Wednesday, October 30, 2019

School principal writes to Tooth Fairy

A Wisconsin first grader's lost tooth is drawing national attention. The student at Gillett Elementary School in Wisconsin lost his tooth, and then literally lost it during recess. He looked and looked for it, but it had fallen on the ground somewhere and could not be found. If he couldn't put it under his pillow that night, the Tooth Fairy would not know to visit him. Luckily, Gillett Principal Curt Angeli put in a good word with the Tooth Fairy, and wrote a letter explaining that the child actually lost his tooth.

Apparently the Principal's letter worked! The student came to school the next day and was proud to announce he received a dollar from the Tooth Fairy -- which is the going rate in Wisconsin.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Want to spend a night in a basket?

In 1997, the former Longaberger Basket Company built its headquarters in Newark, Ohio. Of course the seven-story office building was shaped like a giant basket, complete with handles. Now the "Big Basket" is being remodeled into a luxury hotel which will open its lid to guests next year.

The stately example of Palladian refinement is hailed by roadside America as "the world's largest basket," which make one wonder about the competition. How many building-size baskets are there in the world?

Monday, October 28, 2019

Roadblocks are often part of progress

Caitlin Kirby has faced rejection head-on. The doctoral student at Michigan State University says she's learned to embrace rejection. To prove it, she recently wore a skirt made from rejection letters she has received -- while defending her dissertation. She used 17 rejection letters from scholarships, academic journals and conferences. She said wearing her failures felt cathartic

The knee-length, handmade skirt was her way of remembering it had been a bumpy, five-year journey to get to that day. Committee members to whom she was presenting, and her professors, chuckled at her courage. She was grateful her skirt was well-received, and that her dissertation was accepted by the committee.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

See how much these students care

Life has not been easy for Megan Carr ever since the student who was mentoring her on the Brazoswood Belles High School Drill Team, Ravenne Dodge, suddenly died. No only did she lose someone she called "big sister," but her family moved from Lake Jackson, Texas, and she had to start all over at Dayton High School. After joining the new drill team, she told her teammates about the upcoming one-year anniversary of her friend's death. The students were so moved by the story of senior-sophomore friendship they decided to do something special in memory of Megan's "big sister," Ravenne.

Upon learning that Ravenne's favorite color was yellow and she loved sunflowers, Megan's new drill team all showed up at school wearing sunflowers and yellow clothes. They even decorated the locker room with yellow. But that's not all. According to Megan's mother, "Somehow, without my daughter's knowledge, the drill team was able to get THE ENTIRE SCHOOL to wear yellow on the same day in honor of Ravenne, even though they have no idea who she was."

Friday, October 25, 2019

Have band, will travel

It happened this fall in Michigan. When the Forest Area Schools didn't have enough students for a football team, they found themselves with a high school band which had no team to play for.  As fate would have it, neighboring Glen Lake school district had a football team, but no student band. The Glen Lake team then invited the Forest Area band to play at their game, and even though the young musicians had to drive an hour to get there, they jumped at the opportunity.

"I absolutely flipped. I was so happy, said a Forest Area senior band student. "It's my last year after playing for six years, and it's important for me to be able to be out there and show people what we can do." Despite being forced to play in the rain, Forest Area nailed the performance, and Glen Lake said they were more than welcome to return and play for more games.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Another "police action" that deserves coverage

When 6-year-old Hayden Williams was terrified of sleeping alone in his new bedroom, his mom Amanda tried everything, but nothing worked. Hayden refused to sleep alone for fear of being attacked by monsters he believed lurked in the new house. "He begged me to call the police," wrote Amanda a few months ago, so she took him to the police station hoping an officer could ease his fears.

She was concerned that officers at the Eldridge Police Department would look down on her for such a "silly" request, but Hayden was almost immediately befriended by Officer Bruce Schwartz. After hearing Hayden's story, he visited the family home to reassure him there were no villains hiding in the closets. His inspection was just what Hayden needed. The very next morning, Hayden awoke at 7 a.m. and proudly told his mom he made it alone through the night. Officer Schwartz returned that morning to check up on Hayden as his mom was snapping some photos. She published them on Facebook, adding that "It truly takes a village to raise a kid these days, and I'm beyond thankful that Officer Schwartz took time out of his busy day to come over and talk with Hayden."

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Public Library is now truly public

Until this month, 343,208 users of the Chicago Public Library (shown here) -- including 20% of all patrons under 14 years of age, could not borrow any books because they had run up more than $10 in late fees. Now the library has forgiven them.

And that's not all. The library has also declared the end of late fees. "We are taking a step in the right direction by helping our library system once again serve as a gathering place for the entire community, regardless of your financial status," said Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot. So far, Chicago is the biggest city to eliminate late fees. Phoenix, Miami, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. have already done so. What about your local library?

