Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Last Santa crumb of 2019

Kids in Aurora, Illinois, got their holidays made brighter when they were visited by "Firefighter Santa" before Christmas. Joined by a few helpful "elves," the Aurora Fire Department Santa delivered hundreds of toys to kids all over town.

Many of the kids were surprised to see Firefighter Santa and greeting him with smiles as he gave them board games, toy trucks, dolls, and of course, hugs. Santa was so busy making stops that he had to enlist the help of firefighters from Engine Company No. 10 to deliver a bicycle and some other goodies on Aurora's west side.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Seven-year-old is already a "dog whisperer"

Roman McConn, 7, lives in Augusta, Georgia, and he's on a mission to save as many dogs as possible. He prefers to save the least wanted animals on the euthanasia list in shelters. So far, he's saved over 1,300 unwanted dogs and 40 cats. He began his rescue mission when he was four years old, with his mom, Sully. She would take him to shelters and video him playing with shelter dogs as he talked about them. Then she uploaded the videos to Facebook.

According to the shelter staff, "He spends time getting to know each animal, so the videos showcase the dogs' personalities." Roman says he does this because "dogs don't need to be in a shelter. They need to do things. I think it's very important for the dogs I meet that I give them the best chance at finding the right home that they need."

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Child proves age is just a number

Isla Glaser, 4, was at home in Somerset, New Jersey, with her family earlier this month when her mother suddenly collapsed unconscious. When mommy failed to move, or open her eyes, Isla called 911 and reported the situation to the Franklin Township Police Department. After calmly providing her address to the dispatcher, she moved a chair to the front door to climb up on, so she'd be tall enough to open the door when EMTs arrived.

Isla also kept the family's three 80-pound rescue dogs under control as medical officers attended to her mother, and that's not all. She kept her 2-year-old little sister and twin 1-year-old brothers calm by feeding them yogurt. Isla's mother was hospitalized for four days and treated for a bacterial infection. Medics said it's likely she would not have survived except for Isla. Police gave Isla a "hero" certificate and a tour of the police station.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

"This is your captain speaking, and my daughter."

Captain Wendy Rexon and her first officer daughter, Kelly Rexon, are the first mother and daughter pair in history to pilot a commercial flight together. Flying has always been a family business with the Rexons. Wendy and her two daughters are airline pilots, along with Wendy's husband, who is a pilot for American Airlines.

"We would run around in (our parents') captain hats and have fun as little kids," Kelly remembers. She started flying when she was 16, and her first student was her younger sister.  The mother-daughter duo flew our of New York's JFK airport recently, but soon encountered smoke and fumes in the cabin. Even so, they landed safely in Los Angeles. "She was fantastic," Wendy recalls of Kelly. "It was a difficult situation made easier because of (Kelly's) training and because of her competence."

Friday, December 27, 2019

Santa will lay on the floor

For some parents, especially those who have children with special needs, a routine tradition like visiting Santa can be difficult. That's why "Autism Speaks" is hosting "Santa Cares" events at malls across America, where kids with special needs can visit St. Nick in a less frenetic setting.

On "Santa Cares" days, the malls open early to help facilitate a smaller crowd. The music plays a little softer, and the lights are turned a little lower. Santa is trained to work with children with special needs. Often he'll stand behind his chair, or lay on the floor to make sure a child is comfortable. This creates a much for enjoyable experience for kids who need it.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

"Dear Santa, last year you didn't notice me."

Melissa Stinsman, 26, works at the post office in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania. During the Christmas season, she volunteers several hours after work answering letters addressed to Santa. This year, one letter touched her heart. It said, "Dear Santa, last year you didn't notice me, so this year I hope you notice me, and this year I will be good." Stinsman cried when she read the letter. Among other things, the little boy asked for food and clothing. Luckily, he wrote his full name, and another carrier recognized it. So before Christmas, Stinsman knocked on the boy's front door. His mom answered. She said she had his son's letter, and would like to help. His mom said, "Is this real?"

Stinsman planned to buy the family a $50 gift card, but when word got out, several people asked to pitch in. A money pool began at the post office and community members began donating clothing, toys and gift cards. "We raised about $500, and people dropped off food at the post office," Stinsman said. She delivered the gifts, money, food and gift cards in time for Christmas, and when her kind deed was reported by media as far away as Great Britain, she wrote on Facebook, "I don't know what to say!"

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Students sue for civics classes!

At a time of impeachment, interference of other nations in our elections and fears of voter suppression, a group of Rhode Island students says they have not been taught how the United States government really works. So they've gone to court to insure that civics is taught in public schools.

