Thursday, June 30, 2016

The best bedtime story ever!

So far, this blog has accumulated 681 posts and over 23,000 page views from readers in the United States, France, Canada, Portugal, Germany, China, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine, Australia and Latvia. It is featured in the online edition of four American newspapers.

Today's crumb comes from Texas, where 100 underprivileged children were invited to the Cowboys football stadium recently for an overnight sleepover party. The kids all had one thing in common. None had beds to sleep on at home. Instead, they slept on mats or other furniture, or on the floor.

So imagine how thrilled they were to enter the stadium and find 100 beds lined up on the field, each outfitted with blue and silver Cowboy swag, cuddly quilts and teddy bears. This would be their best night ever! Not only did they eat pizza and hang out with real football players and cheerleaders. They also got to watch a fun movie on the giant stadium screen. But the best was yet to come. In the morning, before they went home, the children were told they could keep their beds. Ashley Furniture would deliver one to each child's home. Now that's a bedtime story they'll never forget.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

What if it's too late to apologize?

Pat Blumenthal has always been fascinated with apologies. In a Huffington Post blog, she shared how you can apologize to someone who has passed away. In her case, it was her Latin teacher, Mr. Keady, at Wilmington High School near Boston, MA. She was eager to learn Latin, but his classes were deadly boring -- mostly reciting the Latin form of words. Pat was a junior, and her first romance had just failed. Then her parents split up, and she was getting angry inside. Finally one day she let her emotions spill over in Latin class. She criticized Mr. Keady in front of the whole class for his out-of-date teaching style. Her rebuke was well-phrased and academically valid. She expected he would demand that she leave the class after hearing her rebuke. But he just looked tired. He thanked her for her feedback and promised to think about it. In the next few months he really did try harder, calling on Pat more often to discuss various points. Her complaint paid off, but she didn't feel like a winner.

                                                                                                  Pat Blumenthal
In hindsight, she felt she owed Mr. Keady an apology. By being humble and not counter-attacking, he taught her that to be wounded does not mean you surrender your dignity. You can be both vulnerable and strong. It was a life-lesson she needed to learn. Mr. Keady has been dead many years now, but the lesson he taught Pat lives on. Even if she cannot apologize to him, she can still practice the lesson she learned from him, and that's better than an apology. As Maya Angelou said, "Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better."

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Destyni's destiny is success

Destyni Tyree is a teenager living in Washington, DC, where rents are sky-high. A couple of years ago, her Mom lost her job, and couldn't afford to pay rent. She made the difficult decision to move her family into the city's largest homeless shelter. Destyni was used to her own space, and found life with 243 other homeless families at D.C. General claustrophobic. The stress of homelessness damaged her academic life, forcing her to withdraw from several schools. Then everything changed for the better.

                                                                                                   Courtesy of Destyni Tyree
She enrolled at Roosevelt S.T.A.Y. High School, an alternative school that motivated her to succeed, and she did. Beside working 25 hours a week in an ice cream parlor, she took class loads so heavy (including classes on Saturday) that she graduated from high school in two years. In her spare time, she launched the school's first cheerleading team, organized a senior trip and the senior prom. How was this possible? "I just time managed," she said. "I just wake up and do what I gotta do." As a result, this homeless student was elected prom queen, earned a 4.0 GPA and snagged a FULL RIDE scholarship to Potomac State College of West Virginia University, where she begins classes this fall. "Quite frankly, I'm just ready to go and live life," she said. "I know there's a better life out there for me."

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Restaurant customers pay it forward, feed homeless

Thanks to generous customers, a soup shop in Melbourne, Australia, now has six months worth of pre-paid meals for patrons who are homeless. At "The Soup Place" people pay $7.50 for a full-price bowl of soup, and can choose to pay an extra $3.50 to buy one for folks less fortunate, like the diners shown here.

