Saturday, October 31, 2020

Instead of candy or soda

 Redwood Elementary School in Hartford, Michigan, has unveiled two BOOK vending machines in an effort to make reading more enticing. Each book costs one golden token. Kids can earn that token by achieving a reading or attendance goal, good behavior, or if it's their birthday.

Superintendent Andrew Hubbard says it's about making reading more desirable. Some of these books aren't even in the library yet, so these are brand new books that kids get to keep and take home. While reading is emphasized in the classroom, the goal is to really build at at-home library.

Friday, October 30, 2020

A sign of the times?

 Austin-based El Arroyo restaurant started making comic signs in the early 1980s, and they've been perfecting the art ever since then. When the pandemic reached the United States, bars and restaurants began closing  across the country. The team at the popular Texas restaurant decided it was time to bring more comic relief to others.

"The signs bring a lot of laughter," says Laura Schulte, 27, social media manager for the Mexican eatery.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

It happened five years ago, but Hobbes hasn't forgotten it

 The plane to Houston, Texas, had already left the gate when six-year-old Owen Lake realized he'd left his favorite toy, a stuffed tiger named Hobbes, at the airport in Tampa, Florida. The tiger was one-of-a-kind, made by Owen's grandmother to look like one of the comic strip "Calvin and Hobbes."

Owen's mother called Tampa International and discovered that the staff didn't just rescue the lost tiger. They also took it on an adventure -- taking pictures of Hobbes' travels throughout the airport, including the control tower and the food court. 

Airport Operations Manager Tony D'Aiuto spent his lunch hours taking Hobbes on a tour, and paid for the picture book he gave Owen along with his missing (but very busy) tiger.

Monday, October 26, 2020

A truly international wedding ceremony

When Lindsay Clowes and Alex Leckie exchanged vows along the St. Croix River in New Brunswick, Canada, it wasn't just the wedding guests at St. Stephen Wharf that were watching. The river forms a border (now closed due to the pandemic) between Canada and the United States, and just across the water in Calais, Maine, the couple's American aunts, uncles, cousins and friends looked on. 

In the middle of the river, directly between the two countries, Clowes' grandparents got to watch from a place of honor, a boat. "It couldn't have gone any better. I wouldn't change anything about it," Clowes said. "It turned out to be a lot more special than anything else we could have done."

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Twins in more ways than one

 A pair of Texas twins have proven excellence runs in the family. In 2010, the sisters graduated high school as valedictorian and salutatorian. This December, they'll graduate with their second Master's in clinical nutrition...and their doctorate degrees in chiropractic medicine, nabbing the valedictorian and salutatorian honors for the second time.

LaTonya and Latoya Harris have stuck together. After high school they continued their academic careers together at the same college, sharing the same dorm room. They earned their bachelor's and master's in sports management from UT Austin, and then continued together to Parker University. Their mother, Gail Harris, used social media to share how proud she and her husband are of the twins, explaining, "We are honored to be their parents."

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Sometimes even heroes need help

 When a wildfire tore through Berry Creek, California, last month, it destroyed the homes of six of the community's seven volunteer firefighter, and the fire station. Even with their own homes gone, the teams pushed on, evacuating neighbors and battling back the blaze.

That's when Woody Faircloth knew exactly what to do. He was able to deliver RVs to the firefighters so they would have a place to stay until they can get back on their feet. Faircloth is founder of the non-profit RV4Campfire Family. This is not the first time he has helped firefighters. In 2018 after watching coverage of California's devastating Camp Fire, he delivered more than 80 RVs to Camp Fire survivors, and remains ready to help whenever needed.

Friday, October 23, 2020

Four percent of Boy Scouts achieve Eagle Scout rank. But girls?

 Last year, the Boy Scouts of America started allowing girls to join. Already those girls are starting to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout. Take Katie Hunter of Vienna, Virginia, for example. She started out as Girl Scout, but was jealous of her brothers since she felt Boy Scout activities were more fun. When BSA allowed girls to join, Katie jumped at the chance.

Since then, she's been hard at work earning merit badges, mentoring younger scouts, and doing community service. She recently finished her Eagle Scout project by building garden boxes at a local elementary school. She finished all requirements to be an Eagle Scout in the fastest time allowed by the BSA. She will soon be in the first class of girls to achieve the Eagle Scout rank.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Immigrant will serve food to voters on Election Day

 Nasser Jaber once lived in the Palestinian territories, dreaming what it would be like to vote in a free election. Now 41, he's lived in Brooklyn, New York, for nearly 20 years, where he founded Migrant Kitchen, a nonprofit organization which trains and hires immigrants and undocumented workers for careers in the restaurant industry.

