Sunday, June 30, 2019

Falling child caught in mid-air

A 17-year-old Algerian man became a hero last month in Turkey after catching a two-year-old Syrian toddler falling from a third floor window in an apartment building. It happened in Instanbul's Fatih district, which is home to a large Arab community. Doha Muhammed, the daughter of Syrian couple Leyla Abdullah and Yusuf Muhammed, approached the open window while her mother was cooking in the kitchen.

Feuzi Zabaat, an Algerian national working in a shop on the same street, saw that the toddler was about to fall and stood underneath the window. He managed to catch and hold the child just before she would have hit the ground, saving her from serious injury or death. The incident was captured by the security camera of a nearby shop. Baby Doha escaped unharmed, but she was quite frightened and shaken. Zabatt and other locals were seen trying to calm her before handing her back to Leyla.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Helping the children of Chernobyl

A charity in Raleigh, North Carolina, brings children who are suffering from the aftereffects of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant explosion 33 years ago in the Ukraine to the United States each year for a summer of fun. This year more than 60 Belarusian kids got access to free health care, pediatrician appointments and dental work, plus a chance to breath clean air while living with host families in Raleigh for six weeks. Most are from poverty-stricken families in Belarus.

The charity, known as Overflowing Hands, has been running for 13 years. One of the interns, Nastiya Paprauka, attended the program herself for four years. Now 19, she works as a chaperone. Speaking of Raleigh, she said, "The nature is beautiful and the people are kind." Eleven years ago, founder Chandler Ellis realized the children had never celebrated birthdays. Many did not know when their birthday was. One of Ellis' friends owns the Angus Barn Restaurant, and hosts a group birthday party for the children each summer. The kids enjoy pony rides, inflatables, water games and food, all courtesy of the community.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Maybe age really is just a number?

Legendary percussionist Viola Smith is now 106 and actively drumming until quite recently in a Costa Mesa band named Forever Young. Born Viola Schmitz in November, 1912, in Wisconsin, she was one of ten kids. The whole family studied piano, and in the 1920s her dad got Viola and her six sisters together to form the Smith Sisters Orchestra. They were first widely noticed when they performed on the Major Bowes Amateur Hour, a 1930s radio version of America's Got Talent.

After moving to New York City, she joined the Phil Spitainy's Hour of Charm Orchestra, another all-girls orchestra. Her ability to read music fluently and overall musicianship earned her a spot with the NBC Symphony Orchestra. After playing at President Harry Truman's inauguration in 1949, she formed her own band called "Viola and Her 17 Drums." She then turned her attention to Broadway, where she played in the original production of Cabaret. She still believes regular exercise (preferably playing drums) is a secret to long life.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

A crumb from a reader in North Carolina, USA

Hanna Green was making her way to the 8th tee recently at the KPMG Women's PGA Championship in Chaska, Minnesota, when a little girl handed her a piece of blue paper. Lily Kostner, 7, from Minneapolis, told Green she would win, as she stretched the paper across the gallery ropes. It was a poem Lily wrote in gratitude for kindness Green showed her at the Dinah Shore Championship last April, where Green gave Lily a signed golf ball.

Lily was so grateful that she wrote a poem for Green, and read it to her first grade class at Kenny Elementary before saving it to give to Green. With a backup on the 8th tee, Green stopped and unfolded the paper and read the poem. Then she bent down to give Lily a hug. Green went on to win the championship! "I had that poem in the back of my yardage book" she said, because I didn't want it to get rained on. A couple of times on the back nine when I was feeling nervous, I actually read it to myself. I think it really helped me."

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

One way to keep neo-Nazis calm?

When a group of neo-Nazi sympathizers planned an event in the German town of Ostritz recently, the local government didn't refuse to issue a permit. The residents didn't panic. Instead, a Dresden court ruled that people at the rally could not have any beer, and police showed up every day to confiscate their booze.

