Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Fifth grader saves student's life

It happened recently at Greenwood Elementary School in Henrico County, Virginia. Fifth grader Benjamin Ford was enjoying his lunch in the cafeteria when he noticed another student choking. "She was starting to turn colors and gasping for breath. I felt like I had to hurry and get to her," Ford said, "I thought in a couple more seconds she might not make it."

"I wasn't really calm, "he recalled. "My heart was racing. I just knew I had to help her," and fortunately he knew exactly what to do for her. He remembered it from a documentary he saw with his Mom a few years ago. When they first heard that Ford had saved a life, his parents assumed he was describing a video game. Then they learned it was a real person. "We were shocked. It was awesome," said his Mom.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

When cheerleaders are true leaders

The CLAA conference's basketball tournament was held in Carroll County, Missouri, recently. Hardin-Central High School played Northwestern High School. Hardin-Central had a full squad of cheerleaders, but Northwestern had only one, Tori Adams. She explained that many of her teammates were sick and the game was rescheduled which caused scheduling conflicts. The coach said she did not have to cheer, but she felt she should support the team, so she did a few cheers alone, and then sat down.

But not for long. The entire squad from Hardin-Central came over to join her. They soon learned her cheers and were able to present them to the crowd. Many in the stands supported the girls in this rare initiative. "They learned some of my cheers, and I learned some of theirs," said Tori. "It was a big relief."

Monday, February 26, 2018

Unconditional love and forgiveness

Madison Palm, 23, is deputy assessor title clerk at her county's DMV in Coeur d' Alene, Idaho. During a break one day, she heard a co-worker describe a corgi who was being given away because she killed her family's chickens. Palm left immediately to meet the dog, who had been kept outside for seven years and fed only scraps. Her name was Cora. Palm took Cora, and on the drive home, Cora crawled into Palm's lap. After years of total neglect, Cora's ears were infected, her teeth were rotted and the water turned black when she got her first bath. But her attitude never changed. Palm says, "Cora taught me the true meaning of unconditional love and forgiveness.

"She is very sympathetic and in tune with my needs, yet she is so incredibly independent." Here's an example. Cora was flying with Palm from Idaho to see Palm's mother in Alaska. During a layover in Seattle, Cora slipped away and sat in front of a strange man. "I asked him if she was bothering him, and with watery eyes he said, 'No, I just lost my dog last night.'" Cora stayed with the man for a while as he scratched her ears and petted her and whispered how cute she was. Palm believes Cora has a gift. "She knows who is hurting and who needs her."

Sunday, February 25, 2018

To my grandson Lucas

Play with wild abandon, no matter how old you are. Think big, and if that doesn't work, think bigger. Life is all about how you handle Plan B. In the end, this will be the true test of your character. Don't do dumb stuff (you know what!), because your future does not lie in front of you. It resides within you.

Rise up by helping others up. Forgive everyone everything. Be kind and always play fair, even when others don't. Honor your legacy with your integrity. There is no right way to do a wrong thing. The good guys always win, eventually. Always remember that I believe in you...always have...always will. And most of all, remember that you are enough, just the way you are.  Love, Grandpa

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Denice Miracle lives up to her name

American Airlines employee Denice Miracle first noticed that something was strange when two girls, ages 15 and 17 approached her counter at the Sacramento, California International Airport last August. They were traveling alone, with almost no luggage. They had no IDs, and their first-class tickets to New York City were bought with a fraudulent credit card. All red flags.

Instead of letting the girls board the plane, Denice called police. The girls told officers that had been contacted on Instagram by a man named "Drey" who offered them $2,000 to fly to New York for a modeling gig. The girls never told their parents, and they both were shocked to discover the tickets were one-way only. It was a human trafficking plot, but the girls were soon reunited with their parents, who agree that Denice Miracle lived up to her name.