Remember when Civics was a mandatory one-semester course in every high school?  Most students felt it was boring. But now that politics are as exciting as reality TV, kids want to know what are their Constitutional rights. They want to know how to vote, and how to serve on juries. "I didn't learn my voting rights through school," says Aleita Cook, a graduate of Providence public schools. She didn't even learn about how the three branches of government check and balance each other to prevent a dictator from grabbing power. If the court case is successful, maybe civics will once again be taught in school, and it won't be boring anymore.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

She always wanted to fly "in front"

A Virgin Atlantic airliner was en route from New York City to Manchester, England, when a heartwarming exchange took place. One of the passengers, Jack Littlejohn, had been preparing for a first class flight with his family when he befriended an 88-year-old lady in the airport. Her name was Violet Allison. After they chatted, both boarded the plane, and Jack notice Violet was sitting in economy class. So he offered to fulfill her dream of sitting in first class.

Flight attendant Leah Amy wrote on Facebook that "Jack swapped seats with her. He then sat in the row of seats directly next to the economy toilets and never made a peep or asked for anything for the rest of the flight. No fuss. No attention. He literally did this out of the kindness of his heart. You should have seen Violet's face when I tucked her in bed after supper." After the flight landed, Violet insisted on a few selfies to send to her daughter. Why? "She'll never believe this!"

Monday, December 23, 2019

Christmas surprise from the Opera Company of Philadelphia

In the Bible we read, "I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude...saying Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth." (Rev. 19:6) If that happened today, it would probably be in a church, right? Or maybe a concert hall? But could it happen in a busy store during rush hour, where customers would stop buying stuff to listen? Believe it or not, yes. Here's where, and why.

When John Wanamaker opened his department store in Philadelphia, he was such a devout Christian that he refused to advertise in the Sunday newspaper. He never served alcohol in his famous Crystal Tea Room. He felt shopping should be a cultural experience, so in 1909 he hired 13 freight cars to bring the 10,000 pipe organ from the St. Louis World's Fair to his store. It was installed on one wall of the Grand Court, a seven story atrium. He expanded the instrument to more than 28,000 pipes, making it the world's largest. (The biggest pipe is so wide that a Shetland pony once posed inside it.) Wanamaker also built a radio transmitter atop his store, so that customers who owned radio receivers (which he sold) could hear live organ concerts right at home. In addition to the organ, he purchased a bronze eagle from the St. Louis World's Fair's German Exhibit. Weighing more than a ton,  it has 5,000 bronze feathers and sits on a granite base. Since its installation in the Grand Court, all Philadelphians know what it means when you say, "Meet me under the eagle."

On Oct. 30, 2010, hundreds of shoppers searching for bargains noticed the organ began playing louder than usual during the daily noontime concert in the store, which is now called Macy's. Then they were startled when 688 singers, disguised as customers, burst into the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's Messiah.

If you have five spare minutes and would like to "meet me under the eagle" for this event, please visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=wp_RHnQ-jgU and follow the prompt.  Press "Skip Commercials" if necessary. Turn up your sound, and watch how true "Christmas shopping" sounds. You'll be glad you did!

Sunday, December 22, 2019

During the past year...

A carpenter in Ames, Iowa, who never had an opportunity to attend college, died in 2005 and left his $3 million life savings to pay college tuition for 33 students. This year, the last of these students finished her degree -- debt free.

A forklift operator from Phoenix, Arizona, was laid off from his job. Instead of feeling sorry for himself, he handed out his resume to passing motorists as a busy intersection He received many employment offers, and is now back on his feet working at a concrete grinding company.

A 17-year-old high school student in Jackson, Mississippi, raised from then $600,000 to build Parker Miracle Field, the state's first baseball field fully accessible for children with disabilities. He was inspired to create the facility by his mom, who uses a wheelchair.

A math teacher in Aurora, Colorado, learned that one of his former students had lost his place on a kidney transplant waiting list because the 13-year-old was homeless. So the teacher became his foster parent, which gave the teen a stable home and qualified him to receive a transplant.

A customer in a Branford, Conn. restaurant noticed that his waitress was having trouble hearing him. He later learned why. Her hearing aid was broken. He responded by leaving a $500 tip so she could afford the needed repair.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Will you spend Christmas at the mall, or the manger?

