Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Can a cello save your life?

As a child, Eddie Adams, now 20,  was the target of family jokes for getting good grades and "acting white." While growing up, he moved around northern Virginia with his mother and five siblings seven times, including a homeless shelter in Alexandria. Now estranged from his family, he's a student at George Mason University, where his only home is his dorm room. He didn't have money to buy books this semester, so classmates loaned him theirs. He's a self-taught cellist, playing principle cello in the university orchestra, but he can't afford to buy or even rent a cello. He has to borrow one. But everything changed this month.

                                                                                                   Jahl Chikwendia (Washington Post)
After the Washington Post wrote about his tormented childhood and how the cello became his lifeline, people started helping. Someone started a GoFundMe page for him, and so far it has collected $141,000. "I don't want to believe it happened," says Adams, "because it's too much for me to even think about." Two strangers are buying him cellos, one valued at $20,000 and the other custom made for him and worth $30,000. A couple in Delaware bought him a $700 custom-fitted tuxedo to wear during performances. Gift cards and checks so far have totaled about $5,000. What will Adams do with the money? First, he went to the dentist for the first time since childhood. Second, he paid off $15,000 in student loans. He's also glad that now he can rent an off-campus apartment with friends next semester, so he'll have an address he can list on job applications.

Monday, April 29, 2019

2019 Teacher of the Year

Rodney Robinson, 40,  became a teacher to honor his mother, who grew up poor in a time of segregation and wasn't able to finish high school. This month he was named 2019 Teacher of the Year, but he's not a typical teacher. He teaches at the Virgie Binford Education Center inside the Richmond Juvenile Detention Center in Virginia, serving prisoners between the ages of 10 and 18. He took the job because he wanted to understand how and why students from disadvantaged backgrounds are at higher risk for ending up in prison.

Now he helps incarcerated students fall in love with learning and plan for a life after they get out. "Jail is only a temporary setback," he insists. He uses a social studies curriculum that centers on juvenile justice and the prison system. "This year I hope to be the voice for my students and all students who feel unseen, unheard, unappreciated, and undervalued in America," he says

Sunday, April 28, 2019

How big is our true family?

On April 12, this blog featured a crumb about 20-year-old Sam Rodriguez, the oldest of her brothers and sisters who range from 5 to 17. Ever since their parents died within the past five years, Sam has been both mom and dad, making sure her siblings get to school each day and are well dressed and fed. She never had a car until local police heard of her heroism and bought one for her. Their gift went viral, and now more support is flowing to the family.

Thousand have readers have donated to a GoFundMe campaign for the family. In just one week, the page raised over $29,000. "I'm at a loss for words," says Sam, but the kids and I will be forever grateful to all of you. This help has changed my life and taken so much off my back. It amazes me how many good-hearted people are out there."

Saturday, April 27, 2019

A crumb from the Homework Help Room

When Marco Bartolomeo first started his graduate program at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, he knew he wanted to become more involved with his school and community. At the recommendation of a friend, he volunteered at Homework Help Room, and after-school tutoring program organized by Community Builders, Inc. He and about seven others volunteer their afternoons with about 20 kids, ages seven to 12, in the program.

Now in his second year with the program, Marco spends every Tuesday afternoon personally tutoring three kids each week. Many are considered to be at-risk youth, and he says he finds his time with them greatly rewarding. They don't just do homework together. He also teaches them goal-planning, and how to foster positive relationships with adults.

Friday, April 26, 2019

A crumb from Fishers, Indiana

Anitha Sharma, 17, and her sister Vani, 12, live in Fishers, Indiana. Back in 2011, when Vani was only four, they started volunteering at their local Ronald McDonalds House. They continue to serve meals at the house, and have found other ways to to make a difference, including performing music for guests at Ronald McDonald House (Anitha plays the flute, Vani the clarinet), cleaning up local parks, and reading books to young children during storytime at Barnes & Noble.

Last June they launched a "Glitter Jars for the Stars" project, creating calming glitter jars to donate to rehabilitation therapy, autism, and senior living centers. They made more than 100 jars last year, each one accompanied by an uplifting note to make the recipient happy.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Police drive man to job interview

Ka'Shawn Baldwin, 22, of East St. Louis, Missouri, was pulled over recently in the town of Cahokia by officer Roger Gemoules. His license plates were expired, and his driver's license was no valid. Baldwin knew his driver's license had expired, but did not know the plates on the car he borrowed from a friend had expired. He told the officer he was only driving illegally to get to a job interview at FedEx.

