Sunday, January 31, 2016

Chick-fil-A refuses to give homeless man "leftovers"

It happened last month at a Chick-fil-A restaurant in Murfreesboro, TN where Joey Mustain took little Stella for a daddy-daughter lunch. After lunch and some time on the playground, she traded her toy for an ice cream and wanted to eat it at a table, so they found a booth near the sales counter. That's when a homeless man walked in. He asked a server if they had any "extra food" and waited quietly for the manager as people near him kept their distance.

From his table, Mustain snapped this picture and posted it to Facebook, where it's had 100,000 shares. Even though he could only hear part of their conversation, he could tell the manager refused to give the homeless man leftovers. Instead, he offered him a complete hot meal if he let him pray with him. The man agreed, and in the midst of lunch hour rush, the manager put his hand on the man's shoulder and prayed. "I heard love in that prayer," said Mustain. "The homeless man was not a stain on business. He was the reason the store opened that morning. I encouraged Stella to watch, and when she asked what was happening and I told her, she bowed her head too," and learned what Matt. 25: 34-40 really means.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Marine leaves none behind, not even dogs

Knowing that over 3,000 dogs are euthanized each day in the United States, and over 20 military veterans each day commit suicide, a former Marine who almost took his own life while suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome started an organization called One Warrior Won. It rescues well-vetted dogs from high kill shelters and trains them to be PTSd Service Dogs.

The Veterans Administration does not yet recognize the value of PTSd Service Dogs, but no veteran who has received a dog has attempted suicide. The dogs understand how vets feel and comfort or protect them as needed. To learn more about One Warrior One, please watch this brief informative video.

Friday, January 29, 2016

27-0 winning streak ended last weekend

Devon Schuko of Norton, MA, is captain of his high school wrestling team. He recently earned his 100th career victory and was 27-0 this year before losing a match last weekend to Dighton-Rehobeth high school wrestler Andy Howland, who was brave enough to challenge Schuko. Howland has competed seven years, and always smiles when he wrestles because he believes Jesus Christ is with him. He also has Down syndrome.

Norton wrestling coach Pat Coleman called Schuko "a class act who respects any wrestler, and I think he just proved it's never wrong to do the right thing." Schuko gave Howland a victory he'll never forget. After a film of the match went viral, thousands are praising the athlete with the big heart. Schuko said he was happy to have his perfect record demolished by Howland, adding, "He threw in a good move. He was strong. He's a tough kid. If I had to loose to someone, I'd like to loose to Andy."

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Kindness repaid, big time

A 66-year-old woman nicknamed "Granny" lives in the Houston, Texas, area with her two granddaughters, ages 8 and 10. One of Granny's friends, Thomas Smith, is homeless, and Granny recently invited him to use her spare bedroom for a night. He was grateful, but worried that he would never be able to repay her kindness. But he did repay it, in spades.

Everyone in the house was sound asleep around 1:30 a.m. when Smith was wakened by a noise. Fearing a break-in, he went to the living room to investigate and discovered the house filling with smoke from a fire in the attic. Smith went to Granny's room where she was in bed covered with sheet rock that had fallen from the ceiling after the explosion. He helped her outside as quickly as possible, but the girls were asleep, so he re-entered the burning home, risking extreme heat and smoke, to pull both girls from their beds and carry them out the front door. Granny knows she and her granddaughters are lucky to be alive, thanks to her decision to be kind to a friend.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Driver delivers pizza and home to homeless man

Lee Hasse, 76, lives near Ham Lake, Minnesota. Every Saturday night, for years, he's ordered a pizza from Domino's, and Angela Nguyen delivered it to him. But this fall his life changed. A powerful storm damaged his home, making it uninhabitable. Then his son died in a snowmobile accident. Angela's daughter Sarah, also a Domino's driver, noticed Haase living alone in a 12-foot camper with no heat, plumbing or electricity, and it would soon be winter. "We can't let a human being live like this," she said as she started a Go Fund Me page for Haase. Donations poured in from as far away as Australia.

