‘I could see they were cold’

TO THE BUS: Morley Stanwood students flock to their buses on Wednesday. (Pioneer photo/Miranda Roberts)

TO THE BUS: Morley Stanwood students flock to their buses on Wednesday. (Pioneer photo/Miranda Roberts)

MORLEY – Bus drivers are the first people to greet children as they begin their school day. They also are the first people to see a child without proper winter coats, hats, mittens and snow pants.

When Philena Stine, a Morley Stanwood Community Schools bus driver, saw two cold little girls waiting at their bus stop, she felt she had to do something.

“These kids were cold and I could see they were cold,” Stine said. “One little girl wasn’t wearing any gloves and I asked her where her gloves were and she said she didn’t have any.

John Boyd, Morley Stanwood Community Schools transportation supervisor, stands with bus drivers Sheila Lingle, Sarah Cassidy and Philena Stine. Lingle, Cassidy and Stine collected gently-used winter gear for children along their routes who needed mittens, hats, coats and snow pants. (Pioneer photo/Miranda Roberts)

John Boyd, Morley Stanwood Community Schools transportation supervisor, stands with bus drivers Sheila Lingle, Sarah Cassidy and Philena Stine. Lingle, Cassidy and Stine collected gently-used winter gear for children along their routes who needed mittens, hats, coats and snow pants. (Pioneer photo/Miranda Roberts)

“I asked the teacher if they had stuff to wear, and she said they had coats, snow pants and boots. I guess they won’t let them go outside for recess without them. But I didn’t know where they were, and I saw them with really thin, worn-out snow pants.”

Stine told some fellow bus drivers about the girls, and immediate action was taken to ensure they received proper snow gear.

Sheila Lingle and her daughter, Sarah Cassidy, both MSCS bus drivers, posted a request for items on Facebook with the girls’ approximate sizes. Within an hour, two families responded and Copper Top Convenience Store donated hats and mittens to the cause.

“The next morning we had a whole box full, so I picked out some things for those two little girls,” Stine said. “This was two weeks ago, right before it got really cold. I figure it must have been meant to be, because those girls are wearing the snow pants and gloves. The one little gal wears them every day now, so I know she appreciates them.”

As bus drivers, Stine, Lingle and Cassidy see and hear a lot about children’s lives.

WELCOME ABOARD: Sheila Lingle listens attentively to a student as she enters the bus. (Pioneer photo/Miranda Roberts)

WELCOME ABOARD: Sheila Lingle listens attentively to a student as she enters the bus. (Pioneer photo/Miranda Roberts)

“We see it all,” Lingle said. “They may go to the classroom, but we see where they live. Some of them come out of wonderful places, but then you have some who don’t.

“Kids are dealing with things and they tell us because we are the first ones that they see. We are the ones who hear when it’s their birthday, and we are there when they get on the bus crying and they need a hug. They are our kids when they are on the bus, and we worry about them.”

Every day, they worry about the little ones they transport to and from school. The thought of a child going without warmth or food is difficult to bear.

“It just about kills you,” Cassidy said. “You are sitting around the fireplace and you are wondering if they’ve got enough to eat or if they are cold and you have to build up some kind of a wall and go, ‘Well, today I can make sure you have a coat, or I can give you a hat and gloves. I can’t solve all of your problems, but today I can at least make sure you are warm.’”

Grateful to the community for their outpouring of support, Cassidy said they are not in need of additional winter clothing items, but encourages those who are able to donate to an organization where it will benefit someone in need.

“If you are out in the community and you see someone who is cold and you have a coat, give them a coat,” she said. “Everybody has hand-me-down coats and we are blessed to get new things every year or every other year. Check with your church or the homeless shelter and see if there is someone who could use it.”

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Posted by Miranda Roberts

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