Friday, September 30, 2016

Would this idea work in your town?

In the United Kingdom, supermarkets discard $299 million worth of food each year. Large markets overstock so their shelves never look empty, and then toss the unsold surplus. Waste is built into the supermarket system. Now the RJFP (Real Junk Food Project) has opened it's own supermarket in the English town of Pudsey, West Yorkshire. It sells other markets' and restaurants' discarded surplus food on a "pay whatever you can" basis.  It may not look like a Kroger, but it's helping hungry people.

Take Kirsty Rhodes, for example. She was recently diagnosed with a chronic illness. Her husband had to leave work to take care of their children. Their household income dropped through the floor, but they are able to buy a variety of foods at the RJFP market because customers pay whatever they want to. "With three young children and two adults to feed, we started to struggle straight away," she said. "Luckily we took the plunge to go to the food warehouse and it was amazing!" If this idea works in Pudsey, would it work in your town?

Thursday, September 29, 2016

At least one person remembers Omran Daqneesh

Last August, 5-year-old Omran Daqneesh became poster boy of the Syrian conflict. A photo of him sitting the the back of an ambulance, stunned, hurt, and covered with dirt, went viral. But news cycles are short, so Omran was quickly forgotten by many, but not by a six-year-old New York boy named Alex. Alex worried about Omran. He wanted to help, so he wrote a letter to President Obama. Here's part of what it said.

                                                                                                            Amnesty International
"Remember the boy who was picked up by an ambulance in Syria? Could you please go get him and bring him to (my home)? Park in the driveway or in the street. We'll be waiting with flags and flowers. We will give him a family and he will be our brother. Catherine, my little sister, will be collecting butterflies and fireflies for him. In my school, I have a friend from Syria named Omar and I will introduce him to Omar. We can all play together. We can teach him English, just like my friend Aoto from Japan. Since he won't bring toys and doesn't have toys, Catherine will share her big blue stripy white bunny. And I will share my bike and teach him how to ride it. I will teach him additions and subtractions in math, and he can smell Catherine's lip gloss which is green. She doesn't let anyone touch it." The President was so impressed by Alex's compassion that he read the letter as part of his speech at the United Nations.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Lifetime of love began on a double-decker bus

Ken Morgan is 82 years young and well remembers the day he met his wife Shirley. He was riding down Rt. 1 in Cardiff, Wales, on a red and white double-decker bus. It was 1956, and the sweetest girl he ever saw was the bus conductress. She took his ticket that day, and his heart. The two married in 1959, and he resigned from the Royal Air Force so he could work with her on the bus.

                                                                                                                       Wales News Service
Fifty years later, Ken tracked down one of the vehicles through a collector who had saved it from the scrapyard. After a year of restoration, it looks like new. Shirley and Ken drive it on long, nostalgic rides through the United Kingdom, and to classic car shows. "It took us right back down memory lane to the days we first met," says Ken. Shirley agrees, adding, "I still have my original conductress badge and wear it with as much pride as my wedding ring."

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

It was Bosnia, but it could be Syria

This picture speaks for itself, describing the love of harmony we all long for, even at war. It recalls a verse about the Bible character David, written by World War II combat veteran Max Dunaway, who later became a practitioner of Christian Science.  He wrote, "The gentle hand that plucked the harp slew both the lion and the bear. The lad that stilled Goliath's boast sang songs beyond compare."

Monday, September 26, 2016

For the Love of Others

Lauren Puryear, 29, wants to deliver 30,000 meals to people in need by her 30th birthday, and she knows how she'll pay for the food. The Woodbridge, NJ, resident holds a bachelor's degree, two masters degrees, and a PhD in psychology. She's a mental health clinician; a single mom of a 5-year-old-son, and founder of a charity called For the Love of Others.

                                                                                                                          Courtesy photo
She expects to pay for most of the food she distributes to others with store coupons. "I started couponing for food items like spaghetti and meatballs, and I was (often) able to get the items for free, or very little money. She finds coupons in the Sunday paper, or prints them online. "I collect as many as I can, match them to the store, and that is how I am able to get the items for free," she says. "It may look like a meticulous process," she admits, "but once you get the hang of it, it is fairly easy, just requiring persistence and willingness." She's already delivered 5,000 meals to hungry people in New Jersey, Washington DC, Baltimore and beyond, and she's confident she'll reach her goal by next year.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Seeing the old in a new light?