Did you ever yearn to attend an old-fashioned Christmas Eve service in a country church? Many years ago, I drove from my home in Boston, MA, to the trendy village of North Conway, NH. It's tiny compared to Boston, but filled with upscale stores and eateries, not to mention Mt. Washington. After some holiday shopping, I scanned the local paper for Christmas services. Sadly, I was a week early, and the only Christmas service was in an even smaller village a few miles away. Hoping for the best, I drove the rain-soaked farm roads to the village -- really just a crossroad -- where a tired clapboard church sat on one corner. Visitors were not expected, but I dripped through the door anyway. This church was in bad shape. Instead of pews, people sat on tired wooden folding chairs. The wall behind the alter was decorated with contact paper I'd seen at Sears. Instead of chandeliers, naked bulbs hung from the ceiling on cords, and as the service began, they all snapped off with a loud click, plunging the room into darkness. I regretted coming, but then things got worse. A dozen Sunday School kids lined up in front. Each one lit a candle. So far, so good. Then, one-at-a-time, (I'm not making this up) they read verses from Christmas cards! After each kid read his card, he blew out his candle. Parents, many wearing dungarees, were as pleased as punch. I wanted to drop through the floor, until there was just one kid left standing with a lit candle -- the last girl in line. She didn't have a card. She had a Bible, and she read, "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal."

It was only one verse from I Corinthians, but she read it wrong. Instead of "tinkling cymbal" she said "twinkling symbol." Then she blew out her candle, and as we sat in silent darkness I realized something. Until then, my Christmas had been a "tinkling cymbal" -- noisy, selfish gift buying. But Christmas isn't a tinkling cymbal, it's a twinkling symbol -- a star that wise men still follow to find the infinite love of God, manifest as a babe in a manger. I asked myself, "where will I spend this Christmas this year, at the mall or the manger?"

With a loud snap, the bare overhead bulbs came on, and folks began rising from their rickety chairs. As I left, the pastor met me at the door and apologized. He said he only serves here once a month, but has a church in North Conway "where we have a REAL Christmas eve service." I told him his apology was not needed. In that weather-beaten old chapel, an angel (disguised as a little girl) had reminded me what Christmas really means.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Free hugs for Christmas, plus coffee!

For some, Christmas means time-honored traditions and companionship. But for others, it can be the most lonely day of the year. What if you have no place to go on Christmas? Maybe you don't even have a Christmas tree?

In that case, you want to head to the Neidhammer Coffee Company in Indianapolis, Indiana. They will be open from noon until 3 p.m. on Christmas Day, serving free hot coffee, delicious fresh donuts, and best of all, guaranteed heartfelt hugs. Everyone is welcome, including volunteer huggers.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Motherly pooch protects kittens

A stray dog in Chatham-Kent, Ontario, Canada, has generated love on the internet after she was found sheltering five kittens from the cold. The Pet and Wildlife Rescue shelter posted photos of the motherly pooch and five tiny kittens on November 16.

The shelter explained that the dog, named Serenity, was spotted curled up around the kittens on the side of the road, keeping them warm. The Good Samaritan who noticed the animals contacted the shelter. Employees said the kittens were about five weeks old, and probably would not have been spotted if Serenity was not with them. Adoptions offers have piled in for Serenity, just based on her parental instincts.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Athens County Food Pantry is amazed

When LSU quarterback Joe Burrow won the Heisman Tropby this month, he used his acceptance speech to highlight the struggles of folks in his poor hometown of Athens, Ohio. He said many kids in Athens and Athens County go home to not much food on the table. A lot of people in Athens County watched the speech, and local resident Will Drabold created a fund-raising page for the Athens County Food Pantry.

"Let's answer Joey's call by supporting a local non-profit that serves food to more than 5,000 households in Athens County each year," he wrote. In only 48 hours, the pantry received more than $250,000 in donations from more than 7,300 people. "We're still trying to come to terms with the reality that this is not a dream," said pantry president Karen Bright.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Wooden toys for needy tots

Jim Annis is 80 years old and lives in Sanford, North Carolina. He's been helping out Santa Claus for the past half-century by spending many days carving and sanding blocks of wood into fun toys. When the Salvation Army gives out food and clothes to need people, Jim gives out his toys.

He donates nearly 300 toys to the Salvation Army of Sanford, and except for scraps of wood he gets from nearby homeowners, he pays for all the wood himself. Why? Because he remembers waking up on Christmas morning with no gifts to open. "Between the wheels and the paint, I spent about $1,000," he says, to make small and large cars, dolls, piggy banks, tractors and firetrucks. He's been doing this for 50 Christmases, with no plans to quit.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Teenage prisoner grows up to be lawyer

Twenty years ago, Robert W. VanSumeren, then 19, stood in a Michigan courtroom as Hillsdale County Circuit Court Judge Michael Smith sentenced him to six years in prison for a string of local robberies. "I was terrified," VanSumeren remembers. "I thought my life was finished. I really felt lost and wondered how I'd ever get through it." After he finished his sentence, two former teachers who visited him in prison helped him enroll in junior college.