                                                                                                                                  ABC News
The restaurant owner launched the initiative in March, 2015. During the first year, he served more than 6,000 meals to homeless customers, and his business has increased substantially. "We're really just the platform," he admits. "The generosity comes from the public."

Friday, June 24, 2016

Miracle at "the rich man's Kroger"

Matt White is a 30-year-old music producer in Memphis, TN. A few weeks ago he was shopping in the Kroger at Poplar and Highland when 16-year-old Chauncy Black offered to help load his bags into his car, in exchange for a box of glazed donuts. Chauncy looked like he'd been turned down 100 times, so Matt chuckled and said, "yeah dude, we'll get you some donuts." Matt learned that Chauncy had taken a bus to "the rich man's Kroger" hoping to get donuts, since the fridge at home was empty. He and his mom had no furniture and slept on mats on the floor. Even so, Chauncy was a straight-A student and hoped to own a business someday. He dreamed of buying a lawn mower to earn money and help his mom pay the rent. What happened next seemed like a miracle.

Matt bought Chauncy cereal, chips, frozen veggies, pizzas, melons, pasta, peanut butter, milk, soap, tooth brushes and more. He drove Chauncy home and sure enough, the apartment was bare and the fridge was empty. Totally empty. Matt gave Chauncy a hug and told him God loved him and he would grow up to be an incredible man. Then Matt created a gofundme page called "Chauncy's Chance," hoping to raise $250 for a lawn mower. When folks in Memphis and around the world learned about Chauncy, they reached out to help. Someone bought him a deluxe power mower to start his business. Others who believe he deserves a chance donated $55,000 so far, and Matt recently found a furnished apartment for Chauncy and his mom. And all Chauncy ever asked for was a box of glazed donuts.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Six-year-old English boy lands "dream job"

Sam Pointon lives in Leicester, England, and is crazy about trains. He loves the moving parts and engine pistons. He and his parents were on vacation recently when his dad read in the paper that the Director of the National Train Museum in York was retiring. They told Sam it would be an ideal job for him, and when the family returned home, he wrote a letter applying to replace the Director. He said he was qualified because "I have an electric train track. I am good on my train track. I can control two trains at once."

Museum bosses were so taken by his enthusiasm that they invited him and his parents to the museum and offered him the (unpaid) job of Director of Fun. In this photo, he lays down the law at his first museum board meeting. He assumed that as a museum director, he would not have to go to school, but quickly learned otherwise. Fortunately, he has no problem balancing a full first-grade academic load with his job as Director of Fun. He says, "It's the best job in the world, and I love it. It is good fun."

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

College pranks in Brazil help the poor

Today's crumb comes from Brazil, where public college freshman are usually "pranked" by upperclassmen as part of a welcome ritual. But at the Federal University of Medicine, academic officials decided stop embarrassing pranks. Instead, incoming freshmen spend three days collecting food for local charities.

                                                                        University of Medicine, Itajuba, Brazil
Freshmen divide into groups and compete against each other to see who can gather the most food. Their shared goal is to overtake numbers of the previous year. This year, teams gathered a total of two tons of groceries which they then delivered to poor families and low-income college employees. The act of delivering free food has helped create affection between "town and gown."

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Football is more than a score, even if you win.

On May 27, Ross Jeffeaux carried the football for Riverside High School in Greer, NC. He ran 70 yards for the clinching touchdown, but the play was about more than points. Ross, who is autistic, has been the team manager for three years. "Ross has been such an inspiration to a lot of people," said coach Phil Smith. You can't say enough about what a big help he's been. To see the love our guys have for Ross is really special." Ross has never played in a game, and only players and the coach knew of plans to get him involved midway through the fourth quarter on May 27. As his friends suited him up in a blue uniform, he kept asking, "Are you serious? Are you serious?"

