Monday, September 30, 2019

A community baby shower

Jonathan and Cindy Strawbridge live in York, Pennsylvania, and have a two year old son, so they know how expensive basics like diapers and baby clothes are.  Recently they put together 150 gift baskets, and gave them away to new moms and dads who are struggling or didn't get to have a baby shower of their own.

They call it a "Community Baby Shower" and they filled each basket with essentials, like formula and diapers. Cindy also attached personalized notes to every basket to let each mom know that "You matter. Your are loved, and so is your child."

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Teacher goes "the extra mile"

There's a 10-year-old girl in Kentucky named Ryan Neighbors who has spina bifida. She's been in a wheelchair her whole life. Her school  never lets her feel left out, but recently planned a field trip to the Falls of the Ohio. It would require hiking. She's had to skip similar trips before, but not this time.

Jim Freeman teaches in a classroom next to Ryan's. She's not even his student, but he volunteered to carry her all day, just so she wouldn't miss out. Ryan's mom has a special backpack her daughter can ride in, so Jim strapped it on and hiked all day with a 10-year-old kid on his back. He downplayed it, and said he was happy to help.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Is kindness really good for you?

Thanks to a $20 million gift from the Bedari Foundation, the newly-established UCLA Bedari Kindness Institute will support world-class research on kindness. It will create opportunities to translate that research into real-world practices, and serve as a global platform to communicate its findings.

Housed in the division of social sciences, the institute hopes to use its research to empower citizens and inspire leaders to build more humane societies. UCLA Chancellor Gene Block says "this will allow us to have a real social impact of future generations."

Friday, September 27, 2019

School custodian goes the extra mile

Hollie Beliew-Shaw shared this photo on Facebook of school custodian Esther McCool with Hollie's daughter Kenlee, who has autism, when Kenlee became overwhelmed by the noise in the school cafeteria (we all remember how loud they were!). Miss Esther, as she's known during her six years at Passmore Elementary in Alvin, Texas, joined the fourth-grader who had laid down on the stage and covered herself with a blanket.

"She saw that Kenlee was having a bad day and the noise was bothering her, so she just laid down with her," said Rachel Moore, a communication coordinator for the Alvin Independent School District. Kenlee's mom shared the heartwarming moment on Facebook to show the compassion and love school district employees show to their students.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Bikers like lemonade too!

In September, 2018, Daryn Sturch and her daughter Bryanne came across a bad accident involving several motorcyclists with the Milwaukee Iron Biker Group. Sturch is a nurse in Chili, Indiana, and felt compelled to stop and treat the injured. After leaving the scene, she reached out to the group on Facebook to check up on them. To her relief, all the injured bikers survived. Now fast forward to last month.

Sturch's daughter Bryanne had planned to lemonade stand. As soon as it opened, Bryanne was overwhelmed. Thirty bikers showed up to buy lemonade, including some her mom at treated at the accident scene. Sturch said, "It's a perfect example of how just because you don't look the same or dress the same or have the same hobbies and interests doesn't mean we don't have the same core values inside us. We shouldn't make assumptions about people. We should just love each other."

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

School bus driver loves her passengers

On his first day of kindergarten, Axel Johnson waited excitedly with his mother for the school bus. When it pulled around the corner, he fell silent, and when the doors finally opened, he began to cry. Axel's mother, Amy Johnson, was heartbroken to see her son in tears, but she didn't have to worry about him very long.

After Axel stepped on the bus, the driver, Isabel Lane, immediately reached her arm back from the driver's seat so she could hold Axel's hand. Touched by the gesture, Amy snapped this photo. Lane spent the rest of the bus ride chatting with Axel, and soon Axel stopped crying. Not only that. He has been eager to get on the school bus ever since.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Profile in courage: Charles Herbert Lightoller

Heroic hotel desk clerk

When Satchel Smith, 21, arrived for work at Homewood Suites in Beaumont, Texas, he expected to start at 3 p.m. and leave around 11 that night. That was until tropical storm Imelda flooded the area, leaving 90 guests trapped in the hotel. For the next 32 hours, Smith was the only staff, as flooded roads kept his co-workers from getting to work. Said one guest, "He manned the phones, answered our questions, made sure we had a cup of hot coffee or tea, and helped serve us a hot breakfast. He did it all with grace, kindness, and a beautiful smile."