Monday, October 14, 2019

Away until October 24

Since the first "crumb of comfort" was posted in 2004, readership has grown. The blog now has over 2,000 page views each month, mostly from readers in the United States and Russia, but also France, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and South Korea. During five years, the blog archives has accumulated 1,831 crumbs, which can be easily accessed by date. If the archive grows much bigger, we may need to change the name to "Muffins of Comfort." Now it's time for a short pause. New crumbs will resume October 24. Until then, why not scan through the archives and share favorites with friends.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Here comes the spud patrol!

Idaho is known for its potatoes, and a surprise cold snap recently put the current harvest in jeopardy. While mosts farmers were able to collect their potatoes before the big freeze ruined them, one farmer in the town of Hamer wasn't able to take in all his crop in time.

In response, other farmers send their workers and "a ton of members of the community" showed up to save his hard-earned spuds. For example, a neighboring farmer named Jason Larson send about 25 employees. He estimates the full convoy of trucks from the community included nine harvesters. When the work was done, fellow farmers were able to save several hundred thousand dollars worth of potatoes. "There really wasn't a second thought about it" said Larson.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

The parachute wedding dress

Maj. Claude Hensinger was a B-29 pilot over China in WWII. In August, 1944, one of his engines caught fire and he had to eject from the plane. His parachute helped him land safely and provided a blanket and pillow until daylight. After the war, he returned safely to the U.S. and settled in his native Pennsylvania, bringing the parachute with him. As a civilian, he decided to look up his childhood friend Ruth. They courted, but when he kneeled to propose, he didn't give her a ring. He gave her his parachute.

Since it saved his life in wartime, he asked Ruth to make a wedding dress out of it.  Ruth was unsure what to do with the massive yardage of nylon, until inspiration hit her. She hired a seamstress to sew the bodice and veil. Then she designed and created the skirt from the parachute, using parachute cords to create ruching all around the skirt. Claude married Ruth in the Lutheran church in Neffs, Pennsylvania, on July 19, 1947, getting his first glimpse of the gown as she walked down the aisle. It was later worn by both their daughter, and their son's bride, and is now housed at the Smithsonian Institution as a significant item in American history.

Friday, October 11, 2019

It's love at first sight

An foundation called Canine Cell Mates runs a program with the Fulton County Jail in Atlanta, Georgia. Shelter dogs are cared for and trained by inmates for a period of two months.  The dogs mean the world to their temporary owners. Afterward, the chance of these well-trained dogs finding a home increases considerably.

Inmate handlers receive many benefits too. They learn responsibility by caring for a dog. They learn accountability in working towards a goal, and they experience the joy of unconditional love. The incidents of violent outbursts has shown a dramatic decline, and recidivism rates have shown a drastic improvement.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Last will and testament

Dennis Valstad (shown here) lived in Wisconsin. He owned a small dry-cleaning business and never got married or had kids. A few months ago he passed away at age 69. Nobody thought he was rich, but over the years, he'd saved half-a-million dollars. Then he got creative with his will.

He secretly wrote in his will that all half-a-million dollars would be divided equally to whoever showed up for his funeral. He didn't have a lot of close friends, so he figured it wouldn't be a large turnout. But over the years, he'd been extremely kind and generous to everyone he knew, and he underestimated how many people cared for him. In the end, 270 people showed up to pay their respects. Recently each mourner got a letter in the mail to let them know they were getting $1,800.

Homecoming proposal makes students cheer

In Altamonte Springs, Florida, two high school sweethearts got their whole class cheering with a beautiful homecoming proposal. David Cowan and Saris Garcia have been friends since they each were three years old. The teens both have Down Syndrome and first met in a speech therapy class, Now they are now upperclassmen at Lake Brantley High School.

As Garcia was performing a cheer routine at a recent football game, Cowan surprised her on the field with flowers, balloons, and of course the biggest question of the night! Video of their sweet moment has been viewed millions of times, and their parents say they're overwhelmed by everyone's support and well-wishes. (She said "yes.")

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Does anyone remember Charles Atlas?

Sometimes we're just in the right place at the right time. Not long ago, Lora Clark and her 16-year-old son Zac were in the front yard of their Butler, Ohio, home doing some gardening, until they heard a neighbor lady call out for help. Without hesitation, they both ran to her house where they found her husband (who wishes to remain anonymous) pinned underneath their Volkswagen Passat.

"I guess the jack broke. All I could see was his legs and he was struggling," said Zac. His mother added, "The car was pressing on his head and crushing his ribs." She felt there was no way they could lift the car, but Zac wouldn't give up. Positioning himself at the front near the hood, he managed to lift the car long enough for his mom and the neighbor's wife to pull him out from underneath. He was pretty messed up, but the doctors told Zac, "If you weren't there, he'd be dead." Zac said, "I just thank God for giving me the strength  to do that."

Monday, October 7, 2019

Pre-teens help police find missing woman

It happened recently in Roseville, California, where 97-year-old Glenneta Belford had "gone missing." Police posted a plea on Facebook while they searched for her in two neighborhoods. A team of five children decided to help. "I like helping," said Logan Hultman, 10, "except if it's with chores." Soon they spotted the woman not far from their homes. "All of us saw this lady walking around and we were like, 'Guys, that has to be her," said Logan.

