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Monday, December 10, 2018

How do we make church?

Early one Sunday morning, Mrs. Benson was greeting several children to her first-grade Sunday School class. All the "regulars" were on time, but a visitor arrived late. His name was Tom, and he'd been born with only one arm. He was very friendly, and the other children liked him immediately. Nobody seemed to notice his empty shirt sleeve. During the class, children listened attentively to Bible stories and colored lovely pictures of Jesus and his disciples. Near the end of the hour, Mrs. Benson had an idea. She'd reward their good behavior by teaching them the classic finger-play nursery rhyme, "This is the church, this is the steeple, open the doors and see all the people."  No sooner had she begun than she remembered Tom only had one hand, so how could he make a church?  The class grew silent as other boys and girls realized Tom would be left out. Then a little girl named Anne grinned. She was sitting next to Tom. "If we try, we can make a church together," she said, holding one of her hands up against his. And that's how church is really made. Never alone. Always together.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

This library is a haven of safety

The Haskell Free Library straddles the national border between the US and Canada. It's actually on the border between Quebec and Vermont. It has parking lots in each nation, but there is only one entrance. It's an unlikely haven where immigrants from both countries can meet safely. No passport is required to enter the library, so families can meet here without fear of being detained or prevented from returning to the US.

According to former library board member Susan Granfors, "You park on your side. I'll park on my side, but we're all going through the same door." Iranian student Shirin Estahbenati drove six hours north from New York City to see her parents for the first time in almost three years. While she hugged her parents amid walls of library books, she said she wished she could stop all the clocks all over the world so their reunion would never end.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Kindergarteners "sing" to custodian

James Anthony just turned 60. He's worked as a custodian for the Coffee County School District in Tennessee for more than 20 years -- including the last 15 at Hickerson Elementary School. Anthony is hearing impaired and reads lips, so kindergarten teachers Amy Hershman and Allyssa Hartsfield decided to teach there students how so sing "Happy Birthday" in sign language as a surprise for his birthday.

He said he was overwhelmed and touched by the children's effort. According to the Principal, he's an excellent role model for the students. He teaches students sign language now and then, but also teaches them good manners and how to treat other people.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Less than a penny on the dollar

A reader in Bloomington, Indiana, shares the true story of Judith Jones, 80, and Carolyn Kenyon, 70, who live in Ithaca, New York. They know how medical debt caused by high health care costs can wreck people's lives. So they raised $12,500 during the summer and donated it to a charity called RIP Medical Debt. The charity was started four years ago by former debt collectors Craig Antico and Jerry Ashton. It is able to buy up overdue medical debt for less than a penny on the dollar.

RIP Medical Debt accepted the ladies donation of 12,500 and used it to erase $1.5 million in medical debt. 1,284 people whose debt was erased will receive a slim, yellow envelope with a letter telling them their debt is forgiven. In total, RIP Medical Debt has erased $434 million in past-due medical debt so far, although America's total tab is about $750 BILLION.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

You're on the air!

Deke Duncan has always wanted to be a radio disc jockey, so in 1974 he set up a tiny radio station in the garden shed behind his house in England. For the past 44 years, he's been doing his own show. He's never affiliated with a actual radio station, so his only listener has been his wife.

Back in the 70s, the BBC did a story on him, and someone recently tracked down some of the footage. He was billed then as the radio host with the smallest audience in the world. But that's about to change. A BBC affiliate that reaches over 125,000 people each week is giving him his own one-hour Christmas special this year. And his wife is sure to be listening.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

A police "incident" you may have missed

It all started when two First District officers responded to a call about an endangered adult in Cleveland, Ohio. By the time they arrived, the 18-year-old had returned home. His name is Elvis, and his mother said he is often bullied because he rides his sister's bike, which is pink.

Once they learned of Elvis' torment at the hands of bullies, the officers decided to buy a new bike for him in his favorite color, red. The Cleveland Police Foundation, which took this photo, bought him a new bike and a special blue helmet with flashing lights. They said, "Elvis couldn't believe he had his own bike, and rode it proudly down the block."