                                                                                                                          Washington Post 
From there he went on to college and then law school, and on November 22, VanSumeren, now 40 and married to a school teacher, returned to the same courtroom and stood again in front of Judge Smith. This time he asked the judge who sentenced him as a teen to swear him in as a new attorney. He hoped to give back to the community he once stole from. "I didn't know if the judge would go for it, but I thought it was worth asking," said VanSumeren, who passed the Michigan state bar exam on his first try. Judge Smith went for it....with pleasure.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

It was like "Oprah" for poor kids

Adam Armstrong, 35, grew up poor in a mostly government-subsidized apartment complex near Harrisonburg, Virginia. At 18, he served three months in jail for marijuana possession, and before his release, he decided to turn his life around, so he moved to Baltimore and eventually entered the mortgaging business. As he became more and more affluent, he felt compelled to give back to those still living in poverty.

                                                                                                                          Lauren Wilhelm
This month, he drove a moving truck packed with $12,000 worth of gifts (1,327 toys) to his former neighborhood and gave them away to all the children.  Sara Lewis-Weeks is property manager of the complex. "It wasn't like stuffed animals," she said. "He was giving away bikes, remote-controlled cars, and real Barbie Dolls, not Dollar Store Barbies. He didn't miss anybody. His heart was in this. Kids were expecting a few stuffed animals, but never anticipated 'you got a bike, and you got a bike, and you got a bike.' It was like an 'Oprah" for little kids."

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Scrawny tree lit by 590 feet of extension cord

For the last 20 years, Ed McHugh has connected almost 600 feet of extension cords from his home in Bedford, Nova Scotia, Canada, so he can illuminate a little tree on a hill overlooking Highway 102. It's nowhere near his home, so as you drive the highway, you may ask, "how did that get there?"

McHugh was inspired to decorate the tree because it resembled the scrawny tree from The Charlie Brown Christmas Special. He felt sure it just needed a little love, so he bought a lot of extension cords. He says, "Some people talk about it being a little beacon as they drive home in the evening from work." Over the years, the tree-lighting has become a loved community tradition, as hundred of friends gather around the "Charlie Tree" to sing carols. The youngest in the audience plugs in the lights. After the tree is lit, everyone is invited back to McHugh's home for a Christmas party.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Buddy is a blessing in more ways than one!

Back in 2018, first-graders at Reeths-Puffer Elementary School in Muskegon, Michigan, conducted a writing exercise in which they wrote letters to their principal explaining how a therapy dog would benefit them. The letters were so well written that vice principal Karyn Benner began visiting local shelters to find a dog fit for the job. When she met Buddy at the Humane Society of Muskegon County, she knew he'd be a perfect fit.

Since 40% of her students come from low-income households or troubled backgrounds, Buddy has become an important member of the school's support team. "We have some highly aggressive students," said Benner. "Sometimes their behaviors escalate, but when Buddy comes in, the students just melt in a matter of minutes." Buddy's impact on the school inspired Benner to share her story with Petco Foundation's 2019 Holiday Wishes Grant Campaign. As a thank-you for the shelter's efforts, Petco surprised the Humane Society with a gift of $100,000. So Buddy is a blessing in more ways than one.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

A Christmas surprise

Eva Davies is only nine years old. She lives in Chorley, Lancashire, England, and recently saw a YouTube clip showing members of the public misbehaving toward police officers and EMTs. So she decided to take action. She wrote 12 different notes of gratitude, and with her Dad's help, placed them on emergency vehicles in Chorley, along with candy.

One note said, "Dear Emergency Service Worker, you do an outstanding job and work extremely hard, mostly." Police officers confirmed they received the notes and Twittered that the notes brightened their day. Eva has been invited to visit the police station to be introduced to the police dogs and horses. Her Dad says, "I think she made a few people happy."

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

The ring she never knew she had

The latest in creative engagements stars Anna and her boyfriend Terry. Here's how it went. Terry gave Anna a necklace in 2015. It was handcrafted with Huon pine, a wood native to Tasmania. It was to celebrate their first anniversary. Now fast forward to November, 2016, when the couple traveled to Smoo Cave in Scotland, where Terry finally proposed.

But before popping the question,  he asked Anna to give him the necklace so he could photograph it on some rocks. What Anna did not know was that he would break the seal on the wood, to extract her engagement ring. She'd worn the necklace every day without knowing it contained a ring. When he proposed, she said "yes," but almost flipped out. "Wait!" she said. "It's been in there the entire time? I could have lost it."

