Wednesday, July 31, 2019

This crumb is truly wonder-ful

It happened in Moche, Peru. Thanks to security officers making it public, a video clip of Victor Martin Angulo Cordoba was flashed around the world via social media. It shows him doing homework under a street lamp because his home had no electricity. Then miracles began to happen. First, mayor Arturo Fernandez Bazan helped Victor's mother obtain paperwork needed to prove she owned her home. This proof is needed to legally install electric service. The mayor also delivered school supplies, supporting Victor's desire to stay in school and become a police officer.

That was a wonderful improvement, but the best was yet to come. Yaqoob Yusuf Ahmed Mubarak is a 31-year-old millionaire importer from Bahrain. When he saw Victor's picture, it reminded him of his own childhood, so he flew nearly halfway around the world to meet him and his family. When he arrived last May and saw the condition of Victor's home and school, he decided he would rebuild the home, adding a second story for bedrooms. He also promised to update the school's infrastructure. He added furniture and a new computer center in Victor's honor. He also seized the opportunity to support Victor's mother in starting a small business.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

A wheelchair giveaway

Ten years ago, Philip Pavone owned a pawn shop, and some of his old, motorized wheelchairs had not sold. So he placed an ad in the local Connecticut paper offering them for free. Within two weeks, he received sixty (60) letters from people who needed them.

"At that moment, I realized how many people out there were suffering," he said. Some who wrote to him had not been able to leave their homes for months, or years. So he bought, repaired and gave away four more used wheelchairs. Then he asked people to donate them, so he could repair them and give them away. Now his process of pairing recipients with their chairs culminates each year with a major event during the holiday season, when 100 chairs and scooters are given away free in a single day.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Back to school shoe giveaway

Carrie Jernigan too her 9-year-old daughter to a Payless shoe store in Alma, Arkansas, and to do some shopping. Her daughter asked a favor. "There's this boy in my class that loves Avengers tennis shoes, and his are two small. Could you buy him a pair?" Mom agreed, and on the way out, almost joking, she asked the cashier, "How much for all the shoes in the store?" Last February, Payless announced that all its stores in the US would close. The district manager called Carrie to say she could buy the store's remaining stock before it closed. She expect to buy about 350 pairs of shoes, to donate to folks who needed them.

When she returned to pay for them, she learned another shipment had just arrived, so instead of buying 350 pairs of shoes, she purchased 1,500 pairs. They only cost $21,000.00, and she decided to donate the shoes to local schools. "I wanted these kids to have brand new shoes to start school," she said. On August 10, she and a Baptist church will host a back-to-school event at the Alma Middle School gym where parents and children can get school supplies and a free pair of shoes just before classes begin.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Bringing "fun" to the kids of Syria

Until recently, kids in war-torn Syria who had skateboards rode them sitting down. They'd never seen anyone stand on a board, until now. Right across from the Qudsaya school near Damascus, a bunch of strangers suddenly appeared recently and began digging in the rubble. Says one, "Every day on breaks or after school, hundreds of kids would swarm around, trying to figure out what we were digging. At first they assumed we were soccer players because, to them, white people play soccer. We had to sign a lot of autographs, and we put up signs that told what we were doing."

These men were building the first skate park in Syria, made with cooperation from Skate Aid  and SOS Children's Villages of Syria. The park is open now, and as you can see from the photo, kids are eager to stop thinking about the horrible conditions they've been through and start having fun again. Foreign activists from around the world volunteered to help build the park, and are willing to train Syrian kids on skateboarding. Said one 12-year-old proudly, "I fell lots of times when I first tried standing on my skateboard, and it hurt. But now I know how to do it."

Friday, July 26, 2019

The statue of liberty and McDonald's golden arches

U.S. authorities, unable to house a surge of asylum-seekers at the Mexican border, have dropped of thousands of immigrants in one of the poorest towns in one of the poorest states -- Deming, New Mexico.  When the first busload was dropped off at the Deming McDonalds on Mother's Day, town residents took the invitation on the Statue of Liberty to heart. "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be breathe free."