                                                                                                                     Jim Fair
With two minutes left, a timeout was called and Ross was inserted at running back. The quarterback took the snap and handed the ball to Ross. Ross ran very fast, covering 70 yards with his best friend Will Garrett, and it was an emotional journey. Garrett was actually tearing up, and when they reached the end zone, the rest of the team ran onto the field to join them. Ross was interviewed on the spot. Later at home, he watched the game tape over and over, and his parents sent it to all his family and friends.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Fairy princesses attend adoption hearing

Five-year-old Danielle Koning was eager for her adoption finalization hearing this month in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She's been a foster child with the Konings since March, 2014, and all agreed they should be her forever family. Danielle's case worker knew she was extremely fond of Cinderella and the other Disney princesses, so imagine the expression on Danielle's face when Cinderella walked into the hearing room, along with Sleeping Beauty, Elsa and Ariel, all to support her on her special day!

                                                                                                                        Annie Blanding
Danielle's caseworker, Laura Mitchell, said it was a special situation that snowballed. Even Judge Patricia Gardner revealed a Snow White costume beneath her robe. Danielle's new mom said, "No matter what, if kids have been bounced around a lot, it really helps them to feel that they're not going anywhere now. The look on her face was priceless."

Sunday, June 19, 2016

If only Gumby could talk!

A 7-year-old hound named Gumby became a famous escape artist in Chrleston, SC. He escaped from anyone who adopted him and returned to the CAS (Charleston Animal Society.) So far he's come back eleven times! But why does he keep returning? The reason may surprise you.

He was first brought to CAS as a stray in September, 2014. He looked well-fed, like a recent runaway. His first adoption lasted three days before he escaped and returned to CAS. His second adoption lasted six days. His third adopter was determined to "make things work" but Gumby escaped and returned to CAS four times. Potential adopters are now warned of his Houdini escape skills. Finally the staff noticed that he never tried to escape from CAS, where he had a natural ability to read the emotions of other dogs, like new arrivals dealing with fear or anger. He helped them feel calm and safe. He knows he has work to do, and is now a permanent resident of the shelter. (Thanks to a loyal reader in the midwest for sharing this crumb with us.)

Teacher assures students they are valuable

A few months ago, English teacher Brittni Darras of Rampart High School discovered a student had attempted suicide because the student felt she was not important and made no difference in the world. So Brittni sent her an encouraging letter at the hospital. Then she decided every student needs encouragement. It took her two months to prepare a special letter for 130 of her students, telling each one how important and unique they are.

She handed the letters out on the last day of school before summer break. As they read their letter, some students cried; some hugged Brittni, and one even thrust her letter in the air declaring it was the best thing she ever received.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Her unforgettable 4th grade teacher

He may not remember her after many years of teaching, but Tina will never forget her 4th grade teacher. From him she discovered that learning is one of the best things about being alive, and she has passed that along to her three kids. She remembers that in his class she read her first novel from cover to cover, but more than that, she remembers the day she told him she was moving away. She just found out the night before. He asked why, and for some reason, she told him the truth. She said her family was falling apart and her mother decided to leave her father.

She will never forget what happened next. He told the rest of the class it was free time to talk and play, and took her out into the hall. They talked for over an hour! She can't recall what he said, but for the first time in her life she spoke freely. He listened attentively. He made her feel important. That was the last time she saw him. The next day she packed all she could fit into a suitcase; said goodbye to her toys and stuffed animals, got in the car with her mom and drove far away. But she took the memory of her fourth grade teacher. "I was freed from the burden of secrecy and fear because he encouraged me to speak. He gave me a glimmer of hope. So I hope that, if he should ever wish he did something unforgettable, he'll take a moment to think of all the students he had, and the things he did to change so many young lives for the better."

Thursday, June 16, 2016

"We worship the same God."

Muslims in the village of Khaksabad, Pakistan, are donating what they can toward building a new mud chapel for the Christians (shown below) in their community. The former chapel was destroyed by a storm, and Christian villager Faryal Masih said of his Muslim neighbors, "Since my childhood we have all lived together in this place. We live with love, and attend each other's weddings and festivals."