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Are you going home for Christmas?

This poem was written by Edgar Guest, with an illustration by Norman Rockwell.

He little knew the sorrow that was in his vacant chair;
He never guessed they'd miss him, or he'd surely have been there.
He couldn't see his mother or the lump that filled her throat,
Or the tear that started falling as she read his hasty note.
And he couldn't see his father sitting sorrowful and dumb,
Or he never would have written that he thought he couldn't come.

He couldn't see the fading of the cheeks that once were pink,
And the silver in the tresses; and he didn't stop to think
How the years are passing swiftly, and next Christmas it might be
There would be no home to visit and no mother dear to see.
He didn't think about it. I'll not say he didn't care.
He was heedless and forgetful, or he'd surely have been there.

Are you going home for Christmas? Have you written you'll be there?
Going home to kiss your mother and show her that you care?
Going home to see your father in a way to make him glad?
If you're not, I hope there'll never come a time you wish you had.
Just sit down and send an email -- it will make their heartstrings hum
With a tune of perfect gladness -- if you tell them that you'll come.

Monday, December 9, 2019

In a town called (of all things) Fairplay

More than 700 people were stranded in Fairplay, Colorado, last month after high winds, blowing snow and low visibility made travel impossible at the height of the Thanksgiving rush. A long stretch of U.S. 285 ws closed. Volunteers soon stepped forward to help in the emergency, as the town of 762 sheltered 300 people overnight, as motorists were rescued from at least 30 cars stranded along the highway.

The town's primary shelter was designed to hold 50, but 112 people stayed there until the power went off and the shelter lost heat, forcing everyone to relocate to South Park High School. The town's hotels quickly filled. Dee Patel, manager at A Riverside Inn, said all 50 of her rooms were booked, but she let travelers sleep in hallways and the lobby, passing out hot chocolate, tea, and extra blankets and pillows. "I cannot say no," she said. "A lot of people had little babies and kid with them."

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Free pubic transit?

Kansas City, Missouri, has become the first major American city to have fare-free public transit. Free bus service, which is expected to cost about $8 million, has been proposed as a major help to low-income residents who rely on busses to commute to work.

According to City Councilman Eric Bunch, "When we're talking about improving people's lives who are our most vulnerable citizens, I don't think there's any question that we need to find that money. If we want to prioritize public transportation, it's money we can find." Across America, young climate change protestors have demanded investment in mass transit to help battle climate change.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Classmates show support

Michael Orlando Clark is five years old and lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He was recently adopted by his "forever family" and he invited his entire kindergarten class to witness the official ceremony at the courthouse.

As his classmates waved heart-shaped wands, each one was give a chance to tell the judge how much they loved Michael. Michael's teacher joined in to say, "We began the school year as a family, and family doesn't have to be DNA because family is support and love."

Friday, December 6, 2019

"You want a coat with that taco?"

Emilia Flores owns The Taco Shop in Dallas, Texas. Out front, she's set up a free coat, hat and scarf exchange. The sign says, "Are you cold? Take one. Do you want to help? Leave one." During one recent year, the entire rack was stolen four times, but Flores keeps replacing it.

Freezing temperatures in Texas inspired this good samaritan to offer winter clothing free to those who need it. The rack is easy to spot, and its message is clear. Even if someone isn't homeless, Flores wants them to be prepared for a cold winter. She says "This is a way of people not being embarrassed about asking. They just come and pick what they want and leave."

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Running fast for citizenship

When he was 14, Kone Yossodjo lost his father, and his mom said she could not take care of him. He made his way from Ivory Coast to Morocco, and then to Spain, where, at 19, he has become one of the nation's fastest runners.

Last season, Kone won five of 11 races and became Andalusia's 5,000-meter champion. But he runs for more than fame or glory. At a time of anti-immigrant sentiment, he says, "I want to show the people of Spain that migrants can add to society." He hopes to represent Spain in the 2024 Olympics, and it just might happen. According to his coach, if Kone can trim 30 seconds from his four-minute mark in the 1,500 meter run, Spain will grant him citizenship.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Want to be one of Santa's elves?

About this time each year, the US Postal Service prepares to start mailing letters to the North Pole. Now they have launched an online service that allows users to "adopt" children's letters to Santa, in order to help deliver gifts to low-income families.

