Friday, July 31, 2020

Another police "incident" worth noting

Recently in Riverside County, California, sheriff's Deputy Cody Ballard and his partner were  called to the Red Lion Inn because an employee was concerned about a woman sitting on a bench outside the hotel. The woman and her 4-year-old daughter had missed their bus, and planned to sleep on the bench overnight until they could catch the next bus to San Diego in the morning.

Ballard went to a local motel, negotiated the lowest room rate, and dug into his own pocket to pay for a night's stay for them. He wasn't expecting his partner to take this photo. He prefers to obey one of his favorite Bible verses, which (in some translations) says, "So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets." Perhaps the picture spread far and wide because Ballard is white, and the woman and her child are Black, but he says this difference never crossed his mind.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

No student went hungry

An award-winning "hero" teacher in England spends each day preparing food for his students. So far, he's delivered 7,500 packed lunches. Zane Powles, who works for Western Primary School in the seaport of Grimsby, feared students might miss lunch while classes were cancelled during the pandemic. So he prepared 85 lunches each morning and walked 7.5 miles each day, making his rounds for 17 weeks in North East Lincolnshire.

The 48-year-old estimates that he carried roughly four tons of food during that time, but says it was "well worth it" after seeing the smiles on the kids' faces. He delivered lunches because "I needed to know if they were safe, if the kids were healthy, and if they had access to food."

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

A promise is a promise

Back in 1992, Tom Cook and Joe Feeney shook hands on a pact. If either of them every won the lottery, they'd split the winnings. It's not like it would ever happen, right? Wrong. Twenty-eight years later, Tom won a $22 million jackpot, and sure enough, the Elk Mound, Wisconsin, man called his old fishing buddy Joe to share the news.

At first, Joe didn't believe Tom had won. He asked, "Are you jerking my bobber?" The two used their joint windfall to comfortably retire, and even took a couples road trip with their wives to celebrate. If that's not friendship, we don't know what is.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Here comes the bridal gown

Brides Across America (BAA) donates wedding gowns to military couples or first responders who are planning a wedding. But since medical professionals are now risking their lives because of the pandemic, the organization decided they also qualify as heroes and deserve free wedding gowns.

Every year since 2008, BAA has donated around 2,000 wedding dresses, totaling 25,000 gowns over their history. "The girls are so happy," says BAA's founder, Heidi Janson. "They're like, 'I'm working and I'm planning a wedding. I really don't have time to find a dress.' And they can't believe it's free."

Monday, July 27, 2020

Another incredible lottery story

When Shetara Sims won $100 on a lottery ticket, she was down to her last seven dollars. But her 12-year-old daughter Rakiya suggested donated the winnings to the family of a Kansas City police officer who had been wounded in the line of duty. Sims agreed with her daughter, and made her $100 donation anonymously.

But word soon spread through the police department. One they learned her identity, officers started a GoFundMe campaign for Sims, Hundreds of people who heard the story reached out and so far they've raised $59,000. Sims and her family also met the coworkers of the injured officer, who is still hospitalized.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

The children were the real heroes

It happened recently in a poor, immigrant section of Grenoble, France. A third floor apartment caught fire. Passers-by ran up the stairs and tried to open the apartment door, but could not. As they returned to the street below, they saw two children at the window. Six of the men held hands and yelled at the kids to jump.

The boys were three and 10 years old. In this photo, the older boy holds his younger brother by his t-shirt, before dropping him. When he saw his brother was safely caught, the ten-year-old thought, "Either I jump or I die," so he jumped, and was caught by waiting arms nearly 40 feet below. Some of the catcher's arms and wrists were broken, but the boys are okay. Said one rescuer, "We saved their lives, but they were the brave ones. They were the heroes."

She was determined to see her husband again

Mary Daniel just took a part-time job on the cleaning crew at an assisted-living facility. Its not that she needed the money, but it was the only way she could see her husband Steve Daniel, 66, who has early-onset Alzheimer's disease and is a resident at RoseCastle at Deerwood in Jacksonville, Florida. She works two days a week, scrubbing dishes, mopping floors and cleaning the grill. Afterward she spends several hours with her husband.

After not seeing her husband for more than three months, being with him again has been "just amazing," she said through tears. "It didn't matter what I had to do to get there," she added. "I was willing to do whatever it took to fulfill my promise that I was going to be there for him every step of the way"

Friday, July 24, 2020

As reported in The Christian Science Monitor

Jessica McClard was on one of her regular runs when she noticed a Little Free Library in Fayetteville, Arkansas -- her hometown. She decided to create similar libraries for those with food insecurity. Her invention would be called a Little Free Pantry.

