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Local boys set example by helping others

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Sometimes you encounter a fork in the road, literally.

Such a utensil caused a rear flat tire for one Oelwein resident, and the experience went better than expected thanks to the kindness of strangers who decided to help her change the tire.

“Tonight, my car limped its way into the Fareway parking lot with a rear flat tire,” Irenee Landis, an Oelwein resident and Hazleton native posted Oct. 3 to the Facebook group, Let’s talk about Oelwein w/ Facts and POSITIVITY. “I realized I had forgotten my phone at home and a gentleman offered me his.”

Hunter Woodward, age 15, his cousin, Karson Wilkinson, age 17, and their friend, Conner Jorgensen, 15 were running an errand there when another bystander offered his phone.

“Not thinking I could call my own phone (duh) I said, I can’t remember my husband’s number, I can’t remember ANY numbers!” Landis wrote. “I didn’t know what I was going to do. Fortunately, 3 of Oelwein’s high school boys asked if I needed help changing my tire and came to my rescue.”

Woodward said after their errand, the boys asked if she needed help.

“She had the extra spare tire, she had all the tools, the jack and all that,” he said, and changing the tire took about 10 minutes.

She thanked them profusely although she didn’t catch their names.

The Daily Register was able to find and interview them.

Fortunately, all three had changed a tire before and said they learned the skill from family members.

“My uncle, Billy Rhoades, is a mechanic and I help him all the time and work on different farms,” Woodward said. Wilkinson and Jorgensen each learned to change a tire from their dads, Curt Wilkinson and Scott Jorgensen. The 17-year-old Wilkinson has changed tires for himself previously.

Longtime Oelwein driver’s education teacher Jim Yokas told Principal Tim Hadley the class does offer students an opportunity to change a tire. They go over training videos and walk through the process with the students. The hands-on experience, however, is optional.

The boys explained why they decided to help.

“If you ever need help, if you don’t charge anybody, that person may not help you back but along the line someone may help you back,” Jorgensen said.

Wilkinson agreed. “I think it’s just the right thing to do,” he added. “You don’t have many kids that will do it anymore, just in general helping (people with) anything.”

Woodward said he has helped random people with little things such as picking up fallen groceries, and that little things can go a long way.

“Thank you so much boys and a HUGE thank you to their parents for bringing up such great young gentlemen!” Landis posted.

Familiarity may have had something to do with their helpfulness as well since like many they tried to be smart about it. Woodward and Wilkinson work at Fareway, and Jorgensen used to as well, so the space was familiar. All agreed they felt safe, in a well-lit place with people going in and out. Wilkinson ventured that his response may have been different in a dark alley.

“I am just SO very thankful for their helpfulness,” Landis said in a follow-up message. “By the way, the tire was ruined. Believe it or not, it had a metal fork in it! Don’t know where or how I got that.”