Thursday, January 31, 2019

Get a tissue before reading this

Triston Walsh, 16, is a sophomore at Belleville West High School in Illinois, and he still remembers his dad, Marine Sergeant Nick Walsh, who was killed in Iraq 12 years ago. One of his last adventures with his dad was a road trip from Colorado to California -- just the two of them -- in his dad's 1990 Ford Bronco. Since Nick's death, the Bronco sat idle in the garage, but Triston expected to inherit it someday. But last month it vanished. His mom, Julie told him it cost too much to fix and she sold it. He was furious and didn't speak to her for two weeks.

But she hadn't really sold the Bronco. Instead, she contacted Mertz Ford to ask the cost of restoration. The dealership towed it away, and sprang into action. Several automotive suppliers donated parts. Two Mertz technicians worked nights and weekends on the Bronco without pay. When it was restored, Triston's mom convinced him to visit Mertz Ford to look at "a better car." When they entered the showroom, they saw  Nick Walsh's official military portrait displayed on an easel. A military color guard stood at attention near a vehicle covered by paper. When it was unwrapped, Triston saw his dad's Bronco, fully restored, better than new. Everyone cheered as he got in and started the engine, wiping away tears with his shirt sleeve. "I'm just really happy than I'm able to have a piece of my dad left with me," he said. Triston won't get his driver's license until February, but he already has the truck of his dreams.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

The Three Wishes Project

Ruby Kate Chitsey is eleven years old and lives in Harrison, Arkansas. Last summer she accompanied her mom Amanda to work. Amanda helps dozens of patients at care facilities. While visiting a nursing home with her mom, Ruby noticed one resident staring sadly out a window, as a dog was walked away. She told Ruby she'd had the dog 12 years, and didn't know if she'd see it again because she could not afford to care for it on her own. This inspired Ruby to knock on the door of each patient's room and ask them for three wishes. Some residents simply wished for pants that fit, or a taste of fast food, or a visit to a water park to see families having fun.

Then Ruby launched her Three Wishes Project to raise money for patients' wishes. Her mom helped her set up a GoFundMe, and Amazon wish list for the project. Since these were created last November, Ruby's campaign has raised over $26,000, and the donations have helped buy patients clothing, hearing aids, shoes, pet food, and even a Quarter Pounder With Cheese. "A little child shall lead them."

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Puppy love

Today's crumb is contributed by a faithful reader in Indiana. This month in Dekalb, Georgia, a puppy became trapped near a pond and could not free himself. Animal Control was unable to reach the dog, so they called Dekalp Fire Company 24 to assist. The firefighters were able to rescue the dog.

But when the puppy was safe, Animal Control said he had no home and they would take him back to the shelter, unless anyone was interested in adopting him. Patrick Harrison, one of the firefighters who brought the pup to safety, decided to adopt the pet on the spot. According to the department's Facebook page, the dog is now Harrison's "new best friend" and is "always welcome at the station."

Monday, January 28, 2019

Shot of a lifetime

A high school junior named Andrew Regan, who lives near Denver, Colorado, has Down syndrome. But he's also an athlete. His high school has a "unified" basketball team, where differently abled kids play together.

This month a video went viral after Andrew snagged a rebound in a game and sunk a buzzer-beater all the way from HALF COURT. His teammates and coaches went nuts. It was the kind of thing most players only dream of doing. But it wasn't just luck. A friend who volunteers on the team says Andrew practices that shot all the time in his driveway. So when he drained it in the game, it really didn't surprise him much. Local news reporters have interviewed him, and he's enjoyed the attention.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Parents okay when daughter dents family car

Olivia Jones lives in Clearwater, Florida, where she's a high school senior. She was sitting in the driver's seat of the family car at a red light when she noticed a woman slumped behind the wheel of the car beside her. She assumed the lady was texting, until she realized she was suffering a seizure. And the woman's car began drifting into oncoming traffic.

Without hesitating, Olivia pulled out in front of the woman's car, hit her brakes, and let the other car bump into hers and stop. Then she opened the woman's car door and put it park before calling 911. EMTs arrived two minutes later and said Olivia's fast action may have saved the woman's life.  Olivia ended up with a dent in her back bumper, but her parents were cool with it.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Unpaid federal workers get peanut butter

Eric "Beans" McKay from Woodbridge, Virginia, has autism and is sensitive to the taste and texture of foods. But he loves peanut butter. When his mom saw Lidl had his favorite brand on sale, she bought 72 jars, and he challenged himself to finish all of them. Last October he finally made it, and wrote to the Lidl grocery store chain saying it was time for another sale.