On the first day of the event, officers seized about 1,110 gallons of beer. And Ostritz residents did their part too. Shoppers including those shown here bought more than 200 cans of beer from the town's only supermarket, until there wasn't any beer left on the shelves. "We wanted to dry the Nazis out," said community activist Georg Salditt, A novel approach.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Some world records are worth setting!

A lot of world records are pointless, like the guy from Indiana who once broke 46 wooden toilet seats over his head in less than a minute. But this world record actually made the world a better place. A huge crowd of scuba divers from several states got together recently in Deerfield Beach, Florida, and tried to beat the world record for "largest underwater cleanup."

                                                                                                Mike Stocker / Sun Sentinel
In the shadow of the International Fishing Pier, they cleared trash from the ocean floor, and they all had to be in the water doing it at the same time. Since they were near the fishing pier, they pulled out about 1,600 pounds of lead fishing weights, along with an unknown quantity of trash. Someone from Guinness came down from New York City to witness the cleanup. The previous record of divers was 614, set in Egypt in 2015. The American final count was 633, so we won the World Record by 19.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Are most humans selfish, or honest?

What would you do if you found a wallet stuffed with cash. Would you keep it, or try to return it?A team of economists recently conducted a mass social experiment involving 17,000 "lost" wallets in 40 countries.

Most wallet drops were in public places in large cities, with about 400 observations per country. Each wallet contained no money, or a small amount of money, or a lot of money, along with a grocery list and the owner's business card. Overall, 51% of people who found a wallet with a small amount of money reported it, compared with 40% of those who found an empty wallet. When a wallet contained a large sum, the return rate was 72%. There were some surprising non-returns. Wallets dropped off at the Vatican, and at two anti-corruption bureaus, never were returned. But almost universally, wallets with more valuable contents were likely to be returned.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

How many college juniors do anything like this?

Aneesh Agarwal is a junior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "I was shocked," he says, "to learn than 10 percent of the population doesn't have health insurance, so that 30 million people across the country don't have access to good, quality, affordable care." He's been interested in social innovation for several years, so he created a phone app connecting people to their nearest affordable health care clinic.

He says many people are not aware of their healthcare options, so his Clinic Locater App introduces users to the free or affordable clinics nearest them. Clinics have to meet certain requirements to be on his app. Patients must never be turned away for inability to pay, or for whatever service they need. So far, his app has over 1,000 clinics logged across America. He was surprised to find so many.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Kelsey wants kids to have a fresh start

A 7-year-old girl in Fort Wayne, Indiana, set up a lemonade stand in order to help girls escape from human trafficking. And the idea was all her own. She set up her stand near her home, selling lemonade, Gatorade and water for $1 and donated her profits to Destiny Rescue. It's a Christian, non-profit organization that has helped save 4,000 children from sexual exploitation around the world since 2011.

She admitted her business started off a bit slow. "It made me feel happy, but then it made me feel anxious," she said, "I'm like uh oh, is this my only customer?" But customers soon arrived, and she was able to raise $472.04 to donate to the good cause. Her dad said "Its not something her mom or I asked her to do. This was all her idea."

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Bet this is what you'd have done

On June 10, Ryan Warren and Chantal Leroux won a 50-second shopping spree at Bragg Creek Foods, a locally-owned grocery store in a community south of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The prize gave them a little less than one minute to grab all they can from the shelves. Whatever they grab, they keep. Leroux immediately imaging lots of things for her own cupboard, but a few seconds later an idea came to her. "What a great opportunity to give!"