Like a Little Free Library, her Little Free Pantry is a cabinet with a door and shelves -- all mounted on a post. She put one up near her church in May, 2016, and within months, more than 100 Little Free Pantries had opened across the country. Today there are hundreds in the United States, as well as about 3,000 Little Free Pantry's worldwide. Anyone can take from a pantry, or donate to a pantry.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

A crumb from Afghanistan

In the eastern Afghan city of Herat, 18-year-old high school student Somaya Faruqi puts the finishing touches on a lightweight, low-cost ventilator created by her and six other young women. The girls started work in March on an open-source, affordable ventilator as the pandemic his their war-torn nation.

It took them almost four months to finish the ventilator, and they received help from experts at Harvard University. The device is easy to carry; can run on battery power for 10 hours and costs roughly $700 to produce, compared with about $20,000 for a traditional ventilator.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

"From day one, he's always called me Dad"

Tony Mutabazi's childhood was not easy. After his parents gave him up for adoption, he was adopted at age 4. But his adoptive parents abandoned him in a Charlotte, North Carolina, hospital when he was 11, and never returned. A few days later, Peter Mutabazi received a call from a foster care worker asking that he take Tony, just for a weekend. Peter remembers, "Once I knew he had nowhere to go, I had to take him. I had the room and the resources, so I had no reason to let him go."

Peter has been cheering up Tony ever since -- watching movies, playing board games, reading and taking him cycling. In November, 2019, he made it official, adopting the teen as his son. "From day one, he's always called me dad. He truly meant it and he looks up to me. He's proud to show me at school and say, 'Hey, he's my dad.' That's something that I love about him."

Monday, July 20, 2020

Making America great again

In 1969, the Houston High School Indians won the state championship -- a first for their city of Perry, Georgia. But it was the era of segregation, and Houston High was all black, so not much was made of the victory.

There was no celebration. No parade. No championship rings or memorabilia. After the school was integrated, the win was lost to history, until this month, when the city finally did right by the athletes. It held a special ceremony and every surviving former player received a '69 championship ring.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Another reason not to defund the police?

The police department in Sterling Heights, Michigan, posted dash-cam video on it's Facebook page. Officer Cameron Maciejewski is seen on July 9 rushing to a call concerning a 3-year-old who isn't breathing. When he arrives, he's surrounded by panicked family members. He calmly reassures them before asking for the baby. He realizes something is caught in her airway so he performs a few back thrusts before the baby starts crying. The baby's mother falls to the ground  in relief.

The baby was turned over to the Sterling Heights Fire Department who took her to the hospital for evaluation. The police department said, "If it was not for Officer Maiejewski's quick, calm, life saving actions, the result of this incident could have been tragically different." The officer attributes quick thinking and calmness to his training. He explains, "If I start freaking or if I can't handle myself or handle my cool, it just escalates everything for the family."

Saturday, July 18, 2020

"If someone had to die...."

Bridger Walker, a brave 6-year-old from Cheyenne, Wyoming, suffered terrible-looking injuries after rescuing his 4-year-old sister from a dog attack. He jumped into action when the German shepherd mix (who was later put down) charged toward his sister. As Bridger shielded her, the dog latched onto his face. Bridger had to undergo two hours of surgery and 90 stitches, but it's his reason for stepping in that will tug your heartstrings.

After the accident, Bridger told his father, "If someone had to die, I thought it should be me." His act of courage has spread around the world and earned him some high-profile fans, including Captain America. His family says other on-screen heroes, including The Hulk and Spiderman, have reached out to tell Bridger how proud they are of him.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Giant cinnamon rolls!

Whitney Rutz of Portland, Oregon, and her 7-year-old daughter Elsa bake 12-inch wide cinnamon rolls for the highest bidders. At first, she auctioned the rolls off with funds donated to the Oregon Food Bank. Her first roll went for $300.

Since then, she's baked giant rolls weighing more than five pounds for every $500 raised. The highest contributor decides where the roll goes. Since a friend asked her roll to be donated to health care workers instead of herself, the vast majority have gone to hospitals and care facilities. So far her giant rolls have raised over $50,000 for the food bank.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

12-year-old's invention wins $20,000

Lydia Denton, from North Carolina, may be young, but she just won the CITGO Fueling Education Student Challenge, earning $20,000 by creating a winning invention of a car set device that detects when babies have been left in a hot car. It can prevent them from dying.

The soon-to-be seventh grader was inspired to make the invention after watching news and seeing that babies were being left in hot cars, often by accident. "What I wanted was a device that had the ability to get 911 there to save a baby if parents did not respond. And I wanted something everyone could afford." A current student at a Title I school, she notes that "new cars come with warnings and smart car seats," but many of her friends and family don't have these yet.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Child receives letter from Queen

Timothy Madders, 7, from Billericay, Essex, England, was worried that Queen Elizabeth may be bored or sad during lockdown, so he created a happiness-themed word search puzzle to keep her busy. He was amazed when he got a letter back from one of Her Majesty's ladies-in-waiting, thanking him for the puzzle.

