2017 was a difficult year for me, as constant attacks on things I value made
me worry about the future of our country. So I'm determined to face this
new year with hope and optimism, a belief that things will get better.
I decided to look for and post a positive/optimistic quote every Monday to keep me inspired. Sometimes we need to see what's good in the world—especially with so many negative and hurtful things being said and done today. I also decided I’d make my first blogpost of 2018 a positive one, too. So here's a heartwarming story.
Last fall, I heard that our Daytona Beach Barnes & Noble had lost its lease and was going to close. I was terribly disappointed because every trip my husband and I take to Daytona ends with a stop at the book store. But it never occurred to me that I could do anything about it.
Fortunately, it did occur to a group of third graders and their teacher, Shaina Belsky, at Tomoka Elementary School in Ormond Beach. As reported in the Daytona Beach News-Journal, they decided to write to Barnes & Noble CEO Demos Parneros:
“We are very sorry to hear [about the lease] and very upset that we won’t be able to visit and shop and browse and learn new things. Some of us love your sale items (using math). Some like to study there and even eat there. . . . Please don’t leave us without our favorite book store!”
Encouraged by Belsky, they even found alternative sites and suggested Paneros come see them. As an added enticement, they offered, “If you come, we will take you to the beach with us and teach you how to surf!”
Their appeal resonated with the CEO, and the company came to an agreement with its landlord on a lease extension. In addition, the vice-president of retail operations, Frank Morabito, was sent to visit with the students. He shook hands with each student and gave out $25 B&N gift certificates. He also said how moved Barnes & Noble staffers were to be able to share the “really great story.”
It was a great lesson to the students that they can make a difference. “They just have to try,” their teacher said. “They can make positive change for themselves and their community, and they just have to try.”
That’s a reminder to all of us. Sometimes we think that our letters to senators, congressmen, and business leaders fall into a black hole, but you never know when your message just might hit the right chord with someone and make a difference. I’m going to think of these kids the next time I’m ready to say, “What difference can my letter make?”
[The information and quotes in this story come from the December 9, 2017 edition of the Daytona Beach News-Journal. I applaud the editors for focusing on the good that kids can do—and for placing the story on the front page!]