Thursday, April 30, 2020

Wedding on the friendliest street in town

An hour before she was to marry her fiance in the middle of the street recently, Amanda Mason, 33, walked out of her house on Walter Street in the Southeast section of Washington, D.C., to find big hearts drawn in chalk all down the sidewalks. House plants were arranged to form an alter where she and Aaron Meyers, 34, would hold their wedding ceremony. A few days earlier, Walter Street's unofficial "mayor," Colette Marchesini gave out poster board for neighbors to make signs to place in front of their houses. She declared the street closed from 6:30 until 7 p.m.

Fifty-some wedding guests were patched in to the ceremony over ZOOM, including Meyer's father, who officiated from his home in Northwest Washington. Neighbors donned masks to help celebrate in person. Meyers reminded them to stay at least fix feet apart. "It was phenomenal," Mason said of ow everyone pitched in to make their ceremony full of joy. And the residents of Walter Street had so much fun that they're considering putting on another event soon -- a socially distant prom.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

What does a spider brides wear? A webbing dress.

Callaghan McLaughlin is only six, and he was looking forward to starting his own lemonade stand, but since the pandemic put his world into quarantine, he had to improvise. Rather than stay indoors, he decided to spread joy in his community by setting up a "drive-by joke stand," so he could make his neighbors laugh while respecting social distancing guidelines.

His mother says Callaghan has been using one-liners from a kid's joke book she bought him six months ago. He sets up shop every morning at the end of his driveway in Saanich, British Columbia, Canada, and stays at least an hour before a long lunch break. He returns in the afternoon for another shift. He says he's offering jokes for free because he wants people to save their money for more important things, like groceries. So, are you ready? What kind of books do cows read? Cattle-logs.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

School principal honors graduating seniors

Poplar Springs High School in Graceville, Florida, has 30 students graduating this spring. Principal Farica West was broken-hearted that her students are being forced to spend the remainder of their senior year in isolation, missing their prom and graduation. After brainstorming ways to spotlight the grads, she contacted the school photographer who took all their senior portraits.

She had all the portraits enlarged, printed out and posted on both sides of the school's road, where they can be seen smiling at the drivers passing by. The students were particularly touched by this gesture. "I pass my school every day I go to work, and every time I look out there I get to see our faces out there on the drive. So it's definitely something that gives you comfort," said one senior.

Monday, April 27, 2020

It's a small world, after all

Kjetil Njoten and his wife Zoe, along with their son, live in La Crescenta, about 15 miles outside Los Angeles, California. Everyone is friendly, but they never got to know their neighbors very well until the pandemic forced everyone to stay home. During a "social distancing" happy hour, they chatted with Erik and Jen Strom, who live four houses away.

The two men discovered they both came from the same Norwegian island, and they have the same great-great-grandfather. This means their children, Monty Njoten,10 and Emma Strom, 4, will grow up as cousins living just 100 yards apart. Jen wonders, "how long it would have taken for us to make this connection if we didn't have a reason to slow down from our regular life?"

Sunday, April 26, 2020

How beautiful is that?

A retired farmer who wishes to be known only as Dennis lives in northeast Kansas. He and his wife, who has only one lung and other health problems, are in their 70s. Recently Dennis discovered a stash of five N95 respirator masks, the kind that are in highest demand during the current pandemic. He'd worn similar masks while farming, but these were still new. He decided to keep four of them for him and his wife, but what about fifth mask? He mailed it to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, with a note that asked, "If you could, would you please give this mask to a nurse or doctor in your state?"

During his daily TV briefing on Friday, April 24, Cuomo read the hand-written letter he received from the couple, using their letter as a heartwarming example of humanity in times of crisis. "You want to talk about a snapshot of humanity?" he asked. "You have five masks. Do you hide them or keep them for yourself? No, you send one mask to New York to help a nurse or doctor. How beautiful is that?"

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Masks don't grow on trees, except in Lisbon, Iowa

Deb Siggins, 55, of Lisbon, Iowa, began making cloth masks for healthcare workers after the local hospital began experiencing shortages. Initially she planned to donate 100 masks to medical workers, but then her family and friends began requesting masks of their own. Since then, she has made over 400 masks, which she paid for from her salary as a doctor's office employee.

