Sunday, February 28, 2021

Dropout donates to college he could not afford

Nearly 60 years ago, Calvin E. Tyler, Jr. dropped out of college because he couldn't afford it. This month the same school Tyler once attended announced he had donated $20 million to increase a scholarship fund established in his name. He enrolled in what was then Morgan State College, a histoically Black college in Baltimore, in 1961, but left in 1963 due to lack of funding. He became a UPS driver.
He started out as one of the first ten UPS drivers in Baltimore, and worked himself up in the company, eventually becoming senior vice-president of operations, before he retired in 1998, but he never forgot where he started. He decided to donate $20 million, believed to be the most the school has ever received from an alum. "We want to hae more full-tuition scholarships offered to young people," he said, "so that they can graduate from college and enter the next stage of their life debt free."

Saturday, February 27, 2021

A crumb from New Jersey to Texas

Cold weather is no big deal in New Jersey, but it certainly is in Texas.That's one of the reasons Andrew Mitchell, a New Jersey plumber, and his wife Kisha decided to make the 22-hour drive to Houston to help out during the recent horrific storms.
The couple heard that local plumbers were completely overwhelmed, so they brought along as many supplies as they could. As soon as they arrived, locals put them in touch with people in desperate need of plumbing services, and within days they had finished a dozen jobs. The need was so great that they decided to stay a full two weeks.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Man's best friend branches out

The temperature read minus 58 Fahrenheit on a Saskatchewan farm recently when a calf that couldn't wait decided to be born. Bonnie Potoroka had gone out to check on her pregnant heifer only to find the cow's newborn calf had arrived ahead of schedule and was already in danger from the elements.
"It just wasn't warm enough," she said. "A baby calf is wet when it's born, and she was already getting cold and her ears were starting to freeze, so I took her into the heated shop and that's where she stayed. She may have missed her mama, but along with the heater, the new calf also got an extremely warm reception from Potoroka's collie, Mickey. In fact, when the baby isn't in the barn with her mom, the pair are pretty much inseparable.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

A college sport we all can play

This past January, two Ohio colleges began competing for bragging rights to a worthy cause, showing support for local restaurant workers financially hamstrung by the pandemic. First, an Xavier College alum left a $1,000 tip on a $54 bill at Zip's Cafe. His note read, "Please share this tip with all your employees as they work so hard and are dealing with COVID. Go Xavier!"
The next week, two anonymous University of Cincinnati fans left a $1,001 tip at the nearby Keystone Bar & Grill, along with a challenge. "Let's see how long we can keep this going. Bearcats up by 1!!" The game is not quite over yet, and so far this year's "Tipoff Bowl" has scored close to $34,000 for Cincinnati's resturant employees.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

"The most unpromising boy of the whole lot"

New York City, in the 1800's, had thousands of orphaned children called "street urchins?" They begged for food to survive. A few lived at the Children's Aid Society Orphanage, but founder Charles Brace felt kids need families, not orphanages, so he organized the orphan trains. Between 1854 and 1929, about 120,000 abandoned children were given a set of new clothes and sent on trains to rural towns in the south and midwest for adoption by farm families. Upon arrival at each town, they were lined up for inspection. If an adult wanted a child and the child agreed, the deal was done. Most farmers preferred boys who could be raised as farmhands. Girls were last to be chosen, since many farm wives felt threatened by them. Most families picked well-groomed, polite children, but not Judge John Green. He picked John Brady. Perhaps he remembered the Bible verse where God reminds the prophet Samuel, "...I do not judge as people judge. They look at the outward appearance, but I look at the heart." (I Sam. 16:7) John Brady was an Irish Catholic boy who had lived on the streets of NY to avoid his father's drunken beatings. When he turned 11, he declared himself an orphan and boarded an orphan train bound for Indiana. After it arrived in Noblesville, he and fellow-orphans were fed at the Ferguson Hotel and put on display for possible adoption.

