OSWEGO — Sometimes we run into troubles that can break our hearts. But thanks to the kindness and willingness of others, we are able to overcome that ache.
That’s the story that unfolded when Kingsford Park Elementary School fifth grader Natalie Breitbeck left her bean plant on the school bus.
“She got off the bus and came inside and ran to me to call the bus driver because she had forgotten her plant on the bus,” Natalie’s mother Bethany Donie said.
The next day, Donie went to ask the driver of the bus, Mike Lavner, if he had recovered the plant. Sadly, the news wasn’t good.
“I went to sweep my bus at the end of the day and found dirt all over the floor,” Lavner said. “I threw the plant away. There wasn’t a name on the cup.”
Natalie, who said she had been growing the plant in her science class, was devastated.
“I was very upset and felt bad,” Natalie said.
“My daughter looked back at me with tears in her eyes, heart broken over her plant,” Donie said. “I assured her it would be okay and we would grow another one. I could see the helplessness in her face.”
Donie consulted her daughter’s teachers, asking them what kind of beans the class had been growing. She hoped to, at the very least, buy the same seeds so Natalie could start from scratch.
With the a plan in action and a way to help mend her daughter’s heart, Donie left for work that day. But when she came home, a small bean plant inside of a plastic cup was set on the family’s back porch.
“There were rocks around the cup to prevent the wind from knocking it over,” Donie said. “I had a feeling that it was her plant but there wasn’t a note with an explanation.”
Needless to say, Natalie was beyond excited to see her plant safe and sound on the family’s back porch. But who did it, was up for discussion.
“She was certain that this was her plant. I told her to ask the bus driver in the morning if he had anything to do with it,” Donie said.
Sure enough, Lavner did save Natalie’s plant. He went to the dumpster where he had taken the plant and salvaged it. He nursed it back to health and brought it back to their home.
“It was the look on Natalie’s face that was enough for me to go through the garbage,” Lavner said. “The maintenance guys had already emptied the trash cans, so I went to the dumpster and went through six bags of trash. I found the plant, took it home, gave it some water and then I brought it back to their house.”
Now thanks to Lavner, the plant is living to see many more days and has been transplanted comfortably into a bigger pot on the back porch. Donie and her daughter couldn’t be happier.
“I cannot even begin to express the gratitude that I feel for this selfless act of kindness,” Donie said. “It is so relieving and refreshing to know that there are good hearted people involved in taking care of our children.”
It’s the random acts of kindness in the world that bring it all together, and those individual serve as role models for our children for generations to come.
“Mike was a great influence and role model for my daughter’s dad and his friends when they were growing up and spending their days at the Fort Rec Center,” Donie said. “All these years and he’s still being a wonderful role model for the youth in our community.”