Saturday, February 29, 2020

Raise your right hand

On February 26, Col. Andrew Morgan gave a nationwide Army enlistment oath to 1,000 new recruits while in space. The US Army Recruiting Command partnered with Space Center Houston to host the ceremony. Future soldiers from more than 150 locations tuned in to hear Morgan lead the oath from his position 250 miles above the earth on the International Space Station.

"I made the decision when I was 18 years old to raise my right hand just like you're about to do," Morgan said during the broadcast. "I am still a soldier. I'm just serving in space on the ultimate high ground." Military astronauts have participated in enlistment ceremonies before, but not on this scale.

Friday, February 28, 2020

A crumb from Missouri

In January, a business called Portrait Innovations closed more than 100 stores nationwide. Many customers who had paid in advance for pictures never received them due to the closure. One recently-shuttered photo shop was in a mall in Kansas City, Missouri. Brian Bononi was in the vacant shop recently doing work for the leasing agent when he noticed more than 160 photo prints and canvases stacked near the door. They were all from photoshoots celebrating graduations, baby announcements and family reunions, and they were going to the landfill since the store had closed.

"It was disappointing, especially because they'd been paid for," he said, so he received permission to take them home; find out who they belonged to, and deliver them. Since the Bononi family began this labor of love, more than 20 different orders have been delivered to grateful families. He has no plans to stop until every order has been fulfilled.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

A dog named Fred

A dog named Fred, who lives in Essex, England, catapulted to internet fame two years ago this May, when the 10-year-old Labrador decided to adopt nine little ducklings. Fred looked after his chicks at Mountfitchet Castle, a tourist attraction near the town. When the ducklings were discovered on the castle grounds, their mother was nowhere in sight. But then Fred took them in as if they were his own.

The nine ducklings love to ride on Fred's back and cuddle up to him when he sleeps in the dog basket at night. Knowing ducklings need to swim, he takes them to the castle moat for a dip, and swims himself! "He's got a lovely nature and grew up among rescued animals," said Fred's owner, Jeremy Goldsmith. So it was a natural step for Fred to take the orphan ducklings "under his wing, or paw."

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

An officer and a gentleman

It happened February 10 at Central Elementary School in Van Buren, Arkansas. A daddy-daughter dance was scheduled, but 8-year-old Avey Cox might not be able to go, because her daddy died over the holidays. When Cpl. Nick Harvey heard this, he took action as the school resource officer. Not wanting to be turned down by a second-grader, he asked Avey's mom first. When she agreed, he invited Avey to the dance and she accepted. She remembered, "I was excited because I never, never went and it would be my first time and I actually had been wanting to go."

Harvey wore a red tie to match her dress, and picked her up in his police car. The pair then met six of Avey's friends and their father-dates before enjoying a pizza dinner and riding to the school in a stretch limo. Afterward, they went out for ice cream. Harvey is the father of two daughters who are now too old for this dance, and admitted he embarrassed himself a little because, "I danced, but I can't dance." He added that Avey is "and awesome kid" and he hopes to escort her to all her future daddy-daughter dances.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

A crumb from Finland

After 47 years, Debra McKenna, 63, has finally been reunited with her husband's high-school class ring. She and Shawn McKenna both went to Morse High School in Maine, and he gave her his ring just before leaving for college. She lost it while washing her hands in a public ladies room, but they married anyway and had three kids before he passed away in 2017.

Debra said she'd hardly given the ring a thought until January 12, when Marko Saarinen, a sheet metal worker in Finland, appeared on the Morse High School Alumni Association Facebook page. "Hello from Finland!" he wrote. "I was metal detecting in deep forest and found this high school ring under a few inches of soil. It's engraved 'Morse High School 1973' with the initials SM. Is this your class ring?" Hours later, the group's administrator, Kathleen Nadeau, informed him that they had located the ring's owner, Debra McKenna. Debra has no idea how her ring got to Finland, but is amazed to have it back.

