The gift of giving back

Community buys longtime preschool director a car

In the middle of a parking lot sits a red car with a white bow on top.

On its windshield rests a card, which reads:

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"To Miss Rosie

From all of your kids

Past, present and future."

Surrounding the car are several of those very "kids," along with past and present parents, friends and family.

They have all congregated at Loudy-Simpson Park on Wednesday morning for this moment.

To give Miss Rosie -- a longtime preschool director -- the red car, a 1997 Buick Park Avenue.

And there is Miss Rosie, or Rosemary Crosthwaite, moving to each of person, smiling, hugging and thanking everyone one she can get her arms around.

Seeing the bow-topped present in the parking lot left the 71-year-old Miss Rosie in state of "total disbelief."

"It was like I was in dream," she said of seeing the car for the first time. "I felt like pretty soon somebody was going to poke me and say, 'It's time to get up.'"

Buying the car was a community effort; a gift for someone who has given so much to the community with her 30 years of service, 25 of which have been spent as St. Mark's Preschool director.

Although the gesture of the gift comes from her service to children, the catalyst was from one night of vandals.

One April night, Miss Rosie's red 1991 Ford Tempo -- a vehicle she had owned for more than seven years -- broke down on Highway 13 when its transmission went out. She made it to a friend's house, but she elected to wait to get the vehicle towed until the morning.

However, the car was further damaged when vandals threw beer bottles at the vehicle, destroying the driver's side window and the windshield, as well as putting several "dings," as Miss Rosie calls them, in the side of the car.

The end result was $1,700 in damages. However, buying or repairing the vehicle was not at the top on Miss Rosie's priority list. Instead she opted to drive a loaner from her brother John Williams.

"You have to know me to understand" why I didn't look for another vehicle, said Miss Rosie, the 2007 Craig Daily Press Teacher of the Year winner. "I said, 'I can't be stressed and upset about not having a car and deal with the children."

Her plan was to wait until school was out to find a car.

Her plan was thwarted.

Becky Otis and Colesta Duran helped spearhead a community effort to get Miss Rosie a car.

Otis set up an account at the Bank of the Rockies. Duran passed out flyers, used word of mouth and put collection cans in liquor stores. Why liquor stores?

"Because (Miss Rosie) never goes into them," Duran said.

As word spread across the community about the fundraiser, Miss Rosie admittedly never had a clue.

"I don't know how they keep these secrets," she said. "There were so many people who knew. ... I had absolutely no idea."

To date, Otis estimated fundraisers netted $3,000 to $4,000 toward the purchase of the Buick Park Avenue, a vehicle with an estimated Blue Book value near $6,000. There also is money from some trade-ins.

From there, Cook Chevrolet took care of the difference.

"A lot of people worked on this," said John Knoche, sales manager at Cook Chevrolet. "We're just a small part of the whole thing. There is a whole bunch of people to thank. ... I think half of the town is involved."

And there is a reason for that, Duran said.

"Miss Rosie is an awesome teacher," she said. "She's 71 and she still climbs underneath the tables with them little kids and chases them around on her hands and knees. Even as a friend, she's just an amazing woman."

Jerry Raehal can be reached 824-7031, ext. 204 or at jraehal@craigdailypress.com

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