Now he has dedicated himself to offering warm meals on Election Day to people in food-insecure areas as they stand in long lines to vote. In partnership with another organization, he plans to serve more than 50,000 free meals in cities like Philadelphia and Miami, where voting lines may stretch farther than the eye can see. He hopes people he feeds at the polls will take away more than a meal. "I also want them to take away the message that their vote really does count, " he says.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Los Angeles has a firefighting robot

Earlier this month, Los Angeles, California, became the first city in the country to add a firefighting robot to the ranks of the Fire Department, and it's already proven its metal on the front lines. Weighing about 3,500 pounds and about the size of a Smart Car, it can deploy 2,500 gallons of water per minute. It is controlled by a handheld remote from a safe distance, and has a high definition video stream so it can be easily maneuvered through difficult conditions, like the interior of burning buildings. 

 It's narrow enough to pass through double-doors, or can crash through a wall. "We can fight the fire from inside," LAFD Chief Ralph Terrazas said. adding that the robot is a "game-changer" for his team.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Frowns turned into smiles

 Thai Food Huntly is a popular restaurant in Huntly, New Zealand. It was packed with customers one night recently when suddenly a family staff emergency resulted in the chef being the only one left to serve hungry patrons. When Emily Puhi arrived, she saw filled tables plus people lined up to pay or pick up take-out. Since the cook was cooking, he could not take orders or collect money.

Suddenly, a lady who was waiting to pay grabbed some paper and started waiting tables instead. Another customer jumped up to wash the dishes. And with the permission of the chef, a shop owner from next door ran the cash register and made sure everyone paid. "It was such a beautiful feeling, said Emily. "Frowns turned to smiles and grumpy waiting turned into patient waiting."

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Next stop: Dog Park

This dog is named Eclipse. Every day she leaves her house by herself and takes the bus downtown to the dark park, where she spends a few hour exercising and making friends. Then she takes the bus back home again. It started one day when her owner, Jeff Young, was taking too long when the bus arrived, so she ran ahead and got on by herself. The driver recognized her and dropped her off at the dog park, and later Jeff caught up. 

 After several more trips by herself, Jeff started letting her go on her own, and she always came home a few hours later. All the bus drivers know her, and she makes them smile. Regular passengers enjoy seeing her and will often sit next to her. She even has her own bus pass, attached to her collar.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Almost everyone loves a pony

Residents at Rosevale Care Home in York, England, always "benefit greatly" from pet therapy, which allows them to interact with animals. Sarah Fearn, activities coordinator at the home, says many residents who spend most of the day in their rooms eagerly interact with others when given a chance to stroke a pony.

 "Different pets come every month into the care home," she said, "It brings back memories and allows the residents, 90% of whom suffer with dementia, to express themselves in ways they probably wouldn't otherwise. We had a lady who was really upset ten minutes before. She was crying. We took a pony to her and within minutes she was so happy. Even the residents who are quiet and don't mingle talk to other people. It's really lovely."

Thursday, October 15, 2020

This crumb is for Susan

 Is there a more joyful, innocent happy feeling in the world than puppy love? It's an emotion with no strings, sine a dog's love is most often unconditional. When a dog licks your face or jumps in your lap, it simply means they're crazy about you. 

But did you know your dog's heartbeat actually soars when you tell them, "I love you?" According to a recent study conducted by folks at Canine Cottages, that well may be the case.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

A truly supreme pizza

 An English gent, 27-year-old Walter Marano, had planned to pop the question to his partner of five years, Sophia Florio, in Italy. But the pandemic cancelled their vacation. So he brought a taste of Italy to them by arranging a romantic meal at a restaurant in Fitzrovia, London, where waiters brought our heart-shaped pizzas.

As they were served, Walter pulled the ring out of his pocket and presented it to Sophia. She said "yes" before standing up to give him a kiss. The other diners burst into cheers for the couple.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

A crumb from the Disney community

 The Disney community is vast and strong, and right now their shared love of Disney joy is more important than ever. After the company announced mass layoffs because of the pandemic, organized a virtual fundraiser that netted more than $40,00 for a local food bank in central Florida.

