Editorial: The American spirit — Efforts to assist local Head Start kids during shutdown are commendable
by The Anniston Star Editorial Board
Oct 02, 2013 | 1925 views |  0 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Shanae Collins is volunteering her time to help teach kids at The Life Center Church in Hobson City. The church opened it's doors to kids Tuesday morning after Head Start was shutdown due to the government shutdown.   (Photo by Trent Penny)
Shanae Collins is volunteering her time to help teach kids at The Life Center Church in Hobson City. The church opened it's doors to kids Tuesday morning after Head Start was shutdown due to the government shutdown. (Photo by Trent Penny)
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In only a few days, the shutdown of the federal government has displayed countless examples of America’s not-so-pleasant side: oblivious lawmakers, harmful political squabbles, shuttered federal departments and real doubt about Congress’ competence.

The shutdown also has given the best among us chances to highlight the American spirit.

With that, we give you Shanae Collins, Erica Butts, Taqua Robertson and Eugene Leonard and Ericka Richmond.

Collectively, those five are part, though not all, of the story surrounding Head Start in northeast Alabama, which, like so many other federally funded programs, is shut down until further notice. On Wednesday, a story by The Star’s Eddie Burkhalter described the efforts these Alabamians undertook to provide Head Start children with a safe and educational environment during the shutdown. It is nothing short of exemplary.

Leonard, the pastor at Life Center Church in Hobson City, agreed to host classes for the children.

Richmond, an Army major stationed at the National Guard Training Center at Fort McClellan, delivered a cash donation to the church to help with the children’s classes.

Butts, assistant coordinator at Norwood Head Start, is volunteering at the church class. So, too, are Collins, the parent of a child in the class, and Robertson, who worked at the Heflin Head Start.

“We’re trying to do whatever we can to help the community,” Leonard told The Star. “We had some college students who came in this morning to drop their kids off and said, ‘Thank you, because we weren’t going to go to class today without anybody to keep our kids.’ We’re going to do it until the shutdown ends, and it’s totally free.”

We’re wowed by that type of grassroots assistance, a no-strings-attached effort to help those affected by modern-day Washington’s inability to govern. In a time of need, these Alabamians reached out, found a solution and joined hands to keep the lights on for these children. The volunteers aren’t getting paid. The church isn’t charging the parents. This is the other side the shutdown story, one that should be told.

It would be folly to assume these five are the only Alabamians lending a helping hand to those affected by the shutdown. To all of them, the named and the unnamed, we tip our hat and say, loudly, thank you. You are making a trying time better for all of us.
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