Lidl wrote back that if Bean could get 72,000 retweets on his original post, they'd give him a lifetime supply. After three months, he accumulated 76,000 retweets and stopped by a nearby Lidl supply facility where he was gifted 5 years worth of peanut butter. His dad was a furloughed federal worker, so Bean decided to give away his free peanut butter to unpaid government workers, who are now invited to pick up three jars of free peanut butter at the Lidl store in Dumfries, courtesy of Beans.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Tea for two, with one in blue

On July 26, 2015, 22-month-old Bexley Norvell of Texas swallowed a coin and choked on it. She was unable to breathe, and was unresponsive when Corporal Patrick Ray was dispatched to the scene. The quick-thinking officer cleared her throat and got her to breathe again.

                                                                                                               Chelle Cates Photography
In gratitude for saving her daughter's life, Bexley's mom, Tammy Norvell, invited Ray to a tea party photo shoot by professional photographer Chelle Cates in a park in Rowlett, Texas. The officer agreed without hesitation. Bexley's mom said the party included a special surprise for her daughter. "It was her first time eating Oreos, and she definitely enjoyed every crumb."

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Dog is grateful to be adopted

About two years ago, employees at a gas station in Mexico noticed a scared, malnourished stray dog that kept hanging around. And they agreed to adopt him. He'd been abused and was very skittish, but they finally gave him a bath, got him vaccinated and started feeding him every day. Ever since then, he's been popular with customers. His name is Randy, and some buy gas at the station just to see him.

One of the employees was working the night shift recently when two armed robbers showed up and started a fight with him. He was losing pretty badly until Randy woke up and came to help. He went after the two robbers and helped fight them off. The gas station security camera got it all on video. The owner is not sure what would have happened if Randy had not been there, but he knows for sure that Randy appreciates everything they've done for him.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Refugee-run restaurant feeds federal workers free

Yassin's Falafel House in Knoxville, Tennessee, is run by Syrian refugee Yassin Terou, who migrated to the United States in 2011. For the past four years, he's used his restaurant as a neighborhood sanctuary for everyone, regardless of race, religion, color or politics. In 2017, for example, he hosted a candlelit vigil attended by a man yelling that immigrants were taking American jobs. Terou approached him, offered to buy him dinner, and even offered the man a job in his restaurant.

Last year his restaurant was voted the Nicest Place in America, and now it's offering free meals to federal employees who have not received paychecks since the partial government shutdown. How is Terou paying for the food? Community members are pitching in to cover the costs by making donations to the restaurant. Terou explains, "Government employees are our brothers and sisters and they are not going to be alone during the longest shutdown."

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Unpaid federal employees need an automat!

When my Dad was twenty-something, he left home in Baltimore to find work in Philadelphia. Like many guys his age, he rented a bedroom in a "boarding house," but stoves were not allowed and no food was served. On a modest income, where could he eat? He always went to the nearest Horn & Hardart Automat. There were several in Philly, and even more in New York City. Each had a marble floor and ornate ceiling, with shiny enamel tables, art deco lighting and stained glass windows. Patrons didn't use paper plates or plastic spoons. They received real dishes and flatware, but there were no waitresses or cashier. Instead, there was a lady in a kiosk in the center of the room. Her job was to make change using only nickels. Give her a dollar and her busy fingers would slide 20 nickels to you. Why? Because all the food was displayed behind small glass doors along the wall, and you could open a door and remove the food by inserting one (or more) nickels.

During the Great Depression, many folks felt lucky to have ten cents for lunch. At the automat they could buy a chicken pie or a dish of baked beans. If they didn't have a nickel, they might do what Marlo Thomas did in an episode of her TV show "That Girl," -- put free ketchup and free saltine crackers into a cup of free hot water and call it tomato soup. Ketchup soup was very popular during the Depression. Does this mean automats were hang-outs for bums? Not at all. Taxi drivers ate there, but so did Robert DeNiro while making the movie "Taxi Driver." Rich and poor were equal in the automat -- a great comfort during the Depression. How did famous people feel about automats?

Neil Simon said, "To have your own stack of nickels placed in your tiny hands and be able to choose your own food, displayed like museum pieces; to make quick and final decisions at age eight, was a lesson in finance that two years at Wharton could not buy today." Tony Curtis adds, "I used to shine shoes when I was 14, and when I was a little ahead, I'd stop at Horn & Hardart." Dick Clark claims he lived at the automat when he only had $2/day for food. "The food was delicious, and it was wonderful," recalled Woody Allen. For many, going to the automat became a family "tradition," not just a meal. If you have five free minutes, here's a video worth watching! It explains how Horn & Hardart automats gave birth to fast food, while giving dignity to the poorest of the poor.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Shave and a haircut...