He was chef, maintenance man, room service attendant and everything else, even without experience. When he resolved to try cooking, a guest helped him prepare breakfast. A few others helped prepare dinner, a simple chicken pasta with garlic bread. "Everyone seemed thankful for it," Smith said. So thankful that they noticed out the windows there were drivers stuck on the flooded highways. So Smith and the guests braved the flood to distribute food and water to stalled truckers. After spending three days together, Smith said, "It was basically like a big family." And all agreed he was a hero.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

A crumb from "Feel Good Friday"

The East Idaho News sponsors a program called Feel Good Friday. Readers submit tips about deserving neighbors, and the News visits one of them with recognition and a modest reward. Recently a reader sent them this email. "I have a sweet neighbor who hosts a lemonade stand every year and donates all her earnings to Primary Children's Hospital. This year she made more than $400 from all the amazing cookies she baked, and her lemonade. She could pocket all the money, but she chooses to donate it instead. She is such a great example to my own children."

The East Idaho News did some research, and discovered the girl is Kymber King, a ten-year-old who started her annual lemonade stand three years after a neighbor child was diagnosed with a fatal disease. Kymber made $100 the first year, $200 the second year, and $400 this year. The East Idaho News visited Kymber by surprise to thank her for her kindness. And she was thrilled (above) to receive flowers and several gift cards to stores where she likes to shop. She'll always remember this Feel Good Friday.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

School athletes object to bullying

14-year-old Cale Wrenn is a freshman struggling to make friends at Reidsville High School in North Carolina. Other students picked on him because he is short. He told his older sister they made him eat lunch by himself. She felt terrible, and put his plight on social media. Her post caught the eye of a few high school seniors.

According to Demontez Canada, a member of the high school football and basketball teams, "We decided to catch Cale off guard at lunch and eat with him, and show him around the school and make sure he was okay and give him a few friends. Cale was stunned by the students' kindness. He said, "It's really nice to know that there are people who care."

Monday, September 16, 2019

Maid of honor for Bridezilla?

Christina Meador, 38, was the maid of honor at her sister's recent wedding in Nebraska. Meador admits she just isn't a "dress" person, and hesitated to be maid of honor until told she could wear whatever she wanted. Since everyone would look at her anyway, she decided to have some fun. Without meaning to suggest that marriage should be extinct, and with the bride and groom's permission, she dressed as T-rex.

As you can see, other members of the bridal party word Converse sneakers and flip-flops. Meador bought the dinosaur outfit from Amazon for $65, and unlike a bride's maid dress, it did not require any alterations, but she wore a simple gray dress from Goodwill underneath, and removed the T-rex costume at the reception. She was afraid that if she danced in it, she'd hit someone with her tail. Meador said of her family, "We're not all about spending a lot of money on stuff."

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Better than meeting Mickey Mouse?

A Japanese photographer managed to capture the magical moment (below) when a train conductor stopped to show appreciation for his son. In a Twitter post, Yasuto Inagaki describes how his son, who adores all things locomotive, had been admiring the bullet trains at the Nagano Station platform.

The conductor of one of these trains just stepped off a newly-arrived transit car and saw the eager boy watching from the platform. The conductor approached the boy, gave him his had, and offered a cheerful salute. It seemed like a small gesture, but Inagaki said it meant more to his son than meeting Mickey Mouse.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Fourth grade teacher changes student's future

It was "College Colors Day" at Altamonte Elementary School in Altamonte Springs, Florida. In Laura Snyder's fourth grade class, one student has always loved the University of Tennessee, but he didn't have a UT shirt to wear, so he made one, photographed below by his teacher. He was excited in the morning, but crying at his desk after lunch, because some girls at another table made fun of his homemade shirt. Mrs. Snyder decided to buy him a UT shirt, but she never had to. After the picture appeared on Facebook, the university sent the school a package filled with UT gear.

And that's not all. The UT campus store turned his design into an actual T-shirt and already has over 50,000 pre-orders. All proceeds from the shirt will go to STOMP Out Bullying. And there's more. After speaking with his parents, the university has offered the boy admission and a four-year-scholarship. He'll be in the Class of 2032, and "College Colors Day" will never be the same again.