Within 24 hours after the first immigrants arrived at the golden arches, the town converted an empty WWII airplane hanger on the fairgrounds into a migrant shelter, filled wall to wall with cots and piles of donated diapers, toiletries and clothing for migrants who often arrive hungry and have not showered for weeks. "We don't even discuss the politics of it here," says Chris Brice, who runs the shelter and is also Deming's jail warden. "They're here legally and they're human beings, so we're going to make them as comfortable as we can until they finish their journey. We give children information so they're not afraid. They've never seen a bus station or an airport before. We sometimes help them tie their shoelaces."

Among the migrants, Betsy, her husband, and their two children, ages 2 and 7, are thankful for a child-friendly space in Deming. She said drug traffickers took over her country, Honduras, and wanted her to distribute drugs. Her family refused and her brother was killed. She didn't want her children killed, so they walked for two months to reach America, struggling for food and shelter along the way. Brice says some migrant mothers pulled off astounding feats of courage. "We had a mom who has a paraplegic 12-year-old daughter, and carried her all the way in her arms." There have been few complaints from Deming residents since the first week. Some have taken migrants into their homes, and Deming churches are also providing shelter. Said one resident, "I have a lot of personal thoughts about it, but when I see a mother with a son who's having a seizure because he has a 103 degree temperature, that's going to hit you. We as Americans are just, and we're going to have an outpouring of being able to help these people."

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Remember your 8th grade teacher?

Amonte Green does. Kate Demory was his 8th grade pre-algebra teacher at Glenridge Middle School in Orlando, Florida, during the 2014-15 school year. Because he started late in kindergarten and was held back in 7th grade, he celebrated his 16th birthday in 8th grade. Soon after he left Demory's class, his mother died. He dropped out of high school in 11th grade to work full-time at fast food restaurants. He bounced around group homes; got in a fight, and was sent to jail. While in jail he kept in touch with Demory, and when released, he told her he didn't have any family. She and her husband Craig Russell, who is a coach at Glenridge, retrieved his belongings from a group home and let him move in with their family.

On June 30, Demory launched a GoFundMe campaign, raising money for Green's housing, his 16-week high school completion program, a bus pass and a phone. One person donated $500 and offered Green a landscaping job, where he now works. He loves his job. In August Green will move into his own place. He says, "I can finally say I have a stable place where I'll be staying, and it's a big relief. Miss Demory has always been a mom to me."

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Unmarried man has 33 kids

Dale Schroeder of Iowa never found Miss Right. So he worked 67 years as a carpenter. He never made much money, but he saved it. Friends said he only owned two pairs of pants, "work jeans and church jeans." Before he died in 2005, he asked a lawyer friend to help him do something useful with his life savings. He had saved up three million dollars. He always wished he could have gone to college, but couldn't afford it, so they used the money to set up full scholarships for other small town Iowa kids who can't afford college. He ended up paying for 33 teens he never met to attend college free.

They call themselves "Dale's Kids," and all 33 got together recently to share stories and talk about how his generosity transformed their lives. One of them is Kira Conard. As the youngest of four children in a single-parent household, she wept four years ago when told that she'd benefit from Dale's gift. Now she's graduated college debt-free, and plans to start a career as a therapist. "For a man who never met me to give me basically a full ride to college, that's incredible," she said with tears in her eye

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

A Red Sox game he'll always remember

Sean Wetzonis, Pedro Lugo, Francisco Rios and one of their pals had tickets to see the Boston Red Sox play the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park in Boston recently, when a family emergency prevented their pal from joining them. On the way to the park, they tried to decide who should get their extra ticket. Lugo said he wanted someone who would appreciate the ticket and have the time of his life. As they were passing a homeless man named John, they gave him some money and asked if he'd like to see a Red Sox game. He said, "Hell Yeah, let's go."

The young men happily escorted John to his seat and bought him a beer to enjoy during the game. As they all cheered from the stands, John seemed to enjoy the atmosphere of the stadium. Before he left, he shook hands with his three new friends. "He thanked us for everything," said Lugo. "Maybe the game helped alleviate the stresses that come along with being homeless. -- at least for a few hours at the game."