In eight weeks the page accrued $32,000 and the Domino's crew bought Haase a mobile home. All the furnishings were donated by the community of Ham Lake. Christmas came early for the man who loves pizza, because the pizza delivery drivers loved him back.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Love was the secret ingredient

Theo Stillions went to heaven this month, and the angels are glad because she brought her secret recipe for angel food cake (which calls for 24 egg whites) with her. But the 101 years she spent on earth are fondly remembered by former students at rural Sanders Elementary School near Bloomington, Indiana, where she was lunch lady for 28 years.

Baptized into the Pentecostal Church at 7, she spent many adult years teaching Sunday School and helping the 4-H Club. She travelled across the country with her husband and daughters, flying to Alaska at age 89. But the boys and girls at Sanderson Elementary knew her as "Nana."

Not your typical lunch lady, Nana personally cooked healthy lunches featuring kale, collards, spinach, broccoli, peas, noodles, dumplings, fried chicken and cornbread, and served them on real plates. "You could only get more if you finished the healthy stuff," remembers one student, who often ate his classmates' broccoli so they could have dessert. "No one wanted to miss her peach cobbler," he said.

Nana learned the eating habits of each student and kept records to help balance their diets. She sent home food for the weekends and if she felt a child needed more, they received milk and cookies or orange juice during recess.

In her kitchen, it was an honor to help clean up after lunch. Only students with high grades who finished their homework could join her in the basement kitchen to wash dishes. Her motto was, "Make yourself at home, or go home."

"We felt care and love in the preparation (of her food)," said one former student. "It mattered." And it didn't end when she retired as lunch lady. Until she was 99, she used her secret recipe to make angel food cake for each member of her family on their birthday. Thank you, Nana.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Target cashier's kindness goes viral

It happened in Indiana, at the Target store in Glendale Mall near Indianapolis. Shopper Sarah Bigler hoped to get in and out fast. She had a toddler in her cart and a 3-year-old daughter by the hand, so she picked the shortest check-out lane. Then she saw why it was short. An elderly lady was paying for her items one-at-a-time, using coins. Bigler was annoyed by the delay, until she noticed how cashier Ishmael Gilbert tenderly took each coin from the old lady's trembling fingers and helped her count the change. Bigler heard the cashier repeatedly say "yes ma'am" to the customer, never acting impatient or rolling his eyes. That's when Bigler realized her daughter was watching the cashier, and learning a priceless lesson in patience, so Bigler snapped this photo.

                                                                                                                     Sarah Bigler / Facebook
As soon as the old woman left, Gilbert began ringing up Bigler's items and thanked her for her patience. She thanked him for his care of the elderly woman, and after paying her bill, even though she was now behind schedule, she found the store manager and shared what she'd seen. Then she posted it on Facebook and when it went viral, Gilbert was interviewed by WXIN News. He said he treats every customer with kindness, "and I always get it back."

Saturday, January 23, 2016

In Washington, D.C......

O God, our help in ages past, our hope for time to come, Thou art our guard while ages last, and our eternal home."

Friday, January 22, 2016

If you don't like Clarkston, you won't like heaven

Clarkston, GA, is just 11 miles from downtown Atlanta. Because it has ample affordable housing and public transportation to jobs in the city, aid agencies and Uncle Sam decided in the 1990s that it was a perfect place to resettle vulnerable refugees. By 2007, at least a third of Clarkston residents were foreign born. Most were hard workers who improved the economy because, instead of tension and hatred, they found love and appreciation. Immigrant children, like those shown below, who had been deprived of education in their native land and were unready for public school can begin in first grade at Fugees Academy, the only school in America dedicated to refugee education.

                                                                                                                        Fugees Academy photo
When Clarkston Baptist Church transformed itself into Clarkston International Bible Church, attendance grew from about 100 to 300. Now white-haired Southern women sit in pews with immigrants from Philippines, Togo, Liberia, Ethiopia and Afghanistan. The Sunday potluck features Asian vegetables and African stew along with hotdogs and peach pie. Rev. Phil Kitchin likes to say heaven is a place for people of all nations, "so if you don't like Clarkston, you won't like heaven."

