Ruth Thurston-Coffey, “personable and cheery,” at her crossing guard station at West Elm Street and Village Brook Road in Yarmouth. Contributed / Rebecca Rundquist

Ruth Thurston-Coffey, the crossing guard at West Elm Street and Village Brook Road in Yarmouth for the past 10 years, loves talking with the kids on their way to school. She makes an effort to remember all of their names.

“They’re just so happy-go-lucky,” said Thurston-Coffey, a Yarmouth native who has lived most of her life in town.

The kids and their families love her, too.

When parents Kyo Bannai and Rebecca Rundquist learned Thurston-Coffey would be having heart surgery Feb. 23 and would need to take a 12-week leave from her crossing guard post, they jumped into action.

Bannai and Rundquist set up a meal train so Yarmouth residents could sign up to bring meals to Thurston-Coffey and her husband during her recovery, and the calendar is quickly filling up.

Monetary donations for meals also have poured in, totaling $3,025 as of Feb. 21, more than doubling the organizers’ goal of $1,500.


“When people are busy taking care of a convalescing family member, it helps so much to at least have meals taken care of,” Bannai said. “Plus, it’s a wonderful way for friends and neighbors to show their love.”

Rundquist created boxes for all the schools so children could drop off get well cards, and the boxes are already filling up. The cards will be delivered weekly, first to the hospital and then to Thurston-Coffey’s home, until she is back on her feet and back at her post.

“These little gems are what the town is all about,” Rundquist said.

Thurston-Coffee is upbeat, personable and cheery, according to fellow crossing guard Philip Caldwell, who has known her for about 40 years. She’s very motherly with the children, he said.

“A kid will fall down and skin their knee, and Ruthie has Band-Aids in her car,” Caldwell said.

Thurston-Coffey she said she is “overwhelmed” by the support Yarmouth residents have shown her.

“When there is a need, you can absolutely count on this community to come together,” Bannai said. “Ruthie is one of the most cheerful, down-to-earth, selfless, caring people I know.”

Those interested in donating to Thurston-Coffey can do so at

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