Friday, February 23, 2018

High school students perform deed of kindness

Today's crumb comes from an alert reader in Bloomington, Indiana. Students at Carmel High School near Indianapolis were distressed by the high school shooting in Florida. Then they learned local police had investigated both rumored and real threats of gun violence against their school. Two students were arrested and face felony intimidation charges. Tensions were so high that some students misunderstood and fled the cafeteria when staff restrained a special education student who had a "behavioral struggle." The students needed good news, and they got it on February 21.

                                                                                              Carmel High School
Art teacher Sarah Wolff said her class of 30 kids in grades 9-12 had been challenged earlier this year to come up with a random act of kindness that cost $20 or less. They used the money to buy painter's tape, and printed encouraging notes which they attached to all 5,100 student lockers.  Some said, "You are loved." Others said, "Be the type of person you want to meet." Students fastened the notes to the lockers during the final 90-minute period of the day. One of the organizers said, "With the rough past couple of weeks, I feel like Carmel really needed this."

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Unexpected kindness

Lindsay Pualoa lives in Ashburn, Virginia. Recently her toddler, named A.J., felt sick all night. By morning he wasn't any better, so Lindsay called and cancelled the annual furnace check scheduled for that day. She apologized for giving the HVAC company such short notice, but explained she had a sick kid at home.

Three hours later, her doorbell rang and a florist was standing on her front step. The HVAC company, AllTech Services from Sterling, had sent her flowers with a card saying they hoped A.J. would feel better soon. "I'm floored," said Lindsay. "I've never had something like this happen before."

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Bullies call her "the trash girl"

Nadia Sparkes, 12, lives in Hellesdon, a suburb of Norwich, England. While riding her bike two miles home each day from Hellesdon High School, she noticed lots of litter beside the road so she started picking it up.  Each afternoon, she fills up her bicycle basket with with trash, and so far she's picked up enough to fill two recycling bins. She is not bullied in the classroom, but on the way home other kids call her "trash girl" and say she should pick up after them because it's "her job."

                                                                                                  Photo by Paula Sparkes (aka Mom)
Despite this rudeness, Nadia refuses to leave litter behind. "I'm not going to stop doing the right thing because of them," she says. "I'm doing something to protect the world they also live in. If they are going to call me trash girl, they can say it with respect. We are all responsible for keeping this world safe, instead of believing it's always someone else's job." Meanwhile, her Mom set up a Facebook page for her called "Team Trash Girl" and she has received praise from around the world. Local media shared her story, and her school has featured her on its Web site.

Monday, February 19, 2018

13-year-old saves the day

A few months ago, a school bus driver in LaGrange, Texas, had a medical emergency while driving a bus full of kids. As he lost consciousness, his bus started drifting off the side of the road when one passenger, 13-year-old Karson Vega, realized something was wrong. At the last second, he was able to grab the steering wheel and prevent a crash. But there's more.

The driver was only semi-conscious and would not take his foot off the accelerator, so Karson jumped onto his lap and steered the bus another two miles until he was able to reach the brake pedal and pull over. He even turned on the hazard lights. Another student named Kyler Buzek kept the other kids calm while calling 911. Nobody was hurt, and the bus driver is recovering. Karson admitted it wasn't his first time behind the wheel. He got to drive his uncle's 18-wheeler once, so he says the bus was not very intimidating.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

A truly remarkable teacher

Today's crumb is adapted from a Reader's Digest article by Glennon Melton. She writes about a teacher who is unique. Every Friday afternoon, she asks her pupils to take out a piece of paper and write the names of five classmates they'd like to sit next to next week. She also asks them to nominate a classmate as Citizen of the Week. After class is dismissed, she studies these pieces of paper. She's not really designing a seating chart or an award. She's looking for students who are not requested by anyone else, or who are never noticed enough to be nominated, or who had lots of friends last week but none this week. She's looking for lonely children.

