JOPLIN, MO.--- Everyday, over 3,000 kids are transported within the Joplin School District. 97 buses log 850,000 miles a year. It takes so many people to make it happen, but one man aboard bus number 85 is shining brightly in his daily effort to help the kids have a great day. Jack Long is sharing laughs and kindness with the kids aboard bus 85. It's a normal routine for the bus aide also known as "Sweet Pickle" who keeps a watchful eye and shares his heart with the children.
"A lot of cheer, a lot of love, the kids love him. He's a great aide," said Vera Johnston, Bus Driver.
"You get them a little light hearted, so whenever they to go school they can do whatever," said Jack Long, Bus Aide.
With a caring hand, Long knows the ride time can make the difference in the kind of day the kids will have.
"He just tells us jokes and stuff," said Colby Showalter, Rides Bus 85.
"He has a very passionate care for them and I like that, we love the kids," said Johnston.
Others have noticed too, including a driver behind bus 85 one day.
"The thing that really caught my attention was he just seemed very warm and friendly in his demeanor, and I noticed that he patted each boy on the back as they got on the bus," said Cynthia Marlow, Inspired by Jack.
That genuine concern is felt on the bus with an assuring wink or just a laugh.
"We try to tell each other jokes and stories and you listen to their troubles, cause their problems are just as big as yours are to them. And you just be a sounding board sometimes, and get them to laugh, get them off a bad thought if they've got a bad thought," said Long.
The jokes and Long's quick wit help.
"He's pretty fun," said Showalter.
"My family tells me it's because I'm on the same level as most kids, and I don't know what that quite means," said Long.
Even for strangers who have witnessed his kindness, his acts are heartwarming.
"I assume it's just who he is," said Marlow.
"He's an awesome person. I don't want to give him a big head, but he's a great aide. I couldn't find anybody any better," said Jonston.
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