The USPS Operation Santa website has been publishing photos of Christmas wishes from children in 15 US cities where parents may not be able to afford many gifts. Users can volunteer to anonymously fulfill the Christmas wish on behalf of Santa. To help Santa in this way, create an account on the Operation Santa website; select a letter that touches your heart; fulfill the Christmas wish as desired, and ship it from a participating post office before Dec. 21. Children in cities listed on the website who want to send a letter to Santa can address it to Santa Claus, 123 Elf Road, North Pole 88888.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Waitress can't believe her tip

Adrianna Edwards works at a Denny's restaurant in Galveston, Texas. Each day, she walks over four hours to and from work -- seven miles each way. Why? "I have bills to pay. You've got to do what you've got to do." But last month a couple she served at the restaurant learned how far she walks to work. A few hours after eating, the returned to the restaurant and gave her a tip, a 2011 Nissan Sentra.

Now her commute only takes 30 minutes, and she can begin college sooner than expected. "I still feel like I'm dreaming" she said. "Every two hours I come to look out the window and see if the car is still there."

Monday, December 2, 2019

Remember to be grateful for color

Jonathan Jones, 12,  is a seventh-grader at Lakeview High School in Cottonwood, Minnesota. He's color-blind, and in science class, the periodic chart looked like rows of indistinct squares, until his school Principal, Scott Hanson, loaned him glasses that enabled him to see color for the first time. As his parents watched, Jonathan suddenly saw colors he never knew were there. After taking the glasses off, he put his hands over his face, overcome with emotion. He later told him mom why. "The colors just attacked me, mom," he said.

Jonathan's parents, Carole and Don Jones, knew they had to buy him a pair of those glasses, which cost between $269 and $429. They also wanted one of Jonathan's friends in class, who is also color-blind, to have a pair. So they started a GoFundMe page with a goal of $350 to buy a pair for Jonathan's classmate. The fundraiser has raised more than $28,000, and Jones says the money will go toward buying glasses for other color-blind kids who can't afford them. The company who makes the glasses, EnChroma, says it will work with the Jones family and donate a free pair of glasses for each paid purchased with money from the fundraiser.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

What happened to baby found in dumpster?

Freddie Figgers was born 30 years ago in Quincy, Florida. Right after he came into this world, he was abandoned by his mother in a dumpster. Two days later, he was adopted by Nathan and Betty Figgers. Since he was abandoned in a dumpster, he might not amount to much, right? Wrong.

When he was nine years old, he got his first computer. It was broken, but he fixed it. At 12, he was already working as a computer technician. At 15, he started a cloud computing company. When his Dad was diagnosed with Alzheimers, Freddie built a shoe for him with a GPS tracker and two-way communication. The program he made for his Dad was very successful, and a company reached out to Freddie and bought his program for $2.2 million. Apparently, being born without a silver spoon need not darken anyone's future.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

How two sisters celebrate Thanksgiving

Back in 2017, Lisa Fischer of Charlotte, North Carolina, wanted her children to understand Thanksgiving, so she suggested they prepare a a box of food for a family in need. But daughter Alex felt it wasn't enough, and she suggested 10 boxes. Mom explained that the family would need financial help to donate ten boxes, so Alex and her sister Caroline (now 9 and 6) opened a lemonade stand with baked goods. Then the family set up a GoFundMe page and raised enough to buy 100 boxes of food.

                                                                                                                Photos by Lisa Fischer
It went so well that the sisters decided to make it a tradition. Last year they raised enough money to give away 130 boxes of food and 50 turkeys. This year they surpassed their expectations and raised $4,640. It was enough to provide the Charlotte Rescue Mission with 200 Thanksgiving food boxes and 613 turkeys. "We were hoping to recruit some help from neighbors to pack boxes this year, rent a truck and deliver the food by November 23," said their mom.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Have you ever ridden in a banana?

This fall, Steve Braithwaite, 59, left Michigan for Victoria, Texas, in his banana car. He hadn't gone 15 miles on US 223 before a state trooper named Bill Strouse pulled him over. Braithwaite and Strouse had a conversation, and Braithwaite shared some banana car stories.

Strouse never planned to give Braithwaite a ticket. He really just wanted to admire the car, but he carefully checked the banana's headlights, brake lights and indicators, and when he returned Braithwaite's driver's license, he'd wrapped it in a $20 bill as a gift, and wished Braithwaite safe travels.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Another police "incident" worth noting

Miami-Dade police officer Jose DeLeon was on a call at the Miami Greyhound Bus Station near the airport when he saw a man and his wife and their four children (including a baby) looking distressed. The man told Officer DeLeon he came to Florida from Michigan to work as a cook, but the job fell through and his family had been kicked out of their south-Florida relatives home. They had no money, food or shelter, or tickets to return to Michigan.

