Elementary schoolers from central Vermont are telling an elderly neighbor they are thankful for his friendship this Thanksgiving, and helping cheer him up following a devastating fire.
"I think that was very nice," said 90-year-old Will Knight, who got a visit from some of the third, fourth, and fifth graders from Williamstown Elementary School Tuesday.
Last month, an accidental fire swallowed Knight’s roadside attraction known as the Spider Web Farm.
It had been, since the late 1970s, a quirky landmark where the woodworker sold real spider webs preserved on plaques as tributes to the beauty of nature.
Elementary schoolers would visit just about every year, too, on field trips.
The day after the blaze, Knight told necn he was trying to remain positive.
"Things always get better," Knight said on Oct. 26. "Can't get worse, right? So, they'll get better."
Things did seem to get better for Knight when the children came on a different kind of field trip Tuesday.
"We hope you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving," one child said as the class handed over a check for $150 and an apple pie with the shape of a spider baked into the crust.
"He was really, really happy," observed fifth grader Alexis Spencer. "We wanted to help out Mr. Knight because he's such a good person."
Spencer and her fellow students have been talking a lot about community service and what makes Williamstown special, so a group helped organize a penny drive to raise money for their neighbor.
That coin drive generated enough for the $150 gift.
Knight said he didn't have insurance on his barn and gift shop, and had to pay a lot of money to have the charred debris hauled away. The damage alone was estimated at roughly $300,000.
"It would be really important to help him get this back up," fifth grader Jordan Nielsen said of Spider Web Farm. "So everybody can come, and especially he can do what he loves."
"For those kids to look up to me like that, that's got to strike you," Knight said, choking back tears.
Knight told the children he hopes to have Spider Web Farm up and running again next spring and summer, which the Williamstown kids were thankful to hear this Thanksgiving.