Friday, August 31, 2018

"I just thank God he was alive."

It happened in the village of Harrison, Wisconsin, recently. Heavy rains pounded the area. A boy (name unknown) was playing in a flooded drainage ditch with friends around 6 p.m. when he disappeared under the water. A dive team, Sheriff deputies and volunteer firemen responded. When they arrived, they saw a bystander trying to hold on to the boy, but he was sucked by rushing water into the flooded culvert which led to a storm sewer.

                                                                                                                               Wm. Glasheen
Rescuers could do nothing except try to learn where the flow might take the boy, so they got a map of the sewers. Two rescuers were standing on a manhole cover about 30 feet from the ditch when they saw a boy's fingers pop through the opening in the cover. The boy had found a pocket of air beneath the manhole cover and was hanging onto a ladder leading up to the manhole. Firefighters removed the cover and saved him. He was alert and conscious after the ordeal. Said one rescuer, "I just thank God he was alive."

Thursday, August 30, 2018

The best part of a middle-schooler's day

Wally Richardson, 94, was a Navy pilot in WWII and the Korean War. A few years ago, he decided to get up every morning in time to greet students at 7:15 a.m. in front of Marina Village Middle School in El Dorado, California. He stands outside the school on the front steps and greets them with fist-bumps and Wallyisms which students know by heart. Wally: "Be kind whenever possible." Kids: "It's always possible." Wally: Judging others does not define who they are." Kids: "It defines who you are." Wally: "Never look down on anyone." Kids: "Unless you're helping them up."

Students' faces light up when they get a dose of Wally's words, even when he reminds them to tie their shoes. Kids gravitate to him and listen intently. One middle-schooler named Audrey told her mom, "He talks about kindness and gives us advice and fist bumps. It's the best part of the day."There are kids now in college who still remember how he greeted them when they walked to middle school, and recently three students received permission to paint his sayings on "Wally's Wall" at the school, to show how much they appreciate him. "It's so special," said Wally, "that kids would do something like that for me."

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

A crumb from Chuck E. Cheese

Not long ago, a four-year-old  New Jersey boy named Evan Kazanis was thrilled to have his birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese. It should have been the highlight of his year. His mom invited 30 of his friends, but none showed up. An employee named Taylor Inzinna said the whole thing was pretty sad.

After the party was over, she asked her Facebook friends to help Evan out. A week later, the employees threw another party at Chuck E. Cheese and surprised him with a lot of great gifts. His mom didn't know about this until they arrived. She had to keep herself from crying. She says it made Evan feel like a million bucks.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Helen never ignores a bargain

Helen Self of Missoula, Montana, remembers the Great Depression. It taught her never to ignore a bargain. So she was interested when the Montana Club restaurant in town offered a generous birthday dinner discount. Turning 38? Take 38 percent off the cost of your meal. Helen has enjoyed her birthday meal at the Montana Club every year since she turned 100.

This month was no different. Surrounded by about two dozen family and friends, she celebrated her 109th birthday at the Montana Club. When it came time to pay the check, restaurant owner Nick Alonzo honored his birthday discount. She got 100 percent off the cost of her meal, and he gave her nine percent back in cash. She kissed him on the cheek and said, "Oh, thanks, darlin'" What can we learn from Helen?  Waste not, want not.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Happy birthday, Katherine Johnson

Remember the movie Hidden Figures? It told the true story of unsung African-American lady mathematicians who did complex computations for the first U.S. manned space flights. The leader of the group was a math wizard named Katherine Johnson, shown here in 1966.

If you saw the movie, you recall that white, male mathematicians at NASA considered themselves far superior to black females and treated them rudely. In fact, the nearest bathrooms at NASA were "white only" and Katherine had to walk to another building to find one. Computers were just beginning to project spacecraft trajectories, but astronaut John Glenn refused to fly until Johnson manually verified the computer's numbers. Last Sunday, August 26, she celebrated her 100th birthday. A true American hero.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Luther Younger loves his wife

Luther Younger would like to be younger, but he can't. He's 98 years old, and the best thing that ever happened to him was marrying Waverlee over 50 years ago. Since she's paralyzed and has been hospitalized, he insists on walking six miles each way to Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, New York, every day to be with her.

