Life Advice



Annie's Mailbox: Thanking Volunteers

Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar on

Dear Annie: My daughter, "Mary," is in sixth grade. She often tells me that she and her best friend, "Kim," get a lot of extra attention from their teacher "Mr. Ken." By extra attention, she means Mr. Ken teases them or playfully embarrasses them during class time. In one instance, Mr. Ken began to play with Mary's hair, "styling" it with string and ribbon he found while cleaning a shelf. She was embarrassed but didn't think it was a big deal. Mary even seems to like the extra attention.

I am wondering if this is appropriate behavior for a teacher, even if it is done in a good-natured way. Am I just an overly concerned parent? -- Worried in Wyoming

Dear Worried: This could be perfectly innocent, but you can't be certain. Many predators "groom" their victims by subtly flirting with them and making them feel special. Also, Mary may be subconsciously encouraging Mr. Ken because she likes the attention or believes it affects her grade.

If parent-teacher conferences are not on the schedule, call the school and make an appointment to speak to Mr. Ken. Let him know that Mary enjoys his class very much, but you find his favoritism a bit disconcerting. Ask him to please stop singling out Mary because it embarrasses her. If he doesn't comply, report him to the principal. You also should be talking to Kim's mother about this, and to Mary directly, teaching her how to protect herself. Just in case.

Dear Annie: I intended to write this letter when Hurricane Ivan devastated Pensacola, Florida, but never got around to it. Now that Katrina nearly wiped out New Orleans, I have to write.

My husband is a Red Cross volunteer. Every time he helps, he is away from home at least three weeks. Many people are not aware that volunteers stay away from their families for a lengthy amount of time and often have to live in conditions not much better than those of the people they are helping.

I want to take this opportunity to thank all those family members of the volunteers who are helping out in the areas ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. I also want to encourage your readers to help the volunteers' families by offering baby-sitting, transportation, etc. This, in turn, will help the volunteers, and they can focus their attention on helping the hurricane victims. -- Gloria


Dear Gloria: Thank you for reminding us that volunteers could use a hand, too. Also, many of our readers are still asking where they can contribute for the rebuilding and relief efforts. Here are a few suggestions: The American Red Cross ( at 1-800-HELP-NOW (1-800-435-7669); Habitat for Humanity ( at 1-800-422-4828; United Way Hurricane Katrina Response Fund ( at 1-800-892-2757; and the Salvation Army ( at 1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769). Bless you all for caring.

Dear Annie: You've already said that widows can wear their husbands' rings as long as they want. What about removing their husbands' clothing from the closet?

I have talked to other widows and found that some leave the clothes for years, and others get rid of them fairly quickly. What is right? -- Evelyn in Indianapolis

Dear Evelyn: As you may already have surmised, this is an individual choice. Some widows cannot bear to see their husbands' clothes, while others find comfort in those old sweaters and worn suits. Generally, a widow cleans the closets when she moves away, when she needs the space, when she feels the clothing will do more good donated to charity, or when the children do it. No one should be forced to clean the closets before she is ready, but neither should you create a shrine.


"Annie's Mailbox" is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar. This column was originally published in 2016. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at




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