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By Wil Crews
Opelika Observer

“You smell like pizza,” 8-year-old Prudence Hagans says to her father, Mike Hagans. She and Mike are sitting in the lounge of the leasing office at 1322 North apartments in Auburn.

Mike works as the maintenance supervisor for the complex, and with no school being held due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Prudence is always by his side, ready to lend a helping hand.

“Look at my shoes,” she said. Prudence clacks her heels together and bounces in her seat, “they light up.” Just like her shoes, Prudence is always shining her light — however, the focus is never on herself.

When Prudence isn’t helping her father with maintenance check-ups, she is usually looking for other ways to make a difference. “She’s always doing things for other people, she’s very outgoing,” Mike said.

Like many of us, Prudence didn’t find inspiration through a philosophical text or by watching the news; her idea was sparked by YouTube. “Prudence has a very kind heart, and this was just another nice thing she did,” Mike said.

With help of her dad, Prudence set up a donation station at the front of the complex’s office.

Prudence asked residents to write kind messages of encouragement for the doctors and patients at East Alabama Medical Center on a homemade card that stood as tall as the soon-to-be fourth-grader herself. Along with the card, Prudence received some canned goods and around $25 in cash.

Wary of social distancing guidelines, Mike was hesitant to hand-deliver the donation to EAMC.

Instead, EAMC got word of what Prudence had done and sent paramedics to Mike and Prudence’s home to pick up her donation.

Prudence’s most recent act of kindness was one to lift the spirits of some in her community. She and her father didn’t think that it would get this much attention; but being kind is just what Prudence does. Somebody was bound to notice.

Before COVID-19, at Christmas, Prudence would deliver ornaments to her teachers at school.

There is a small creek near their apartment complex. Prudence looked around as she talked about it –– as if she was waiting for the right moment to run there and go swimming right now –– she plans to throw a party there once coronavirus concerns fade.

She and Mike once filled up five garbage bags with trash that was from that creek. “I hate littering,” Prudence said. Just recently Mike brought home an injured baby bird. Prudence and her dad nursed the bird back to health for four days. “By the end of the week, we had to let it go,” Prudence said. “We were really worried that it wouldn’t fly, but it flew all the way to friend Bella’s apartment, and that’s way up in the air.”

It’s clear that Prudence sets a compassionate example for all of us to follow. What does she want people to learn from her altruistic personality and charitable acts? “Just be kind and try to help others,” Prudence said.

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