A thank you note for keeps

Jul. 19, 2013 @ 05:23 PM

I have a lot of stuff on my desk in the newsroom. All the work supplies like calendars, newspapers, papers, books, stapler, tape and my phone, spread out around my computer. Plus I have photographs, postcards, a trophy from winning the March Madness pool, a Happy Meal toy Gingy, a toy mail truck and even a box of rocks from the opening of the Smart Road at Virginia Tech. Propped up among my debris, er decorations, is my favorite thank you note from a story subject.

A few weeks ago I wrote about Vacation Bible School at Russell Memorial CME Church for the Faith section, and spent part of the evening in the 9- and 10-year-old class. The teachers and the kids in the class signed a card, with a note from the teacher saying it reminded her of her own reporting days in Raleigh in the 1970s.

The kids signed their names in ways only youth can, with a heart here and a smiley face there and a circle dotting an “i” there. Plus some exclamation points tossed in. I’m looking at it now as I’m typing, and I’m smiling. I love it. I’m going to keep that card forever.

Some of you may have read my story a few weeks ago about Pansy Dodson and Madeline Sparrow, two Chapel Hill sisters who grew up in Durham. Together they send out 200 mailings a month to friends, acquaintances, the infirmed and others. Dodson writes verses for each month about nature or the seasons. She uses email, too, but most of her correspondence is through what we now call snail mail. Even if we don’t use snail mail as much as before, we still check our mailboxes six days a week, don’t we? And we’re pleased to find a handwritten envelope. Or even better, a package.

My son’s godparents sent a surprise package last week of books. He was so excited to open the box and check out the books. Soon it was time to send a thank you note, and I wrote a little something while he drew a picture. Into the envelope they went, handwritten address on the front, into the mail slot for the postal carrier to pick up.

Like the VBS class at Russell Memorial CME, Pansy Dodson and Madeline Sparrow already know, sometimes all it takes to brighten a day is an envelope, a nice thought and a pen. It’s an extra step met with appreciation.

***

By the way, if you emailed me on Monday about my bus column or anything else, please resend it. The newspaper’s email system was down, so if you sent your thoughts on Durham’s bus stops, I haven’t seen it yet. I’d like to hear from more of you before I write about it again.

Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan may be reached at dvaughan@heraldsun.com or 919-419-6563.