The junior detective team called police, telling dispatchers where they found the woman. Belford was safe, and was reunited with her family. Police called the kids' actions "fantastic." Now the police department has a message for them. "We highly recommend this group of junior detectives give us a call in about ten years. Maybe we can give them a job." Logan replied, "I had no idea what my future would be until now -- a detective."

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Paying it forward, one dollar at a time.

Even a few bills can make a huge difference over time. When the staff at the Siesta Key Oyster Bar in the Florida Keys were brainstorming ways to help people in the Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian, they realize the answer was all around them. The bar has a tradition where patrons staple a dollar to the walls, or doors, or the bar itself, or any surface. It's a cool visual, but an even cooler donation.

The staff spent the entire month of September gently prying each bill off, and when all was said and done, they had accumulated $13,961 to donate. "You pay it forward," says the bar's general manager, Kristin Hale. "It gives it a whole new level of respect for what you do, when you have the ability to pay its forward."

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Cheerleader saves child's life

A woman near Dallas, Texas, named Nicole Hornback was out watching a parade with her kids last month when her two-year-old started choking. She tried giving him Heimlich, but didn't know how to do it on a small child, so it didn't work. But luckily, 17-year-old cheerleader Tyra Winters happened to see what happened from a float she was riding on in the parade.

She knew what to do, since she plans to be a pediatric surgeon someday, and took CPR classes in 8th grade. So she jumped off the float, grabbed the child, tipped him forward on his stomach and hit him on the back a few times. She saved his life. Once he was breathing again, Tyra handed him back to Nicole and ran off to jump back on the float so she didn't miss her ride. She treated her deed as "no big deal" and Nicole didn't even get Tyra's name until she reported the incident on Facebook. Someone at Tyra's school saw it, and Nicole recently met up with Tyra to say thank you in person.

Friday, October 4, 2019

The "subway soprano" from Russia

Emily Zamourka, 52, moved to the United States from Russia more than 20 years ago and was teaching violin and piano, but she fell ill and became homeless when she could not afford medical care. To earn money, she played her violin in Los Angeles, California, subway stations for donations, until someone tried to steal her violin and broke it. The only choice she had left was to sing for donations. That's when the Los Angeles Police Department tweeted a video of her singing opera in a station. It received over 880,000 views.

The Internet fell in love with her voice. A reporter tracked her down and she was shocked when someone told her she'd been seen on TV. Since then, she's found a place to live. Someone is giving her a new violin, and Grammy-nominated music producer Joel Diamond sent her an offer to make a huge, classical cross-over hit record by "the subway soprano." Two GoFundMe campaigns have raised over $90,000 for her, and she scored a gig at an Italian heritage event.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

The power of love

Amber Guyger was recently sentenced to ten years in prison for fatally shooting Botham Jean in his own apartment in 2018. She said she mistook the unit for her own and believed he was an intruder. Both Jean and Guyger's families testified at her sentencing. The victim's brother, 18-year-old Brandt Jean, spoke slowly and deliberately. "I don't want to say for the hundredth time how much you've taken from us," he said. "I think you know that. But if you are truly sorry, I forgive you. And I know if you go to God and ask Him, He will forgive you."

"I love you just like anyone else," he continued. "I'm not going to say that I hope you die, just like my brother did. I personally want the best for you. Again, I love you as a person, and I don't wish anything bad for you." Then, wiping a tear from his eye, he asked District Judge Tammy Kemp, "I don't know if this is possible, but can I give her a hug please?" Judge Kemp said "yes," so he stepped down from the witness stand and hugged her tightly, as the judge wept.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Students give classmate clothing

Today's crumb is contributed by a reader in Indiana. Michael Todd is a freshman at Martin Luther King Prep school in Memphis, Tennessee. He was being bullied because he wore the same clothes every day. He explained "My mom can't buy clothes for me because I'm growing too fast." So a football player, Kristopher Graham, decided to help.

He texted teammate Antwan Garrett, and the two found clothing in their closets to give Todd. They showed up with shirts, shorts, a pair of Garrett's brand new shoes, and more. Todd said he was completely shocked. "That was the best day of my entire life," he said.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

A crumb about Deputy Friendly

In Florida, Sumter County Sheriff's Deputy Friendly settles into a tiny chair once a week, opens a picture book, and begins to read. When he leaves, the book stays behind for the classroom library. His outreach program is for pre-school children at four elementary schools.

"So many times when we go in there, I ask if they're afraid of deputies or officers. You wouldn't believe how many raise their hands." And kids aren't the only scared ones. "Some of these deputies are scared to death to go read to the kids, but in the end they just love it." Once the kids have a chance to talk with Deputy Friendly, their fears disappear. "By the end of the year, they run up and hug you. And when they see us in public, they remember us and remember what books we read."