Lenny White is 35 years old and lives in Millisle, Ireland. He's had a fondness for the elderly ever since working in a nursing home as a teen. So he gave up his sales career and got a barber' license in 2016 to open up a barber shop for people with dementia. He became "the UK's first dementia-friendly barber." He loves getting a smile from his clients which shows they enjoyed their haircut.

His mobile, pop-up barber shop services men in care homes, those living at home, and those at day centers across Northern Ireland. "These people cannot get to a barber shop otherwise," he says. To make his "shop" feel authentic, he brings a large rotating barber pole. He scents the room with aftershave lotion, and plays old classics like Elvis and Dean Martin  and Frank Sinatra on a portable juke box. "The men relax, sing along with the music, and tap the rhythm.," he says. While cutting hair, Lenny talks to customers about their past and reminisces about life. Men who had been agitated by visiting a hairdresser relax as they discuss the good old days.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Male mentors needed, and found

Pastor Don Parish Jr. did not have very high expectations when he put out a plea on Facebook for male mentor volunteers. Billy Earl Middle School in south Dallas, Texas, was having its first "Breakfast with Dads" event, but administrators knew many students would not have dads present. Many have no male figures in their lives.

Parish said he hoped his Facebook plea would attract 50 male mentors. On the morning of the breakfast, 600 men from all walks of life lined up outside the school. The men and the kids bonded very quickly, especially after they shared a "How to tie a tie" exercise.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Rescuers don't want reward money

Authorities offered a $50,000 reward for information leading to the recovery of Jayme Closs. She lives in Barron, Wisconsin, and was abducted against her will last October 15, after her parents were murdered. We now know the 13-year-old was kidnapped by Jake Patterson, 21, and held in his home in Gordon, Wisconsin. She was his captive for three months, until one day he made her lay beneath a bed while he left the home.

She managed to push away the heavy bins he used to block the bed, put on a pair of his shoes, and fled, seeking help. That's when she met Jeanne Nutter, who was walking her dog. Jayme asked for help and Nutter took her to her neighbors, Peter and Kristin Kasinskas, who called 911 and guarded Jayme with a loaded rifle until police arrived. They said she appeared "thin, dirty and very tired." Now the Kasinskas are refusing the $50,000 reward. According to Peter Kasinskas, "If anyone, Jayme should get it, because she got herself out." Police also regard Jayme as a hero for escaping her confinement.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Government shutdown brings out our best (No. 2)

As a measure of showing solidarity across an international boarder (without any wall), Canadian air traffic controllers have been sending pizzas to their American counterparts during the partial government shutdown. In the United States, air traffic controllers are being forced to work without pay until Congress consents to President Trump's demand for a boarder wall with Mexico.

An air traffic controller center in Edmonton, Alberta, was the first to order pizzas for American workers in Anchorage, Alaska. As news of their good deed spread on social media, more Canadian air traffic controllers joined the movement. They have ordered 350 pizzas for American workers, so far.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Government shutdown brings out our best (No. 1)

Chef Jose Andres has made headlines before, feeding people in disaster-stricken areas. In the past, his World Central Kitchen has cooked millions of meals for hurricane and wildfire victims. Now he's feeding federal employees who receive no pay because of the partial government shutdown.

His non-profit has opened a kitchen on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC., not far from the White House, which serves free hot meals from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. to furloughed workers with ID, and their families. "We believe no person should have to go through the pain of not knowing what to feed their children, so we have opened a kitchen," said Andres.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Alert bus driver saves lost toddler

Irena Ivic has been driving a bus in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for five years. The routes were mostly routine until 8 a.m. last December 22, when she noticed a baby girl wandering barefoot and alone on the side of a highway overpass.

Recently released security video (see photo above) shows Ivic stopping the bus, jumping out and securing the child, who was dressed in a onesie and diaper in frigid weather. "Oh my God, I'm shaking," Ivic is heard saying as she holds the baby in her arms. She then brought the baby aboard the bus where a passenger loaned the infant a jacket.  Authorities were able to reunite the baby with her father, Hasan Ali Abdul Kasim, who believes his mentally disturbed wife took the child to church across the freeway and later forgot about her. The child was not hurt, and no charges have been filed. Speaking of Ivic, Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele said she "did a lot more than her job. She did the right thing."

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Here, kitty, kitty!