So Officer DeLeon rallied his fellow officers for help. They all chipped in with personal funds and gave their donations to the mother. She cried, and the father started to cry, but then the officers got the family to the Chapman Project Homeless Center for the rest of the weekend. The people at Chapman secured plane tickets to get the family back to Michigan on Monday.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

A Thanksgiving Day memory

Here's what Patricia Parson is most thankful for today. She writes, "In October, 1965, as a college freshman, I went to a 'computer dance' held by the university I attended. To participate, I completed some information about my likes, hobbies, travels and studies, and the computer generated compatible partners to meet at the dance. My first few matches did not show, but a handsome young man walked straight up to me and said, 'Hi, I'm in your English class.'
I'd never noticed him sitting on the other side of the class, but this Thanksgiving we are celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary, and our five children are coming home to celebrate with us. I look back and think what would have happened if my lover had never mustered the courage to walk up and say, 'Hi, I'm in your English class.' I am eternally thankful for that computer dance and his words. It was the beginning of finding out where I belonged."

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Another future voter takes action

Jessie Stephenson goes to the John Stainer School in Blockley, Southeast London. She's only seven (7) years old, and her passion for art means she goes through a lot of Crayola felt-tip colored pens. Recently, she learned that Crayola has a recycling scheme for these pens in the United States, but not yet in Great Britain. So she started a petition asking Crayola UK to give its British customers a recycling scheme too.

"I really love using Crayola pens," she says, "but I don't want to use them now that I know the impact on the environment. I care about the environment because we live here, and if we wreck it, we don't get a second chance. So who would sign her petition? Mom and Dad? Maybe Grandma and Uncle Pete? So far, she's collected almost 70,000 signatures, and counting.

Monday, November 25, 2019

One more future voter, making a difference

A young recycling phenom named Ryan Hickman, from Los Angeles, California, visited Capitol Hill last month to give a significant push to a society-wide standardized labeling system designed to end recycling confusion and contamination.

The Greta Thunberg of recycling, Ryan established his own recycling company when he was just three (3) years old. Since then, his firm has properly diverted over a half million cans and bottles. An international advocate who has appeared on the Ellen Show and many news outlets, Ryan is a spokesperson this year for the standardized label initiative, to help solve the most costly and serious issue for the industry.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Boss helps employee retire early

Albert Brigas was planning to retire next year, because that's when his mortgage would finally be paid off. But his boss made his dream come true a little quicker. Brigas is a Vietnam veteran. He started work at Renown Auto Restoration in San Antonio, Texas, in 2006. His boss, Rudy Quinones, says Brigas has tremendous dedication, even coming to work when he's sick.

Quinones knew all about Brigas' plan to retire, so he called him into his office one day last month. He asked Brigas how much he still owed on his mortgage, and then took him to the bank to make a final $5,000 payment. Brigas is retired now, and looks forward to spending more time with his grandchildren.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Imagine a foster grandchild

Lamont Thomas lives in Buffalo, New York, where he's been fostering children for almost 20 years. Up until now, he's welcomed more than thirty boys and girls into his home, but on October 17, he may have finally set a record, when he legally adopted Zendaya, 5, Jamel, 4, Nakia, 3, Major, 2, and Michaela, 1, all at once.

These siblings had been separated for more than a year and a half and had lived in four different homes in four different cities...before Thomas swooped in two years ago and took them in as foster children. He adopted them because he wants them to grow up as a family, and here's the best part. He first learned of the siblings plight because their father was one of many Thomas had fostered years ago.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

What would Mister Rogers do?

That's a question many ask today when faced with challenges or frustration. We may never know the full answer, but if we asked him why a blog like Crumbs of Comfort has survived and grown  for all these years, here's what he'd say.

"Whenever people come together to help either another person or another creature, something has HAPPENED, and everyone wants to know about it—because we all long to know that there’s a graciousness at the heart of creation.” Fred Rogers

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

A whole new meaning for "customer service"

Due to a scheduling mix-up. just one employee, named Ben, was left alone to run an entire Waffle House in Birmingham, Alabama, one night recently. About 30 hungry customers wanted food at midnight, including Ethan Crispo, 24. Since only Ben was available to take orders, cook food, bus tables and manage the cash register, Crispo never expected to get served. Until something special happened.

Ben was on the brink of panic when a male customer the counter spoke to him. After a brief conversation, Ben handed him an apron and he got to work washing dishes. A few minutes later, a woman in high heels and a sequined dress strode briskly behind the counter to brew more coffee. Then she took a few orders before bussing tables.Then a third customer in a red shirt marched over to help. According to Crispo, the term "customer service" took on a whole new meaning that night. He called it "humanity at its finest.