With no other option, Baldwin asked officer Gemoules if he would drive him to the interview, and the officer agreed! First, he followed Baldwin home where he left his car, and then he drove him to FedEx. He said he could tell Baldwin, who works at McDonalds, really wanted the job. A few days later, when Baldwin learned he had been hired as a FedEx package handler, he messaged the officer on Facebook to let him know, and thank him.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Man owes his life to strangers

This month a blind man was walking inside the Metro station in Bethesda, Maryland, near Washington, D.C.. He was using his cane but did't realize he was standing at the edge of the platform. Then he stepped off the platform and fell onto the tracks below.

Immediately, five total strangers realized what had happened and rushed to save him. He managed to stand up, and they grabbed him by his arms and yanked him back onto the platform just in time. Another train was pulling into the station, and they only had 20 seconds to spare, but that was enough.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

An old joke with new meaning

Sometimes people joke, "If you were accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?" We know there would for those who live in Hamdaiya, Iraq. It's the nation's oldest Christian town, and from 2014 to late 2016,it was a hotbed of ISIS. Here terrorists planned attacks and assembled bombs. Two years ago the Church of the Immaculate Conception was empty and barren, but when members gathered for Easter mass this year, they knew they could once again celebrate without fear.

A large congregation shuffled into the pews, and a priest spoke in Syriac only blocks away from where militants had plotted chaos and genocide. Many residents left during the ISIS occupation and doubted if they could ever return. Now, with ISIS stripped of its land, Hamdaniya is resurgent. Its bustling streets and rebuilt homes rebuff any fears that the ancient plains of Nineveh would never again be home to a Christian minority who have lived there since the earliest years of civilization.

Monday, April 22, 2019

"It's a wonderful life" -- not the movie

It happened in Fresno, California, recently. A 47-year-old woman was walking cross a bridge when she saw a middle school volleyball team (shown below) jogging toward her. They saw her wave to them, so they waved back, but as soon as they passed, she tried to jump off the bridge. They ran to get their coach and he called 911. He told them to run back to the bridge and try to distract her.

By then, said one student, she was really dangling from the bridge, only holding on with one hand. So they started chanting, "Stop, your life is worth it" and talked to her for the next ten minutes. She eventually managed to pull herself back up, and then police showed up. The coach says she must have heard the kids yelling, and couldn't bring herself to commit suicide while they were all watching. He thinks that's the only reason she didn't jump.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Another story about an immigrant

Jay Singh immigrated to the U.S. from India about 13 years ago. He now owns a 7-Eleven in Toledo, Ohio. Recently he caught a teenager stealing from him. He noticed the kid acting suspicious and then called him out on it and told an employee to call 911.

The kid asked if he could just put the stuff back and leave, but Singh made him empty his pockets and put everything he stole on the counter. It was mostly snacks and sweets. The boy said he was trying to get food for himself and his younger brother. So Singh told the cops not to come. He told the teen that sweets and snacks are not nourishing, and filled a whole bag with real food, including chicken and pizza, and gave it to him. Another customer gave the teen  a ten dollar bill. Singh says he didn't want to ruin the kid's life forever over it. And besides, back in India, it's considered a blessing to give food to someone who is hungry.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Unknown tabby shows up to help

Andrew Falloon is a member of Parliament in New Zealand. His father was fresh out an operation when he was visited by a surprise guest. After his wife went out, leaving the door ajar, Mr Fallon was found asleep with a cat resting on him. He does not own a cat.

While the family still does not know where the cat came from, they're glad it came at the right time. "I'm just glad Dad's on the mend," said Falloon, "and if the photo made a few people smile, that's nice too." So far, it's been viewed over 16 million times.

Friday, April 19, 2019

"Say Amen, Somebody"

"Say Amen, Somebody" is an exuberant documentary spotlighting the special world of gospel music. At least 24 hand-clapping songs are featured within the film's joyous 100 minutes. Special emphasis is given to the careers of two of gospel's legendary performers, "Mother" Willie Mae Ford Smith, and "Professor" Thomas A. Dorsey. The camera visits a storefront church, a gospel music convention, classes where Dorsey explains the many songs he has written and where "Mother" Smith instructs would-be gospel soloists. The music alone makes the film worth seeing, but it also glows with warmth and friendliness and heart-touching family scenes. If you'd like to see the trailer, here's a link. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OyPWiBmJ3x4  After seeing the trailer, if you'd like to own a DVD of the movie for yourself or a dear friend, you can buy it at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000KHX7HG/?tag=googhydr-20&hvadid=32560740031&hvpos=1t1&hvexid=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=8008250945693764284&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=b&hvdev=c&ref=pd_sl_33uf413h89_b

After watching "Say Amen, Somebody," I was touched most by a gospel hymn called "Jesus Dropped the Charges" by the O'Neal twins. Think of it as a trial scene, set to music. The lyrics say, in part:

I was guilty of all the charges, doomed and disgraced,
But Jesus by his special love saved me by his grace.
I was guilty for so long; lived in sin too long,
But Jesus with his special love gave me a brand new song.