Jason Smith is an officer with the North Kansas City (Missouri) police department. Last December he was patrolling I-29, and when he approached Bedford Avenue, he noticed a small kitten perched on top of a concrete barrier dividing the highway's north and southbound lanes. If the kitten jumped either way, she'd lose all her nine lives at once. Here she is.

First, Officer Smith called for back-up to slow down traffic on the highway. Then he got out of his car to rescue the feline. At first the kitty was not happy about being grabbed, but as soon as she got inside the warm squad car, she relaxed and began exploring. In the process, she accidentally set off the siren. After receiving a medical check-up, the kitty was adopted by Smith's family, who have named her Bella, ending a purr-fect day for her.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

"Breaking up is hard to do...."

Remember your first love in high school? Barbara Cotton and Curtis Brewer dated right up to graduation. They even went to two proms together. But then he left for college and they split up. Or so they thought. Not long ago, Barbara, now 72, found the website and actually located Curtis. She send him a message, since "we technically never broke up."

Curtis had not heard from Barbara for 50 years, but he answered her message immediately. It turned out they were both single, so they started talking again. Then last August, Curtis couldn't stand being away from her any longer and proposed marriage on the phone. They recently married in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, more than half-a-century after their first date. Barbara says no one else she's been with ever loved her as much as Curtis, and it's never changed. She's always loved him, and he's alway loved her.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Let's run the numbers

It's easy to feel depressed about world affairs, but a set of statistics that went viral actually proves our world is becoming a better place. Here are four stats to prove it. (1) Life expectancy continues to rise. It's leveled out in the United States (the richest nation on earth) and even dropped a little, but it's skyrocketing worldwide. Twenty years ago the average life expectancy in Africa was 50. Today it's 60 and still rising.  (2) World population is starting to level off. It's still going up, but not as fast.

(3) Democracy is spreading. Thirty years ago, only about 40% of people lived in democratic societies. Now it's almost 60%.  (4) Global income inequality is way down. Fifty years ago, a huge percentage of the world lived in poverty. But now, an average of 200,000 people are lifted out of poverty every day.

Friday, January 11, 2019

How mature can a 13-year-old be?

Damir Border lives in Delaware, and he's 13. This month his dad was working the night shift so he asked his mom if he could stay up late watching Netflix. She said "No!" and went to bed herself. But he kept watching, and watching, and watching until about 1:00 a.m., when he saved both their lives.

That's when their breaker box sparked a fire which ended up totally destroying their mobile home. But before the home went up in smoke, Damir woke his mom and got her to safety. He called the family dogs, and even called 911. Nobody was hurt, because Damir wasn't asleep.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Encore from 2017 Girl Scout Cookie Season

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 (2017) 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?"

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

A "police incident" you might have missed

Inmates from Bladen County, North Carolina, were picking up trash on the side of a road recently as part of a program that allows them to perform community service to have their jail time reduced. Their work was interrupted when their supervisor, James Smith, stumbled and fell into a ditch. The inmates rushed to his side, and when he was unable to answer basic questions, they used a cell phone to call an ambulance, before stopping traffic and asking drivers for help.

Paramedics took Smith to the Cape Fear Valley Medical Center where he was diagnosed with a stroke. While he recovers, each of the three prisoners was honored with the Sheriff's Department's esteemed Life Saving Award, which can dramatically improve their chance of finding employment after they are released. But the men say they are just happy Smith is okay. One explained, "He's more than a police officer. He's more or less like my friend. He's just a good guy all the way around."

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

A government shutdown crumb

In Tennessee, a father-daughter duo have been collecting litter left behind on the trails of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Since the park service lacks funding to keep the parks clean, Marc Newland and his 10-year-old daughter Erica have spent days hiking the mountain trails with trash bags to pick up litter.

The Newlands have always been avid hikers, but when Marc told Erica about how the government shutdown would affect the mountain park, she suggested they keep the trails tidy. Why? "There's a lot of litter around, and it's bad for the world," she said, "so I decided to clean up the parks."

Monday, January 7, 2019

Another "incident" with an migrant

Advaik Nandikotkur is 11 years old. He lives with his parents in Eagan, Minnesota. His family immigrated to St. Paul from India three years ago. While in India, his dad never had time to take swimming lessons, and his mom was not allowed to take lessons because she is a woman. But they gave Advaik some lessons in America, "some survival skills for his own sake." Recently while relaxing around the indoor pool at their apartment complex, they noticed an adult on the bottom of the deep end, with arms outstretched and eyes wide open.