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

He wept until he could not physically cry anymore

In 1986, Deng Thiak Adut was a six-year-old boy growing up in Sudan when he was conscripted to fight in the Second Sudanese Civil War. His troop of child-soldiers lived off the land while marching 33 days into Ethiopia and going into battle against the Sudan People's Liberation Army. "We were slaughtered," Adut recalls. After six years of fighting, Adut was wounded, and then reunited with his brother. Both were weary of war, and Adut was smuggled away from the conflict into Kenya, hiding in a corn sack in the back of a truck. In Kenya, the brothers found help at a UN compound, and eventually were sponsored by an Australian family and granted refuge in Blacktown, near Sydney.

Without school from age 6 to 13, he was illiterate, so he taught himself English by chatting with locals at a nearby gas station. Eventually he earned a high school diploma, and enrolled in law school. On the night before graduation, remembering how far he'd come, Adut wept until he couldn't physically cry anymore. Today he is being praised for supporting Sudanese refugees in court and in the community.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The "reel" news from Burns, Oregon

The town of Burns, with less than 3,000 residents, has been in the headlines since January 2 when a group of self-styled militia occupied the headquarters of the nearby Malheur Wildlife Refuge. Burns' mayor Craig Lafollette says, "They are disrupting our lives, and we are ready for them to go home." But there's another story in Burns that deserves media attention, and here it is.

The 1940's era Desert Theatre is the only movie house within 100 miles of town, and the owner, "Tiny" Peterson, runs it at a loss so local kids will have something to do. He seldom sells more than 30 tickets to a show, which hardly pays the heating bill. But he knows most of the kids by name, and asks them about school or the sport they play. He covered the expense of the theatre from his salary working full-time in an auto repair shop until a few years ago, when Hollywood switched to digital projectors. His old projectors wouldn't work anymore, and you'll never believe what happened next. The whole town rallied behind him, raising $100,000 to buy him new digital equipment!

Star Wars: The Force Awakens opened at the Desert last weekend. But "for the kids" who may not have seen them, Tiny is also running the six previous Star Wars movies -- free of charge -- and that's the "reel" news from Burns, Oregon.

Monday, January 18, 2016

She did everything Fred Astaire did...

Actress Ginger Rogers (1911-1995) once said, "The most important thing in anyone's life is to be giving something. The quality I can give is joy. This is my gift." Her close friend Roberta Olden believed Rogers' faith was important to her. "It taught her the truth with a capital T," said Olden. "As long as you know the truth about yourself and about God, you can do just about anything, because you reflect what He gives you. She knew it was God's gift of goodness that shown through her performances."

                                                                                                                                      Publicity photo
Whether working in California or vacationing at her ranch near Medford, Oregon, Rogers regularly worshipped at the nearest Christian Science church. Olden remembered, "In her own life, Ginger relied heavily upon her faith and it saw her through a lot of hard times." She turned down many roles in films that didn't reflect the biblical values she wanted to portray on screen. She wanted to show goodness at work. "It was gratifying for her to know that what she was doing was pleasing to audiences," Olden said. By the time she passed away, she was at peace.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Being hungry is harder than being Mayor

Svante Myrick calls it "juggling pain." When he was a baby, he spent weeks in homeless shelters with his Mom, Leslie, and three siblings. Eventually they settled near his grandparents in rural Earlville, NY, where Leslie worked day and night shifts at a variety of jobs. She also helped her kids get to and from after-school jobs and sports practices. They often ate in the car. Thanks to government help including Medicaid, WIC, free school lunches and food stamps, they survived. While in school, the Myrick kids worked at the gas station, library and grocery store. They were mixed race children -- their Mom was white and their Dad, who became addicted to drugs, was black. In high school, Svante's grandmother gave him a book, "Dreams from My Father" by Barak Obama. Svante could relate to the author, who also had no father, two races, a driven mother and teenage confusion. "It changed the way I viewed myself," Svante said.