She quickly discovers whose efforts are unappreciated, and who are falling through the cracks, or who are bullying or being bullied. She knows children who are not noticed may eventually resort to violence to be noticed. She finds patterns and uses these to break the codes of disconnection. How long as she been doing this? Ever Friday since Columbine.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Why women can save the world

Today's crumb is a reprint of a Facebook post a few weeks ago from Beth Dunnington. She writes: "Something extraordinary happened at LAX today...(writing this on the plane). I was at the gate, waiting to get my plane to Portland. Flights to two different cities were boarding on either side of the Portland flight. A toddler about 18 months old was having a total meltdown, running between the seats, kicking and screaming, then lying on the ground refusing to board the plane (which was not going to Portland). His young mom, clearly pregnant and traveling alone with her son, became overwhelmed. She couldn't pick him up because he ran away from her, so she finally sat down on the floor, put her head in her hands, and started crying. Then this gorgeous thing happened. The women in the terminal (about six or seven of us) not women who knew each other, approached and surrounded her and her little boy and knelt down and formed a circle around them. I sang, "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" to the little boy...another woman had an orange which she peeled...another woman had a little toy in her bag that she let the toddler play with...another woman gave the mom a bottle of water. Someone else helped the mom get the kid's sippy cup out of her bag and give it to him. There was no discussion and no one knew anyone else, but we were able to calm them both down and she got her child on the plane. Only women approached her. After they went through the door, we all went back to our separate seats and didn't talk about it. We were strangers, gathering to solve a problem. It occurred to me that a circle of women with a mission can save the world. I will never forget that moment.

Friday, February 16, 2018

A TV station like no other

If you don't pay a medical bill and it's been in collection for a while, the hospital or doctor sometimes sells your debt to another company at a deep discount. Then that company hassles you for the money as interest keeps piling up.

A TV reporter in Seattle, Washington, learned about this while preparing a story about how local folks were dealing with medical debt. He wanted to help, so he got his station to spend about $12,000 to buy up to $1 million worth of medical debt owned by folks in western Washington. And the station is forgiving all of it. About 1,000 people in their viewing area will get a letter this month telling them their debt is waived, and they don't owe money anymore.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Would an email have worked as well?

Ava is only five years old, and she already loves to eat at Pizza Express. But she also loves animals. So she wrote a letter to Pizza Express. It said, "I'm writing to you to ask if you could stop using plastic straws because they are very bad for animals. They can get stuck in their mouths and noses. Could you only use straws if people ask for them, because I don't want any animals to get sick."

A Pizza Express spokesman responded, saying "We pride ourselves on listening to our customers," and Ava's letter spurred them to make  change. "We are now phasing out single-use plastic straws from all our 470+ restaurants from this summer,and we'll be replacing them with biodegradable and recyclable paper versions."

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

When grandpa is your best buddy

Maddie Sabourin, 18, of Rome, Georgia, and her grandpa, Sam Senseney, 63, have always been very close. For six years, Sam has needed a new kidney in order to end years of exhausting dialysis. "Watching papa just be on the transplant list for six years has been super hard," says Maddie. "We've always been really close. Sam's entire family, including friends, have been tested, but none are a match. Maddie is a perfect match, but she was too young, until this year when she turned 18.

                                                                             Maddie Sabourin's Facebook page
"This wasn't something I was going to let go," she said. "I knew that this was God's plan for me." She convinced doctors to let her donate, and made papa a surprise "change of address" card explaining that her kidney would be moving in with him. Sam says, "I just sat there looking at the card, and was like 'there's no way.'" Maddie says "papa is going to get all his energy back and live the life he did six years ago, and I'm going to get my best bud back."

Monday, February 12, 2018

a crumb from Chicago!

After last weekend's heavy snowstorm, Chicago volunteers with shovels in hand came from across the Windy City to clear snow from sidewalks and streets on the South Side. Many home owners who received free shoveling were senior citizens. Marc Townsend has lived at the corner of Cornell and 79th Street for 25 years,and he'd never seen anything like it.  "I'm still in awe," he said. "I've been outside here for about an hour just wondering, 'what the hell?' this is beautiful."

