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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Here, kitty, kitty!

Jason Smith is an officer with the North Kansas City (Missouri) police department. Last December he was patrolling I-29, and when he approached Bedford Avenue, he noticed a small kitten perched on top of a concrete barrier dividing the highway's north and southbound lanes. If the kitten jumped either way, she'd lose all her nine lives at once. Here she is.

First, Officer Smith called for back-up to slow down traffic on the highway. Then he got out of his car to rescue the feline. At first the kitty was not happy about being grabbed, but as soon as she got inside the warm squad car, she relaxed and began exploring. In the process, she accidentally set off the siren. After receiving a medical check-up, the kitty was adopted by Smith's family, who have named her Bella, ending a purr-fect day for her.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

"Breaking up is hard to do...."

Remember your first love in high school? Barbara Cotton and Curtis Brewer dated right up to graduation. They even went to two proms together. But then he left for college and they split up. Or so they thought. Not long ago, Barbara, now 72, found the website Classmates.com and actually located Curtis. She send him a message, since "we technically never broke up."

Curtis had not heard from Barbara for 50 years, but he answered her message immediately. It turned out they were both single, so they started talking again. Then last August, Curtis couldn't stand being away from her any longer and proposed marriage on the phone. They recently married in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, more than half-a-century after their first date. Barbara says no one else she's been with ever loved her as much as Curtis, and it's never changed. She's always loved him, and he's alway loved her.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Let's run the numbers

It's easy to feel depressed about world affairs, but a set of statistics that went viral actually proves our world is becoming a better place. Here are four stats to prove it. (1) Life expectancy continues to rise. It's leveled out in the United States (the richest nation on earth) and even dropped a little, but it's skyrocketing worldwide. Twenty years ago the average life expectancy in Africa was 50. Today it's 60 and still rising.  (2) World population is starting to level off. It's still going up, but not as fast.

(3) Democracy is spreading. Thirty years ago, only about 40% of people lived in democratic societies. Now it's almost 60%.  (4) Global income inequality is way down. Fifty years ago, a huge percentage of the world lived in poverty. But now, an average of 200,000 people are lifted out of poverty every day.

Friday, January 11, 2019

How mature can a 13-year-old be?

Damir Border lives in Delaware, and he's 13. This month his dad was working the night shift so he asked his mom if he could stay up late watching Netflix. She said "No!" and went to bed herself. But he kept watching, and watching, and watching until about 1:00 a.m., when he saved both their lives.

That's when their breaker box sparked a fire which ended up totally destroying their mobile home. But before the home went up in smoke, Damir woke his mom and got her to safety. He called the family dogs, and even called 911. Nobody was hurt, because Damir wasn't asleep.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Encore from 2017 Girl Scout Cookie Season

Charlotte McCourt, 11, is a sixth-grader in South Orange, New Jersey. She's also a girl scout who hoped some of the cookies she sold this year (2017) would be donated to troops.  But of the first 92 boxes she sold, only two were donated to troops. So she wrote an email to a rich family friend, hoping he would donate more. In her email, she gave each type of cookie a score from 1 to 10. She gave Savannah Smiles a 7 "for it's divine taste." But Toffee-tastic didn't even score 1. Why? Because, she wrote, it's "a bleak, flavorless, gluten-free wasteland. I'm telling you it's as flavorless as dirt."

Her family friend was so impressed with her honesty that he bought 25 boxes for the troops. But then another family friend read her letter on Facebook, and it went viral. As of February 1, she had sold over 16,000 boxes of cookies, including 7,000 donated to our troops. At first she was a little worried the Girl Scouts might be mad at her for grading the cookies, but she felt truth-in-advertising was more important. Why is truth so vital to her? She answered, "If you're not honest, what are you?"

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

A "police incident" you might have missed

Inmates from Bladen County, North Carolina, were picking up trash on the side of a road recently as part of a program that allows them to perform community service to have their jail time reduced. Their work was interrupted when their supervisor, James Smith, stumbled and fell into a ditch. The inmates rushed to his side, and when he was unable to answer basic questions, they used a cell phone to call an ambulance, before stopping traffic and asking drivers for help.

Paramedics took Smith to the Cape Fear Valley Medical Center where he was diagnosed with a stroke. While he recovers, each of the three prisoners was honored with the Sheriff's Department's esteemed Life Saving Award, which can dramatically improve their chance of finding employment after they are released. But the men say they are just happy Smith is okay. One explained, "He's more than a police officer. He's more or less like my friend. He's just a good guy all the way around."

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

A government shutdown crumb

In Tennessee, a father-daughter duo have been collecting litter left behind on the trails of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Since the park service lacks funding to keep the parks clean, Marc Newland and his 10-year-old daughter Erica have spent days hiking the mountain trails with trash bags to pick up litter.

The Newlands have always been avid hikers, but when Marc told Erica about how the government shutdown would affect the mountain park, she suggested they keep the trails tidy. Why? "There's a lot of litter around, and it's bad for the world," she said, "so I decided to clean up the parks."