In Japan, the Polar Orbis company makes cosmetics, including a very expensive anti-wrinkle cream used mostly by aging housewives. To prove the cream works, the company employs thousands of senior workers, including 250 in their 90s. Some serve as "beauty directors" who establish long-term relationships with customers. Recently Polar Orbis hired their first hundred-year-old employee!

                                                                                                          AP/Shizon Kambayashi
Japan is the most rapidly aging nation in the world, with 61,000 centenarians. That's the population of Daytona Beach, FL, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe calls the silver tsunami a bonus, not an onus. He wants to turn people's sliver years into gold for the economy as people reject out-dated concepts about what it means to be old. Unlike many nations where seniors are seen as burdens to be shelved and ignored, Japan celebrates Respect for the Aged Day each year. This year, it was on September 21. Did you send your folks a card?

Friday, September 23, 2016

Spare the meditation, spoil the child?

When boys and girls misbehave in class at the Robert Coleman Elementary School in west Baltimore, Maryland, they don't get punished or sent to the principal's office. Instead, they go to the "mindful moment room" where they can decompress through meditation. Since the meditation room was opened, the school has issued no suspensions -- not even one. The program was organized by the Holistic Life Foundation,  a Baltimore-based non-profit dedicated to helping kids in underserved neighborhoods.

Research shows meditation relieves stress and increases productivity. It's also an anger management tool. Andres Gonzalez, one of the project organizers, says stressed parents yell at kids at home and then kids come to school stressed and yell at each other. Meditation can stop this trickle-down process. According to Gonzalez, "We've had parents tell us, 'I came home the other day stressed out, and my daughter said, Hey, mom, you need to sit down. I need to teach you how to breathe.'"

Thursday, September 22, 2016

4-year-old delivers gifts in Barbie car

A few days ago in Hudsonville, Michigan, four-year-old Becca VanZyll learned that some neighbors down the street lost everything in a house fire. She didn't know the Walker-Vu family who owned the burned out house, but she knew they had three little girls like her. When she heard that goods were being collected for the family, she decided to deliver her own gifts to them, in her Barbie Mustang.

Helped by her older brothers, she packed her car full of all the presents that had been purchased for her for her birthday and Christmas. Becca wanted to do everything in her power to help, even if it meant giving up her presents. "She kept wanting to add more," said her mom, Jackie VanZyll. "I was happy she was willing to do that."

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Another athlete who expresses sportsmanship

Max Akin is a favorite quarterback on the Keller Fossil Ridge High School in Fort Worth, Texas. At the recent homecoming game, he had 200 passing yards, 60 rushing yards, and four touchdowns. But what he did at halftime was true sportsmanship. K.L. Norwood (seen on the right in this photo) is manager of the football team. He has cerebral palsy. Both he and Max were nominated for Homecoming King. Max won the crown, and he remembers what happened next.

                                                                                                                        Photo: WFAA
"When I saw K.L. and came over and gave him a hug, I knew he wanted that crown more than anything." So Max dropped to his knees in front of K.L., removed the crown from his head and lifted it up to K.L. as a gift. "It was absolutely terrific," K.L. said.  Max added, "I think it should have gone to the person who positively uplifts the school and everybody around him, and that person in K.L. for sure. Everybody was going wild for him. Everybody loves K.L. at this school."

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Customer service rep, or fairy godmother?

Christina Grady, 36, of Pittsburgh was planning her wedding a few weeks ago when her fiance broke up with her. So she made plans to move into a new apartment and was using her Capital One credit card to buy furniture to be sent to her new address. Suddenly her credit card was shut down for "suspicious activity." Christina called Capital One and was connected to a woman known only as "Tonya KYY905" in the Richmond, VA, Capital One call center.  Christina remembers what Tonya said when told about Christina's break-up and need to move. "She was like, 'Girl, I am giving you 4,500 free miles (about $45). Go on vacation. Take so many pictures of yourself all happy and post them all over that Instagram.'"

But that was just the beginning. Five days later, Christina got a text from her ex. Someone had sent her flowers at his house. Christina was afraid they might be from a stalker, but they were from Capital One. According to Christina, "Turned out it was just Tonya being like, 'It's cool girl. You're gonna be OK.'" Christina, shown above with the flowers, says that when she called Tonya KYY905 to thank her, "she told me her work hours and said I could call anytime if I needed her! She's adorably sweet." Christina loves her fairy godmother, but has only one regret. She wrote on Facebook, "if I knew this photo would go viral, I would have put on some make-up."