Monday, February 24, 2020

A crumb from Rome, Italy

Dino Impagliazzo, 90, is a master chef and makes delicious vegetable soup, but most of his "customers" can even afford to buy a bread stick. He is known as Rome's "chef of the poor." Three days a week, he and other volunteers make the rounds to food markets and bakeries for contributions from retailers who help him live his dream of feeding the homeless.

Volunteers help cook the food and serve it in several places in the city, mostly near train stations. "We try to involve more and more people so that Rome becomes a city where people can love each other," he says. On Saturday nights, they set up under a portico outside St. Peter's Square to feed the growing number of homeless who sleep in the area, near where Pope Francis has also opened medical and bathing facilities for them.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

The unexpected baby shower

Last November, Dustin and Caren Moore were flying home from Colorado to California with a baby they had just adopted. She was only 8 days old, and needed a diaper change, so a flight attendant named Jenny led the couple to a place to change their fussy newborn. She asked why they were flying with such a young child, and Caren told her "a shortened adoption story."

After they returned to their seats, another flight attendant named Bobby asked about their little girl. Five minutes later, Bobby came on the intercom and said "Ladies and gentlemen, there's a very special guest on the flight today. She's only eight days old, and she traveling home with her Mom and Dad. He then passed out napkins and pens for anyone who wanted to share a message with the new parents. The cabin filled with cheers and applause. People came by to congratulate the couple. One of the napkins read, "I was adopted 64 years ago. Thank you for giving this child a loving family to be part of. Us adopted kids need a little extra love."

Saturday, February 22, 2020

What would we do without cellphones?

Jim Angulo was driving to work on I-95 in Miami, Florida, one recent afternoon when he saw a flaming vehicle. "I looked left and right," he said, "and I saw 20 people with their cellphones taking pictures, but not doing anything, and I said, 'It's on me.'"

Angulo and another man bravely went toward the fire and hauled a man out of the truck's window. The unidentified motorist was rushed to hospital, while another victim received treatment from paramedics at the scene. Angulo denied he is a hero, saying, "If I were in that same situation, I hope someone would do the same thing for me. It's that simple."

Friday, February 21, 2020

High school seniors learn about love

As reported in the Washington Post, Melanie McCabe teaches at Yorktown High School in Arlington, Virginia. She's taught since 1999, and knows her students may eventually forget essays they wrote, but hopes they'll always remember a story she tells each year in February. Even seniors like to hear stores, and listen closely as she recalls being 11 and having a crush on a classmate named David. That year, on Valentine's Day, her class swapped Valentine's cards. One of hers was extra big, and it was from David. But when she opened it, he had written, "To the ugliest girl in our class."

The cruel card shook what little faith she had in herself for a long time. So after sharing her story, she invites her seniors to become 10 again, and have a Valentine party. She cuts pink paper into squares and invites each student to write something "positive and sincere" to everyone in the class. The results have been heartwarming. Ten years ago, for example, one boy wrote to a girl that he'd loved her since third grade, and they soon became a couple. And that's not all. Three years ago, a boy wrote that Ms. McCabe was the only one who noticed when he felt depressed, and he appreciated it. Over the years, parents reported that the senior party boosted their teen's self-confidence. But Ms. McCabe still remembers the year she received a Valentine that said, "To the Prettiest Girl in the Room." Everyone signed it, and it still hangs next to her desk.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Florida firefighters hailed for compassion

Capt. Dennis Noble and firefighters Joe Clark and Duane Norman were just a few of the first responders who rushed to rescue a family of four whose minivan had run out of gas while en route to hospital. Since one family member had a medical emergency, paramedics treated him on-site before transporting him to the hospital. But the rest of the family was left stranded on the side of the road with a quickly deflating tire, an empty gas tank, and no money to fill up.

Noble, Norman and Clark took it upon themselves to push the minivan a quarter of a mile to the nearest gas station. Not only that. They paid to fill the tank and fixed the leaking tire. The Hernando County Fire Rescue later published this photo of the Good Samaritans on social media, to praise them for their kindness.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Are we hard-wired for generosity?

Adults often respond to hungry people, whether through food banks or fundraisers, or by simply handing over their lunch. But how young does the spirit of giving start? New research by the University of Washington Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences finds that altruism might begin in infancy.