The letter, dated July 3rd, reads: "Dear Timonty, The Queen wishes me to write and thank you for your kind letter and for the puzzle you have created especially for Her Majesty. Your thoughtfulness is greatly appreciated. The Queen hopes that you too are keeping safe and well in the current situation."

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Lights? Fireworks? Laser beams?

None of the above. This lovely image is made up of drones. South Korea's Ministry of Land Infrastructure and Transport used 300 drones in an unusual display to thank front line workers during the pandemic.

The 10-minute synchronized light show lit up the night sky above the Han River in Seoul on July 4. It featured images of medical workers in protective gear along with images of hand-washing, people wearing masks and people social distancing. To avoid crowds, the show was not announced beforehand.

Monday, July 13, 2020

"Start a new life."

Lily Ebert was a teenager when she and her family were taken to the Auschwitz Nazi concentration camp and left to die. Ever since she was liberated from that hell in 1945, she has kept a small token of kindness given to her by the American soldier who freed her. He gave her a German bank note, on which he wrote, "start a new life."

Now, 75 years later, Ebert showed the cherished bank note to her great-grandson. He shared the incredible story on Twitter, hoping to find the soldier. Replies started flooding in, and eventually led to Pvt. Hyman Schulman, an American Jewish soldier. He and his wife died in recent years, but Ebert will meet his children over ZOOM, which is just one more proof that time, change, and even death are no match for a powerful act of kindness.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

A police "incident" you should know about

Jesse McFadden was pulled over by a police officer in Montana recently. Here's what happened, in his own words. "I'm Native American, and the friend riding with me was black. The officer was walking to the car and I was pulling out my stuff, when he said, 'Don't worry about that. I just want you to know your brake lights are out.' I was upset, because I just had them replaced last month. I explained how Firestone wants to charge me $600 just to run a test on the wiring of the car.

He asked me to pop the trunk and tapped the lights, but they didn't come on. Then he asked me to pop the hood so he could check the relay box. Finally, he worked on the wiring under the dash. He could have given me a ticket, but Officer Jenkins stepped of his police officer role and into a mechanic's role to make sure I was safe. And by the way, he fixed them!"

A crumb from Bloomington, Indiana

As reported by Emily Cox in the Herald-Times, Carmen Vertner is a 7-year-old incoming third grader who learned recently that some girls get made fun of because of their skin color, their hair, or a disability. Carmen had not had those experiences, but she soon asked her mom to make copies of a handwritten letter she wrote to parents, inviting them to send their little daughters to her very own workshop. She wrote in part, "Is your daughter not liking her for her? Like maybe she sees lots of white or brown girls and thinks, 'She is so pretty, and I am ugly.' Well, I can fix that. I can meet with your daughter and make her like her for her. So we will have a conference and a talk."

She called it "Confidently BeYOUthful, and was open to girls ages six through eight on June 30, and again virtually via ZOOM on July 14. "I hope they feel really good and learn to be more confident about themselves," said Carmen, "and they can just stick up for themselves."

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Lemonade stand a big success

Cooper Wallweber of St. Louis, Missouri, started a lemonade stand for a good reason. He'd soiled his shoes and wanted to buy a new pair. But as he got down to business, he heard of a local volunteer fire fighter named Arlydia Bufford. She is only 20 years old, and was eating with colleagues at an Applebees in June when a gunman opened fire in the restaurant, killing one and injuring two more. Bufford's injuries were serious.

Cooper's family felt an instant connection with her. She attended the same high school as Cooper's parents, and played the same sport as his sister. To Cooper, it felt right to donate any profits from the lemonade stand to Bufford. Word of his plan reached far and wide. "Skateboarders stopped by!" said Cooper. "Fire trucks and an ambulance." So far, his lemonade stand has raised about $3,000 for Bufford's recovery.

Senior Living Center seeks pen pals

Victorian Senior Care, an assisted living community with 14 facilities in North Carolina, is looking for pen pals. After four months of strict no-visitors rules, the facility wants to connect its residents to people from all over the world. It took only one question for this need to become viral on Facebook. "Will you be my pen pal?"

Residents posed with cards telling something about themselves, like Macy, the checkers champion and church choir star. There are dozens of wonderful seniors at the facility looking for snail mail kindness, and remember, there are probably even more in your own community who would love a sweet note. Just call a facility and ask.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Today's crumb is from Framingham, Massachusetts

Clayton Ward grew up in Tennessee. He tried college for a while but then moved to Massachusetts, where he began working as a bus driver for Framingham High School. "I enjoy working with kids," he said, "and during bus route we'd chat about their classes. As a history buff, I'd share lessons I learned in school. After several of these discussions, some of the students would tell me they wanted me to be their teacher."