The new chapel means Christians in the village will no longer have to rent or borrow a house to celebrate Christmas, Easter, and other holidays. A Muslim shop keeper explained why the Christian chapel is important. "A church is also a house of Allah; praying is what matters. We worship the same God," he said.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Some thoughts about Ps. 91:4

After a forest fire at Yellowstone National Park, forest rangers began their trek up a mountain to assess the inferno's damage. One ranger found a bird literally petrified in ashes, perched like a statue on the ground at the base of a tree. Somewhat sickened by the sight, he knocked the bird over with a stick. When he gently struck it, the bird's body fell into a pile of dust, but three tiny chicks scurried out from under their dead mother's wings.

The mother bird had carried her chicks to the base of the tree and gathered them beneath her wings, knowing toxic smoke would rise. She could have flown to safety, but refused to abandon her babies. When the blaze arrived it scorched her small body but she remained steadfast, willing to die so those under her wings could live.   "He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust;" (Ps. 91:4)

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Ice cream unity

Nura Takkish, 22, was enjoying ice cream with two of her friends at Andrew's Ice Cream and Dessert in Orange County, CA, on May 23 when she heard a ruckus at the counter. A customer was saying "nasty things" about Muslims when the baker, Jessie Noah, asked him to leave. "You can give somebody else your business," she said, returning his money.

Takkish posted the incident online to show how widespread anti-Muslim sentiment has become and because she and her friends were proud of the store owners' response. Malaak Ammari, 21, who recorded the incident, has experienced bigotry in the past but never before felt defended. In gratitude, the Council for American-Islamic Relations asked residents to come to the shop and buy ice cream as a token of appreciation.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Nine-year-old assisting homeless in her town

When nine-year-old Khloe Thompson began noticing homeless people in her hometown of Irvine, California, she decided to help them. She started her own charity, called Khloe Kares, to provide homeless women with colorful shoulder bags which she sews with her grandmother and packs with personal items.

                                                                                                          Photo by Khloe Kares
She fills the bags with soap, shampoo, toothbrushes, and other personal items and then delivers them personally to homeless women in the streets of her neighborhood. How do the homeless respond? According to Khloe, "Sometimes they give me hugs; sometimes they say 'God bless you' and then they say 'thank you.' Don't be so afraid of them. Their just normal persons, like you."

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Remember your last water fight?

On Tuesday, May 31, firemen in West Fargo, North Dakota were called to a deck fire in an apartment unit on Fifth Street West. En route, fire fighters received bad news and good news. They were notified that the occupant of the apartment was on home oxygen and could not leave the apartment or put out the fire, but some neighbors helped extinguish the flames. Naturally the fireman assumed the helpful neighbors were adults.

When they arrived, firemen found the remains of a planter that had ignited. The flames had extended into the siding and wood decking near the planter, but the fire was out, thanks to five neighbor kids who are students at Aurora Elementary School. Three of the kids live in the same apartment complex as the fire victim, and two more had joined them for a water fight outside the building. As soon as they smelled the smoke, they found the fire, alerted the occupant, and then used their water guns to control the blaze. "They had some super soakers, so they had some pretty good range," said Fire Chief Daniel Fuller, adding that the kids quick thinking and actions saved the building from extensive damage and may have saved the life of the apartment's occupant.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Please excuse a few missing crumbs

Dear readers, For the next two weeks, new crumbs of comfort will appear occasionally instead of daily. Why the interruption? Because our family is moving from North Carolina to Indiana.

If you're old enough to remember when black and white TV stations went off the air at midnight, you will recognize this iconic test pattern. Thanks in advance for your patience. Daily crumbs will resume on July 1, if not sooner.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

The bond of father-daughter love

The role of a daddy is not to teach his daughter how to behave like a woman. Daddy's role is to show her by example how a woman should be treated. The reason a daughter loves her daddy so much is because she knows he is the one man who will never hurt her.