The fundraiser was started to honor park employees who are out of work, but the donations benefit the whole community. The Second Harvest food bank, which received the donations, says need has ballooned over the last few months as the Orlando area struggles with a huge dip in tourism. 

Monday, October 12, 2020

Help for moms who can't afford diapers

Cartier Carey, 11, lives in Hampton, Virginia, and since the pandemic began he's noticed a shortage of diapers in stores. He knew poor mothers could hardly afford diapers, even if they were plentiful, and he wanted to help, so he started a lemonade stand. 

 His stand also served as a drop-off point for a diaper drive, where people could donate diapers. Now he's back at virtual school, but he's still hard at work loading up a truck with more than 22,000 donated diapers.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Remember your favorite school teacher?

 In honor of World Teachers' Day, October 5, Qatar Airways gave away 21,000 complimentary tickets to teachers, to thank them for their vital work educating young people world-wide during the pandemic challenges. Teachers from over 75 countries where Qatar Airways currently operates were eligible for tickets.

Teachers who registered received one Economy Class round-trip ticket to anywhere on Qatar Airways current network of more than 90 destinations. In addition, each teacher received a voucher for 50% off one future round trip ticket, that they can use for themselves, a family member, or a friend. Both tickets are valid until Sept. 30, 2021.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

The 2,180th Crumb of Comfort

 Since 2014, a Crumb of Comfort has been posted almost every day, until today we reached crumb number 2,180 -- almost enough to make a crumb cake. We'll celebrate by sharing a note from 72-year-old Randy Long. Cleaning out his garage recently, he found some practice baseballs he used to toss to his son and grandson. Thinking others might find them useful, he left them at a local batting cage with this note.

"Hope someone can use these baseballs in the batting cages. I pitched them to my son and grandson for countless rounds. My son is now 46 and my grandson is 23. I am 72, and what I wouldn't give to pitch a couple of buckets to them. They have both moved away. If you are a father, cherish these times. You won't believe how quickly they will be gone. Give your kids a hug and tell them you love them every chance you get."

Friday, October 9, 2020

"She was just so kind...."

Bishop Eusebio Phelps is the pastor of New Faith Christian Church in Stockbridge, Georgia. He recently ordered breakfast with extra bacon at a nearby Waffle House, and spoke with the pregnant waitress working that day. "She was just so kind, and so pleasant. She was a sweetheart and that just touched my heart," he remembered. Her name was Hannah Hill, and she was pregnant with her second child, who she planned to name Samuel, the same name as Phelps' son, who died seven years ago in Atlanta. And she was temporarily sleeping at night in her car.

Phelps said he felt moved to give Hill all the money in his wallet, and then he shared her story on Facebook, asking others to donate if they felt called. Money poured in, and now it was time to track her down and give her the surprise of a lifetime. Hill was shocked to find herself surrounded by cheering Waffle House patrons and a check for nearly $12,000. She said, "Lately I have been praying because I've been really stressed lately. I want a place to live before this baby gets here," she said.  Now she can afford an apartment, and there's more. New Faith Christian Church will cover all her child care costs for both children for one year. It was a chance meeting, and a life changed forever.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Ruthless bullying inspires generosity

Cavanaugh Bell, age 7, lives in Gaithersburg, Maryland, with his mother, aunt and cousins. He's experienced some harsh bullying, but it inspired him to help others. "After I was bullied and I felt a darkness inside of me, I knew I didn't want other kids to feel the way I felt," he wrote, "so I asked my mom if she could help me spread love and positivity. 

When the pandemic began in March, his family focused on helping his local community. He made CARE packages with toiletries and groceries to help elderly people. He used his own savings and birthday and Christmas money. Eventually, fueled by donations, he and his mom opened a food pantry in a donated warehouse. After Cavanaugh was the focus of news stories in the media, he was praised by people in high places, including Democratic vice-presidential nominee Sen. Kama Harris of California.


Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Distance learners still need Grandpa Ron

Back in March, 2020, when the pandemic began, Ron Jacobson had already logged 900 volunteer hours at an elementary school in Cle Elum, Washington, during the 2019-2020 school year. Then the school closed and went to virtual instruction. That's when Ron realized his legacy. Students were missing the hugs he gave them every morning. The school received so many requests for "Grandpa Ron" as students called him, that administrators added his contact information to the school's online directory.

