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Morning Sun
  • PATRICK'S PEOPLE: Frontenac's Sam Nighswonger helps collect for Joplin recovery

  • Megan Taylor thought that daughters Sam Nighswonger, 11, and Madison Nighswonger, 10, might learn a valuable lesson from the devastation caused in Joplin by the May 22 tornado.

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  • Megan Taylor thought that daughters Sam Nighswonger, 11, and Madison Nighswonger, 10, might learn a valuable lesson from the devastation caused in Joplin by the May 22 tornado.
    That was only half the story. Sam, who just graduated from Frank Layden Elementary School in Frontenac, ended up teaching a lesson as well.
    A psychiatric RN employed in Joplin and working the night shift, Taylor saw the devastation firsthand.
    “I thought this would be a good lesson for my daughters,” she said.
    The girls also heard that President Obama would be visiting the city on May 29 and that “bad guys” (protesters from the Westboro Baptist Church) would also be present, along with “good guys” who would attempt to counter the message of  hate.
    “Sam wondered why there would be bad guys at something like that, and she decided that she wanted to bake cookies for the good guys,” Taylor said. “We baked seven batches of cookies in three different kinds — sugar cookies, chocolate chip and peanut butter. She kept the peanut butter cookies separate in case somebody was allergic.”
    The cookies were handed out to the good guys, but Sam wasn’t done yet.
    “Then she started talking about going door to door to collect money for the storm victims in Joplin,” Taylor said. “I thought that people here had probably given and given already, so I suggested we wait until we visited her grandparents who live in a very nice area in Johnson County.”
    Sam found an empty coffee can to hold the money and, accompanied by her mother, walked door to door three hours on Memorial Day and three hours the day after.
    “This was all Sam’s idea,” Taylor said. “It was hot out, but she didn’t give up and she collected $400.”
    The youngster first attempted to present her donation at a Red Cross mobile unit in Joplin, but personnel there advised her it would be better to turn in her gift at the Red Cross headquarters at Ozark Christian College.
    Taylor said that Sam, also the daughter of Kenny Nighswonger, has always had a strong sense of right and wrong, and also learned at an early age to be accepting of the differences between people.
    “You see all the bad things that happen, but after all the bad, there’s also good,” Taylor said.

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