The couple decided to contact the Food Bank to see what was most needed. Then they walked through the story to figure out a plan. "We knew we had to go non-perishable," said Warren, "so we could X the meat aisle off our list." Just before 8 a.m., Warren started racing around the store. His first stop was baby food and diapers. After a frantic 50 seconds, he managed to snag $593.58 worth of grocery items -- all for the Food Bank.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Encore crumb from February, 2016

If you click the link at the end of this Crumb, you'll be in the town of Shintomi in the spring, where up to 7,000 people each day visit a carpet of pink flowers called moss phlox, planted around a private residence. Its not just the incredible color and fragrance that draw visitors. It's the love that planted each flower. The garden was originally a dairy farm owned by Mr. and Mrs. Kuroki, who married in 1956 and brought up two children. After 36 years of happy marriage, Mrs. Kuroki suddenly went blind. Convinced her life was over, she remained secluded inside her house and never smiled.

                                                                                 Facebook/ Shintomi Michiyakuba
Her husband was convinced she would smile again if she had at least one visitor each day. Then he discovered a pink flower which can be enjoyed not only by sight but also by smell. For two years, he chopped down trees and created a foundation for a garden which eventually surrounded their home. Now, a decade later, the garden draws visitors from near and far, and Mr. Kuroki can be seen walking around the property with his wife, who is always smiling. To see the couple and some of their visitors, turn up your sound and click on this link.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

This dad will never forget his Father's Day gift

Marvin Bowers of Renton, Washington, learned on Father's Day that his two step-daughters are changing their name to his. Jia Dennison, 22, and her sister Jazelle Dennison, 19, have had Bowers as the sole father figure in their lives for 12 years, ever since he started dating their mom, whom he married. "I forget he's my step-dad," says Jia. "He treats me and my sister like we're his own."

Jia and Jazelle surprised Bowers on Father's Day with a letter explaining that their last name would now legally be Bowers. What give Jia the final push to change her name is that she wants to hear the name Bowers (and see it on her diploma) when she earns her nursing degree next year. She'll be the first person in her family to earn a degree, and feels her step-dad deserves some credit.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Can a hug prevent suicide?

Officer Ron Little of the Chandler, Arizona, Police Department, showed up recently when a 26-year-old man climbed over a fence on an overpass, intending to jump down into speeding traffic on the Price Freeway. Little managed to talk him back to safety, by offering him a hug.

It happened on March 29, but the department just posted chest-cam footage online. First, Little radioed in and told everyone to stay off the bridge because he didn't want to scare the jumper. Then he told him his name, and offered to give him a hug if he climbed back over the fence. Little kept talking about the hug for about five minutes, until the man climbed back to safety. He got the hug as promised, and cried a little on the officer's shoulder. The video ends with them walking off the bridge together.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Raising Men Lawn Care Service

Rodney Smith, Jr., 29, was born in Bermuda and now lives in Huntsville, Alabama. He's visited all 50 states, FIVE times, thanks to his Raising Men Lawn Care Service Foundation. He travels from state to state, helping people with disabilities, or single mothers, or military veterans by mowing their lawns for free.

Hoping to inspire young men and women to make a difference in the world, he runs his foundation 100% by word of mouth on social media. He announces where he's going to be by uploading a selfie with a state sign. After that, requests and nominations flood in. He says people sponsor his hotel rooms and donate money to make his travel possible. He travels with his friend, Yuri Williams, who dresses up as Spiderman while visiting children's hospitals, and also mows lawns. (Thanks to a faithful reader for providing this crumb.)

Saturday, June 15, 2019

From custodian to principal

A faithful reader in Indiana shared this crumb. Newly-appointed principal Michael Atkins, 39, leads Stedman Elementary School in Denver, Colorado, the same school district where he originally worked as a custodian. As a child, he felt racial discrimination in his predominantly white schools. After graduation, he balanced raising his daughter with part-time college and a job in education. He applied to be a teacher's aide, but was offered a custodial position instead. He accepted it and enjoyed the work.

After receiving promotions and changing schools, he reconnected with a second-grade teacher -turned-principal who'd invested in Atkins and his family. She offered him a paraprofessional job. Soon, equipped with a degree and certification, he graduated to teacher and then assistant principal. He started as principal on June 1, vowing to bridge racial and cultural divides.

