Editor: I am the mother of a 13-year-old newspaper carrier. For the past three years, he has delivered two of our local papers to nearly 100 homes in our area.
In many ways, it has been a great experience for him. He has learned a lot about punctuality, work ethic, customer service, problem solving and responsibility. He runs it like a business so he has also learned about budgeting, keeping records and dreaded overhead, as he maintains his delivery wagon at his own expense. It has built his self-esteem, given hm much self- assurance and provides him added fresh air and exercise.
My son takes his job seriously. He plans his schedules around his deliveries, making his route the priority. This includes the summer and sick days. He never complains about the weather and has delivered on many very miserable days.
He tries hard to make sure the paper is protected from the elements, even using bread bags at times. He never crosses a lawn and makes sure gates are properly closed behind him. I have even seen him quietly shovel a walkway so an elderly customer could get her paper safely.
He is always polite and says hello to his customers. Some of the homes he delivers to can present a real challenge getting to the front door, but he takes it on without complaint. He tries very hard to deliver on time, but it is not always within his control to do so. However, on these days the paper comes first and I know of a few events he has passed on in order to achieve this.
My son comes from a single parent, single income home. We live on a tight budget with little room for extras, so the little money he earns delivering papers is spent carefully.
One of the things he spends it on is to fund his participation in a local group that supports his future career choice. It requires travel fees and some specialized gear and clothing, all of which he pays for on his own. He is very focused on his future and I am so proud of his efforts and awards.
He also uses his money to buy birthday and Christmas presents for his family and friends, to buy the occasional movie ticket or piece of clothing and to make an annual donation to a children’s charity.
My son has delivered papers over three Christmases now. The first Christmas, not one of his 90-plus customers remembered him. The next year he received one card with some money. Last year was like the first.
My son has never complained about this, but he was very touched by the card he received. Inside were the words “Thanks for a job well done.” Those words meant more to him than the money, and the card is still on his bulletin board.
The reason I am writing is to ask that newspaper customers take the time to consider their carriers this Christmas. Many are just like my son. They are good kids earning their own money and usually they have a good and positive motivation for doing so.
The accolades are few, the money earned not much and those who stick it out usually have a good reason for doing so. My son does consider giving up the route at times. but what keeps him going is his focus on his future and how his earnings are helping him achieve it.
This is not a child you will see roaming the streets. This is not a child that will burden society now or in the future. This is a good kid on the right path. Just a moment of your time to let him know his work is appreciated goes a long way towards supporting this.
We are often so focused on the teens in the news, and we can easily forget the good ones who are quietly doing right. This year, please take the time to think of them too.
Name withheld by request