Jesus dropped the charges, although I was wrong.
Jesus dropped the charges and gave me a brand new song.
Jesus dropped the charges, cast them all away.
He dropped the charges, and at Calvary I heard him say,
"Case dismissed! Case dismissed!"
Saved by grace.

To hear the O'Neal twins sing this song in the movie, click this link. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xAMi0yaPNRk

Thursday, April 18, 2019

80 years old, and loved more than ever

Haze Mabry, who just turned 80, has been the janitor at Pike County Elementary School in Zebulon, Georgia, for 13 years. Three of his own kids graduated from that school years ago, but he still feels like every single student in the school is "like children of my own." As a result, he is known as the "most loved person" in the building, and last month when he came to work, he was greeted by about 750 students and staff, all singing to him.

                                                                      Rachel McDaniel, Pike County Journal-Reporter
They began handing him cards; singing happy birthday; and holding up banners for his special day. He received so many card that he had to ask a few students to follow behind him and collect them into buckets. He was overwhelmed, but hugged every youngster who reached out to him, and apparently has taken time to read each card and offer his sincerest thanks to the students.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

When American children were Santa Claus

During World War I, the USS Jason usually carried coal to fuel U.S. Navy dreadnoughts. But in 1914, President Wilson let her set sail from New York harbor without coal. Instead, she held 5 million Christmas gifts bound for children in England and Europe whose fathers were fighting and dying in combat.

Nicknamed "The Santa Claus Ship," its cargo included 12,000 tons of stockings, petticoats, sweets, nuts, gloves, toys and other gifts. Stopping first in Plymouth, Devon, it unloaded presents for children across England, starting with those whose fathers had been killed in battle. The humanitarian mission resulted from a huge charity drive which started in Chicago but quickly spread all across the United States. English children who expected no Christmas gifts that year were thrilled to receive even the smallest present from boys and girls across the ocean in America.

Monday, April 15, 2019

How to use excess church property?

James Jennings worked two jobs in New York City, but still could not afford an apartment, so he lived in his car for six years. But not anymore. He now lives at St. Augustine Terrace at Fulton Ave. and 167th Street in the Bronx. It's a 112 unit apartment house for low-income families developed by the Catholic church on land it owns. The Archdiocese says it's about much more than helping Bronx families make ends meet. "It provides peace of mind."

Thirty-five units are earmarked for adults with mental illness. It's also certified energy and environmentally friendly, which produce cost savings. Referencing the season of Lent leading up to Easter, Father Dolan said, "Lent is about fasting, but this is the kind of fasting I want. Housing the oppressed and homeless." Meanwhile Jennings, 53, who has a studio in the new building, says he has several health issues. Nevertheless, he says he feels "inspired every day."

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Gift from her son brings mom to tears.

Krystal Preston, a single mom from Fernley, Nevada, was in tears after her 13-year-old son William gave her a gift she needed but never expected. It was a car. William said the idea came to him when he was scrolling through Facebook and found someone in his area selling a car. He reached out and offered to trade his Xbox and some yard work for the vehicle. At first the owner said no, but after hearing William's story, she agreed.

                                                                                                                        ABC News
"And here I thought it was a joke," Krystal wrote. "Then I was handed the keys and paperwork on the car and I'm freaking out from shock." Williams bought his mom a 1999 Chevrolet Metro. He's the youngest of three children, but knew his mom needed a car. Krystal adds, "He may have his days, but OMG, what 13-year-old kid do you know that buys his mom a car? William, you have such a big heart and I love you."

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Totally free grocery store

Inspired after volunteering at a store in California, country musician Brad Paisley and his wife, actress Kimberly Williams-Paisley, broke ground recently for a free grocery store in Nashville, Tennessee. It's simply called "The Store"so that parents can come with their kids without any stigma of poverty. They can tell their kids, "Come on, we're going to the store."

                                                                                          Jason Kempin / Getty Images
The Store is near a bus stop by Paisley's alma mater, Belmont University. College students will volunteer and donate their time as store employees, "offering themselves a kind of learning experience you can't get from a book," said Paisley.

