De Soto 4-H’er finds act of kindness returned
Allyssa King said a 4-H project has taught her the lesson that you get back what you give.
Early last summer, King was among Johnson County 4-H'ers who wrote letters to English families affected the outbreak of foot and mouth disease.
"Our extension agent (Ryan Higbie) encouraged us to write the letters," the 17-year-old said. "It was a way to show support. I really don't remember what I wrote. I expressed my sympathy. I remember I said how hard it would be for me to lose my animals."
King said she forgot about the letter until she received a reply in October.
The letter was from 49-year-old Elaine Warnes of Glouscestershire, England, who wrote that the foot and mouth outbreak had led to the destruction of her father's livestock. "The farm is so empty and life will never be the same again," the woman wrote.
But it was the events of Sept. 11 that compelled Warnes to reach out to her American correspondent.
"My main reason for writing to you now is because of the terrible tragedy that has happened in New York and Washington," Warnes wrote in a letter dated Sept. 16. "I do not have the word to express my feelings of shock, sadness and disbelief at what has happened to your wonderful nation. I do hope that it has not touched you personally. What the outcome will be, we do not know . . . Out thoughts, our love and our prayers are with all that lost loved ones and we will pray for world peace. We all stood for three minutes of silence at eleven o'clock on Friday morning, (and) it was a very moving experience."
King said she and her mother, Denise, were first surprised and then emotionally overwhelmed by the reply, the only one received by the Johnson County correspondents.
"I was shocked to get a letter back," she said. "My mom started crying she thought it was so sweet.
"It was amazing how she said they got together and prayed."
The lesson, King said, is that you get back what you give. She said it is a lesson she's learned in other 4-H projects. She and other members of the Kansas River Youth Leadership Program volunteered to help elderly residents of Easton deal with last spring's flooding.
"We move a deck for one resident, tore out a floor and cleaned up," she said. "One lady wanted things done right. When we were done, she was so thankful, she started crying."
Warnes letter might not be the last words between the cross-Atlantic pen pals.
"I haven't written back. I'm tempted to though," she said. "I want to thank her for the letter and tell her I'm all right."