oahu educators.

Bernard Ho, president and CEO of Damien Memorial School, writes: “It’s wonderful to hear about charitable deeds by our youths, but it’s not an uncommon practice for Damien students because we emphasize being responsible citizens and helping the marginalized. When Typhoon Hyon struck the Philippines, our senior class organized a campaign to gather food and canned goods from other students and challenged our community to join the effort. The result was a container load filled and shipped to victims. Besides that, they collected about $4,000 to send.

During the year, our LEO Community Service Club and other students provide tissue and toiletries to senior-care residents, and perform various projects to benefit the homeless and our environment. All high school students must perform 100 hours of community service hours in order to graduate.”

Amy Vorderbruegge, principal of Hawaii Baptist Academy Elementary School, says, “Educating the ‘whole’ child includes their social growth. Helping students to observe their surroundings and take initiative to make things right or better is a good example of this. This is not an easy task, but one we partner with parents to accomplish. As a school, we work to include community service opportunities at many different grade levels, including kindergarteners singing at the nearby retirement center, third-graders raising money for a philanthropy of their choice, sixth-graders pulling invasive plants and our high-schoolers doing beach cleanups. The goal is to help them see that the world is ‘bigger than me’ and give them opportunities to experience the good feeling that comes with giving back.”

Jennifer M. Grems, director of St. Andrew’s Priory Upper School, writes: “What I love best about Mr. Turse’s story is the selflessness we often miss in our teens. More often than not, teens are ruled by their emotions. And one very powerful emotion is that of empathy — the ability to recognize and sense the emotional state (or struggle) of others. And I believe that’s what inspired those young men to jump in and lend a hand.”