Since nobody else at the pool could swim, Advaik's mom urged him. He weighs only 80 pounds, and said the man would be too heavy to lift, but he took the plunge anyway. He managed to pull the man to the surface and tow him to the edge of the pool. A few minutes later, the man started to move his hands. Paramedics took him to the hospital where he made a full recovery. He stopped by later that week to thank Advaik and give him some money. "He told me he loved me," the boy said. Eagan Police officer Aaron Machtemes said, "I've never heard of a boy jumping in and saving an adult from a pool."

Sunday, January 6, 2019

He did what anyone would have done (?)

Today's crumb was donated by a faithful reader in Bloomington, Indiana. Richard Taverna was riding the New York City subway this month. At Lincoln Center in Manhattan when he noticed a blue Chanel bag on the train platform. He picked it up searching for ID, and found a note written in Russian. He could not locate a subway agent, so he took the bag home.

Later he found something else in the bag. An envelope. It contained one hundred $100 bills. He knew whoever lost it was going through a lot of stress, so he decided, "Well, it's not mine" and turned it over to the New York Police Department's 20th Precinct. It was the same Precinct where a woman went to file a report about the lost bag as she headed off to Russia, according to police officials. "I don't think I did anything extraordinary," Taverna said.

A crumb of comfort from Nigeria

In Nigeria, religious violence intensified during 2018. So residents in the city of Kudanden were nervous when construction began on a new mosque. It was located next to the Living Faith church, and the buildings even shared a fence line. But despite clashes between Christians and Muslims in other parts of the country, worshippers in Kudanden are determined to work together.

"The issue of peaceful religious coexistence cannot be over-emphasied," said Christian resident Isiah Benjamin. If the mosque is going to be used to worship and serve God, and the church is going to be used to worship and serve God, there is no big deal about it. It shows that we as human beings must learn to live as one."

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Pair of baseball fans get standing ovation

Today's crumb is shared by a reader in Cockeysville, Maryland. It happened at Coco-Cola Field in Buffalo, New York, when the Buffalo Bisons hosted the Syracuse Chiefs as part of the Independence Eve Celebration. One fan in the front row was 11-year-old little leaguer Ty Barber. Between innings, he caught a ball from the first baseman. Sitting in the same section was 96-year-old WWII veteran Richard Snethen, dressed in his full uniform. When the game was over, unprompted by his parents, Ty went to Richard and gave him the ball. "We really have to honor our veterans," he explained later.

Richard described the exchange as "one of the most treasured moments of my life," but there were more to come. Nearly two months later, the Bisons invited Richard and Ty back to the ballpark to watch a game together. In the middle of the third inning, the Bisons honored them on the video board in center field, and they received a standing ovation.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Muslims clean up after New Year's Eve

Over 1,000 young members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association took to the streets in 50 different cities in Great Britain for a New Year's Day cleanup. They woke up early, as thousands of Brits were still in bed sleeping off the effects of their festivities.

Muslim youth kicked off the event by hosting a special prayer for the new year before they donned their high-visibility vests and tackled the streets with garbage bags in hand. According to British Iman Qamar Zafar, "Islam urges every Muslim to partake in charitable giving, community service, and to promote cleanliness."

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Getting a "free ride" to college

For the past eight years, 76-year-old Paul Goetchius, a retired toxicologist, has been offering free rides to college students -- not a free tuition ride, but an actual free ride in his car. Since he first started volunteering his automobile to college students, he's logged about 64,000 miles getting them to class on time.

His passengers have gone on to become doctors, teachers and visual marketers, but what they also got from school was Goetchius as a role model and friend. Some call him "Grandpa." Nina Irby rode with Goetchius for all four years of college. She said it meant much more than transportation. "You're not just sitting there with your headphones on," she remembered. "He asks you questions and actually remembers what you tell him, so the next time you ride, he'll check on those things.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

"Are you Santa Claus?"

Curtis Jenkins has driven a school bus for his school district in Dallas, Texas, for seven years. This year he wanted to do something more at Christmas. Originally he thought of a gift exchange, but his wife remarked that some kids' parents might not be able to afford a gift. So he simply started saving money from his pay checks to buy gifts for all his 70 students at Lake Highlands Elementary School.

                                                                                                                 Photo by Merrill Hope
After asking each student what they wanted for Christmas, he waited until the last school day before winter break to load up his bus with wrapped gifts, and dole them out to the kids. One child remembered, "He even had a bicycle on the bus!" Jenkins recalls, "When I opened the bus door, one of the kids asked me, 'Are you Santa Claus?'" He admits he also received some financial contributions from a co-worker, and from a compassionate parent who was touched by his gesture.