                                                                                                                        Kathrin Pienaar
In a study of nearly 100 toddlers who were 19-months old, researchers found that the children gave a desirable snack to a stranger in need, even whey they themselves were hungry. The findings not only show that young tots engage in altruistic behavior, but also suggest that early social experiences can shape that generosity.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

"How the Titanic became my lifeboat"

Brynjar Birgisson was 10 when he spent 700 hours over 11 months building a 26-foot long replica of the Titanic, using about 56,000 Lego bricks. Building the ship helped him challenge his autism. When he began the model, he was extremely shy and soft-spoken. Now 17, he stands of stages across the world telling his story and encouraging others to stretch their imaginations.

He's become known world-wide as "the Lego boy" and often tells how the Titanic and Legos changed his life. After touring Norway, Sweden, Germany and Iceland, the Lego ship has been anchored since 2018 at the Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, where more than 2 million visitors have seen it. His story is already the subject of a book, and is now told in a documentary at the museum. Titled "How Titanic Became My Lifeboat." The film will premier at 11 a.m. on March 7 at the Phoenix Theatre's Forge Cinemas. The screening is free, but reservations are required at 1-800-381-7670.

Monday, February 17, 2020

What happens to Super Bowl leftovers?

In past years, almost all the food left over from the Super Bowl went into a landfill, but this year Food Rescue US, Centerplate Hospitality and the NFL Green Initiative collected and distributed over 30,000 pounds of food to local Miami shelters with help from countless volunteers.

The effort began the Monday after the Kansas City Chiefs' victory over the San Francisco 49ers. Volunteers went to Hard Rock Stadium in Miami to collect, pack and ship massive amounts of food that remained from concession stands, VIP catered sections, suites and other areas. The rescued food included beef tenderloins, barbecue chicken, wings, ribs and charcuterie plates.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

A Valentine crumb from Spokane

For the last eight years, Seth Stewart, 29, has made sure that local widows, single women and military spouses in Spokane, Washington, are not forgotten on Valentine's Day. He and his brothers deliver single red roses to homes of women whose husbands are deployed overseas.

Stewart and his brothers generally deliver between 400 and 500 free roses every year with the help of a delivery driving team. But this year they delivered 700 roses to women across the region. They hope to deliver many more in the future, after witnessing the emotional impact it has on recipients. According to Stewart, "Every single year we do this, there are always one or two women who break down sobbing because it means so much to them."

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Follow-up on February 5 crumb

On February 5, readers were invited to send a Valentine card to a 104-year-old Marine veteran named William White. He served 35 years on active duty, and now lives at an assisted living facility in Stockton, California. One of his fellow residents launched a media campaign, asking friends, family and even strangers to send Valentine cards to White. They hoped he might receive 100 cards.

You can imagine his surprise when he was flooded with more than 70,000 love letters, greeting cards and well-wishes from all 50 states and several foreign countries. "It's just too fantastic," he said. "It's something I've never heard or seen. All of a sudden, like a ton of bricks. I'm sort of speechless."

Friday, February 14, 2020

One way to calm a frightened child?

Two Utah firefighters went above and beyond the call of duty to calm an anxious little girl who had just survived a car crash. Chief Hadley and Capt. Lloyd were some of the first responders to arrive at the scene. None of the drivers or passengers were seriously injured in the collision, but there was a screaming little girl who was "very scared" from the experience.

After noticing the child was holding bottles of fingernail polish, these two officers started talking to her about her polish and asked if she would paint their nails. Within a few minutes the child was calmly painting their nails and had forgotten about the accident she just experienced.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

If you were a vegetable, which one would you be?

People use their phones more than ever, but studies show that all age groups are lonelier than ever. So a new texting platform to spread kindness around the world allows people to send and receive compassionate texts from strangers.  "Text for Humanity" is the world's first texting switchboard, designed to fight social cell-phone isolation. "What if we could get unconditional love from the phone we love so unconditionally?" asks CMO Jonathan Bean.