Students immediately began sending him emails and letters, and even coming to his home to check up on him and walk his dog. Jacobson responds to each of his many "pen pals" adding a bright spot to students' days. A Vietnam veteran, he says, "The Marine Corps taught me two things are most important: to complete a mission and take care of your troops. I'm still taking care of the troops." It's just that they are 75 years younger than he is.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

And he did it without training wheels!

 Wesley Hammett is a cargo handler, and after his dad passed away last year, he decided to raise funds for various charities and hospitals. To do this, he decided to ride from Glasgow, Scotland, to his home near Manchester, England, on a comically small bike his daughters learned to ride on, "just for fun."

He reached peaks as high as 1,350 feet at the Shap Summit in Cumbria, which he says with some understatement, the bike "wasn't built for." After a grueling trip which included a six-hour long stretch and eight flat tires, he managed to drag the 12-inch wheels to his home on Sept. 21. So far he has raised just over $10,730 for charity.

Monday, October 5, 2020

McDonalds window server serves kindness

 When Brittany Reed, a busy mother of three, rolled up to a McDonalds drive-thru in Waynesville, Ohio, she made her order and drove to the first window, where she realized she didn't have her purse. The teenage server, Wyatt Jones, said he'd happily pay for the meals. Later that night, Brittany drove back to McDonalds to give Wyatt his money back, but he insisted the meal was on him.

Brittany wrote on a Facebook post, "I just want his parents to know how kind and compassionate your son was tonight He made this stressed out momma pause for a moment and realize this is exactly what we parents are trying to do, raise great humans." On hearing that Wyatt was saving up for a car, she began a GoFundMe page on his behalf. As of October 1, she's raised nearly $32,000 for him. How's that for a gratuity?

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Who was that masked man?

 Ben Beard and Ty Anderson were making college plans when the pandemic stopped everything in their hometown of Nashville, Tennessee. "We were working hard on academics and looking for ways to volunteer in our communities to have well-round college resumes," said Ben, "but then everything came to a halt." He decided to look for meaningful ways to give back to his community and "not just play the game of looking for a good college." That's when he discovered the organization Mask Now TN, which distributes masked to underprivileged people and essential workers. Donations were urgently needed.

Ben and Ty motivated and equipped fellow students at Independence High School to gather donations. They even set up collection boxes. Within only three weeks, they hit their goal of 10,000 masks. Ben's brother Andrew, who joined the team, said, "Getting our eyes off our own problems and finding a way to help others who have had it so much harder through this crisis has been empowering to us as students."

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Five-year-old is wise beyond his years

 In "The Mandalorian," Baby Yoda, or "the Child," pops up in places where grown men fear to tread and faces danger with wisdom beyond his years. Recently, a little boy named Carver and his grandmother were filling a box with supplies to send to first responders battling California's wildfires. 

Carver insisted on sending his Yoda doll, and with his grandmother's help, wrote a note that said, "Thank you, firefighters. Here is a friend for you, in case you get lonely. Love, Carver."

Like Baby Yoda, Carver is wise beyond his years. He explained, "I have always wanted to help and uplift anyone that's around me. And this really was a bright spot in a dark time, that I wanted to share with everyone."

Friday, October 2, 2020

Rookie police dog's first rescue

 This dog's name is Max. He's a two-year-old German Shepherd mix. After he finished training as a police dog, he was on his first shift last month when he successfully located a missing woman and her child in Wales. The woman had not been seen or spoken to for two days before authorities began their search. Police had a starting point where the woman's car was found empty on a mountain road.

Despite only being recently licensed, and on his first operational shift, Max immediately commenced an open area search. Max and his handler, Police Constable Peter Lloyd, found the missing woman waving for help near a steep ravine on a mountainside. The mother and child were "safe, but cold," and had been in the area for a "significant" amount of time, according to police.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Every student needs a desk

 Since the pandemic forced schools to move online, some students have had to learn from the kitchen table, a couch, or even the living room floor. No having a desk makes it harder for them to be organized and focused. That's why Jessica and Al Berrellez, who live in Gaithersburg, Maryland, and have three children, have spent recent weekends delivering desks and chairs to students in Montgomery County who need them.

Al, who works in sales and consulting in the building materials industry, makes some of the desks in his spare time. Friends and other volunteers make or donate the rest. "Every kid deserves to have their own little workstation," says Al. "This was something, to me, that seemed simple enough to do, but that would make a big impact on these children's lives."