"It was the most motley crowd of youngsters I ever did see," said Judge Green, who lived in the nearby town of Tipton. "I decided to take John home with me because I felt he was the homeliest, toughest and most unpromising  boy in the whole lot. I wanted to see what could be done with such a specimen of humanity." What was done? John grew into a fine young man, respected by everyone. After high school, he was appointed master of the Mud Creek Public School in Sharpesville.  Eventually he continued his education, graduating from Yale University in 1874. He moved to Alaska, where in 1878 he founded a college to train Eskimos. He then served three terms as Governor of Alaska, all because Judge Green picked him instead of a "more promising" orphan.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

KFC serves chicken and love

 Jason Schweitzer first met Emilia when he was 5-years-old and his mom would stop at Kentucky Fried Chicken in Toronto, Canada, for a weekly meal. There was an almost instant rapport between the little boy and the sweet-natured worker who took a shine to him. He remembers, "She would always hook me up with some French fries. She was always very kind and very funny." Recently, Schweitzer grew concerned for Emilia's well-being during the pandemic, so he came up with a plan to honor the woman who'd been serving her own brand of KFC customer service to the community for almost fifty years.

In order to be sure that 70-year-old Emilia would have transportation, PPE, rent money and other necessities, as well as a financial cushion for the future, he set up a GoFundMe on her behalf, "so Emilia can continue being an amazing person." In a matter of days, donations totaling more than $25,000 flooded in, and were on target to reach the campaign's $30,000 goal. Schweitzer is extremely grateful.

Monday, February 22, 2021

She still hasn't stopped singing

 At the end of the Great War (WWI), Amy Hawkins was 7-years-old and loved to sing and dance. When she was a teenager she decided to be an entertainer, until her mom said it was not a respectable occupation for a young lady. Today, the supercentenarian chanteuse lives in Monmouth, South Wales, surrounded by her four generation family, including granddaughter Hannah Freeman, and Freeman's 14-year-old son Sacha. Even thought she no longer does it professionally, Hawkins has never stopped singing. 

"She's like a clock," says Freeman. "Once you wind her up, she won't stop. She just keeps asking, 'Would you like another one?'" On Hawkins' 110th birthday, Sacha videoed his great-gran singing one of her favorite WWI tunes, "It's a Long Way to Tipperary." When Freeman jokingly suggested Sacha post it to TikTok, neither of them could have imagined the upbeat response it would receive, reaching 100,000 views and a bevy of emotional accolades in just days.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

A warm crumb from icy Texas

Chelsea Timmons delivers groceries to customers in Austin, Texas. She was making her final delivery last Sunday, Valentine's Day, before the storm hit. But road conditions worsened quickly, and when she got to her customer's home, she drove down their sloping driveway but could not get back up to the road. Her customers, Nina Richardson and Doug Condon, offered to let her wait inside until a tow truck came, but after several hours AAA called to say her location was "inaccessible due to current conditions." 

That's when the couple offered Chelsea their guest bedroom for the night. "Not only that, but they cooked me a steak dinner!" she said. Chelsea said she bonded with Nina and Doug, who luckily still had power and water and food. "Every morning when I suggested going to a hotel, they'd ask if I could make it there safely. What would I eat? What if they lose power? For five days, they basically refused to let me leave. Every morning they'd say, 'No worries. Stay a bit longer,' and I'd go up to 'my' room and shed tears of joy." 

Saturday, February 20, 2021

From an alert reader in Bloomington, Indiana

Ryan Sivley of Austin, Texas, drives a 2010 Chevrolet Silverado four-wheel-drive pickup truck which he lovingly calls "The Beast." He also has heavy-duty hooks, chains and recovery tow straps which can pull more than 40,000 pounds. 

On Valentine's Day, Sivley, 40, the arctic blast was approaching Texas. Driving home from a store where he bought supplies, he noticed the road was covered with ice. "It was like a sea of cars," he said. "Some people were stuck in snowbanks and ditches. He went from one rescue to three to five as the storm got worse by the minute. "After 434 cars, I stopped counting," he said. And he never asked to be paid for rescuing stranded drivers.  "I had all my gear, so I thought 'let me just help.'"


Friday, February 19, 2021

A lesson learned from snow

 The snow in which I sank up to my knees, when yesterday I tried to walk upon it, has undergone since then a cold night's freeze, and I can walk upon it now with ease.

