A cold wind blows down Main Street in Shady Pines Story Town. It’s early February and storefronts are filled with images of hearts and flowers. Valentine’s Day is just around the corner.

Scoop, the cub reporter, with The Shady Pines Gazette newspaper is on a mission. He wants to interview folks about how they plan to celebrate this very special day.

The young teenager’s first stop is the mayor’s office in Town Hall. With a bag filled with his gear slung over his left shoulder, Scoop runs up the steps to the double front doors.

“Hi, Sally,” says Scoop as he greets the receptionist at the front desk. The young woman with the dark, brown hair looks up from her computer to greet the eager reporter.

“Hey, Scoop, you can go right in,” she says. “Mayor Fibbs is expecting you.” She hands Scoop a list of activities planned around town. Scoop knocks on the mayor’s office door.


“Come in,” says Mayor Beauregard P. Fibbs. He gets up from his chair behind his big wooden desk as Scoop comes through the door. “Hello young man.”

Scoop shakes the mayor’s hand. “Thank you for doing this Mayor Fibbs.”

The mayor motions for Scoop to take a seat. “Not at all. Glad to do it. What’s on your mind?”

Looking into his bag, Scoop pulls out his reporter’s notebook and pen. “I think a lot of people around town would be interested in hearing how you plan to spend Valentine’s Day.”

The mayor leans back in his chair and smiles. “Well, that morning I plan to attend the breakfast over at Maggie’s Diner for the kids and their parents. She’s doing her annual fundraiser for to raise money for the American Heart Association.”

Scoop is taking notes. “I heard about that. February is heart health month. Maggie raised a lot of money last year.”

The mayor nods. “She sure did. You’re never too young to learn about ways to prevent heart disease.”

“That’s a good point,” says Scoop, making a note of that. “What are you doing for Mrs. Fibbs?”

Mayor Fibbs gets up and paces back and forth. “This is always tough. I like to surprise her. She loves jewelry. So, for your readers, just say I’m doing something she’ll never expect.”

Scoop smiles. “Mayor, are you asking me to fib to my readers?”

The mayor sighs loudly. “Oh, just because my name is Fibbs. Do you think I’ve never heard that joke before? You won’t be lying to report that. I am having a special heart charm made for her charm bracelet. It’ll be a one-of-a-kind.”

“OK. That’s seriously cool. Is someone in town making it for you?” asks Scoop.

The mayor shakes his head. “No, I went to a jeweler over in River City so she wouldn’t find out.”

Scoop closes his reporter’s pad. “Is it OK if I write that you are doing someone “charming” for your wife this Valentine’s Day?”

The mayor chuckles. “That’s pretty good. Sure, I guess that will be all right.”

Scoop packs up his stuff.

“Where are you going next?” asks Fibbs.

Scoop stands up. “The Community Center. I hear Director Rita Mallena is doing an after-school craft session. The kids are making Valentine’s Day cards.”

The mayor considers that for a moment. “Good idea. Can’t wait to read your article. Thanks for coming by, Scoop.”
“Thank you for your time, Mayor Fibbs.”

Before going outside, Scoop zips up his winter jacket, puts on his gloves and pulls his cap down over his ears. It’s a short walk to the community center but the wind makes it feel colder than normal.


“Hi Ms. Mallena,” says Scoop. He sees the director walking down the hallway of the community center.

Rita Mallena is carrying a stack of thick, white paper. “Oh, hi, Scoop. You’re just in time. The children from the elementary school are here. Follow me.”

They enter a large room with long tables and small chairs. Around 30 boys and girls are laughing and talking. Ten adults are there to supervise and help with the activity.

“All right everyone, let’s settle down,” says Ms. Mallena. “Children, this is Scoop. He’s with The Shady Pines Gazette newspaper and he’s doing a story about Valentine’s Day. Can you say, hi?”

Altogether the children say, “Hi, Scoop.” The red-haired reporter waves at them. “Hi, you guys.”

“Before we start making our cards,” says Rita, what words do you think of when I say Valentine’s Day?”
Hands go up all around the room.





Rita smiles. “Those are all good answers. Valentine’s Day is a time when we let the people who are important to us know how much we love and care about them, right?”

The kids call out, “Right!”

“In just a minute, we’re going to get started making our cards,” says Rita. “I want you to think about who is getting your card and what they mean to you. It could be your parents, your grandparents, a friend, or a teacher.”

A boy in the back raises his hand.

“Yes, Jimmy. Do you have a question?’ asks Rita.

“Can I make it for my dog?”

The girls around him giggle.

Rita smile. “Of course, you can make a Valentine for your pet. They’re family, aren’t they?”

Jimmy nods, yes.

And, with that, the adults hand out the paper and coloring markers. A big heart is already drawn on one side, so when they fold the paper, it becomes a card. The children decorate the heart on the outside and add their message inside.

“While the kids are busy, Scoop has a chance to talk to Rita and the adult volunteers. He gets all sorts of answers to his question, “What does Valentine’s Day mean to you?”


“We’re all so busy, it’s nice to take this one day and stop to consider what your loved ones mean to you, and actually take the time to let them know,” says one of the mothers.

Another woman said, “My husband likes to play tennis. So, this year, I bought us tickets to go to the big tennis tournament up north in June. I know he is going to love it. Plus, this gives us something to look forward to.”

Here’s what one of the men had to say. “My wife does so much for me and our two kids. Last year, I took care of the kids all day and made dinner with all her favorite foods. That’s one of the best Valentine’s Days we ever had. Not sure how I’m going to top that this year!”

Scoop listens, takes notes, and snaps photos of the Valentine’s Day cards the kids are making. He is impressed. He never realized the care people put into what they do for others on the day that celebrates love.

Rita approaches him. “Did you get what you needed for your article?”

“I think I do,” says Scoop as he scans his notes. “Thank you so much for you help.”

Breaking NewsBack at his desk in the newspaper office, Scoop puts the finishing touches on his story. He includes the mayor’s comments, the fundraiser at Maggie’s Diner and the fun the children had making their very own handmade cards for their loved ones.

The last line of Scoop’s story sums everything up: Valentine’s Day is a wonderful time to express kindness, caring and love to those in your life you cherish. It’s important to take the time to do that. It’s also another reminder why this special day is the way people try to live their lives everyday in the small Southern town of Shady Pines.