If you'd like to see a pure example of father and daughter love, play this brief, inspiring three-minute video.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Muhammad Ali's crumb of comfort

It happened in Los Angeles, CA, on January 19, 1981. A young man (never identified) was on the 9th floor ledge of an office building, threatening to jump. Spectators on the ground urged the distraught 21-year-old man to jump, and police and a chaplain were trying unsuccessfully to talk him down when Ali's public relations manager, Howard Bingham, came on the scene. He called Ali and told him "there's a guy here on a building a block from your house." Four minutes later, Ali comes driving up the wrong side of the street in his Rolls-Royce with his lights blinking. As shown here, he leaned out the window and the man yelled, "It's really you!"

                                                                                                                   Bettmann/Getty Images
Ali told the man, "You're my brother. I love you and wouldn't lie to you. You got to listen. I want you to come home with me and meet some friends of mine." After half-an-hour, Ali put his arms around the man's shoulders and led him back to safety. When they emerged from the building, they ignored cheers and drove away in Ali's Rolls-Royce to a police station. Los Angeles police gave Ali credit for talking the man down. A police spokesman said, "No doubt about it. Ali saved that man's life."

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

From a reader in Charlotte, North Carolina

Back in 2011, Brazilian fisherman Joao Pereira de Souza, 71, found a tiny penguin on a local beach. The penguin was covered with oil and close to death, so Joao cleaned his feathers and fed him a daily diet of fish until his strength returned. He named the penguin Dindim, and the bird stayed with Joao 11 months, and then disappeared. But a few months later, Dindim returned.

                                                                                                      Rio de Janeiro Federal University
He spotted Joao on the beach and followed him home, wagging his tail like a dog and honking with delight. Ever since then, Dindim has spent eight months a year with Joao and the rest of the time breeding off the coast of Chile and Argentina. It's believed the penguin swims up to 5,000 miles each year to be reunited with the man who saved his life. "No one else is allowed to touch him," Joao says. "He pecks them if they do. He lays in my lap; lets me give him showers; allows me to feed him sardines and to pick him up. He arrives in June and leaves in February and every year he is more affectionate and happier to see me." Some experts believe Dindim thinks Joao is part of his family, and Dindim may be correct, because Joao loves the penguin "like my own child."

Monday, June 6, 2016

Fifth grader thanks his teachers

Beginning last October, fifth-grader Cody Dortch of Edmond, Oklahoma, began hoarding money. He did odd jobs for neighbors; stashed his Christmas and birthday money, and would not tell why. He had a secret plan to thank all his elementary school teachers as he prepared to move up to middle school. He wanted to take them all to dinner.

It took Cody six months to raise the $200 needed to treat his teachers to a special night out. He bought each teacher a rose, sent them invitations, and made a speech at the restaurant explaining that dinner was on him.  "Such an honor and privilege to have had Cody in my class," said teacher Andrea Brousseau. "He's such a light, and his parents are to be applauded too."  Cody's mom said, "These ladies did not just teach my child. They helped raise him to become who he is today."

Sunday, June 5, 2016

"This would have to be divine intervention."

On November 5, 1984, a 19-year-old sophomore at San Francisco State University gave birth to a daughter in her dormitory. She'd concealed her pregnancy, so she wrapped the newborn in a dirty towel, put her in a box, and left her in the dorm laundry room. Before long, the baby was spotted by a student putting his clothes in a dryer. He hurried to the washer room next door and asked, "Did you know there's a baby in a box in here?" Fortunately, Esther Wannenmacher, a 21-year-old nursing student taking a course in newborn care, was washing her clothes. She swept her finger through the baby's mouth to be sure her airway was clear, but became concerned about the little girl's bluish color and ordered fellow students to call 911. "I don't really believe in luck," said Esther, now 53. "This would have to be divine intervention."