His daughter Lutheta offers to give him a ride, but he's often too impatient to wait around. Why is he glad to walk 12 miles a day rain or shine, to see Waverlee? For him the answer is obvious. "She's the best cup of tea I ever had. I ain't nothing without her."

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Elderly man rescues drowning boy(s)

Eighty-year-old Xu Wifang was resting in his home in Zhutang, China, when he heard someone crying out for help in the nearby river. He rushed outside to see an 8-year-old boy struggling to keep his head above water. Without hesitating, Xu jumped into the river and pulled the boy to safety.

Later, when Xu stopped at the hospital to make sure the boy was okay, he discovered he knew the boy's father. That's because Xu rescued the man from drowning in the same river 30 years ago.  Since moving to a house near the river, he has saved three other people from drowning, and his wife has saved one.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Who says kittens aren't smart?

As reported in The Villages Daily Sun, Jaclyn Bergren was driving home from a recreation center in The Villages, Florida, one Friday when she decided to stop and buy groceries. Then she spotted a soaking wet kitten crying on a median strip. She put it in her car and drove to her grandparents' home where she called vets, pet stores and shelters, but none could help. Hopping back in her car, she set out for the Humane Society of Sumter County, but the kitten crawled up behind her dashboard and would not come out. The Humane Society could not get the kitten out. It was closing time for most businesses. With temperatures in the 90s, she feared the kitten would die over the weekend.

                                                                                                                   The Villages Daily Sun
In desperation, she called the nearest auto repair shop, Southern Diesel and Automative. At first they thought she was joking, but offered to help. They took her dashboard apart piece by piece until they finally reached the kitten, who had become stuck. Then they reassembled the dashboard. They assured Bergren that their labor would be free, and they also offered to find a good home for the kitten. Now named Dash (for obvious reasons), the kitten is now living happily with a 9-year-old girl, one of the mechanic's extended family.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Crumb from a reader in Bremen, Indiana

Store employees at Kohl's in Fairfield, Connecticut, called police recently to report a shoplifter. Sgt. Hector Irizarry responded and arrested a 27-year-old woman who was with her two young children. When Sgt. Irizarry checked her bag for stolen goods, he found kids' clothes. And he immediately understood.

Instead of arresting the woman, he took her and her children to the cashier and paid for the clothes out of his own pocket. "She didn't know what I was doing," he said, and then it got emotional. She asked how she could pay him back. He told her to simply pay it forward whenever she could.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

It's more important to be nice.

It was a cold winter night in 1954 when players from tiny Milan High School arrived at Butler University's field house in Indianapolis to play the Indiana basketball state championship game against Muncie Central. Muncie had over 1,600 students. Milan had only 161, but 58 of the 73 boys at Milan tried out for the team. Milan players were awed by the huge field house until soft-spoken Coach Marvin Wood asked one of them to measure the distance from the floor to the basket. "It's the same as at home," they realized.

On game night, 15,000 fans packed the stands. The teams were so well matched they were eventually tied 30-30 with 18 seconds left on the clock. Milan's Bobby Plump held the ball as the clock ran down to five seconds. Then he sprung into action. With three seconds remaining, he drove a jump shot home. It never even touched the rim. But the victory was bigger than basketball for this team of farm kids. Seventeen of the Milan senior class of 30 went on to college after graduation, including nine of the 12 players. As one recalled, "winning that game made us realize we could do things we never thought were possible."