Friday, June 14, 2019

PB & J, seasoned with love

Eva Chapman of Daytona Beach, Florida, is only six years old. She recently found out one of her friends at school couldn't get enough to eat at home. Her school offers free hot lunches to kids who can't pay, but Eva worried they might go hungry during summer break. So back in April, she told her mom she wanted to have a food drive.

She wanted to collect jars of peanut butter and jelly, because it's one of her favorite things to eat. In less than two months, she's already collected over 1,000 jars from people as far away as Canada. And she's inspiring other people to do good. Her school principal says parents, students and other area schools have also started summer food drives. If you want to donate, you can mail jars to NextHome at the Beach, ATTN Nicole Chapman, 110 W. International Speedway Blvd., Daytona Beach, FL 32114.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Remember work-outs in gym class?

Rather than making kids run laps around a gym track, an alternative school in Dubuque, Iowa, is allowing them to earn PE credits by helping disabled and senior citizens. Instead of push-ups, they can do yard work for folks in the community who can't do it themselves.

The teacher who launched the program says he's seen a noticeable impact on the teens, as well as homeowners. "The students aren't typically too excited in the beginning," he says, "but once they get involved and start doing the yard work, they become more motivated. What they really like is helping people. They really like giving back to people and meeting the person whose yard they improved."

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

"Only God can make a tree."

Volunteers in India (including children and the elderly) recently planted more than 66 MILLION trees in just 12 hours in a record-breaking environmental drive. About 1.5 million people were involved in the huge planting campaign, in which saplings were placed on the shores of the Narmada River in the state of Madhya Pradesh.

India has committed under the Paris Agreement to increasing its forests by millions of acres before 2030 to help combat climate change. Planting saplings in the river basin increases their chance to survive. Volunteers planted more than 20 different species of trees.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

An Amish prayer for all of us

During twenty-five years in Indiana, I've made some dear Amish friends. Instead of building churches, Old Order Amish worship in each other's homes, or under a tent if weather permits. After hearing a sermon, the congregation sings German hymns without any instruments. An Amish man was at worship one Sunday when he saw a little girl singing. It inspired him so much that he wrote this poetic prayer.

It was just a usual Sunday, we were met with one accord, 
Gathered in the house of worship, singing praises to the Lord.
When my eye beheld a daughter of the great Eternal King
And my heart within grew tender as I watched that daughter sing.
Solemnly she held her hymnbook while she listened quite intent
To the preacher's earnest reading, line by line the old hymn went.
Then our voices rose together, lifting song into the air,
And she too was sweetly singing, gladly sending up her share,
Though the deepness of the meaning was beyond her childish mind;
And the number which was called for Mother dear had helped her find.
As I watched, my own heart smote me and I had to bow my head,
For I'd heard a mighty sermon, though not a word was said.
Many times I too can hardly understand God's how and why,
And deeper shades of meaning He has hidden from my eye.
Oh that I might go on singing like the little maiden here
Even though the way's perplexing and the next step isn't clear.
Oh, that I might pour my efforts into doing what I can,
Well content with my small portion of our Father's master plan!

Monday, June 10, 2019

Couple says "I do" in center court

Kari Bordner is a guidance counselor at Lawrence North High School in Indianapolis, Indiana. She's been dating social studies teacher Jeff Vest for about 15 years. Vest is retiring this year, so they decided to make their union official. In the school gym.

They decided to wed at center court on a day they knew the gym would be available, the last day of school this year. They didn't tell anyone until the night before, when they sent invitations. Kari wore a while dress, and Jeff appears to be wearing some sort of coaching uniform. Green shirt, shorts and sneakers. So definitely not too formal. There's a video of the ceremony, and it sounds like quite a few people were in the bleachers.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Teens: You can't live with them, and sometimes you can't live without them

Catherine Ritchie has lived in the same home in Sapulpa, Oklahoma, for 58 years. Recently she was getting ready for bed in the bathroom when she turned around and the head of her bed was burning. "It was covered with flames," she said. She tried to put the fire out, but quickly gave up and called 911, and also hit her emergency call button. Then things got worse. "The smoke was so bad I couldn't get out of my room. I felt along the wall and felt a door and walked into a closet by mistake. I finally did find the door.