"They say Chicago is segregated, but obviously people care about other people in our city," said Jahmal Cole, who mobilized an army of 120 volunteers through his community group, called "My Block, My Hood, My City." Sidewalks were shoveled at more than 50 addresses, proving that even the worst weather sometimes brings out the best in people.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Encore from cookie season, 2017

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 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?"

Saturday, February 10, 2018

What to do with the worst kid in class

Chelsea Haley graduated from the University of Georgia and joined Teach for America to help low-income kids. But she almost quit teaching at a school in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, because of  one difficult student, 12-yer-old Jerome Robinson. He had a rough family life and was failing every subject and constantly got suspended. Eventually Chelsea got through to him, and she was the only teacher he'd listen to. In 2015, she was ready to return to Georgia, but stayed one more year because Jerome needed her.

That was the year Jerome asked if he could live with her. Then his mother asked too. They all had dinner together, and when Chelsea said she was moving, Jerome's mom asked her to take him along, and also his 18-month-old brother Jace. Chelsea was only 24 at the time, but she adopted them both, and used money from her retirement account for a downpayment on a house near Atlanta. Did her unselfishness make a difference? Jerome is in 8th grade now, and instead of failing, he's on the honor roll.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Officer crosses state line to save life

Arizona Department of Justice officer "Hank" Roanhorse was driving home from work recently when he spotted a car on some railroad tracks in McKinley County, New Mexico, which is across the state line. He was familiar with the area and knew the tracks carry a high volume of rail traffic, so he approached the vehicle and found the 56-year-old drive, Samson Whitegoat, slumped over the wheel, smelling strongly of alcohol. Roanhorse crawled into the vehicle to unbuckle Whitegoat's seatbelt as a train rounded a nearby curve.

                                                                                                  Arizona Department of Justice
Whitegoat regained consciousness and began fighting off the officer, but in spite of this, Roanhorsse was able to drag the 300-pound man about 15 feet from the tracks. Seconds later, the train hit the car  and threw if 150 feet. "Thank you, officer, you just saved my life," said Whitegoat, now sober.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Yale's most popular course

"In reality, a lot of us are anxious, stressed, unhappy, numb," says Alannah Maynez, 19, a freshman at Yale University, adding that "students are tired of numbing their emotions so they can focus on their work..." So Alanna enrolled in a course called "Psychology and the Good Life," and so did 1,181 other undergraduates -- making it the most popular course in Yale's 316 year history.

The twice-weekly lecture class has been moved to Woolsey Hall, a venue usually reserved for symphony concerts. Professor Laurie Santos says her course aims to not only make individual students happier, but also to change the culture of the entire university. She explains, "With one in four students at Yale taking it, if we see good habits, things like students showing more gratitude, procrastinating less, increasing social connections, we're actually seeding changes in the school's culture."

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

The best Christmas gift in their life

Alan Robinson and Walter MacFarlane first met in eighth grade, and remained best buddies for the next sixty years. Both were born and raised in Hawaii, and played football together at Punahou High School. Through the decades, they shared a special bond. Macfarlane never knew his father, and Robinson was adopted.

With help from his family, Macfarlane searched for answers over the years through the Internet and social media, but had no luck, so he turned to DNA matching Web sites. His daughter, who helped him, says "We started digging into the matches we were getting" and at the top of the list of DNA matches was the username Robi737.  MacFarlane knew his best friend's nickname was Robi and he'd flown 737s for Aloha Airlines. After a few phone calls, they found out they both have the same birth mother. Now that the shock is wearing off, the brothers plan to travel and enjoy retirement together. "This is the best Christmas present I could ever imagine having," Robinson said. MacFarlane agreed that "It's a Christmas miracle."

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Make America Dinner Again!

When the 2016 presidential race ended, Justine Lee and Tria Chang were sad to see so much political divisiveness on their social media feed. But instead of joining the online arguments, they wanted to bring people together in person, so they developed a project called Make America Dinner Again, inviting strangers from both sides of the aisle to sit down and break bread together and lay their opinions on the table, literally.