Monday, November 18, 2019

A beautiful day in the neighborhood

In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, November 13 is not just World Kindness Day. It's also Cardigan Day. One of the most beloved fans of the cardigan sweater was Fred Rogers. Mister Rogers' Neighborhood helped generations of children feel loved and loving, while wearing a cardigan sweater.

Caitlin Pechin is a nurse at UPMC Magee-Women's Hospital. She decided to honor both days by dressing all the baby patients in hand-knitted Mister Rogers sweaters and booties. She made all the tiny garments, and after the babies were dressed, the staff invited the television star's widow, Joanne Rogers, to the hospital for  surprise. She was married to Mister Rogers for 51 years, and was delighted by the gesture.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Why hasn't anyone else thought of this?

A charity in Australia named Beddown decided to help homeless people get a good night's sleep. Their aim is to take common places which are not used at night and make them into homeless shelters. The charity asked one of the largest car park operators in Brisbane for help, and they agreed to launch a two-week trial program.

The garage was a safe and secure place for the homeless to get a good night's sleep. The charity also provided other services, including doctors, nurses, hairdressers, and dentists. It provided new clothing and a place to shower. Here are some of the initial statistics after the first two-week trial.  77% of homeless were male. 23% were female. All guests said they felt safe during their stay. Due to overcapacity, 9 people were turned away in one night. The youngest person who tried to access Beddown was just 15 years old.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Saving the blue-footed booby

As reported in The Christian Science Monitor, Will Gladstone is a high school freshman from Arlington, Massachusetts. Back in his 5th grade science class, he learned about a distinctive bird called the blue-footed booby that lives in the Galapagos Islands. He learned that its population has dropped by 1/3 since 1960. Even though he's never been to the Galapagos, or seen a blue-footed booby, he wanted to help preserve the species. But how could he do it?

                                                                                   Riley Robinson/Christian Science Monitor
After a few days, he had a plan. He'd sell blue socks the same color as the birds' feet, to raise money. In March, 2016, he launched an online site called The Blue Feet Foundation, and so far he's sold abouat 10,000 pairs of blue socks to bird-lovers in 46 nations. After costs, he has raised about $90,000 which he donates to the Galapagos Conservancy and the Charles Darwin Foundation. Will's younger brother Matthew helped with sock selling after lots of orders were received.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Dog approves new reclining chair

Aleecia Dahl's granddad is inseparable from his best friend, Coco the dog. So when Grandpa Dahl and his wife (who is also a best friend) moved into a new home recently, the senior doggy daddy refused to buy a new recliner until Coco approved. The footrest had to be wide enough for him and Coco to sit side-by-side.

Aleecia says "he brought Coco into several stores to try out the chair until he found the perfect one. Coco was always greeted with a smile. Since Aleecia published photos of the dynamic duo trying out chairs, they they have been seen thousands of times.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Book lovers "working on the chain gang"

The public library in Norman, Oklahoma, recent moved from it's old building to a brand new facility about a quarter mile away. When moving day arrived, the library posted the event on Facebook, hoping that a few folks would come and help move the books. To their delight, more than 650 kids, adults and seniors showed up to help.

Together, they formed a human chain between the two buildings and moved all the children's books one-by-one down the line. The entire process took about 45 minutes. Said one participant, "It's my hometown library, and we wanted to be part of history." The library managed to capture the magic of the event by attaching a GoPro camera to a copy of "Chicken Little" as it was passed down the line, and the resulting video is very endearing.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Dads join daughters' ballet class

A Philadelphia dance studio is once again offering fathers and father figures a unique way to bond with their little daughters, while stepping outside their comfort zones. D'chappe Dance Arts, a studio near East Falls, hosts a special, two-hour "daddy and me" class that combines ballet with yoga.

Video showing local fathers and daughters dancing together as part of the "BOGA" class quickly circulated online, gaining attention from celebrities including Kristen Bell and Jennifer Garner, who posted on Instagram, "Dads are the best." "There are some amazing papas out there," added Bell. Studio owner Erin Lee said of the sudden attention, "I can't believe it. This is what I care about. Good dads are being highlighted."

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Bus terminal welcomes homeless (dogs)

Employees of Barreirinha bus terminal in Curitiba, Brazil, have opened the terminal's door to homeless dogs. They even gave the dogs special beds to protect them from the winter cold. Three dogs had been spotted in the station, named Pitoco, Zoinho and Max.

These dogs were given more than a home for the winter. Employees made some DIY beds from tires lined with blankets to keep them warm on cold nights. Their goodwill was noticed by politician Fabiane Rosa, and she shared some photos on Facebook. They quickly went viral.