Friday, September 13, 2019

New 9-11 legacy firefighters

Anthony Jovic is shown below holding his baby son Matthew. The man on the right is Matthew today. He's in the newest class of New York City firefighters which will graduate September 24. Anthony lost his life while fighting fires on 9-11. Matthew is a "legacy" graduate. In fact, 13 of the students graduating this month are legacy grads -- children of first responders who died.

In addition to those 13, there are at least three more legacy grads, including the son of a New York Police Department officer. The class also includes two sets of siblings. One set is a brother and sister of two brothers who are already firefighters.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Teen honors our veterans

There's a veterans' retirement home in Washington, D.C.  It's called the Armed Forces Retirement Home, and last year disaster struck. Their bingo machine broke. It's like a small billboard with big number that light up so they're easy to read. Without it, many vets can't play, and the home couldn't afford a new one.

Then last June, 16-year-old Sarah Nordlinger found out about the problem and decided to raise money for a new machine. She started a GoFundMe page to raise $6,000 for a new machine and $2,000 for the home's community garden. In the first two months she raised about $1,700, but then the Washington Post did a story about it. After the story appeared, onations poured in, and at last count she's raised over $15,000.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

True sportsmanship

Fifteen year old Coco Gauff is too young to drive, but she made history last July as the youngest woman to reach the fourth round of Winbledon. Then she faced off against 21-year-old Naomi Osaka for the U.S. Open. Osaka defended her championship title with a victory, but after the match, she noticed that Gauff was emotional, so the Japanese champ insisted her competitor join her for the post-match interview.

Osaka recalls, "It was kind of instinctive. When I shook her hand I saw she was tearing up a little. Then it reminded me of how young she was. I thought it would be nice for her to address the people who came to see her play. They were cheering for her." Gauff added, "For me the definition of an athlete is someone who treats you like their worst enemy on the court, but afterward they treat you like a best friend. That's what she did."

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Today, as we remember 9/11...

Let's not forget that all American airspace was closed for several days. This meant that all planes flying to the States from Europe were suddenly diverted to Canada. Airports in Canada's major cities were overwhelmed, but for the airport in little Gander, Newfoundland, it provoked a miracle of kindness.

Gander was a town of 10,000 residents with two police officers. Its airport usually received only eight domestic flights each day. On September 11, 2001, 39 airliners carrying 6,579 passengers landed rapidly, one-after-another. Most passengers didn't know why their flight was diverted until after they landed. All had to spend that first night trying to sleep on their plane as 9-11 news trickled in. Little did they know it would be four days until American airspace reopened, but outside the airport, the people of Gander were opening their hearts.
As one flight attendant recalls, "Gander and surrounding communities had closed all high schools and meeting halls, converting them into mass lodging areas. Some had cots or mats and sleeping bags with pillows all set up, and high school students were required to care for their 'guests.' A convoy of school busses showed up at the side of our plane and passengers were taken to the terminal for processing. Our 218 passengers stayed at a high school in Lewisport. Families were kept together, while the elderly were taken to private homes. Food was prepared by local residents and brought to the schools. Bakeries stayed open late, making fresh bread for 'the plane people.' Every need was met for these unfortunate travelers. When they came back onboard,  passengers cried while telling of the kindness they received. Everyone knew everyone else by name and exchanged phone numbers and email addresses."

But the passengers on this flight did not forget the people of Gander, as you'll see if you watch the heartwarming 5-minute video linked here.

Monday, September 9, 2019

How dogs in the Bahamas survived Dorian

As residents across the Bahamas braced for Hurricane Dorian, the strongest storm in the island's history, one woman's preparations stood out. She opened her home to 97 dogs. "Seventy-nine of them are in my bedroom," said Chella Phillips on Facebook. "It has been insane. Poop and piss non stop, but at least they are respecting my bed and nobody has dared to jump on it."