Monday, July 22, 2019

Former foster child knows a boy needs a dad

Barry Farmer, 32, is a radio host in Richmond, Virginia. He grew up in the foster care system, so he always had plans to adopt a child someday. He never expected fulfill that plan when he was only 21 years old, and with a white child. But that's what happened. He was 21 when his foster care license was approved and he fostered 8-year-old Jaxon, who he soon adopted. After growing up fatherless himself, he says "Being a father means everything to me."

In 2013 and 2014, Barry met Xavier, 11, and Jeremiah, 4, who were both in foster care, and by 2015 he adopted both, giving Jaxon an opportunity to be a big brother. As a dad now with three sons, Farmer says it's important not to forget older children who are up for adoption. "I always say our children in foster care are like diamonds in the rough. Even if you find a diamond in the dirt, it still has value. Once you take that diamond and polish it and put it in a safe place, you begin to see how beautiful it is."

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Another reason to do lunch at Chick-Fil-A?

A manager at a Chick-Fil-A in Severn, Maryland was quick to help when he saw that a regular customer needed more than a chicken biscuit and coffee. Earlier this month, manager Daryl Howard was taking orders when a 96-year-old WWII veteran known to all employees as Mr. Lee came to the register and said he had a flat tire.

Mr. Lee said he barely made it to the store on three tires because one was so bad. Lee was able to park, but had no one to help him change the time. That's when Howard told the staff he needed to help this customer immediately. He jumped into action with hesitating. It took him about 15 minutes to change the tire, and he didn't know someone had taken pictures until later. Mr. Lee came back the next day and was very grateful.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

If we couldn't welcome them back, maybe we can send them off.

Several hundred people gathered at a cemetery in Niles, Michigan, recently to lay to rest a man most of them never knew. About a week ago, Brown Funeral Home (which provided this photo) asked the public to attend services for Vietnam veteran Wayne Wilson, 67, who had no close family. They expected about a dozen people to attend, but word spread far and wide on social media. A large crowd gathered, and more than 150 motorcycle riders led a procession to the cemetery.

In his remarks, Pastor Mike Smith of Niles told the crowd they had gathered "because you refused to let a warrior be buried alone." Someone who knew Wilson said he was a proud veteran, but reluctant to talk of his experience in the service. He'd alway been troubled by public scorn Vietnam vets received when they came home from combat. If we couldn't welcome them back, maybe we can send them off."

Friday, July 19, 2019

Let's hear it for Delta Sigma Theta

Around 16,000 people attended to a big convention of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority in New Orleans, Louisiana, this month. Delta Sigma Theta is a historically black sorority started at Howard University 105 years ago. Everything was already paid for, but the convention was cut short and the girls (including those shown below) had to pack up and leave before the arrival of Hurricane Barry.

Centerplate Caterers still had many pre-cooked meals ready for delivery when the convention ended early. Instead of wasting them, Delta Sigma Theta donated all 17,000 meals to help hurricane victims. Since they were prepped ahead of time, before the storm hit, they were ready as soon as people needed them. A spokesman for Second Harvest Food Bank, which distributed the meals, was impressed that when the convention was cancelled, the first thing the girls thought about was helping people.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Her pitching is bad, but she's still a winner

A minor-league baseball game was played recently in York, Pennsylvania. It was dedicated to troops serving abroad, and local resident Jennifer Miller was invited to throw the first pitch, in honor of her son Shane, who's been stationed in Okinawa with the Marines for the past two years.

She threw the ceremonial pitch, and it was not a good one. The catcher began walking toward her, and she was ready to apologize for such a bad pitch when he lifted his mask, and it was Shane.Afterward she said she'd seen a lot of surprise reunions and secretly wished it would happen to her, but she never expected it. Best of all. Shane's tour is over now and he's home for good, so they'll be seeing a lot more of each other.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Who needs a gym when you can do this?