                                                                                                                                     Jillian Sobol
The baby was later adopted by Sam and Helene Sobol, but despite her university birth, higher education felt beyond Jillian Sobol's reach. She had dyslexia, attention deficit disorder and learning disabilities. But she persevered in life, just as she did in the first hours after her birth. Now 31, she just graduated with a bachelor's degree from San Francisco University, the same campus where she was born. She tracked down the nursing student who saved her life, and her biological father attended her graduation luncheon recently. Looking back, Jillian believes her life is a "story of hope, joy, optimism, family and San Francisco State."

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Historic first at Olympics this summer

Worldwide, about 42,000 people are forced to leave their homes every 24 hours.  Last year about 60 million people were either refugees, asylum seekers, or displaced within their own countries. Few events create as much national pride as the Olympics, but refugee athletes cannot compete if they have no flag to march behind and no national anthem to play at opening ceremonies. That will change this summer at the Rio games.
This August, the 206 national delegations will be joined by a different kind of team. For the first time in history, Team ROA (Refugee Olympic Athletes) will represent all the refugees in the world. According to IOC president Thomas Bach, "These refugee athletes will be welcomed to the games with the Olympic flag and the Olympic anthem. They will have a home together with all the other 11,000 athletes in the Olympic Village. We want to send a message of hope to all the refugees of the world."

Friday, June 3, 2016

A new face of the "American Dream"

Alix Idrache came to the United States as an immigrant from Haiti. He never thought he'd attend college, but he earned his citizenship and served as an enlisted man with the Maryland National Guard before his appointment to West Point. During the past four years, he rose through the ranks to be named Regimental Commander among his classmates. Standing ramrod straight with tears running down his face, he graduated this month.

                                                                                                                                U.S. Army
His first assignment is to Fort Rucker, Alabama, where he will begin flight training to become a pilot, something he calls truly humbling. "Thank you for giving me a shot at the American Dream," he said, "and may God bless America, the greatest country on earth."

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Long arm of the law has hand of compassion

Massachusetts State Police trooper Luke Bonin had just left court when he drove by a homeless mother of four, Lynn Murphy. She was panhandling on Davol Street in Fall River, MA. Bonin drove past her, but didn't forget her. Minutes later he drove back and stopped. She was sure she was in trouble and offered to leave, but he presented two meals he'd just purchased and invited her to take one. "I thought he was just going to give me the meal," Murphy said, "but when he said, 'Come around the back. It's such a beautiful day. We'll have a picnic,' it touched my heart."

Unknown to the picnickers, Jake Morse drove by and snapped this photo. He uploaded it to Facebook where it received more than 70,000 likes. Murphy said, "(Bonin) didn't know me from Adam. I'm a homeless panhandler and he took the time out of his day and bought us lunch, and had it with me." She said the encounter made her feel significant. Massachusetts State Police commended Bonin "for your selfless act, and for doing the right thing."

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

"She was mine and I was hers."

What's the secret to lasting love? Is it her hourglass figure, or his fancy car? Is it a shared interest in art or music? Or can love be born from agony?  In his book, "My Germany," Lev Raphael remembers April, 1945, when his dad and 2,500 other prisoners from the Nazi Bergen-Belsen death camp were packed into a train without food or water to prevent Allied forces from setting them free. The train cars (like the one shown here) remained sealed shut as the train wandered aimlessly for a week.

On April 13, two American tanks appeared and the Nazi guards fled. When the locked cattle cars were opened, the stench was so bad that many in the 30th infantry division vomited. American troops took the starving Jews from the train and cared for them at a former Wehrmacht base, now a Displaced Persons Camp. The clean, heated quarters were paradise for Jews who had been treated like animals for years. Lev's mother had escaped from a slave labor camp 16 miles away and was already on the base when his dad arrived. They had lost everything -- home, family, country. There was not time for courting. His dad asked her, "Do you like me?" She answered "yes" and his dad later recalled that, from that moment on, "she was mine and I was hers." Their marriage lasted 54 years.