Meanwhile, four teens a few houses away were "looking around for something to do." The boys, ages 14-17, went outside and smelled smoke. Then they heard a house alarm go off, and they jumped into action. They tried to break down the front door of Ritchie's home, but they couldn't. Then Nick Byrd, 14, managed to get through the back door. He ran inside and found Ritchie in the hall, lost in smoke. "The young man was right there," she said. "He picked me up and I said 'I can walk' but he said, 'We're getting out of here.'" Ritchie got outside safely, and so did the teens. Firefighters stopped the flames before they spread. Ritchie said she's very grateful, saying the boys "were just special, as young as they were."

Saturday, June 8, 2019

We're never too old to dance

London-born Suzelle Poole, 78, who now lives in Dallas, Texas, has performed all over the world, but she's still trying to improve her technique. She made her professional debut when she was ten, and continued dancing for 68 years, so far.

"My chin can always be higher and my toes more pointed," she insists. She still practices six days a week, while teaching up-and-coming ballerinas. She also performs at nursing homes for people who are older than herself and unable to go out. She believes everyone would benefit from being taught ballet, adding, "I'm always practicing and striving to improve."

Friday, June 7, 2019

Dancing with the Principal at the senior prom

When Helen Danis, 97, told her granddaughter, Julie Huddon, that she never attended a prom, 48-year-old Julie decided seventy years was long enough to wait. Helen said she graduated during the Great Depression. Money was short and she could not afford to go to her prom. Julie's son Evan was a senior this year at Pilgrim High School in Warwick, Rhode Island. After checking with the principal to make sure Helen could attend, Julie invited her.

Helen and Julie joined Evan and his friends as they rode to the prom on a trolley.  Later in the evening, Helen was named honorary prom queen! All the seniors clapped and cheered for her. Then they named school principal Gerald Habershaw honorary prom king, and he danced with Helen. Remembering her grandmother, Julie says, "She had a smile that didn't leave her face."

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Our first crumb from Ellettsville, Indiana

Megan Humphreys-Savell graduated from Bloomfield High School and has been taking classes at Ivy Tech Community College since 2017. In junior high, she was separated from her family and placed in foster care. She lived with two different families before her best friend's mom adopted her. When she got to high school, art teacher and painter Wyatt LeGrand inspired her to develop her hobby as an artist into something more. By her senior year, she was LeGrand's cadet teacher. She now works as a teacher's aide at University Elementary School in Bloomington and also at Taco Bell in Ellettsville.

Recently she was told she'd be in a training video. She stood behind the counter and took the order of a man pretending to be a customer. She then asked him if he wanted to "round his bill up to the nearest whole dollar and donate the difference to the Taco Bell Foundation scholarship fund. He agreed, but then changed his mind, asking, "Can I actually round that up to $25,000? Because that's actually how much we're awarding you today from the Taco Bell Foundation." Humphreys'Savell plans to use the award to pay tuition at Indiana University. She'll study art education, and plans to become an art teacher. She was one of only six Taco Bell employees in the United States to receive an award of that amount.

Monday, June 3, 2019

A "crummy" anniversary

This month, "Crumbs of Comfort" marks it's fifth anniversary. Since 2014, a crumb has been added to the blog almost every day. There are now 1,696 crumbs of comfort listed by date in the archive on the right side of this page. Feel free to search the list for titles that interest you. Over the years, Crumbs has received 128,487 page views from readers in the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Germany, Indonesia, Belgium, Portugal and Ukraine.
Back in a few days.