A little after midnight recently, three teens were on their way home when they noticed steam billowing from under the hood of a car stopped along Highway 20 in Fonthill, Ontario. Aeron McQuillin, Bailey Campell and Billy Tarbett are all car buffs, so they looked under the hood and told the woman driver she needed a new motor, and she should not start the car. She was upset, and told them she did not have any money for a tow.

That's when Billy suggested they push the car to the woman's home in Welland, since it was only four miles away. The teens grabbed their water bottles and pushed her Chevy Cobalt up a hill, and then two hours down the dark Merritville Highway, laughing, joking and appreciating the great "workout." Another stranger, Niagara Falls resident Dan Morrison, saw what the teens were doing and went into "Dad mode." He drove along behind them with lights flashing, to keep them safe. The rescue mission ended at four in the morning. Said 18-year-old Aeron, "this is something we can look back on in ten years and say it was crazy, but it was worth it."

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Do your children have trouble with standardized tests?

Delta flight reveals kindness

Ashley Ober, 16, flew recently from her home in Maryland to a conference at Rochester Institute of Technology National Technical Institute for the Deaf. She is deaf, and she had only flown alone once before. For her first flight, her mom Lynn took her onto the plane, and another family member picked her up. This time she wanted to be independent, and go through security by herself. When she finally boarded the Delta flight, something surprising happened.

One of the flight attendants gave her a hand-written note. Here's what it said. "Good morning, Ashley. My name is Janna and I will be your flight attendant on today's flight to JFK. There are two buttons above your head. A yellow one that controls the reading light, and a big gray one with a person on it that you  can use to call me if you need anything. In case of emergency, the nearest exit is behind you. Please don't hesitate to ask if you need any assistance. Again, my name is Janna and welcome aboard our aircraft."  Ashley took a picture of the letter and sent it to her mom, who wrote, "Accessible communication can be difficult for the deaf community. It's great when someone gets it right."

Monday, July 15, 2019

Need a muffler? Consider Midas.

A 9-week-old kitten recently found her way into the subframe of a 2000 Honda Accord in Lexington, Kentucky. She became trapped in one of the holes, and was carried (hidden beneath the car) from Lexington to Frankfort, where she was discovered -- still stuck. When the driver stopped for lunch, the trapped kitten was spotted by the manager of a Hardee's restaurant. A concerned employee contacted local firefighters and the nearby Midas auto shop for help to free the feline.

A Midas mechanic posted this photo and wrote on Facebook, "After an hour of rear subframe removal, a Lexington fireman and my lead tech and I, with some soap, sweat and prayers, were able to extract the kitten." Though tired and frightened, the kitten was alright. The Midas workers named her Marigold, and she's now starting her new life with an adopted family.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

A silent standing ovation

An autistic student graduated from high school in New York last month. Now a video of him getting his diploma has gone viral because the crowd gave him a silent ovation. Jack Higgins lives about 50 miles north of New York City. He has severe autism which makes him very sensitive to noise. He wanted to walk across the stage like other grads, but was worried about crowd noise. So he did some practice runs with his teacher, where he'd plug his ears with his fingers. Then the principal ran an idea past his parents.

Before Jack walked into the gym, the principal asked other students to be totally silent for him. And the entire gym of teenagers actually stayed quiet for four minutes. In the video, Jack goes on stage, gets his diploma, and fist-bumps the principal. Then, on their own, his classmates rose to give him a silent standing ovation. Jack's principal says it's the most remarkable thing he's seen in his 31-year career.

Friday, July 12, 2019

"Did order a sofa in my sleep?"

That's what San Diego, California, mom Isabella McNeil wondered when she received an alert on her phone that "your couch is shipped." But no, she wasn't sleep-ordering. A few days before, she'd been thinking of a new sofa and browsing through options on Amazon, on her cellphone.

