Retired military man pays it forward by enriching lives at Del City school

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DEL CITY, Okla. (KFOR) – Retired folks make some of the best volunteer workers in the world.

Just ask the teachers, staff and students at Highland Park Elementary in Del City.

Their hero is retired from the Air Force. His name is Ed Sweeney, but the folks at Highland Park just call him Mr. Ed.

“He’s the kindest, happiest person,” says 5th grade teacher Tamara Woodring. “I love to see him in the mornings, and it’s great to say, ‘Hey, Mr. Ed, how are you?!”

Ed organizes a Santa Store for Christmas at the school. A place where kids from this economically challenged district can come in and buy affordable gifts for their parents and siblings. He also heads up the PTA at Highland Park.

Teacher Stephanie Mouse nominated Ed for Pay It Forward.

“He gives of himself nonstop,” says Stephanie. “In all of his spare time when he’s not up at the school practically five days a week, he makes wooden ornaments and crafts and sells them to help fund our PTA. So, when I think of paying it forward, our students get to see what it means for someone to give of themselves, and that’s going to be generations that know how to pay it forward by Ed’s example.”

After getting the $400 cash prize provided by First Fidelity Bank’s Kimberly Clift, we went to find Ed.

Ed was back working in the school’s Christmas Shop. A stunned and teary-eyed Ed told us we were going to make him cry because of the emotion of being recognized for his volunteer work.

When I asked him why he does what he does for the kids, Ed said, “When I was in the military, I had people who saw my potential and overlooked my flaws and worked with me. And so to work with these kids and help them realize how much potential they have and there’s a way to get there, you know, it’s just a way of helping other people out, and you’re securing a better future for the community.”

The school principal, Dr. Donna Cloud, told us this about Ed: “We love Ed. We don’t know what we would do without him. He’s been wonderful for our school. He’s helped our kids. We wouldn’t have a PTA if it wasn’t for Ed.”

A retired military man, Ed Sweeney, working to serve the kids, knowing sometimes paying it forward can change a life.

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