He continued, "First, you send a text you would love to get, to a stranger. And in turn, you receive a text that someone in the world right now needs to hear. Because you're more open and honest with strangers, your words have the potential to be relevant and powerful. After all, we're all human." Users can send and receive up to five texts each day. Since the service recently launched across 23 nations more than 7,000 kind texts have already been exchanged.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Would you like your sandwich wrapped in fish skin?

A 23-year-old Briton has created a compostable compound she hopes will someday replace much single-use plastic, and it's made mostly of fish byproducts. Lucy Hughes created MARINATEX for her final project in product design at the University of Sussex. It's intended as an alternative to plastic typically used in bakery bags, sandwich packs and tissue boxes. "It's not necessarily plastic that's the problem," she says. "It's our overuse of, for example, single-use plastics that may be used only for 10 or 15 seconds before we throw them away."

After seven months of testing, she produced a flexible, translucent sheet that forms in temperatures below 212F, and which is stronger than plastic. MARINATEX biodegrades in four to six weeks in home compost, and does not contaminate soil. Best of all, you can eat it. And no, its doesn't taste like chicken.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

The math whisperer

Last month, a Welsh teacher waited with baited breath while his class of 30 students counted down together towards the moment when they could open the result of their math exam. When it came, a chorus of gasps erupted from the class of mostly minority, low-income and ESL students as they realized every single one of them earned the same score -- A+.

Francis Elive, a teacher at Fitzalan High School in Cardiff, Wales, has since been hailed as the "math whisperer" since he managed to guide each and every student to the highest possible grade. According to teaching assistant Jo Kemp, "We call him the math whisperer because he instills the belief that they have practiced the hardest math they will ever have to face, so why be scared of an exam? It's the belief that they absolutely can do it, and the children think it's magic."

Monday, February 10, 2020

How Hazel found her pawrents

Back in May, 2017, a golden terrier mix named Hazel escaped from her yard. "She was an escape artist," admitted owner Monica Mathis. Not long afterward, Mathis moved to Minnesota and gave up hope of ever seeing Hazel again. Meanwhile, Hazel headed south. Nobody knows how she covered over 1,000 miles to Manatee County, Florida, about 45 miles south of Tampa. In March, 2019, she was picked up by Manatee County Animal Services. Employees called the number on Hazel's microchip, but nobody answered, so they started looking for a new home for her.

To improve Hazel's chance to find a home, the shelter partnered with Microworks Brewing, to advertise dogs needing a forever home. The ad campaign went viral, and when it popped up in Mathis' Facebook news feed, she knew, "that's my dog." The shelter asked her to send veterinary records and photos to prove she had the correct dog. Then the shelter posted on it's Facebook page, "Hazel found her pawrents!" Since then, Hazel has headed back Minnesota.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Crumb from a reader in Indiana

Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi vowed to pay the adoption fees for more than 100 dogs if his team won the Super Bowl. The Chiefs did win, and Nnadi made good on his promise. That ended up being 109 dogs with an average adoption fee of $150.

Thanks to Nnadi's generosity, every single kennel at one of KC Pet Project's animal shelters is now empty. There are no dogs left to adopt. Celebrity chef Rachael Ray chipped in too. She offered a free supply of pet food for a whole year for every dog that Nnadi paid for.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Could you have an unknown twin?

Anais Bordier was watching YouTube in December, 2012, when she saw a video of an American actress who looked exactly like her. At first she wondered, "Who posted a video of me on YouTube?" The actress was Samantha Futerman, and Bordier used social media to learn more about her look-alike. She discovered they were both born on Nov. 19, 1987, in Busan, South Korea. Finally Bordier sent Futerman a message.

Futerman grew up on Verona, New Jersey, before moving to Los Angeles. She wondered why she got a message from someone who looked like her. "I thought it was cool that we could be twins," she said. After many visits on Skype, Fulterman and her family came to London where Bordier was living at the time. There meet-up was joyous and surreal. They were both amazed to find birth mates they never knew they had.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Homeless in Denver find rooms

A recent study found at least 5,755 homeless people in Denver, Colorado. So when a Quality Inn and Suites went up for sale, the president of the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless (CCH) bought the 139 room hotel for $8.4 million, using private, state and city funds. He renovated the property into Fusion Studios.

