Amish get help from Picayune community

Published 1:06 am Sunday, December 17, 2006

One thing is shared by the Amish community and the community of Picayune, kindness and compassion for those in need.

After Hurricane Katrina many people from the Amish community came to lend their expertise in building to our rebuilding process. Now in the aftermath of the Amish school house shooting Picayune sent a small token of appreciation and hope to show the Amish good graces were not forgotten.

From November 24-27, Picayune High School senior Kasey Mitchell and her senior project mentor Dawn Bechtel took a trip to Philadelphia, Penn. to present the Amish with a check for $11,007.82, Bechtel said. The money was raised in various efforts such as the Picayune Fire Department’s boot drive, a collection at a Picayune football game and an account set up at Bank Plus.

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When the pair arrived on Friday Nov. 24, the Amish community honored Mitchell’s hard work with a special dinner and presented her with a print of an Amish school bell entitled “Kindness and Compassion” painted by a Pennsylvania artist, Mitchell said.

During her stay Mitchell had the opportunity to spend time with people of the Amish faith and even help out with the daily chores. Mitchell said that experience gave her a first hand look at the Amish culture.

Bechtel said Mitchell also had the chance to meet one of the girls who was shot during the tragic incident. The eight-year old girl was shot in the arm and in the jaw, which shattered her jaw and left some bullets lodged in her body, Bechtel said. Bone from the little girl’s hip will be used to fix her jaw, Mitchell said.

Mitchell was presented with a print of the painting of an Amish School bell during the dinner the Amish people held for her on her arrival Friday evening Nov. 24. The print was one of 1,000 taken from the originals that were presented to each of the 10 families who had children involved in the shooting.

Friday night after the dinner Mitchell said she was able to stay with an Amish family and learn about what it takes to care for a farm. That night Mitchell said she spent her time playing with the small children and talked with the family before bed. Early in the morning she helped feed the livestock and with other chores. Exactly what time she started out to help with the chores was hard to determine since the house did not have a clock. Milking the cows on the Amish farm was taken care of with machines but each member of the family had an assigned chore and animals to feed, even the little ones, Mitchell said.

“So that was definitely an experience,” Mitchell said. “Their work ethic is incredible.”

After the chores were finished for the morning Mitchell said she went to visit one of the children who was shot during the incident and released from the hospital. During that visit Mitchell said the little girl showed her the room with all her get well presents and even gave Mitchell a copy of a drawing of a police car. The police drawing was significant because the little boy who drew it lost his sister in the school shooting, she died in a police officers arms in the back of his patrol car, Mitchell said.

On Sunday Mitchell was invited to attend an Amish Sing, where the children play volley ball and sing hymns.

“It’s rare for English people to be invited to an Amish Sing so I was really glad I got to do that,” Mitchell said.

The last day of her visit Mitchell said she got to witness a Amish school class in session. Mitchell said the one class consists of all the children in grades one to eight. Amish stop attending school after grade eight to get married, go to work or teach school. Mitchell said unmarried females teach the school and the teacher she saw was about Mitchell’s age. Once the women become married they can no longer teach school, Mitchell said.

Mitchell will present the print of “Kindness and Compassion” and tell her story at the next City of Picayune Council meeting at 6 p.m. Dec. 19 at the council chambers. The public is invited to attend.