Monday, September 19, 2016

Supermarket staff goes the extra mile

Once again, today's crumb comes from a faithful reader in Redlands, California. This true story began eight months ago in the Stater Brothers Supermarket on 40th Street in San Bernardino, CA. A customer who is partly blind asked manager Jorge Moreno for assistance. Moreno remembered, "From that day we all made sure he always got the help he needed." Sometimes the staff helped him with shopping, and sometimes the courtesy clerks made the short walk from the store to his nearby home with him.

                                                                                                                           Courtesy Photo
Now fast forward to the present. Terrance Morrison has only worked at the store for three weeks, but he's heard about how everyone on the staff helps the sight-impaired customer. "I've never worked in a place like this," Morrison said. "It's really nice." A few days ago, Morrison had his first chance to assist the man home. As they walked across busy 40th Street, a motorist in car waiting at a red light saw them and snapped this picture. He posted it on social media and praised Morrison, who was wearing his green Sater Brothers apron. Jack Brown, executive chairman of the grocery chain, is proud of his new employee. "He's a fairly new member of the Sater Brothers family" said Brown, "but he already understands that we don't just do business in the community. We're part of it."

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Another crumb from a reader in Redlands, California

Earlier this month, John Badial of Vacaville, CA, accidentally left his billfold on top of his car. He was cruising down Interstate 80 when he hit a bump, glanced in the mirror, and saw everything fall out of his wallet and hit ground in the highway median. Soon afterward, California Highway Patrolman James Morrell received a call to investigate a man crawling on the highway median on his hands and knees. At first, it sounded suspicious.

Officer Morrell found John Badial crawling on the median, looking for the contents of his wallet. It held $200 and his family lives paycheck-to-paycheck. Since they could not find the money, officer Morrell took Badial to a gas station so Badial could fill up his tank. The officer saw a cash machine nearby and withdrew $60 and gave it to Badial. Morrell said he became a highway patrolman because he likes to help people. Badial was very thankful, He said, "He doesn't know me from Adam." Today the two men are friends.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

"It's my job to save them. I'm a mom..."

When you watch your child climb eagerly onto the school bus each morning, you probably don't wonder what would happen if the bus suddenly burst into flames. Neither do the drivers, probably including Reneita Smith, who drives a bus for the Glen Arden Elementary School in College Park, Maryland. But on a recent Monday morning, Smith was driving 20 elementary school children when she pulled over on a suburban street in College Park and a plume of black smoke billowed from her bus.  Quick action was needed, and onlookers say Reneita was a hero.

Bystander Fazlul Kabir posted the event on Facebook, where he said, "Reneita took each one of the 20 kids from the bus one by one, but also went into the empty bus again while it was still burning, to check if everyone was out." She refused to leave the bus until she was sure every child was safe." For Reneita, it was the natural thing to do. "It's my job to save them," she said. "I am a mom of two kids."

Thursday, September 15, 2016

teen invents app to prevent bullying

Natalie Hampton of Sherman Oaks, California (pictured below) has never forgotten her 7th and 8th grade years in middle school, where she was bullied. She ate alone in the cafeteria every day of 7th grade, and the feeling of vulnerability led to nightmares, stress and depression.  "When I walked into a classroom, I was planning an escape route," she recalls. Now she's 16, a high school junior, and she attends a different school where she's thriving socially. But she knows bullying is rampant in cyberspace and school cafeterias, so she created an app called "Sit With Us."

                                                                                                     Carolyn Hampton Photography
The app allows students to designate themselves as "ambassadors", inviting others to join them, which signal to anyone needing company that they are invited to join the ambassadors' table. It helps students who have difficulty finding a place to sit find a welcoming group. It prevents kids from being publicly rejected or considered outcasts. And the best part? According to Natalie, "This way it's very private. It's through the phone. No one else has to know. People are already posting open lunches at my school," she says, "so I'm very excited that things are kicking off with a great start."

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Strangers rally around elderly crime victim

Maria Vasquez, 93, lives in public housing in East Harlem, NY. When she goes out, she uses a wheelchair. Recently Maria and her health aide did some shopping. First they went to a bank where she cashed her Social Security check. She put the money ($600) in her bra for safe keeping, and she noticed a young man in the bank watching her. Then she and her caretaker went to Regine's department store to buy some comfy shoes. Suddenly the man she saw in the bank came up behind her, reached under her shirt, grabbed the $600 and disappeared in the crowd. But everything was caught on the store's security camera.

