Lending a hand – with a smile on his face

Mater Dei Catholic High School senior Dalton Timmermann provides daily lunchtime assistance to the cafeteria staff – with a smile on his face and happiness in his heart. His dedication is greatly appreciated by those around him (David Wilhelm photo).

The season of giving is a yearlong endeavor for Dalton Timmermann.

Timmermann, a senior at Mater Dei Catholic High School in Breese, never passes on an opportunity to help.

Timmermann’s service-first approach couldn’t be more appreciated by the five-woman cafeteria staff, whose responsibilities include preparing lunch for 350 hungry students every day.

But there’s more to their jobs than that, which is where Timmermann enters the picture. He regularly disposes of garbage, lifts cumbersome boxes of soda into position to be connected to the dispenser, fills ice machines and completes other tasks as needed.

“I was raised in a way by my parents that if I see anybody struggling, help them out,” said Timmermann, the son of Neal and Maggie Timmermann of Carlyle. “Whatever helps them, helps me. It creates good relationships and you feel better about yourself. I’m helping others and doing everything I can to make this a better place.”

It all began several weeks ago when Timmermann, following third-hour weightlifting, was in the commons area and observed the hustle and bustle of the ladies as they readied for the first wave of students to hit the lunch line.

“I saw them working hard and lifting heavy stuff,” Timmermann said. “I know they’re hard workers and they do all they can to make our lunch good, so I walked back there and asked, ‘Hey, do you need some help?’ They said, ‘Oh, yeah. Sure.’ So now, every day, I go back there and ask them if they need any help. Whatever they need me to do, I do.”

Timmermann isn’t kidding.

“It doesn’t matter what you ask of him. He’s always got a smile on his face and he does it,” said Geri Von Hatten, an Aviston resident in her third year as the lunchroom supervisor and manager at Mater Dei.

“He’s an awesome young man. He’s so caring. It’s mind-blowing that he does this. And he comes back, day after day, constantly asking us (to help). I’ve never met a young man like this before.”

Timmermann, 18, expects nothing in return, although he said Von Hatten occasionally offers him a free lunch or snack.

“We’ve become good friends,” Timmermann said. “They’re all really cool people (in the lunchroom).”

Von Hatten recalled Timmermann’s first day “on the job.”

“He lifted six boxes of soda for me and got those sprouts out (to attach to the dispenser),” Von Hatten said. “I left him alone for a little bit, came back and he had all that done. That’s hard to do.”

Mater Dei Assistant Principal Maria Zurliene said Timmermann’s actions are “unique.”

“It’s not that the other kids are doing anything wrong. They’re enjoying their social time (at lunch). It’s high school,” Zurliene said. “But it’s unique that Dalton chooses to take time to do something simple for the ladies. That’s the key.

“He’s taking less than five minutes of his time. The ladies are appreciative, and not just because he’s helping them with their work. It’s the gesture. It makes them feel they must be important to him if he’s willing to take the time to do that.”

Timmermann, a 6-foot-2, 250-pound offensive and defensive lineman on the Mater Dei football team, said he’s heard no negative comments from his peers about his good deeds.

“If I did, it wouldn’t really bother me,” he said. “I know they need help and I know they like it. It’s about helping everyone.”

Zurliene said: “Kids notice what Dalton does. He doesn’t do it to be noticed, but people notice. Service is such a focus that I think it becomes a reason why our kids don’t think that. They don’t think it’s odd to help somebody. Maybe they’re not all doing it, but they’re also not going to mock the person who is.”

Timmermann, a member of St. Dominic Catholic Church in Breese, plans to study project management and business management in college. He might even play football.

“My dad owns a construction business (Timmermann General Contracting), so I’m going to try to take that over,” he said.

Von Hatten has no doubt that Timmermann will succeed at whatever he chooses to do with his future. One thing’s for sure: Timmermann won’t have any difficulty landing a reference from Von Hatten if necessary.

“He’s got a good head on his shoulders,” she said. “He’s been a big help.”