When 11-year-old Samantha Hodge found out she won the Carrier of the Year award, she was more than a little bit excited.
“We were jumping up and down screaming,” she said of herself and her friend, Christine French.
Samantha’s mother, Marnie Manier, saved the voice-mail message from the Enterprise informing Hodge she had won the Carrier of the Year award. Last year, Samantha won second place.
French was with Samantha when she got the news.
“I was happy for her,” she said. “We were screaming so we didn’t hear the whole message. We were screaming and jumping around the room.”
Samantha said the best thing about her paper route is the people she serves. “They make me smile a lot. Whenever I go to this one lady’s house, she always makes me laugh,” she said. Another customer pays her in candy bars, the thought of which brought a smile to Samantha’s face.
Samantha’s customers can tell that she loves her work.
Leila White is one of the people Samantha delivers to. She said Samantha does such a good job that sometimes she delivers the Enterprise before the daily paper gets there. But if she gets there after the daily does, she’ll pick up both and bring them to the door.
“She is just so sweet,” White said. “My husband just loves her. He says ‘now give her a tip.’ She always stops and visits with us, and asks us how we’re doing. She’s just such a special little girl.”
Samantha is the oldest of five girls, and also has a brother. She has a proud, upright posture and a matter-of-fact expression when answering questions about her work. Many newspaper carriers tend to look back on their experiences much later in life, and remember the values they gained from them. But Samantha is aware of the value she is drawing from her work as a newspaper carrier at age 11. She said she decided to become a carrier last year, when in fifth grade, because “I might be able to get a better college education” with the money from the route.
Samantha’s mom said she is required to save much of the money she earns as a carrier, and has quite a savings account now. And aside from the lessons that come from saving money, Samantha is practicing a good work ethic. On some days, Samantha doesn’t really feel like doing her route, but she does it anyway.
“(She) learned that when you have a job, you have to do it,” Manier said.
She spends 30 to 40 minutes every week on her route and partakes in many other activities as well. Samantha is an ASB officer and is in leadership club. She also takes part in putting together the year book. And she used to be in dance and horseback riding. But her busy schedule doesn’t take away from academics.
“She gets good grades,” Manier said.
While Samantha is disciplined at saving money, she is also generous when spending it, her mother said.
When the family took a trip to the Pike Place Market, Hodge was excited to buy gifts for her friends. She also pays her younger sisters, Jillian, 5, and Christine, 8, when they help her with her paper route. Christine gets paid $4 each time she helps out, while Jillian prefers her payment in-kind. “She’s happy with a pack of gum,” Manier said.
Jillian works hard for that gum. “She wraps my newspaper for me,” Samantha said. “She’s very helpful.”
Her sisters were excited to find out she had won.
“I thought it was way cool that she won,” Christine said.