Julian Newman Students and Parents Greeted with a Smile and Sweet Treat

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ATHENS, Ala. (WHNT) - There's a special greeter at Julian Newman Elementary School in Athens. He's 76 years old and has been a staple at the school for years.

A woman whose grandchildren go to school there wanted us to Pay it Forward to him. So, the self-professed "night owl" Clarissa McClain got up bright and early to surprise Hugo Bates.

For dozens of kids and their parents at Julian Newman Elementary School, the day begins with a smile, greeting, and small treat.

Bates is full of joy and so are his pockets, which are packed with gum and candy that he hands out to parents as they are doing their daily drop off at the school.

WHNT NEWS 19 gave him something else to add to those pockets - $319.

"I appreciate that and I'll tell you what I'll do with it," say Bates. "I'll make sure that one way or another, these children receive this."

The gummy goodness is his way of brightening a person's day and someone wanted to make his day.

"He always has a jolly smile for them," says Becky Sides, who has grandchildren that attend Julian Newman Elementary. She's convinced Mr. Bates makes coming to school easier.

"Sometimes children don't want to come to school," explains Sides. "Sometimes they get up and don't feel good. They want to stay home and play or whatever. When he opens the door, he has a smile for them, sometimes he even says a little song to them. He always says for them to have a good day."

Everyone sure is glad the encouragement, and the goodies, he's been handing out for years will continue. Giving out gum in the mornings isn't all Mr. Bates does. He also helps out with the school's band and sports teams. The principal and several teachers were excited to see him receive a Pay it Forward.


  • Amanda M

    He is such a big hearted person! I was so delighted to read this story! He helped our band in high school (Athens) with Mr. Dan Havely. He sacrificed so much of his time and cared so much for each of us! God bless this man. He is truly one of a kind!

  • Joanna Thompson

    The amazing thing is- this isn’t even half of Mr.Hugo’s story! He also helps around Athens High. I was in band and he drove his truck around for water breaks and if we were lucky we would get some gum after practice! He is an amazing man and a true delight to be around.

  • Antoyne Green

    Wow! Awesome man! Mr. Hugo was helping with sports teams and passing out Bazooka gum to us when I played basketball at Athens High School. I graduated in 1990. I took my son to a game or two this year and guess what, my son and I both got some Bazooka gum! Mr. Bates is “walking encouragement” and joy.

  • Sue

    I don’t know him but he sounds like a really nice man! I’m sure the kids appreciate all he does. Wow- that is a long time so he must enjoy it! Congratulations Mr. Hugo!!!

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