When Svante took his SATs, his score was so high few could believe it. Teachers suggested he apply to Cornell and he was accepted, but the campus seemed full of brusque people. "In Earlville you knew everyone," Svante explained. Then he learned of a Cornell program that matched students with kids in Ithaca who needed tutors. Svante said it felt like home again. He became friends with a City Alderman, who decided not to run for reelection and urged Svante to run in his place. So, during his junior year at Cornell, he became City Alderman for the Fourth Ward while working part time as a bartender to pay tuition. He graduated from Cornell almost debt free, whittling about $220,000 of debt down to $15,000. In 2011, the 24-year-old was elected Mayor of Ithaca. During his first term, he closed a $3 million budget deficit, and in 2015 he was re-elected with 89% of the vote. He modestly insists, "I am a product of a grand conspiracy that conspired to make me successful. Success is community success. There is no other kind." His future plans are still uncertain, since he cannot run for state office until he's 30. But he may have dropped a hint back in high school, when he told a favorite teacher, "When I become President, I'll make you Secretary of Education."

Friday, January 15, 2016

Eighth grade English will never be the same again

The 8th grade English hallway at Biloxi Junior High in Mississippi is lined with 189 lockers that were sealed shut for security reasons 15 years ago. Eventually teachers got tired of the dull green locker doors, so this past summer they repainted them to look like a shelf of books, an "Avenue of Literature."

Volunteers helped teachers paint a book spine on each locker door. "Now when I look out I'm going to see things that are fascinating," explained teacher Stacey Butera. The initiative was paid for through Biloxi First, public donations and personal contributions.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

She's only taught 22 years, but....

Agnes Zhelesnik has taught home economics at the Sundance School, a private preschool and elementary school in North Plainfield, NJ, for 22 years. All her students call her "Granny" and here's why. Zhelesnik began teaching when she was 80 years old. Why did this coal miner's daughter wait to long to start her career? Her late husband Joe and she had three children, and he did not approve of her working. So she watched her kids grow up, and then her grandkids, before returning to the classroom. She immediately noticed how schools have changed since she was a child. "We didn't have equipment they have today -- computers, television, inside toilets."

Zhelesnik lives with her daughter and son-in-law in Watchung. At 102, she's an excellent bridge player and reads classic novels. School Principal W. J. O' Reilly says, "Granny is a beam of light." Her kitchen classroom offers refuge from life's storms for young and old. School director Wendy Graham, 45, cherishes each conversation she has with Zhelesnik. "I tell her she's the person I want to be when I grow up."

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

What starts with an A and ends with an A? Algebra!

Robert MacCarthy teaches math to sixth graders at Willard Middle School in Berkeley, CA. He wants them to learn to love numbers, and also to love each other, so he finds out their interests and blends these into math lessons. They solve problems out loud, sometimes into a microphone, and other students cheer them. They mix math with art, and games, and a few students each year star in a math music video made by classmates under the label MATHISNOTACRIME PRODUCTIONS.

As a child, MacCarthy had trouble understanding math. After he became a teacher, he wanted to do things differently. Now some of his students come to school wearing T-shirts covered with problems they solved, written in marker and glitter paint. Students say it's impossible to tune out in his class. "He helps us by being funny," says Mekhi McElroy, 12. "The way he teaches, people want to pay attention to him."

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Are prayers only empty platitudes?

Seven hundred students at East Catholic High School in Manchester, CT, are busy again this year, not only with college prep academics, competitive sports, choral and dramatic productions, but also with community service. They volunteer in area soup kitchens, raise money and collect food for needy families here and abroad, and distribute Christmas gifts to poor children. They believe prayer without action is futile. But here's the catch. They also believe action without prayer is futile.

ECHS students, representing a cross section of religions, recently made a video for their school's Facebook page which captured national attention. Within days, it had been shared by 3,327 users. Several news sites picked it up, and the school has received calls of thanks from across the nation. The video was sent to this blog as a "possible Crumb of Comfort" from a reader in Redlands, CA.

Students created the video in the wake of the massacre in San Bernadino, CA, last December. Days after the killings, the New York Daily News headlined, "God Isn't Fixing This." In their video, students refute the idea that prayers in the face of bloody chaos are an empty platitudes. "The message that we want to send is that prayer does matter," says Principal James Hartling. "Prayer is part of action." To see this brief, heartfelt video, visit

Monday, January 11, 2016

No child left behind, in Japan

Three years ago, Japan Railways noticed ridership at the remote Kami-Shirataki station on the northernmost island of Hokkaido had fallen dramatically. Freight service had already ended there, and the company was about to cancel passenger service when it noticed the train was still being used every day by one passenger -- a high school girl. So they decided to keep the train running until she graduates in March. Then the station will be closed.