When she realized she could hand the masks directly to her neighbors without violating social distancing guidelines, she decided to hang them on a local tree so passers-by could take one at their leisure. The masks are a hit with her community. She says, "It was really cool to see people driving up, grabbing a mask and leaving. I'm a giver, not a taker, so I feel really good."

Friday, April 24, 2020

A crumb from Detroit, Michigan

A very unselfish Michigan man is being praised for using his savings to buy gas for nurses. This month, Allen Marshall stood on the corner of the Exxon gas station near the Detroit Medical Center holding this sign.

Marshall ended up spending $900 of his own money to fill the tanks of between 50 and 80 vehicles that belonged to medical workers on the hospital's front lines. He was inspired to do this after dropping his wife -- who is an essential worker -- off at her shift with Blue Cross Blue Shield. After he ran out of money, he held a new sign which said, "Thank You for All You Do!:

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Driveway artist brings smiles to many

Kathy Wood lives in Marietta, Georgia. In an effort to beat the boredom of isolation, she pulled out her collection of sidewalk chalk and began drawing scenes on her driveway that she could incorporate herself into, as shown here.

In one sketch, she's hanging out with characters from Sesame street. When posting this picture on her Facebook page, she included the message, "My friends come in all shapes and sizes. It's good to have friends."

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

He's shopped here for almost 50 years.

A few days ago, a bakery customer bought a single custard donut for $1,000, and the staff at Tremont Goodie Shop, in Arlington, Ohio, was left speechless and in tears. The customer had been a customer at the family-owned bakery for almost 50 years, and wanted to help support the store.

The bakery is doing less than a third of its normal business because of the pandemic. The customer wanted to support the shop. According to manager, Emilie Smith, "He called and asked us if he would be able to give $1,000 for his donut. I got choked up. He asked again because there was silence on the line. I choked out, 'yes, of course it would be okay. I never expected that." On Facebook, the bakery explained what a blessing the money is for helping them during the pandemic.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Amish housewives sew masks

As health care providers grapple with a severe national shortage of masks, some Amish residents of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, are firing up their battery-powered sewing machines to help. Sylvan Stoltfus and his wife own Bird-in-Hand Fabric in the town of Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania. Their business has a "stay open waiver" from the state, since it serves as a hub for dozens of families in their Amish community who are sewing about 13,000 fabric masks to donate to Lancaster Health Center.

"Lancaster County in itself is just a very giving place," Stoltfus said. "We decided that if we can find people to help us, we would donate fabric and materials for these masks, to protect health care workers." Once regular surgical masks given to patients run out, the Lancaster Health Center intends to use these fabric masks.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Dial 1-877-JOY-4ALL

As a means of entertaining lonely adults who are locked down because of the pandemic, a team of Canadian high school students have created a hotline that plays pre-recorded messages of positivity. The Joy4All project was launched by students from Ever Active Schools recreational leadership program run by the Calgary Board of Education.

The youngsters say they created the free hotline as a means of comforting quarantined seniors across North America. However, people of all ages are encouraged to dial 1-877-JOY-4ALL in order to enjoy the regularly updated selection of jokes, stories, guided mediations and educational messages.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

It is well with my soul

Tracy Lynn Coats is a band teacher at East Hamilton High School in Ooltewah, Tennessee. Recently she was driving through a tornado-ravaged part of Chattanooga when she saw Faith Community Wesleyan Church. It was almost totally destroyed, but a grand piano still stood on a platform. The piano had been out in the elements for days, but Coats felt drawn to play it. She was surprised to find it was almost in perfect tune.

As she played the hymn "It is well with my soul," two long-time members of the church drove up to go through the rubble and look for anything salvageable. They asked her play more hymns, and they all sang in the wreckage. When asked how she climbed up to the platform to reach the piano, Coats said, "very carefully."

Saturday, April 18, 2020

88-year-old Romeo completes bucket list

Nick Avtges, 88, lives in Watertown, Massachusetts. For the past year, his sweetheart Marion Avtges, 85, has stayed at the Maristhill Nursing & Rehab Center. They've been married 61 years, and Nick went to see her every day after breakfast, staying all day, until the pandemic caused the Rehab Center to stop allowing visitors.  Separation took an emotional toll on Nick, so his family parked a truck with a bucket lift outside Maraisthill. With approval from the nursing home, they strapped their father into the sanitized bucket and hoisted him three stories up to the window where his wife was waiting on the other side.