Encouragement from students motivated him to enroll at MassBay Community College in 2019. He graduated with a perfect 4.0 grade point average, and thanks to free time due to the pandemic, he completed his Associate of Arts degree in just one year. This fall he'll transfer to Framingham State University to earn a Bachelor's degree in history, with a minor in secondary education, so he can someday teach history to high school students, just like he did on the bus.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Do face masks really make a difference?

It seemed like the stuff of a quarantine nightmare. Two Springfield, Missouri, hair stylists at Great Clips tested positive for COVID-19, but not until they'd already given haircuts to 140 clients.  Public health officials prepared for the worst as all those who'd had appointments with the two stylists got tested.

When the results came back, officials were shocked, and relieved. None of the 140 Great Clips customers tested positive. One reason might be that all employees and patrons at Great Clips are REQUIRED to wear masks. This policy annoys some customers, who are sometimes rude to the stylists. But masks may have saved everybody from contracting the virus.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

"The paleta man was KING to us kids."

People in Chicago's southwest side are used to seeing 70-year-old Rosario Del Real pushing his yellow cart along the streets. The former carpenter now makes his living selling $2 Mexican-style ice pops, or paletas, in several flavors. On Father's Day, Cynthia Gonzalez was enjoying a cookout with her family in 83 degree heat when Del Real came by to ask if anyone wanted a paleta.

She and several other family members including Michaelangelo Mosqueda decided Del Real should not have to work on Father's Day, so they bought every paleta in his cart -- 65 of them, at a cost of $130. Del Real was so touched that he wept. Then they invited him to join their family cookout. Mosqueda felt Del Real should be able to retire, so he launched a GoFundMe page which has raised $62,000 so far. One woman wrote, "The paleta man was KING to us kids in Chicago. Miss those days." Another wrote, "It's heartbreaking that he has to work at his age. I'm glad you did this for him."

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Nine-year old raises $100,000

Youthful business woman and aspiring jeweler Kamryn Johnson lives near Minneapolis, Minnesota, so she's very aware of the fight for racial justice that sparked nationwide protests. And at age 9, she's doing something about it.

She and a few of her friends have established a friendship bracelet stand called "Kamryn & Friends: Bracelets for Unity and Justice." Their expectations were modest. They hoped to raise about fifty dollars. But since May 30, the group has raised nearly $100,000 for businesses and food banks in Minneapolis, all because Kamryn wanted to take action. Her dad, former NFL player Ron Johnson, said "she and her friends are finding ways to feed the families of Minneapolis and give back to their community."

Friday, July 3, 2020

Even though she gave up all hope....

It may not be the most important cold case in Queensland, Australia's history, but the theft of a video camera from an outback town 20 years ago has finally been solved. It was stolen from Sharon Stretton's home in Mount Isa. It was a costly purchase for a 20-something mom with young kids. She reported the theft to police, since the VHS tape contained precious home videos.

The camera was recently found in an abandoned public housing complex and turned over to police, who linked it back to her 1998 police report! They returned it to Ms. Stretton, who now lives in Gympie, complete with case and cords. She's very grateful, but at this time she has no idea what to do with it, or how to safely save the videos on the tape, which is still in the camera.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Letters Against Isolation

Shreya and Saffron Patel, ages 18 and 16, live in Boston, Massachusetts. Their grandmother lives in England, and social isolation was not easy for her, but in recent telephone calls she sounded happier, after receiving notes in the mail from a few friends. "We wanted to share the joy she was feeling with other seniors," said Saffron, so in early April they started a project called "Letters Against Isolation."

Shreya reached out to a few local nursing homes, expecting that one might respond and ask for ten cards. Several homes agreed, hoping to receive 200 cards. "We can't do that on our own," Shreya said, so they reached out to others for help. A network of volunteers grew through the spring and so did their ability to connect with seniors. So far, the organization they formed has sent more than 14,000 cards in partnership with 24 care centers across the country. Today, about 1,400 volunteers are writing "Letters Against Isolation."

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Storytime is now online

If your children miss gathering around for story time at school, one boy is helping to recreate the experience at home. Bryan Rumfelt, 7, of Brooklyn, New York, loves to read.

He now shares his favorite books with anyone who wants to hear a good story. His grandmother gave him the idea for his Facebook group, Bryan's Book Corner, where he posts videos of himself reading books like "Dragons Love Tacos" and "This Pigeon Needs a Bath."