                                                                                                                   NY Daily News
Maria needed that money to pay for rent, electricity and food. She yelled, "They're stealing my money," but the suspect had vanished. Headlines in city newspapers dubbed him "the worst person in New York." Then, suddenly, Maria was flooded with kindness and support. The owner of Regine's gave her $600 to make up for her loss. He also gave her the shoes she intended to buy. A city official gave her $1,000 in donations from citizens. A stranger set up an online fundraiser that raised $2,000 for Maria, who says she is overwhelmed by the show of love from strangers everywhere. Finally, Regine's released the surveillance images of the suspect. Two days later, police tracked down the 26-year-old Brooklyn man at his home.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Elderly cats cuddled by seniors

"By the time cats are seven years old or older, most just want to eat, sleep, be cuddled and loved," says Jordan Umerley, a volunteer at the Ohio AlleyCat Resource Center in Cincinnati, Ohio. To meet that need, the shelter regularly takes older cats to visit seniors at several local retirement communities. "Many of these folks cannot have pets now, so the chance to cuddle a chilled out kitty is great for them."

Elderly folks get great joy from their visiting furry friends, and cats get a healthy dose of love and affection that they crave. Cat-lovers know having felines around is very therapeutic. According to Umerley, "The seniors love telling stories about their past pets, and ask us to take pictures of them with the visiting cats. They send these pictures to their children and grandchildren."

Monday, September 12, 2016

Barber says his work is "all about love."

Brockton, Massachusetts, has as new hero -- Corey Bester, owner of the Bester Styles barber shop. What made him famous? Local resident Ryan Jones was driving past Bester Styles recently when he saw the barber giving a customer a haircut -- outside the shop on the sidewalk -- because the man's electric wheelchair would not fit through the door. Jones snapped this photo and sent it to the Brockton Facebook page.

                                                                                                      Facebook/Ryan Jones
Jones observed, "This barber could have easily said sorry, bud, I can't get you in because you're in a wheelchair, but instead he accommodated that man and did what he could to make sure he had a fresh cut." Bester just opened the shop and could not yet afford a wheelchair ramp. Since the picture went viral, he's received "a ton" of support from the community. The barber explained, "It was totally unexpected. I had to help him out. It's all about love."

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Childlike kindness is a lesson for adults

Last month, the youth soccer team from Barcelona, Spain, was playing against a Japanese team in Tokyo for the U-12 Junior Soccer World Challenge. The game was hard-fought and close until the Spanish youth won a spectacular 1-0 victory. The Barcelona team formed a huddle and jumped up and down for joy, until they noticed something.

The Japanese players were emotionally crushed. After the defeat, some were crying, or shaking, or simply crumpled on the ground in despair. Barcelona players responded in a way that went viral on social media. They scattered around the field, embracing their Japanese opponents. They hugged them and consoled them. As shown in this Youtube photo, they comforted the defeated players. Many believe this form of sportsmanship is even greater than winning a game. It's also an example for adults. As someone once said, "a little child shall lead them...."

Friday, September 9, 2016

Buff bods can do more than self-defense

Former UFC Bantamweight champion Miesha Tate does not hide her line of work. "I punch faces for a living," she admits, but recently she put her athletic training to a good cause. Andrew and Amber Abalos and their 6-year-old daughter Kai were hiking on the Mary Jane Falls trail in Mt. Charleston, about 40 miles from Las Vegas, when Kai fell and broke her arm at the top of the trail. Meisha noticed their problem and offered to help carry Kai down the mountain. Kai's mother told Meisha, "There was no way I could have done it myself. Kai is your newest #1 fan.

Later, Miesha referred to Kai as "the sweet little girl that kept me company down the mountainside, very upbeat despite her broken arm. I just have to say this was one of the most rewarding days of my athletic career." Miesha added that she's been criticized often for being too buff or manly, and told to stop lifting weights. "I'm so happy I never listened to the limitations others wanted to put on me," she said. " Strength and beauty come from within."

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Have you ever heard of Grandma Uber?

"It has taken me 57 years to find my calling and I think I've found it," says Kathy Raydings of Brisbane, Australia. After hearing concerns from young women who felt unsafe traveling at night, especially in a taxi driven by a man, Raydings became an Uber driver and made it her mission to get young women home safe after a night on the town. Her car comes equipped with water, energy drinks, sugar-free biscuits, and a huge container of chocolate candy -- M&Ms, Snickers, Mars Bars, all of it. But how did her service become so popular?