Family members gathered outside the nursing home to watch the couple reunite for the first time in weeks. Nick said, "They could have lifted me ten stories and it would not have bothered me as long as I got to see her." Once he reached the window, Marion playfully scolded her longtime husband, telling him, "That's dangerous. Be careful. Don't fall." They talked for about 20 minutes. Then Nick showed her a sign he'd made that said "I love you, sweetheart." She replied, "I love you too. More than you know."

Friday, April 17, 2020

Canadian boy scout does his best

The Canadian Scouts' motto is, "Do your best." And that's just what Quinn Callander, 12, has done. He lives in a suburb of Vancouver, Canada, and heard a local hospital asking for help to solve a unique problem. Healthcare workers had serious ear pain after wearing masks for long shifts. So Quinn put his 3D printer to use.

He developed a simple but effective "ear guard" that prevents the elastic bands on masks from rubbing against the backs of people's ears. He prototyped several designs with his 3D printer, eventually using a wide plastic strap that fits around the head. The strap is notched so the wearer can loop the mask's elastic straps around the most comfortable notches, adjusting the tension while keeping the mask firmly in place.

Quinn had made the strap's design available for others to download from the open-source 3D printing community Thingiverse. Since last March, he's produced more than 1,700 straps, most of which have gone to hospitals in the Vancouver area.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

A crumb from Wellington, Somerset, England

To cheer up their neighbors during the current lockdown, the Taylor family spent six hours recently coloring every brick on their house with chalk, to create a "rainbow house." They used about 40 sticks of jumbo chalk to decorate the front wall of the red brick terraced house.

Twenty-six year old mother Fern Taylor started the labor of love with her daughters, Arabella and Matilda. She said, "The girls really enjoyed it. Matilda is two and didn't quite understand, but she did help a bit. The number of people who have smiled to asked to take photos has really cheered us up. People have slowed down while driving past. We even had an ambulance stop and say they loved it."

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

A crumb from Severna Park

An anonymous Maryland mother is winning praise for leaving out hundreds of bagged lunches for her community during the current shutdown. She leaves the healthy meals on a tent-sheltered table at a busy intersection in Severna Park.

A sign in front of the table assures everyone that the lunches are "made with love by a neighborhood mom in a clean and sanitized kitchen." The table has reportedly been stocked with free lunches between 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. every day for several weeks.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Why are most world leaders men?

Norway’s Prime Minister, Erna Solberg (shown below with US President Donald Trump) had the innovative idea of using television to talk directly to her country’s children about the pandemic. Unconcerned about her TV ratings, she held a dedicated press conference where no adults were allowed. 

She responded to kids’ questions from across the country, taking time to explain why it was OK to feel scared. The originality and obviousness of the idea begs the question, should more women be world leaders?

Monday, April 13, 2020

A crumb from Alabama

A man in Alabama who started a movement to mow lawns free of charge for the elderly is now also delivering meals and groceries to those who can't get out. Rodney Smith Jr., of Huntsville, spends his days going from one clients home to another to mow lawns that are beginning to sprout. But now, in addition to mowing free for single mothers, the disabled, veterans and the elderly, he's delivering food and supplies as well.

When Smith was a student at Alabama A&M University in 2015, he founded a non-profit organization called Raising Men Lawn Care Service and now has more than 700 volunteers who signed up to live the motto: "Making a difference, one lawn at a time." But now Smith has found a new way to make a difference, by delivering donated supplies such as hand sanitizer, toilet paper and fresh fruit.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

A crumb from Staunton-on-Wye, Herefordshire, England

A talented farmer named Jack Pantall, 33, has created a heartwarming tribute to the British National Health System by ploughing a giant rainbow into one of his fields. He used an aerial drone camera connected to his phone to map the huge image of the NHS logo and the "Stay Safe" rainbow in appreciation for Britain's healthcare workers.

The massive image on his farm near Staunton-on-Wye measures 199 feet by 500 feet.  He also captured drone footage of himself creating the masterpiece, which took only 16 minutes to complete. The father-of-two wanted to show support for all the NHS  heroes (think "Medicare for All"), particularly since his 31-old-brother Harry is a paramedic and his sister-in-law is a doctor.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Paper or plastic...or an appreciation bonus?