                                                                                                            NBC 7 San Diego
While she was browsing, her 2-year-old daughter Rayna walked up and said, "Mama, phone. Mama, phone," so she handed the phone to her daughter. But she left the Amazon app open, and while Rayna was playing with the phone, she pressed the "Buy Now With One Click" button. Just like that, she bought a $430 tufted gray couch! Lessons learned? Isabella urges parents not to let children play with their phone unless all the apps are closed, and all the passwords are finger-print locked, "because kids are a lot smarter than we think," she said.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Is it okay for a man to cry?

In case nobody liked his poems, Robert Frost also had a day job. He was a farmer, but not a very good one. On December 22, 1923, he realized he had no money to buy his children gifts, so he gathered some farm produce, hitched up his horse, and took a wagon load to town to sell. No one bought anything, and as he returned home penniless, a sense of failure overwhelmed him. He could not tell his family the bad news, so he stopped the horse and "bawled like a baby." Eventually his horse, Eunice, jingled her bells and he pulled himself together.

He said later, "A man has as much right as a woman to a good cry now and again. The snow gave me shelter; the horse understood and gave me the time." Frost's daughter Lesley agrees his ride home from town inspired the poem which made her father famous. It first appeared 96 years ago in The New Republic. Perhaps you remember. "Whose woods these are I think I know. His house is in the village though; he will not see me stopping here to watch his woods fill up with snow." Lesley said it was her father's favorite poem.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

When a bus stop is also a bee stop

All 316 bus stops in the city of Utrecht, Netherlands, are buzzing with activity. They've been given green rooftops covered with sedum plants. Not only are the succulents good for improving air quality, they also help support the dwindling bee population. And they store rainwater, and provide a cooling environment in summer.

But wait. There's more. Sedum roofs are just one way Utrecht is improving its public transit. During the next few years, solar panels will be installed on every bus stop. And last February. town fathers announced they are replacing their current transit vehicles with a new fleet of electric busses.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Another police "incident"

Sharon Markle, of York County, Pennsylvania, suffers from arthritis in one knee and it's been bothering her lately. Even so, she was recent spotted on a very hot day trying to mow her lawn. She didn't think she was breaking any laws, so she was concerned when West York Borough Police Officer Bridgette Wilson pulled over to the curb by her house. The officer got out of her car and approached Sharon.

Officer Wilson told Sharon, "I'm taking over." Sharon asked, "Are you sure?" Wilson said, "Yeah, go sit down. Your face is flushed."  Then the officer mowed the lawn. Sharon said, "I've never had anybody really do anything like that for me -- just come in and take over. She's awesome." After the lawn was mowed, Sharon asked Wilson if she owed her anything. Wilson said, "just a smile," as she drove away.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Love is truly timeless

John and Phyllis Cook were the talk of the Kingston Residence in Sylvania, Ohio, recently. They'd been dating about a year when they got their marriage license. The two lovebirds each have lost two spouses. John recently turned 100 years old. His bride will turn 103 on August 8. (Her mom lived to be 106.) Their friendship blossomed over the past few months, and since she's a devout Christian woman, she felt it was right to tie the knot.

The Cooks spend their days with each other in the assisted living facility, but they understand the importance of having their own space. "We keep both our apartments," says Phyllis. "He's upstairs and I'm down." But there is still a big spark when they spend time together. When John was asked what is their favorite thing to do together, his response was, "Well, maybe I shouldn't talk about that."

Sunday, July 7, 2019

The ideal airline passenger

Seven-year-old Landon recently flew from his mom's home in Las Vegas, Nevada, to visit his father in Portland, Maine. His mother, Alexa Bjornson, was concerned for her son's safety, so she wrote a note for Landon to give to whoever sat next to him on the plane. It explained how he had high-functioning autism and might often ask, "are we there yet?" She reassured the reader that even if he was nervous during take-off, she'd packed snacks and games to keep him busy. She ended, "If you could find it in your heart to make him feel comfortable and safe, I'd be forever grateful. And she enclosed a $10 bill.