Japan Railways even adjusted the train's timetable according to the student's schedule. It picks her up on the way to school and takes her home every afternoon. People are tipping their hats to the government for making education a high priority, even when rural railways are struggling. "This is the meaning of good governance," said one commentator, "penetrating right to the grass root level. No child left behind!"

Sunday, January 10, 2016

What can we give kids that have "everything?"

We all know boys and girls who have everything they want. Many feel entitled to the best, with no concern for those less fortunate. Amy and John Cervantes of Matthews, NC, have three sons whose birthday parties were a big deal until 2005, when they got even better. That's when Amy founded Bright Blessings, where she and her boys, assisted by many volunteers, give birthday parties for homeless children struggling with abuse or poverty. Youth groups from several churches and students from school classrooms, plus many adult volunteers, donate countless hours preparing the parties, and Cervantes' sons now understand the best gifts are the ones we give -- a lifetime lesson.

The parties that Bright Blessings hosts at homeless shelters are only fleeting moments, but they let poor children feel like regular kids, at least for an hour. "The kids light up when we're unloading the gifts," said Cervantes' son Alex, who helps at the events. "When they hear the birthday song, their faces light up." But Amy Cervantes feels homeless children give her the greatest gift, the gift of juvenile gratitude. She remembers a 9-year-old girl giggling as she quickly unwrapped her birthday presents, and then putting them back in their bags and boxes and returning them to Cervantes. The little girl never expected to keep the presents, and why not? "She'd never received a gift," Cervantes said. "I had to turn away because I was going to cry." If you'd like to support Bright Blessings, visit

Saturday, January 9, 2016

School police officer speaks students' language

J. L. Long Middle School in East Dallas, TX, has a campus police officer named Kimberly Stangarone. It also has 50 students in the Deaf Education Program, and they speak sign language. If they have a problem, would they hesitate to tell Stangarone about it? Not anymore.

"It just felt right for me to take it upon myself to learn their language, so that they could feel more comfortable to come up to me and speak," Stangarone said. First she asked deaf students to teach her single words. Then they taught her phrases. Now she's the only Dallas ISD police officer versed in sign language. Seventh grader Shem Castillo says, through an interpreter, "It makes me feel good and proud of her that she signs. She signs really well."

Friday, January 8, 2016

What does Kroger mean by "guest care?"

Sonny Delfyette lives in New York. A few weeks ago he realized his Mom was in trouble after undergoing a medical procedure for diabetes. She had no food at home to maintain healthy sugar levels, so he tried to buy food for online at the Warwood Kroger near her home in Wheeling, W.VA. The store could not take online orders, so he called, and the store manager, Sam, told him they could not fill orders by phone. He asked what was the problem, and Sonny explained.

                                                                Sam and Sonny                                                       Facebook

"Is it okay if I just get her some bread and some basic staples," Sam asked? "I'll pay for it myself." And Kroger "guest care" didn't end there. On Christmas Eve, Sam had a hot meal sent to Sonny's mother. Sonny tried to repay Sam when he met him later (shown above), but Sam explained, "I put myself in your place and would want someone to help my mother too, so it's our pleasure."

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Fayetteville pastor feels "spirit of God"

As reported in The Christian Science Monitor and many other media, Rev. Larry Wright (shown below, preaching) was speaking about violence in church during a New Year's Eve prayer service at his Heal the Land Outreach Ministries in Fayetteville, NC, when a man with a semi-automatic rifle in one hand and ammunition in the other walked in the door and down the center aisle.

                                                                                               By Andrew Craft / Fayetteville Observer
Wright stepped down from the pulpit and met the man in the aisle, asking "Can I help you?" The man, still unnamed, said the Lord told him that he needed to go to church before he did something bad. Wright took the rifle from him, patted him down, and prayed for the man, who fell to his knees in tears. Someone called 911, and police quickly arrived, but were asked to wait outside until worship ended. The man sat in the front row as Wright resumed preaching to about 60 congregants, and during the alter call he came forward and asked for salvation. "He gave his life to Christ," Wright told the Fayetteville Observer.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Too soon to prepare for Valentine's Day?