Kroger, the United States' largest supermarket by revenue and the second-largest general retailer, is giving all hourly frontline grocery, supply chain, manufacturing, pharmacy and call center employees a temporary raise of $2 premium above their standard base rate of pay. The bonus will be applied to hours worked from March 29 through April 18. The premium will be disbursed weekly to ensure employees have access to additional cash.

This is not Kroger's only gesture of gratitude towards its workers. On March 21st Kroger announced they would be giving their employees a one-time "appreciation bonus" of $300 to every full-time employee, and $150 to every part-time employee.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Newspaper man delivers more than news

Greg Daily, 50, has delivered the Newark Star-Ledger in East Windsor, New Jersey for 25 years. Recently, an elderly customer asked him to bring her paper to her garage door instead of putting in the box near the curb. He realized she was afraid to walk to the curb because of the pandemic, and wondered if other seniors on his paper route were afraid to go out, even for necessities. So he wrapped a note into each paper which said, "My name is Greg Daily. I deliver your paper each morning. I'd like to offer my services free of charge to anyone who needs groceries and household products. I can deliver them to your front door." He included his phone number.

One of his customers, 72-year-old Sandy Driska, could hardly believe the note. "Oh no," she thought, "this is too good to be true." But she called, and Daily delivered $302 worth of groceries to the front of her garage the next day. She thanked him and wrote him a check, but he refused to take a tip. Before long, Daily's phone starting ringing with requests from thankful subscribers. He needed assistance to meet the many requests, so he enlisted his wife Cherlyn and their children, Erin, 24, Sean, 21, and Brian, 17, and his mother-in-law, Carol Krohn, to help fill requests every morning.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Porchraits popular in Canada

A new trend is sweeping Canada's photographic community. It's called "porchtraits." According to Erik McRitchie, a photographer in Calgary, Alberta, "people are together in a way they haven't been in a long time.  He's part of a network of photographers inspiring others to get out and document their communities. Many of the porthtraits are whimsical, poking fun when possible.

This family, for example, posed on their front porch with rolls of toilet paper. Other photos are more stark, revealing the solitude of the social distance era. McRitchie hopes his work can encourage others who are stuck at home. "When we see people are celebrating, laughing and having fun, and families are together," he says, "it reminds us of the strength we can find together."

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

A crumb from Rotterdam

Since tattooing is a "contact profession," all tattoo shops in Rotterdam are closed until April 28, so the staff of artists at Tattoo Bob in Rotterdam-Katendrecht have temporarily focused on embellishing footwear for doctors and nurses serving in Intensive Care.

These unique clogs not only look good. They offer another advantage. Because of the pandemic, most health care workers are wearing identical suits and facial coverings, and this can make it difficult for them and their patients to recognize each other, until patients see the uniquely tattooed footwear.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Truckers need food too

In recent days, many restaurants have closed. Fast food outlets still accept drive-thru orders, but most trucks are too big to use the drive-thru windows. Nearly two years ago, a Sonic restaurant in Fordyce, Arkansas, built a drive-thru specifically for heavy-duty trucks. A photo was posted on Facebook and the news spread quickly.

So far, about 500 truckers use the special drive-thru each month, with the average ticket price being about $2.50 more than from passenger vehicles. According to the restaurant manager, "We know how many trucks there are on the highway, and we wanted to find a way to accommodate them. Those guys get hungry too, so it seemed like time to do something about it."

Monday, April 6, 2020

Math teacher makes a house call

Two weeks into doing her middle school lessons at home, 12-year-old Rylee Anderson of Madison, South Dakota, came up against a math problem she could not understand. So she emailed her teacher, Chris Waba. Could he help? "You bet," he said. Beside teaching sixth-grade math at Madison Middle School, he also happens to live directly across the street from Rylee.

Rylee was waiting for him to email her some tips, when the doorbell rang. Mr. Waba was standing on her front porch holding a marker and a large whiteboard! For the next 10 minutes, he sat at a socially safe distance and talked Rylee through the graphing problem, as she listened through the screen door. Her Mother snapped this photo. Mr. Waba does not make a habit of going door-to-door with algebra and geometry tips, but says he could sense that Rylee was frustrated and about to give up.

