Finding The Good: Many hats bring many smiles

Published: May. 16, 2022 at 4:00 PM EDT
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BINGHAMTON (WBNG) -- One Binghamton crossing guard is bringing smiles one hat at a time.

Karen Francis stands at the corner of Laurel and Seminary avenues and greets children and adults who pass her by.

Francis’s wacky hat collection turns heads and has cars stopping; And not just because they have to.

Some of her hats include Pikachu, a big taco, different animal types and more on the way; Francis told 12 News she tries to wear a different hat each day.

“Several of the kids try to guess what I am going to wear as they come up from the houses,” she said.

Francis said she loves to interact with the children and community and the feelings are mutual.

She said her hats brighten up the children’s day and manifest a connection between her and those she interacts with.

Francis told 12 News it’s good to bring some much-needed joy in times when it’s needed the most.

“I think just having that positive happy experience is vital in this day and age,” she said. “To give somebody something else other than the hatred and negativity”

Valerie Kelly, a long-time friend of Francis had many stories of kids who turned to Francis when they are upset, sad or lost.

“One girl came out in the dead of winter and she had no mittens on and Karen gave her a pair of gloves,” Kelly told 12 News.

Francis has also helped children who couldn’t find their parents and comforted those who have had a bad day.

Kelly told 12 News Francis is a bright light that started on one corner but has spread throughout the community.

“They all react to that because Karen’s different, Karen’s real, she’s something different,” she said.

Francis told 12 News out of all the jobs she’s had throughout her life, the one she has now is by far the best.

“It’s just a way to help give that little bit of sunshine in a world that’s pretty grey right now,” she said.