Friday, April 12, 2019

How big is our true family?

Samantha Rodriguez is 20 years old. She lives in Orange County, Florida, and for the past three years, she's been taking care of her younger siblings -- keeping them clothed, fed, and going to school each day. All without a car. Samantha's parents died in the past five years, and her siblings, now ages five to 17, were in danger of heading to the state's foster care system. She knew she could not allow that to happen. She moved the family to Orange County because her grandmother lived there, but money was scarce and Samantha had to grow up fast. "It can be tough knowing when to be a parent, and when to be a sister," she says. "Sometimes it can feel like I'm alone."

Last December the Orange County Sheriff's Department learned of Samantha's unusual family and how they were sticking together through tough times. The officers invited the kids to visit the station. When the kids arrived, they found a room filled with Christmas gifts for them. The department posted a video of the party online, and folks began to call, asking to help. Recently the Sheriff asked Samantha to come to his office. She thought it was just a meeting, but he showed her a picture of a shiny new Nissan Versa. Anonymous donors had purchased it for her. He helped her get insurance, and took her to the dealership to pick up the car. "It really didn't sink in until a few days later," she says. "Everything I plan now for the kids is so much easier."

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Beauty where you least expect it

Dutch street artist Jan Is De Man was asked by residents of an apartment building in Rtrecht, Netherlands, to bring something positive to their neighborhood. At first he thought of a smiley -- a very big smiley, but it said that project "felt too simple."

After studying his "canvas" he came up with the idea for a l'oeil mural, a artistic visual illusion. "I studied the shape of the house and its location, and the idea of painting a huge bookcase hit me," he said. He painted books that are favorites of the building's residents. He says, "I like to see smiles on people's faces at this idea."

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Bike donations keep kids in school

When John White of Corona, California, recently bought a bicycle for his daughter, he remembered how many kids he'd taught over the years who never had a bike because their parents couldn't afford one. Six months later, the 54-year-old middle school teacher started a project during leadership class to strengthen the bond between impoverished students and teachers through bike donations.

Bicycles for Children began in 2012 with a goal of donating bikes to 32 elementary school students. Since then, it has donated over 4,700 bikes and helmets to students across 100 elementary schools in five California school districts, through fundraising, community events, private and business donations.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Company dog will come home with troops

Alpha Company 1/121 is based out of Lawrenceville, Georgia. Recently they were deployed to fight in Afghanistan, and during the first month of their deployment, they met a local dog whom they named Bear. Bear is not allowed on base, so the soldiers take turns bringing him food, and belly rubs.

The troops say it is impossible to leave him behind when they return home in about seven months, since he's become an "instant member of the family." In order to move to the states, Bear will need quarantine and vaccinations. The total cost of moving him will be about $4,000. The soldiers had already raised about $1,000, and when a local media outlet told their story, the community stepped up in a big way. The troops now have $10,000.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Still volunteering at age 92

Harvey Terrill, 92, served in the Army Air Corps during World War II. He was a mechanic, and after the war he walked the streets with a mail bag as a postal delivery man. But he retired, and for more than 25 years he's been volunteering at Baptist Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. He lives two blocks form the hospital and walks back and forth four days a week. After delivering mail carrying a 35 pound sack, the short walk is easy for him.

He's stationed at the front desk of the surgical waiting area. He's a liason between doctors and patient families. He lets families know exactly what's happening. Co-workers say family members feel stressed when Terrill is not volunteering. He hands our cookies to family members and holds devotionals to lift their spirits. Asked how long he will continue volunteering, Terrill says it's not his decision. "I come over here and the room fills up with people, and I know I'm doing what I'm supposed to do," he says with tears in his eyes.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

You can't just love a certain percentage."

Liz Smith is senior director of nursing at Franciscan Children's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. She always wanted to be a mother, but thought her opportunity had passed, until fellow nurses introduced her to Gisele, who weighed one pound, 14 ounces, when she was born at 29 weeks. Her mother was addicted to drugs and could not care for her, since Gisele would need an experienced care giver to help her live outside the hospital. The nurse and baby bonded quickly, and Smith went to see her every day, "It was my reward after a long workday," she said. "You can't just love a certain percentage. You have to give it your all."

533 days after Smith first met Gisele, the two finally shared a last name. Gisele was two years old. Smith never expected it, but she went from nurse to mom, and Gisele went from a frail preemie with complex medical needs to a beaming little girl. And now they have each other for the rest of their lives. Smith said it was the power of love that brought her and Gisele together. "To witness how love can transform a life -- how it's transformed hers and mine, is unbelievable," she said.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Is it snail mail, or whale mail?