Sunday, April 5, 2020


Smile! That's what these pine cones say outside Aviva Zierler's home in Silver Spring, Maryland. They were placed there by the her four children, Sadie, 9, Yeshaya, 3, Rahm, 7, and Mirele, 5. Their mom drew the letters for her children, and they followed her design.

She explained, "We were inspired by all these great ideas going around of ways to bring joy to people at a distance." At least one neighbor, a senior who lives alone, smiles every thing she looks out her window and sees these pine cones on the lawn.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

A "Crumbs of Comfort" anniversary

This month we will share our 2,000th crumb of comfort. If your crumbs ever fail to arrive, it's because my computer has crashed and cannot be repaired at this time. Otherwise, crumbs should continue, and today's is an encore which does not mention the words virus or pandemic. Enjoy!  In Minnesota, the town of Climax is even smaller than Garrison Keillor's imaginary hometown of Lake Wobegon. But Climax has two things in common with Lake Wobegon. All the men are strong, and all the women are good looking. And the children? Well, you decide.

Greater downtown Climax, MN.

From 2011 to 2015, the Lady Knights basketball team of Climax-Fisher High School strung together 84 straight losses. That was four years of ridicule. But coach Jonathan Vonesh never lost faith in the girls. A few quit, but most remained determined to turn the team around. It finally happened, and you won't believe how.

In 2015, the Knights were one point ahead of Bagley High at halftime, and "the crowd was getting into it," remembers player Grace Bowling. Then the Knights got in major foul trouble. First, all the seniors fouled out. Then all the juniors fouled out! There were only three Knights left, two sophomores and a freshman -- the least experienced players on the losingest team in the state. Coach didn't tell them to win. He just told them to keep working 'til the end. You can't win with three against five.

The three girls didn't score once from the field, but they played stellar defense. When they got the ball, they drew fouls and made free throws, one after another. When the buzzer sounded, the Lady Knights won! What happened next? "We were all hugging and crying and screaming our heads off," said Heather Grove. "It was probably the best moment of my life," added Adrianna Vasek. "You kind of learn that no matter what people say about you, if you keep putting in the time and effort, it will pay off," said Michaela Burstad. That's a lesson the team can never forget.

When Coach Vonesh was contacted by ABC News affiliate WDAZ, he credited the victory to "survival, and a lot of prayers," adding "it was like they won a championship." Thanks to the Lady Knights, Climax now has one more thing in common with Lake Wobegon. All the children are above average.

Friday, April 3, 2020

RVs for MDs

Emily Phillips lives in Celina, Texas, north of Dallas. Her husband is a doctor who returns home in scrubs and medical gear after working with patients each day as an emergency physician. She was concerned he might inadvertently infect her or their three children. Her mother suggested they get an RV and park it by the house so he could be near his family without making closer contact.

Her Facebook appeal quickly turned up two local offers of RVs. Emily then took the idea online with a Facebook page dubbed "RVs4MDs." That's when everything took off. There are now 10 online administrators who work 24/7 matching RV donors with medical people looking for a camper. Check the Facebook page for more details.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Business is booming at this restaurant

A California eatery has found a compassionate way to keep their business open while caring for hospital staffers. In addition to continuing its takeout and delivery services, Tootsie's restaurant at the Stanford Mall in Palo Alto has been using its catering services to feed doctors and nurses at local hospitals.

Since the restaurant launched its "Adopt a Doctor or Nurse" program last month, community residents have commissioned his restaurant to prepare and serve more than 2,000 meals to various hospitals in the Bay Area. Not only has the program helped feed hospital personnel, but the influx of business enabled Tootsie's to rehire a number of staffers who had been laid off at the start of the shutdowns.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Great news from "a good town"

Bremen, Indiana, is so little it has one traffic light, one supermarket, and a one-screen theatre. Residents don't like to brag. Signs on the outskirts modestly say, "Welcome to Bremen, a Good Town." But sometimes modesty is the secret of genius. A business called NISCO in the industrial park makes sound-dampening products for car doors. But in less than one week, NISCO re-engineered its five multi-functional lasers to produce polyethylene isolation gowns for first responders.

Gowns are now made and donated to first responders each day. NISCO has already produced enough for every fire department in Marshall County. "This is tremendous," said Scott Ford, Associate Vice President for Economic Development at the University of Notre Dame. "This example offers a ray of hope in these trying times."