Students lend a helping hand

Published 12:07 am Friday, August 31, 2012

LAUREN WOOD / THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Erin Hicks, 17, a senior at Cathedral School, rakes up leaves with other students, friends and neighbors Thursday afternoon on Melanie Road. Hicks organized the cleanup as one of her three “pay it forward” actions as part of her English class project.

NATCHEZ — A wave of kindness blew through Melanie Road Thursday afternoon on the tail of Tropical Storm Isaac.

After watching a movie in her English class this week, Cathedral School senior Erin Hicks saw the damage Isaac did to the Miss-Lou as the perfect opportunity to apply what she learned in the classroom with her desire to do mission work after high school.

“We watched this movie called ‘Pay it Forward’ and our English teacher gave us an assignment to do three random acts of kindness and write a paper about one of them,” Hicks said. “I’ve always enjoyed helping other people, and some of these people just can’t clean up their houses after a storm like this.”

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Large tree limbs, leaves and other miscellaneous debris littered many neighborhoods across the Miss-Lou after Isaac swept through town Wednesday night, but Hicks said began on Melanie Road for one reason.

“This lady is in the hospital because she fell and broke her tailbone last week, so we wanted to start here because she won’t be able to clean it up herself,” Hicks said. “It’s just all about doing random acts of kindness and when someone wants to pay you for it, you tell them to pay it forward by doing three random acts on their own.

“It can be as simple as letting someone skip you in line, but it’s all about paying it forward to others.”

Knowing she wouldn’t be able to do all the heavy lifting herself, Hicks enlisted the help of her Facebook friends and the Cathedral Green Wave football team by contacting head coach Ron Rushing.

“She called and asked if I could get all the players together to help out, and we try to do stuff like this as much as we can,” Rushing said. “I’m excited to see all these guys out here and glad Erin had this idea.

“She’s a wonderful young lady who is always trying to give back.”

Hicks and company spent several hours on Melanie Road piling limbs and debris onto a trailer before moving on to other neighborhoods in need.

And while the random act of kindness from the Green Wave students and players might have surprised some of the neighborhood residents, the idea didn’t come as any surprise to Hicks’ mother, Courtney.

“Her heart has been toward missions recently and immediately after the storms she started talking about wanting to go help clean up,” Courtney Hicks said. “All these kids could be at home relaxing on their day off, but as soon as she sent out that message they all came out and started helping.

“It’s just awesome to see them all together helping people like this.”

Erin is also the daughter of John Hicks.