Natchez crossing guard volunteer keeps children safe

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 31, 2001

Robert Norbitt brings the reliability of a postman to his volunteer work for the Natchez-Adams School District.

No matter the weather, he stands at the intersection of Alice Lane and River Terminal Road working as a crossing guard. He wants to make sure children get to and from school safely.

&uot;It could be raining, sleet or snow, I still go over,&uot; he said.

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The 69-year-old Korean War veteran with 13 children and 66 grandchildren, has helped children for years in this way – nine years at his current location and years ago on St. Catherine Street when his own children where in school. He also walked his siblings to school, he said.

He says he likes to help kids plus he wants to make sure they are safe.

&uot;I’m not going to let nobody snatch the children up,&uot; he said.

So every school day, Norbitt goes out to the street corner at 6:30 a.m. and again at 2 p.m. wearing the vest of a crossing guard. He knows the job can be dangerous.

&uot;I’ve almost got run over about four or five times down here,&uot; Norbitt said.

So rainy days like Thursday are the least of his worries Norbitt said reflecting on his years in the military and on his previous experiences with bad weather.

&uot;I used to sleep in it – crawl in it. It don’t bother me,&uot; he said.

And not a single child will be late for school with Norbitt in the neighborhood. In addition to helping them board the bus, he goes by every house in the morning so the children know it is time to get to the bus stop.

&uot;He’ll stop in front of their house and he’ll call their name,&uot; said Althea Hawkins, the grandmother of one of Norbitt’s regular bus travelers.

And if a parent is late meeting their child at the end of the day, Norbitt watches the child until the parent arrives, she said.

&uot;He’s a great help to all the parents in this neighborhood,&uot; Hawkins said.

Many of the drivers who pass Norbitt are his friends, parents of school children or his former &uot;bus&uot; children, and they honk and wave while driving past.

&uot;I put her on a bus until she got a littler older,&uot; Norbitt said while waving to one woman driving to the road.

And in addition Norbitt put his military background and his desire to keep children safe to an even higher level. With the use of karate, &uot;I taught her how to defend herself,&uot; he said.