The 1986 motion picture Hoosiers starring Gene Hackman is only loosely based on Milan's David and Goliath victory. But parts of it are accurate. This inspiring short clip shows how the team prayed before the big game.  And if you have five minutes to spare, you can meet some of the players and see Plump's final shot (as broadcast live in 1954 on black and white TV) at

But the movie omitted the biggest lesson of the Milan miracle. When the team came home the next day, town folk celebrated their win with a giant bonfire. Several people gave speeches, and then Coach Wood's wife shared a benediction which should be on every Indiana license plate. She reminded the team, "It's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice."

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

What is true sportsmanship?

In August, 2016, 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 screenshot, they comforted the defeated players. Many believe this form of sportsmanship is even greater than winning a game.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Grandson helps his grandma "read"

Encarna Ales was taken out of school when she was only 8 years old. Now 74, the Spanish grandmother is still uanble to read or write. She's managed well enough, but she loves to talk on the phone with her friends and family, and her inability to read her friends' names in her address book make calling difficult.

Her devoted grandson found a solution to her problem. Since Pedro Ortega was 11 years old, he has doodled small illustrations to correspond with his grandmother's contact information. This way she can identify a number based on the sketch, rather than the name. Ortega has added new drawings to his grandmother's phone book for the last 20 years. He says, "Every time I'm home, I sit down and add new drawings. It's become something special between the two of us."

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Free ride in med school?

Medical students at the University of Houston won't have to worry about paying tuition. Thanks to an anonymous gift of $3 million, 30 students in the fall of 2020 inaugural class at UH's College of Medicine will have their tuition paid in advance.

"Debt is the biggest challenge for almost all students who apply to medical school,"says Renu Khator, University of Houston president. "This generous gift will allow such students an opportunity to attend medical school and eventually lead the medical workforce." The gift marks a scholarship milestone for the university.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

An avalanche of kindness

Their names are being withheld, but we know this husband and wife are old enough to be grandparents. She asked him to move their travel trailer, so he did. But a tire on the trailer went flat, and sparks from the rim rubbing the pavement started California's deadly Carr Fire, which burned over 224,000 acres and killed three firefighters. The couple's story appeared on the Carr Fire Facebook page. which said in part, "Many have been praying for this man, and his wife is blaming herself because she asked him to take the trailer. She has been crying day and night on her couch. Do you think we could show some grace and even forgiveness for the shame and despair she is feeling?"

                                                                                                                       Noah Berger / AP
In less than two days, the Facebook page received over 700 comments. One came from Diane Woodley, who said she is the daughter of Ed Bledsoe, the man who lost his wife and two great-grandchildren when the fire burned their home before they could escape. Woodley wrote, "It is not your fault, Please don't beat yourself up. Accidents happen every day so please forgive yourself. You are loved and I have thought about you every day. God loves you too." A comment also came from Jeanine Coffee, who wrote, "The fire took the homes of my parents, my grandmother and myself, but not once have I blamed you! Please do not torment yourself further. God bless you. Be at peace." Because of high winds, the blaze has been called a "fire tornado," and the response of victims has been described as "an avalanche of kindness."

Friday, August 17, 2018

A crumb from Minnesota

Climax, Minnesota, population 267, is even smaller than Garrison Keillor's mythical hometown of Lake Wobegon. There's no Side Track Tap at the railroad station, and no Powdermilk Biscuit Company on the edge of town. But Climax has two things in common with Lake Wobegon. All the men are strong, and all the women are good looking. And the children? Well, you decide.

Greater downtown Climax, MN.

Since 2011, the Lady Knights basketball team of Climax-Fisher High School had strung together 84 straight losses. That was four years of ridicule. But coach Jonathan Vonesh never lost faith in the girls. A few quit, but most remained determined to turn the team around. It finally happened, and you won't believe how.

In 2015, the Knights were one point ahead of Bagley High at halftime, and "the crowd was getting into it," remembers player Grace Bowling. Then the Knights got in major foul trouble. First, all the seniors fouled out. Then all the juniors fouled out! There were only three Knights left, two sophomores and a freshman -- the least experienced players on the losingest team in the state. Coach didn't tell them to win. He just told them to keep working 'til the end. You can't win three against five.