Today's crumb comes from a reader in Fishers, Indiana. As technology advances, snail mail may soon become a thing of the past, but whale mail has a future, at least in the village of Lehde, about 60 miles south of Berlin, Germany. About 150 people live in Lehde, and for centuries it was only accessible by boat. For the past 118 years, the German mail service (Deutsche Post) has delivered mail by water, at least from March to October. And Andrea Bunar, shown here, is the post mistress.

Her work is environmentally friendly, and she finds it easy to paddle or pole up and down the tiny canals between homes in her yellow post barge. She delivers everything from letters to large packages, using her own strength to propel the boat to about 60 mailboxes. She travels about five miles daily and has been delivering the mail for almost ten years.She says the exercise keeps her in shape.

Friday, April 5, 2019

When God showed up on time

LeAndra Clay lives in eastern Arkansas. About a month ago, she lost her house in a fire. Since then, she's been living in a shed without any electricity, until she came forward recently after winning the lottery for $150,000.

                                                                                                                     Arkansas Lottery
She matched four out of five numbers on the Powerball drawing, plus the Powerball number. This would have totalled $50,000, but she paid one dollar extra for a Power Play, which tripled her winnings. She says her first thought when she found out was that God really showed up "on time" for her. She plans to donate part of her winnings to her church, and use the rest to buy a new house and car.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

A real spring break party!

Joshua Caraway, 19, is a freshman at the University of West Georgia, and went with friends to Miami Beach for spring break this year. But what he did during break was so unusual that the photos have gone viral. Can you guess how he partied? Here's a hint.

Joshua walked along the sandy beach with a trash bag. He wore gloves, and picked up garbage other students had left behind. A policeman saw him, and walked up to say "thank you." Then a local news stationed posted photos on Facebook, and they blew up online. Joshua tried to get his friends to help him, but they thought he was nuts. He did it anyway, because he loves animals and the environment, and he wanted to leave the beach looking better than when he got there.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Shoes for flood victims

A woman from Hays, Kansas, has donated 204 pairs of shoes to Nebraska flood victims after buying all the remaining shows at a local Payless store that was closing. The shoes were part of a flood relief shipment taken to farmers in Nebraska by Fort Hays State College's agricultural sorority, Sigma Alpha.

                                                                                                       Kelly Tyko, USA TODAY

Addy Tritt, a Fort Hays State graduate, said she wanted to help others because so many people have helped her in the past. When the price at the Hays Payless dropped to $1 per pair, she negotiated with the business to buy all remaining inventory for $100. They included 162 pairs of baby shores, two pairs of men's shoes, and the rest were women's shoes. The retail price for the shoes would have been more than $6,000.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Every baby needs a Mom

Kelly Lively, 56, always wanted to be a mom but could not have kids on her own. She's a nurse in Kokomo, Indiana, and a few years ago she heard about a boy named Marcus. He was born at 25 weeks, addicted to heroin. He weighed one pound and his mom abandoned him at the hospital. He was not expect to live past his second birthday. When Kelly first met Marcus in 2017, he was 18 months old and could barely lift his head. She said his eyes were "lifeless." But when she kissed him and asked if she could be his mom, he grinned. She adopted him in 2018.

Kelly says Marcus is not aware that he has any disabilities, and she places no limits on him. He was unable to speak until she taught him sign language. Eventually he learned to sign "yes" and "no," and whenever she she asked to touch him, he usually said "no" since he did not like to be touched. But after 10 months, he changed his mind and fell asleep in her lap. Today he's off the ventilator and can walk. Doctors never thought he would do either. They're amazed, and have told Kelly, "whatever you're doing for Marcus, keep on doing it." Caring for Marcus is not easy, but love makes it possible.

Monday, April 1, 2019

The absurdity of holding on to hate

Today's crumb comes from a faithful reader in Indiana. John Sato is 95 years old. He lives in Auckland, New Zealand, where 50 Muslim men, women and children were were murdered at a mosque in Christchurch. He said the crime kept him up that night, and he decided to ride four different busses to join others walking down the street in a rally against racism.

                                                                                                                  Getty Images
Sato's wife passed away 15 years ago, and their daughter died last year. He said he wanted to join others in Auckland Center for the rally, and he was helped along the way by strangers he met. At the end of the rally, a policeman gave him a bottle of water and drove him all the way home. Sato said that watching innocent people die during WWII had put into perspective the absurdity of holding on to hate.