Monday, January 7, 2019

Another "incident" with an migrant

Advaik Nandikotkur is 11 years old. He lives with his parents in Eagan, Minnesota. His family immigrated to St. Paul from India three years ago. While in India, his dad never had time to take swimming lessons, and his mom was not allowed to take lessons because she is a woman. But they gave Advaik some lessons in America, "some survival skills for his own sake." Recently while relaxing around the indoor pool at their apartment complex, they noticed an adult on the bottom of the deep end, with arms outstretched and eyes wide open.

Since nobody else at the pool could swim, Advaik's mom urged him. He weighs only 80 pounds, and said the man would be too heavy to lift, but he took the plunge anyway. He managed to pull the man to the surface and tow him to the edge of the pool. A few minutes later, the man started to move his hands. Paramedics took him to the hospital where he made a full recovery. He stopped by later that week to thank Advaik and give him some money. "He told me he loved me," the boy said. Eagan Police officer Aaron Machtemes said, "I've never heard of a boy jumping in and saving an adult from a pool."

Sunday, January 6, 2019

He did what anyone would have done (?)

Today's crumb was donated by a faithful reader in Bloomington, Indiana. Richard Taverna was riding the New York City subway this month. At Lincoln Center in Manhattan when he noticed a blue Chanel bag on the train platform. He picked it up searching for ID, and found a note written in Russian. He could not locate a subway agent, so he took the bag home.

Later he found something else in the bag. An envelope. It contained one hundred $100 bills. He knew whoever lost it was going through a lot of stress, so he decided, "Well, it's not mine" and turned it over to the New York Police Department's 20th Precinct. It was the same Precinct where a woman went to file a report about the lost bag as she headed off to Russia, according to police officials. "I don't think I did anything extraordinary," Taverna said.

A crumb of comfort from Nigeria

In Nigeria, religious violence intensified during 2018. So residents in the city of Kudanden were nervous when construction began on a new mosque. It was located next to the Living Faith church, and the buildings even shared a fence line. But despite clashes between Christians and Muslims in other parts of the country, worshippers in Kudanden are determined to work together.

"The issue of peaceful religious coexistence cannot be over-emphasied," said Christian resident Isiah Benjamin. If the mosque is going to be used to worship and serve God, and the church is going to be used to worship and serve God, there is no big deal about it. It shows that we as human beings must learn to live as one."

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Pair of baseball fans get standing ovation

Today's crumb is shared by a reader in Cockeysville, Maryland. It happened at Coco-Cola Field in Buffalo, New York, when the Buffalo Bisons hosted the Syracuse Chiefs as part of the Independence Eve Celebration. One fan in the front row was 11-year-old little leaguer Ty Barber. Between innings, he caught a ball from the first baseman. Sitting in the same section was 96-year-old WWII veteran Richard Snethen, dressed in his full uniform. When the game was over, unprompted by his parents, Ty went to Richard and gave him the ball. "We really have to honor our veterans," he explained later.

Richard described the exchange as "one of the most treasured moments of my life," but there were more to come. Nearly two months later, the Bisons invited Richard and Ty back to the ballpark to watch a game together. In the middle of the third inning, the Bisons honored them on the video board in center field, and they received a standing ovation.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Muslims clean up after New Year's Eve

Over 1,000 young members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association took to the streets in 50 different cities in Great Britain for a New Year's Day cleanup. They woke up early, as thousands of Brits were still in bed sleeping off the effects of their festivities.

Muslim youth kicked off the event by hosting a special prayer for the new year before they donned their high-visibility vests and tackled the streets with garbage bags in hand. According to British Iman Qamar Zafar, "Islam urges every Muslim to partake in charitable giving, community service, and to promote cleanliness."

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Getting a "free ride" to college

For the past eight years, 76-year-old Paul Goetchius, a retired toxicologist, has been offering free rides to college students -- not a free tuition ride, but an actual free ride in his car. Since he first started volunteering his automobile to college students, he's logged about 64,000 miles getting them to class on time.

His passengers have gone on to become doctors, teachers and visual marketers, but what they also got from school was Goetchius as a role model and friend. Some call him "Grandpa." Nina Irby rode with Goetchius for all four years of college. She said it meant much more than transportation. "You're not just sitting there with your headphones on," she remembered. "He asks you questions and actually remembers what you tell him, so the next time you ride, he'll check on those things.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

"Are you Santa Claus?"

Curtis Jenkins has driven a school bus for his school district in Dallas, Texas, for seven years. This year he wanted to do something more at Christmas. Originally he thought of a gift exchange, but his wife remarked that some kids' parents might not be able to afford a gift. So he simply started saving money from his pay checks to buy gifts for all his 70 students at Lake Highlands Elementary School.

                                                                                                                 Photo by Merrill Hope
After asking each student what they wanted for Christmas, he waited until the last school day before winter break to load up his bus with wrapped gifts, and dole them out to the kids. One child remembered, "He even had a bicycle on the bus!" Jenkins recalls, "When I opened the bus door, one of the kids asked me, 'Are you Santa Claus?'" He admits he also received some financial contributions from a co-worker, and from a compassionate parent who was touched by his gesture.