They didn't score once from the field, but they played stellar defense. When they got the ball, they drew fouls and made free throws, one after another. When the buzzer sounded, the Lady Knights won! What happened next? "We were all hugging and crying and screaming our heads off," said Heather Grove. "It was probably the best moment of my life," added Adrianna Vasek. "You kind of learn that no matter what people say about you, if you keep putting in the time and effort, it will pay off," said Michaela Burstad. That's a lesson the team will never forget.

When Coach Vonesh was contacted by ABC News affiliate WDAZ, he credited the victory to "survival, and a lot of prayers," adding "it was like they won a championship." Thanks to the Lady Knights, Climax now has one more thing in common with Lake Wobegon. All the children are above average.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

The cat who wouldn't let go

Erin Merryn lives in Illinois where she has a cat named Bailey. She adopted him 13 years ago while she was in college. Why? Because he literally jumped into her lap and would not let go. Thirteen years later, he's sweeter than ever. Just ask Merryn's daughter Abby.

In a heart-melting video recently uploaded to Twitter, four-year-old Abby reads a bedtime story to Bailey. According to her mom, she regularly curls up with the cat so she can read to him, and he's always a good audience. But if it's a bedtime story, Bailey mostly snoozes, sleepily raising his head to look at Abby before falling asleep again.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

A crumb from two gangs in Chicago

Eight months ago, two rival gangs in the North Pullman neighborhood of southwest Chicago decided to call a cease-fire. They realized gang violence prevented their kids from playing outside, so they decided to achieve peace. The successful cease-fire has brought relief to the community. Now kids can play outside again, but where?

Working with Chicago CRED, an organization to reduce violence in the city, young men in the two rival gangs banded together so they could build a community playground. "They didn't ask for anything for themselves," said CRED spokesman Amy Duncan. "They just said, 'Our kids have no place to play. Can you help us build a playground?'" The two gangs worked side-by-side on the project, and when they saw the finished playground, no one could hide their smiles.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Walmart cashier has a heart

It happened at the Burton Walmart on Court Street in Flint, Michigan. Angela Peters visited the nail salon, but was turned away because she has cerebral palsy. Walmart cashier Ebony Harris saw the incident and decided to do something about it. So she skipped her break and helped Peters select her favorite polish. Then the two relaxed in the seating area of Subway (in Walmart) for a manicure.

Harris said, "she moved her hands a little bit and kept saying she was sorry, and I told her, 'don't say that, you're fine.'" Harris has no qualms with the nail salon, but she hopes her actions inspire otehrs to treat people with disabilities the same way they would like to treated themselves.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Remember singing "Sweet Caroline?"

Musical legend Neil Diamond cancelled the final third of his 50th anniversary World Tour last January, after he was diagnosed with Parkinson's. But he came out of retirement recently to sing for hundreds of Colorado fire fighters.

Diamond, who is a Colorado resident, insisted on returning to the stage to give an impromptu performance for firefighters and their families as a show of gratitude for their hard work. Before he launched into a rousing rendition of "Sweet Caroline," he praised the fire fighters. "I just want to thank you from the people of this area. I've been here 20 years, and you made everybody happy."

Sunday, August 12, 2018

The best sleep-over ever

Today's crumb comes from Texas, where 100 underprivileged children were invited to the Cowboys football stadium for an overnight sleep-over 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.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Best known to children as "the book lady"

The Library of Congress has honored singer-actress Dolly Parton for a wonderful milestone in her life -- the 100 millionth book she donated to children. The nation's library in Washington, D.C., highlighted her nonprofit "Imagination Library" which she began more than 20 years ago to give books to children around the world.

She said, "Of all the things I've done in my life, and it's been a lot because I've been around a long time, this is one of the most precious things, and the proudest I am of any program." Known by children who received her gifts as "the book lady," she started the program to honor her father, who could not read, yet was the "smartest man" she ever knew.