According to the MADA Web site, Make America Dinner Again is an avenue to listen. These small dinners consist of respectful conversation and delicious food shared among six to ten guests who have differing political viewpoints, and have our country's best interests at heart.  So far they've helped host 13 dinners from California to Washington, DC, and people are reaching out to the duo about hosting MADA meals of their own. Want to know more? Then point your browser to

Monday, February 5, 2018

7-year-old saves Dad's life

Ashley Bradburn, 29, of Loughborough, England, remembers going into the kitchen recently to make lunch for daughters Chloe, 8, and three-year-old Gracie May,when he felt severe pain in his chest and fell on the floor.  Chloe remembered, "I heard a thud and went downstairs and saw Daddy crying on the floor so I took Daddy's cell phone and dialed 999 because I knew he was hurt. I felt scared, and they told me to pump his heart seven times and make sure he was breathing." Chloe kept Gracie May calm and "I waited with Daddy until the ambulance came and then I let the ambulance people in."

                                                                                               East Midland Ambulance Service
Bradburn made a full recovery, thanks to Chloe's courage. She was only seven at the time. "We try to keep our daughters aware of what to do in an emergency," he said, "how to dial an ambulance and tell them our address." As shown above, Chloe was presented with the EMAS Laverick Award at Outer Edge Primary School in Loughborough, for showing great bravery during a frightening time.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

From Facebook to the BBC

Today's crumb first appeared on Ella Johannessen's Facebook page, and then became a top story on  BBC News. In her post, she recalled riding a train from London King's Crossing Station to Leeds a few days ago. During the ride, she called her mom and started venting about her money problems. During her senior year at Leeds Beckett University, the 23-year-old had to quit her job to focus on her studies, and she fell into debt. "I was rather stressed out over my financial situation. I spoke about how little money I had and how worried I was, and I got upset.," she said on Facebook.

After ending the call, she fell asleep in her seat and when she awoke she found a napkin on her lap. Underneath were 100 pounds ($141) in 20-pound notes. "I started to cry," she said, "after a terrible 18 months of losing my father and both of his parents, this showed me there is kindness and good people in the world." She suspects the person who left the money does not want to be found, but she has promised to pay it forward by volunteering for a charity in Leeds.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Wanna buy a house for $1.25?

Okay, it's a fixer-upper in a tiny village in Italy, and there are strings attached, but $1.25 is less than a Starbucks coffee. Here's the deal. Residents have been moving away of the Italian village of Ollolai in the Barbagia region of Sardinia, and lots of homes stand empty. So Mayor Efisio Arbau hoped to rejuvenate the community by selling 200 vacant stone houses for $1.25 each. Do you think his scheme will work?

Buyers must have about $25,000 to restore their home within three years, and can only sell it after five years, but even so, the village has been overwhelmed with interest. It's reached such a peak that the number of requests submitted has potentially exhausted the number of available properties. The offer ends February 7, so act now.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Riders tempt bus driver to delay retirement

For almost 30 years, Gary Keimer has driven a school bus for an elementary school in Mount Laurel, New Jersey. He's watched a lot of kids grow up, and they remember him fondly because he's always in a good mood. They all know he's a huge Eagles fan, because he often sang the Eagles fight song with them on their way to school. So a bunch of parents and former students decided to pay him back.

In only five days, they raised over $5,000 -- enough money to buy Gary and his wife two tickets to their first Super Bowl, including airfare and hotel accommodations. When he pulled up to his last stop a few days ago, more than 60 people were waiting to surprise him. He was so blown away by their kindness that he's rethinking his plans to retire at the end of the school year. After such show of love, he says he may have to stick around a few more years.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Talk about a cool car!

We've all seen some really cool cars in our day, but maybe not this cool. Last month, Montreal-based artist and prankster Simon Laprise decided to confound his community by sculpting a parked car entirely out of snow.

The wintery automobile was so convincing that local police officers were about to ticket it when they realized they had been tricked. Instead of a ticket, officers left a note which said, "You made our night!" and Laprise responded on social media by saying, "No, you made my night!"