HOXIE, Ark. (KAIT) - Life has many ups and downs. Disappointments and triumphs.
How we react to the tough times shows what we’re made of and can serve as inspiration to others.
Angie Abbott is proof of that.
She finds herself standing in the middle of the Hoxie High School gymnasium on a Friday afternoon.
There’s supposed to be a game played amongst the teachers as part of a pep rally. The only thing is: all the other teachers know it’s only Angie that is supposed to be in the middle of the gym floor.
She is about to get the surprise of her life during the Friday afternoon pep rally celebrating Hoxie’s Friday night football game against the Westside Warriors.
Abbott’s face turns to shock when she sees a stream of people making their way into the gym.
Included in that group is her daughter who has driven in from Northwest Arkansas, her parents and several other family members.
Tears begin streaming down her face.
“We are here today because of you,” I said to Abbott. “When there’s a project that needs to be done, you are the first to sign up and the last to leave.”
A teacher at Hoxie, Abbott has made a lasting impression on countless students.
“You know where her heart is,” Peyton Tillman, one of Abbott’s former Gifted and Talented students, said. “As long as I’ve known her, she’s gotten up every day and she’s trying to make someone’s life better. Whether that’s her family or friends, a community member or her students.”
Trophies line the walls of her classroom.
Reminders of the countless winning quiz bowl teams she’s coached.
“I really get excited,” Abbott said. “I am very competitive.”
She’s been the Junior class sponsor, helped with Student Council, coordinated ACT testing, Beta Club and homecoming. She heads up the school’s backpack program—helping to feed hungry students over the weekend and long holidays.
“She gives them that comfort feeling that someone cares about them,” Melanie Davis, Junior Auxiliary of Lawrence County said. “That someone is there for them, encouraging them on a daily basis.”
And amidst the cheers and excitement for Ms. Abbott, there’s one person that’s not there… her late husband, Daniel.
“I sit in his chair every month and it is still close to my heart,” Abbott said.
Abbott had never been to a City Council meeting in Walnut Ridge, where Daniel served as an alderman.
Not one; but when her husband died in 2016…
“He had just run for re-election and won,” Abbott said.
That’s when Ms. Abbott asked to fill his seat.
“And when the council looked at everything that she does, and knew that she would step in without missing a heartbeat, so to speak… why would they not appoint her?!” Charles Snapp, Mayor of Walnut Ridge, said.
Snapp said she’s never missed a meeting, ran for re-election and won and always carefully researches all issues facing the council.
“I love this community,” Abbott said. “I love the people in it and anytime I’ve needed something, they have been there for me.”
And she is there for them at Thanksgiving.
“She reaches out to the churches, Sharna Butts, one of the coordinators of the Community Meal in Lawrence County, said. “She finds people in the community to donate drinks and to donate desserts.”
“Just whatever we ask of her to do in the auxiliary, she is more than willing to help,” Davis said.
“That’s why you are the next winner in the Gr8 Acts of Kindness,” I announce to the large crowd of onlookers gathered in the gym.
“One hundred! Two hundred. Three hundred. Four hundred…five, six, seven, eight!” I count the money into Abbott’s hand.
“This money is for the backpack program!” Abbott announces as she raises the money high into the air.
“While the money won’t last forever, here’s a little something to remember this day by,” Kembralyn Redman from First Community Bank said as she handed Abbott an over-sized check suitable for framing.
“A lot of these students will stay here and I just want this community to be a better place for them,” Abbott said. “When I am long gone, I want them to have a better place to live.”
“I love you,” Abbott’s father tells her with a hug. “I love you, too Daddy,” she said with tears streaming down her face.
If you know someone like Angie Abbott that goes the extra mile to help others, nominate them for the Gr8 Acts of Kindness online. It’s easy to do. Just go to our website: kait8.com.