Friday, August 10, 2018

The lesson of the merry-go-round

Every summer day at Lake Pemaquid Family Campground on the coast of Maine, boys and girls spill from their campers to frolic on the busy playground. They pump themselves higher and higher on swings; bounce each other off teeter-totters, and spin as fast as possible on a miniature merry-go-round, like the one shown here.

But unless an adult is present to spin the carousel, it's hard for kids to make it go very fast as they ride. That's where I came in. One day long ago, I was the grown-up who volunteered to spin it as pre-teen passengers held on for dear life, screaming "faster! faster!"

All except one little girl. She held tightly to the safety bar, but never smiled or said a word. The other kids didn't seem to know her. She was just there. During a break between spins, everyone got off to regain their balance. She walked to a tall man standing under a nearby tree. He looked like her Dad. And I heard her speak to him, in German.

So that was it! After all the kids re-boarded the merry-go-round for a few more spins, I made sure she was sitting right where I stood, and just before giving the carousel a mighty tug, I whispered in her ear, "Wie heist du?" (what's your name?)  As she spun away, her face lit up and she grinned from ear to ear. Spinning past me again, she yelled, "Ich heisse Marta!" (my name is Marta). For the next few minutes, as she spun faster and faster, she never took her eyes off me, or stopped grinning.

Isn't that how it is when God speaks to us, His children? He never speaks in a foreign tongue, but always in words we can understand, and when He does, we don't feel alone anymore. Sometimes, like Marta, we grin from ear to ear.  (Acts 2: 4-6)

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Crumb from Galveston, Texas

On July 17, a fire occurred at Miller's Seawall Grill on Seawall Blvd. It started as a grease fire in the kitchen but spread into the building's air-conditioning system, and then burned the roof. The Galveston Fire Department arrived  in less than two minutes, but the flames and smoke did their damage. After being open since 1976, the restaurant is closed for repairs until next month

The restaurant has 42 employees. They were very anxious after the fire, but during the first staff meeting after the fire, owner Donal Clark had good news. All employees would keep their jobs until the restaurant reopens. But there was a catch. To earn their paychecks, each employee must volunteer at local non-profits at least 12 hours each week. They are all enjoying their new adventures.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Homeless man receives 200 job offers

Unemployed Web developer David Casarez has been sleeping on a park bench in Mountain View, California. He lived in his van for a year, until it was repossessed. He applied for a job at Apple, but it was filled internally. So when he woke up on his bench recently, he put on his tie to look presentable and stood with a handwritten sign on a highway median. Here's what it said.

                                                                                                                  Jasmine Scofield
A passerby took this photo and it went Viral on Twitter. Within 24 hours, he'd received more than 200 job offers. "Even Google reached out to me," he said. So did Pandora and a bunch of start-ups. He noted that a product manager from Bitcoin wondered if he'd like to work remotely or relocate in Tokyo.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Crumb from Nashville, Indiana

Anna Hofsetter is a single mom who works three jobs to help support her two kids. Last month, she was bartending a slow evening at the Hotel Nashville when she served an older couple celebrating their anniversary. Striking up a conversation, she learned they were married in the hotel seven years ago. As time went by, she mentioned to the couple how she worked hard to make ends meet for her kids. Finally the couple finished their dinner, paid the $32.40 check, and left a tip.

As you can see, it was a tip for $1,000, with a note that said, "Give something for the kids." Anna thanked them profusely, saying, "You have no idea what this means to me." And even though she first thought of gifts for her kids, or a college fund deposit, she soon met Clara Stanley, president of the Brown County Enrichment for Teens Association. Stanley told her some other kids were gathering donations to pay for a community teen and skate park. So Anna donated her entire tip of $1,000 because it would be a gift not only for her own kids, but for hundreds of youngsters for years to come.

Monday, August 6, 2018

When and where hope is most needed

U.S border agents sometimes tell asylum seekers at U.S ports of entry that Customs and Border Protection lacks the personnel to process them today, tomorrow or even a week from now. This tactic is meant to discourage them from legally applying for asylum. But thanks to Glady Canas Aguilar, they have hope.