When Landon's plane landed in Portland, his mom received a text message from Ben Pedraza, who sat next to Landon on the flight. When Landon gave him the note, he was glad to help. He told Alexa how he and Landon chatted, and played several games of rock-paper-scissors. They also played video games and cracked jokes. After taking this selfie for her, he said it was a pleasure to help Landon, had donated the $10 to the Autism Society in Landon's name.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

A romantic rugby player

Mark Raby, 52, plays on an amateur rugby team in England. They recently got invited to a tournament in Poland, but it coincided with his 30th anniversary, so he planned to stay home and spend the time with his wife Julie. But she told him it was okay to go. He'd be returning ON their anniversary, so she'd pick him up at the airport and they'd go out for dinner or something.

But Mark knew it was an important day to Julie, so he coordinated with the airport and had 30 red roses delivered. After their plane landed, each of his teammates walked out  of the gate with a single rose...handed it to Julie....kissed her on the cheek...and walked off. Mark was the last to deplane, with the 30th rose, and she was wiping away tears even before he gave it to her.

Friday, July 5, 2019

World's largest anniversary card?

On the 150th anniversary of American Independence, the United States received a birthday card from the people of Poland. Today it's preserved in the Library of Congress. The Polish Declaration of Admiration and Friendship was more than a Hallmark moment.

                                                                                                                   Library of Congress
It was presented to President Calvin Coolidge in 1926, partly in gratitude for American aid during the Great War. It has 30,000 pages (extra postage required) which are rich in color, history, pressed flowers, drawings from famous Polish artists, and notes from military and business institutions. It was delivered in 111 volumes, and signed by (are you sitting down?) 5.5 million Polish people.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Camp Fire hero gets "burnt" car

Allyn Pierce is an ICU nurse  at a hospital in Paradise, California. Last year, he risked his life to save his patients from the Camp Fire, the deadliest wildfire in state history. He used his Toyota Tundra to shuttle patients to safety when the fire got near the hospital. He drove back and forth many times. The flames got so close that his doors were charred and his tail lights melted.

When Toyota heard about his heroism, they decided to replace his truck with a brand new Toyota Tundra, but only after they made a few modifications. They added a heavy-duty roof rack, bigger tires, a lift kit, and an on-board CO2 tank. And here's the best part. His charred doors had become like a badge of honor, so they gave the new Tundra a custom paint job to recreate the original look.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

It's high time July 4th went to the dogs

For dogs who are sensitive to loud noises, July 4 isn't very thrilling. Fireworks can cause them to cower under a bed or even run for the hills.  As for shelter dogs who don't have homes, they can only cower in their cages until the firework blasts are over. But one shelter has a genius idea to help their homeless pups.

"Calming for Canines" at Maricopa County Animal Care and Control is a new July 4 tradition, proving the kindness is patriotic. Last year, 300 people from the community showed up at the shelter's two locations around Phoenix, Arizona. "It was overwhelming to see how the community responded," said Ben Swan, the shelter's development director.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Another Chick-Fil-A hero

Logan Simmons was working a shift at the Chick-Fil-A restaurant in Hall County, Texas, recently when he heard a distressed mother calling for help from the drive-thru lane. The woman was in the driver's seat of her car, and her 6-year-old son in the back seat had gotten the seatbelt wrapped around his neck. His face was quickly losing color.

When Logan heard the screams for help from the drive-thru window, he jumped out of the window and rushed over to the woman's car. He climbed into the car and used his pocketknife to cut the boy free from the seatbelt. The frantic mother was overwhelmed with gratitude for the teen's fast action.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Running barefoot ahead of a tornado

Megan Parson, 25, is a fourth grade teacher at Celia Hays Elementary School in Rockwall, Texas. Classes had just dismissed for the day when the principal's voice came over the loud speaker, telling students there were tornados nearby and they should assume the necessary safety position against the walls in the hallways.

                                                                                                                             Marni Cohen
As students crouched down with their hands over their heads, Parson knew there were already students outside who were waiting to be picked up by their parents. She tossed off her shoes and rain barefoot ahead of a tornado to warn students and their parents to take cover. She says she did not realize the tornado was so close to the school until she saw the now-viral picture one of the parents took of her safety mission.