Dan Williams doesn't think so. The student at Edmond High School in Oklahoma prepared for Valentine's Day, 2015, by working all during summer vacation in 2014 to save money. Instead of using his nest egg to buy a diamond for one special girl, he anonymously bought a card and candy for every girl at Edmond High -- all 1,076 of them.

Thanks to Williams, there were no lonely hearts on campus last Valentine's Day. He wanted to make sure every single girl felt special.Why?

"To know that someone cares about them, that's the best feeling in the world, I think," he told a news reporter, after his identity was revealed.

Even former students appreciated his kindness. Nicole Terry wrote, "I grew up hating Valentine's Day. I would see all my girlfriends with their flowers and candies and balloons, and go home crying because I felt I'd never be good enough for anyone. Now I have a two-year-old of my own, and this is exactly the kind of man I want him to be."

                                                                                                                                     KTLA-5 News

Sunday, January 3, 2016

"Mommy, I'm not worried anymore."

Sofia Yassini is an 8-year-old girl from Texas. She's also a Muslim-American, and when she heard on television that Muslims might be banned from entering the United States, she got scared that the Army might come and kick her and her family out of the country. She packed her favorite toys and kept checking to be sure the doors were locked. News of her fear triggered a campaign among U.S. veterans with the hashtag #iwillprotectyou.

Since the hashtag went viral, hundreds of veterans and active duty military personnel have contacted the Yassini family to reassure Sofia. Speaking only for themselves, and not the Defense Department, they promised her she would be safe. "No one will be coming for you, so long as I breathe," wrote Patrick Brandt, a former paratrooper who served two tours in Iraq. Lt. Christina Trecate, on active duty with the Pennsylvania National Guard, wrote, "Don't be scared, Sophia. My oath includes you and all the families in our great nation, always." Air Force veteran Sherman Hardy remembers growing up as an African-American and knows how stereotypes can be emotionally wounding. That's why his decision to support Sophia is not just an obligation. "I think it's an American duty," he said.
With all this support, Sophia has gone back to being a normal 8-year-old, assuring her Mom, "I'm not worried anymore."

Saturday, January 2, 2016

A police incident worth knowing about

On Christmas Eve, Anthony Brown, Molly Keck and their daughter Brooklyn Brown, 7, left their home in Joliet Township, IL, to visit Anthony's sister. When they returned, the found the back door kicked in and garbage bags from the kitchen had been used to take all the Christmas gifts. Everything under the tree was unwrapped and stolen. Police soon arrived, and after investigating, asked Brooklyn was she wanted from Santa. She said she didn't care, as long as he left her something. As officers left the house, they realized they still had Christmas shopping to do.

                                                                                                                                      Courtesy Photo
Other officers agreed to cover their calls so Deputies Michael Kane, Brett Farmer and Mark Tapella could go to a nearby Walgreens, one of the few stores still open. By the time they arrived, other officers agreed to pay for $600 worth of gifts. When the officers entered the store and told why they were there, customers gave them more money and the store offered them an employee discount. The gifts were quickly wrapped. Brooklyn started smiling and her mother, Molly, cried as officers brought the gifts to them. "You just don't expect people to be so caring and giving," Molly said.

Friday, January 1, 2016

"Talk to a Muslim" with free coffee and donuts

Mona Haydar and her husband Sebastian Robins were visiting his parents in Cambridge, MA, in December when he suggested she set up a sidewalk stand outside the Cambridge library and offer free donuts and coffee to anyone wishing to talk to a Muslim.

                                                                                                         Courtesy photo from Mona Haydar
Haydar was hesitant at first, fearing she'd be confronted with Islamophobia, "but honestly," she said, "I decided if we were going to do it, we were going to have to go in with really positive attitudes."

The people she encountered were friendly and warm. She said once people got to know her, they talked about everything, adding that, "I'm sure that people who gave me a chance and got to know me would know that the religion I practice is one of love, with kindness at its core."