Since June, she and a group of others have come to the two main bridges which connect Matamoros, Mexico, and Brownsville, Texas. They bring stranded immigrants everything they need to wait patiently, including umbrellas to block the sun, medicine, tacos, water and ice. She even brings baby food for mothers with infants. She visits vulnerable families who have fled violence and walked miles for sanctuary and safety in the United States. "By listening and chatting, they feel as if they're in their homes," she said. "They feel love and care from everyone," as they wait in line.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

A school beyond all dreams

When basketball legend LeBron James was in 4th grade, he missed about 100 days of school because his life had no structure. Now he's done a favor for all the underprivileged kids in his hometown of Akron, Ohio. He's the main donor to the I Promise School, which just opened. Here are some of its revolutionary features. The school will hold classes from 9 to 5 with extracurricular activities afterward. It will also include a seven week summer. camp.

                                                                                                                            AP/Phil Long
Students will all receive free breakfast, lunch and snacks, and there will be an on-site food bank. GED classes will be offered to parents. Students will learn how to cope with trauma. Every student gets a new Chromebook, and a new bicycle. The school currently serves 240 at-risk third and fourth graders, but will expand each year to eventually include grades one through eight. Why should kids stay in school instead of dropping out? James has promised to fund college tuition at Akron University for ALL students who complete the I Promise curriculum.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

United Airlines offers to help

Earlier this year, several airlines, including United, said they would not let federal authorities  use their planes to transport migrant children who had been separated from their parents.  But recently United went a step farther.

                                                                                                                            Getty Images
United is now donating free flights to help reunite immigrant families who were separated at the United States southern border. The airlines said, "Our company's shared purpose is to connect people and unite the world. We are proud to help reunify immigrant children and families."

Friday, August 3, 2018

Pizza guy brings much more than pizza

The Varchetti family ordered pizza for dinner recently from Hungry Howie's. When the pizza guy came to their suburban home near Detroit, Michigan, he peeked inside the door and noticed their baby grand piano. They invited him in to see it, and asked if he played. His name was Bryce Dudal, 18, and he just graduated from high school. He said he could play a little, and knocked off Beethoven's "Moonlight" sonata from memory.

He had not played recently, but taught himself when he was six-year-old. His aunt taught him a song or two and he taught himself the theme song of "Scooby-Doo." Then his mom bought him some Beethoven CDs, and he's listen to "Moonlight" sonata over and over before trying to recreate it. After a year or two, he'd learned most of the piece by heart. The Varchetti's used their phone to make a video of Bryce playing, and as soon as they uploaded it, it went viral. Bryce now says he might get back to playing piano again, and the Varchettis say they will be ordering a lot more pizza from Hungry Howie's.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Two-year-old helps firefighters

Firefighters had just finished the night shift fighting the deadly Carr Fire in California. They were pulling off their boots and feeling hungry, when two-year-old Gracie approached with a burrito breakfast sandwich for each man.

Gracie has two uncles and a grandfather helping to fight the raging wildfire, and wants them to know that she's grateful for their courage, and that their work does not go unnoticed.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Standing up to save a life

Elin Ersson, 21, is a university student in Gothenburg, Sweden. When she learned that an immigrant was about to be deported and flown back to Afghanistan, she bought a ticket on the same plane, boarded, and refused to sit down until the deportee was removed from the flight. She knew the plane could not take off until all passengers were seated. Using her phone, she live-streamed herself during the entire incident. Airline personnel asked her to sit down, but she refused, explaining that the man would be killed in Afghanistan. When asked why, she said, "Because it's Afghanistan."

Many passengers were upset by the delay. They criticized her, but she told them a man's life is more important than a schedule. She never sat down, and after two hours, the deportee left the plane with his three security guards. Elin then sat down, and a few passengers applauded her courage, especially since she may face six months in jail for disobeying a flight attendant. The immigrant is expected to be deported at a later date.