                                                                                                         Kathy Raydings / Facebook
Another Brisbane woman named Amy O'Farrell heard about Grandma Uber from a colleague, and shared her name and photo on a local, girls-only Web page. The post gained more than 2,000 likes in 50 minutes. Since then, Grandma Uber's client base has blossomed. She now drives 70 hours a week. So far, she's driven more than 3,500 Queensland girls safely home, and her Uber rating is 4.8 stars. In order to serve more passengers, she's meeting with two more older women to expand her mission. "It's obvious they'll need to get Uber approval and credentials," she said. "We'll dress up their cars with stickers so the girls will recognize that its another Grandma Uber." The work is demanding, but Kathy Raydings enjoys every minute of it, explaining that a Grandma Uber "just needs to love the girls, treat everyone with respect, care for them and get them home. There's no rocket science to it."

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Can gratitude really improve your health?

More and more studies are finding that gratitude doesn't just make you feel like a better person. It's good for your physical health! According to UCLA professor Robert Emmons, gratitude "can lower blood pressure, improve immune function and facilitate more efficient sleep."

One study from the University of California San Diego School of Medicine found that people who are more grateful actually had better heart health, specifically less inflammation and healthier heart rhythms. Another study found that gratitude can boost your immune system. Researchers at the universities of Utah and Kentucky observed that stressed-out law students (are there any other kind of law students?) who considered themselves optimistic had more disease-fighting cells in their bodies. Maybe it's time to give gratitude a try? Why not start today?

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

A classroom video of very surprised children

A group of young children in school were asked by their teacher to draw pictures of a fire fighter, a surgeon and a fighter pilot.The students drew carefully and were proud of their work. Here's one student's picture.

Almost all the children drew pictures of men, not women. This may be because children tend to be more rigid in gender stereotyping. They have a more absolutist sense of rules than adults do. The stereotype that certain jobs are limited to certain genders still prevails among children (and some adults). So kids grow up thinking there are some jobs they can never do because of their gender. If you watch the 2 minute video linked here, you'll see the thrilled expression on childrens' faces when they discover the link between gender and jobs is not as rigid as they believed.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

It's Labor Day in the USA

Like most of us, you labor pretty hard all year. Does all your unselfish work really matter? Does it make the world a better place? How can you be sure?  Here's a clue. A tourist visiting Amsterdam was deeply inspired by sweet chimes filling the air with melody. He told his host, "I would like to see how the music is made!" The next day, the tourist was admitted to the chimer's room in the bell tower where a musician played the bells by pressing stiff old wooden handles. In this room the tourist could hear no music, but only the thump and clatter of the handles. The music floated out upon the city from the bell tower, but the thumping and banging of the handles was necessary to make it. The chimer himself could not hear the sweet tones he made.

Sometimes you and I can hear only the thumping and clatter of the wooden handles as we labor through life, and we wonder if we're doing any good.  But those in the streets below hear the music we make and are inspired. And that's not all. God and His angels hear the sweet tones in heaven, and if we are faithful, our music floats into eternity, where no note is ever lost. Happy Labor Day. Keep chiming!

Friday, September 2, 2016

Eating alone in the school cafeteria

Bo Paske goes to a middle school in Florida. He has autism and finds it hard to make friends, so in the cafeteria each day he often eats lunch at a table by himself. But that changed recently. A few days ago, several football players from Florida State visited his school. They joined the children for lunch. Wide receiver Travis Rudolph grabbed a slice of pizza and then noticed Bo sitting alone. He asked if he could join him, and they started chatting.  "It was real easy," Randolph remembered. "You'd never think there was anything wrong with him. Just a really warm person. I didn't even know anybody took a photo." Bo told Randolph his name, and how much he admired Florida State.

                                                                                                               Leah Paske / Facebook
Someone snapped this photo and emailed it to Bo's mother, Leah Paske, who posted it on Facebook. She wrote, "I'm not sure what exactly made this incredibly kind man share a lunch table with my son, but I'm happy to say it will not soon be forgotten." Bo was also excited about the attention, saying, "It's been awesome. Everyone was so proud of me." His mom adds that Bo now has no shortage of lunch companions. It's cool to sit with him.