As the dogs settled into her house, Phillips barricaded the outside. Neighbors and friends donated dog crates, which were helpful for "the scared ones and sick ones," she wrote. To calm the dogs, she had music playing in every room and air-conditioning was on high. Phillips says she does not mind the clean-up, as long as the dogs survive the hurricane.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Six-year-old demands female Army toys

Vivian Lord is only six years old. She lives in Arkansas, and one of her friends has a mom who's in the Army. Vivian didn't understand why none of the "little green men" in her Army toy set were women, like her friend's mom. So she complained about it in letters to a bunch of toy companies. Most ignored her concern.

But not Jeff Imel. He owns a small toy company in Scranton, Pennsylvania, called BMC Toys. After he read Vivian's letter, he designed some female Army toys and plans to release a whole set of them. Soon Vivian won't have to play with only little green men. She'll have little green women too.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Take me out to the ballgame

Catherine Kyle lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She's 99 years old, and has been a Pirates fan all her life, even though they haven't won a World Series in 40 years. She used to watch the games on TV with her late husband, and for her birthday, her family took her to her very first game. She went with 16 family members, including her kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids.

Before the game, she told everyone the part she looked forward to most was singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" for the seventh-inning stretch. The Pirates have not had a great season again this year. Their last in their division. But they came up big for Catherine by crushing the Cincinnati Reds, 14 to nothing.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Homeless need safety, and mobility

Julie Atkins, 58, is a freelance journalist based in Ashland, Oregon. In 2016 she took a road trip, and over the next two years lived among the homeless from Portland to Denver. She asked what they needed to get off the streets, and found some families with children living in abandoned school busses, where they slept on the floor and had no toilet, shower or kitchen.

Atkins learned that homeless families want "a place to live that is their own, and that's safe -- and they want to be mobile so they get better jobs." After meeting the homeless, she came up with the idea of taking retired school busses and converting them into nice, livable spaces with kitchens and bathrooms for working homeless families. She launched "Vehicles for Changes" about 18 months ago, and her first family moved into a converted, tricked-out "Skoolie" about nine months later.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Reading to children at bedtime

Two sisters from Delaware read children's books on their Facebook Live account every week night. Zaria Willard, 13, ad her 8-year-old sister Hailey visit their library to find books to read on social media. They have already garnered over 10,000 fans.

Both sisters love books, and know some children don't have access to them, and parents might not have time to read at night. They have been able to share their stories with over 100 listening children every night. "We presented this idea to my mom and she agreed it would be great," said Zaria. "She personally doesn't want us to be on social media, but we all agreed being on it in a positive way would help light the world."

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Living up to his name

Christian Moore was waiting in line for the doors at Minneha Core Knowledge Magnet Elementary School in Wichita, Kansas, to open one recent morning when he glanced aside and happened to notice second grader Conner Crites, 8, standing alone in a corner, crying. Conner has autism and felt overwhelmed by the first day of second grade.

Conner's mom, April, remembers, "Instead of overlooking him like most kids would have, Christian just reached over and grabbed his hand and made my son's day better." Christian's mom, Courtney, snapped this photo of her son's act of kindness and posted it on Facebook. It's gone viral.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Seeing the ocean for the first time

Many residents of Palestine live only an hour away from the seaside, but most have never seen the ocean, because they are unable to travel across the Israeli military border without a permit. That's why Robby Berman has coordinated a determined group of Israeli volunteers to cross the border into Palestine, pick up Palestinian families in their villages, and escort them back across the border to the beach at Tel Aviv. It's a day of fun that most Palestinian families will never forget.

Rabbi Jonathan Feldman, one of the volunteers, says, "I think Jewish values are to reach out to other people and have peace with our neighbors -- that's what we're striving for. We can say prayers for peace many times every day, but the first peace we need is with our neighbors."

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Crime scenes attract classical musicians

The Black String Triage Ensemble is a group of classical musicians who play music at Milwaukee, Wisconsin, crime scenes after law enforcement teams have left. Ranging in age from 11 to 75, the musicians hope that by playing music at the sites of gun violence and shootings, they can help ease the pain of nearby community members who are affected by the incident.

According to Ensemble founder Daybin Hallmon, "It's not necessarily so much for the family of the victims...but for everyone else in the neighborhood -- people who live next door, everybody that's in a space somehow devastated in some way by the impact of the crime." He hopes classical music will "sweep away the ashes" so neighbors don't carry them home.