                                                                                                         D. Schroeder (CCH)
Fusion Studios now has 139 "microapartments" available to homeless men and women who come from shelters across the city, or even directly off the streets. Many tenants typically pay $100 per month, mostly from benefits such as disability payments. Each room has a private bathroom and kitchette, plus a bed, dresser, desk, chair, mini-fridge, TV, microwave and even a food pantry. According to Denver Housing Department head Britta Fisher, Fusion Studios is "practically instant housing."

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Here, kitty kitty

Otis & Clementine's Books and Coffee is a bookstore just outside of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. It just took an innovative approach to help people rescue homeless kittens. When you come into the store browse or read or drink a cup of coffee, you'll spot something unusual.

                                                                                             Otis & Clementine's Books & Coffee
Kittens! And lots of them! Playing around or napping among the books. When nobody is looking, a few kittens are often found reading Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat. Best of all, you can adopt any kitten you fall in love with in the store, and give it the forever home it deserves.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

An early Valentine's Day crumb

Retired Major Bill White is a 104-year-old Marine Corps veteran and Purple Heart recipient from California. He has enjoyed a lifetime of unforgettable experiences. He has collected objects and filled scrapbooks to remind him of special memories, and he keeps these books on a shelf, organized by year.

This month, he has a very special wish. He wants the public to send him Valentine's Day cards so he can make even more memories. "I'll save every one of them and they'll become a personal part of my history," he says. If you want to send him a card, address it to Operation Valentine, ATTN Hold for Maj. Bill White, USMC (Ret), The Oaks at Inglewood, 6725 Inglewood Ave., Stockton, CA 95207.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Nobody doesn't like pizza

Many in Australia are helping those affected by ongoing wildfires. Take Pierre and Rosemary Moio, for example. They own Pellegrini's Italian Restaurant outside of Sydney. The brother-sister team created a 338-foot-long pizza and then held a huge gathering to raise money for charity.
If you're keeping count, 338 feet is longer than a National Football League football field! The pie was cut up into 4,000 slices and the proceeds of the feast went to the New South Wales Rural Fire Service.

Monday, February 3, 2020

A new way to recycle volcanic ash

Many buildings in the city of Binan, Philippines, were damaged by a volcanic eruption on January 12. Since the volcano, a state-owned factory has made tens of thousands of bricks to rebuild those structures, and they are making the bricks from tornado ash, plus discarded plastic and some cement.

After the eruption, the mayor of Binan asked residents to collect the fine, grey ash deposited all over the city and place it in sacks which were then sent to the factory. "Instead of just piling up the ashfall somewhere, we are able to turn it into something useful. And it includes plastics, too," said city environmental officer Rodello Lee. So far, about $50,000 bricks are produced each day, all of which contain both plastic waste and volcanic ash.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

This is what you'd have done

As reported in The Christian Science Monitor, George Condash was visiting the ATM at a Michigan credit union when he discovered a box of cash marked "$40,000." Video cameras captured him putting the box of money into his car and appearing to drive away, but he was really parking to take the box into the bank.

Fortunately, the box didn't contain $40,000. It only contained $27,000. Apparently it was forgotten and left at the ATM by a security guard. The credit union was so thankful they made sure Condash got an undisclosed token of appreciation. "It's not mine and any honest person, I hope, would take it back in," he said.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Super Bowl? or Super Soul?

Social media personality Meir Kalmanson has taken the idea of a Super Bowl party to a whole new level. Three years ago, a chance encounter led Kalmanson to host a Super Bowl get-together for a group of homeless people in New York City. He shared his experience online.

People began messaging him about helping, or maybe hosting their own parties. This year, with a group of volunteers, Kalmanson will throw 20 such parties around the United States. They're called Super Soul parties -- a chance for strangers to get to know each other while celebrating. According to Kalmanson, "the most important part is making sure people know they're not alone."