Much that I found impossible before,
I now perform without a second thought,
And much that now appears beyond my power
Will be performed in some approaching hour.
(Max Dunaway)

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Folks who live near Laurel, Maryland, love crabs

Two Laurel, Maryland twin sisters have started a first-of-its-kind business in the region -- a crab delivery service. Rae and La Middleton both have culinary degrees, but lost their jobs in March due to the pandemic. One day the twins were at brunch when they craved crabs. "We wanted crabs delivered, but realized no one in the area delivers," they said. 

So they took matters into their own hands and started the R and L Crab Company. "We went home that day and started making fliers, and we were shocked to get our first order that day," La said. "We deliver everything ourselves, we cook everything ourselves, and when we have 20 orders, we split them among the two of us." The twins says they never reheat. Every delivery in cooked-to-order and delivered to area customers within 30 minutes


Wednesday, February 17, 2021

When man is a dog's best friend

 Last month, Erina O'Shea Goetelen and her husband took their Golden Retriever and their German Shepherd for outdoor exercise in Ireland's Wicklow Mountains. Both dogs were startled by a deer and ran away. The German Shepherd fond his way back, but the Golden Retriever, named Neesha, never returned. The family made a thorough search for her, but after a week, they began to give up hope. 

Oddly enough, doctors Ciara Nolan and Jean Francois Bonnet decided to hike to the top of one of Whitlow's peaks on a frigid day. As they neared the top, they were shocked to see a dog shivering in the snow. "She was petrified, freezing cold, and didn't have enough energy to bark or stand, so we covered her with our spare clothes and gave her food," they said. Nolan lifted the dog onto Bonnet's back for the 6-mile hike down the mountain. He and the dog fell several times on the ice. As soon as they reached level ground, they brought Neesha to Ash Animal Rescue. She'd lost a lot of weight and was dehydrated, but except for few cuts and bruises, she was in surprisingly good condition, thanks to her hiker friends.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

"Oh, Mr. Price, you must be rich."

 It happened in December, 2018. Icy roads in Montevallo, Alabama, meant the elementary school would open two hours late. Bus driver Wayne Price knew about 75% of his kids were in the National School Lunch Program, which provides breakfast and lunch each day for children of low-income families. If school was delayed, they'd all miss breakfast and feel hungry until lunch. He loved his fifty kids too much to let that happen.

So he left his house a little early and drove his school bus to the nearest McDonalds. "When I got there, I asked the manager, 'Can you turn around 50 biscuits in 15 minutes and give me as good a deal as possible?' They really hustled, and I walked out with a box load of biscuits for my kids." He added, "I've got some sweet kids and I get really attached to them. They were really appreciative! I got lots of fist-bumps and high-fives, and lots of 'I love you, Mr. Price.' One of my kids said, 'Oh, Mr. Price, you must be rich."

Monday, February 15, 2021

Employee wins car, and then....

 Haley Bridges, 17, had only worked at the Chick-fil-A in Grand Chute, Wisconsin, for five months, but her co-workers had already become her "second family." She entered the Christmas raffle for Chick-fil-A employees. The prize was a new car, and she won! She knew exactly what she'd do next.

She gave the car away to her new Chick-fil-A "sister," 19-year-old Hokulea Taniguchi, who is from Honolulu, Hawaii, and has been commuting to work every day on a bicycle. Haley had already told Hokulea that she'd give her the car if she won. "I just started crying because I was so happy," said Hokulea. "I was like, 'Oh my gosh, I can't believe this is real! Now I can go grocery shopping." She can also leave home five minutes before her shift starts, instead of spending an hour pedaling.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

"He will forever be my hero."

Mercedes Boggs was on her way to work in Kentucky last month when her car hit a patch of ice, flipped on its side and slid down an embankment, coming to rest in a frigid creek. After regaining consciousness, with cold water rushing in through the smashed windshield, she realized she was trapped. She later wrote on her Facebook page, "Today I saw my life flash before my eyes. I didn't think about the championships I was part of winning, or the degrees, but about what I was leaving behind. A family that means the world to me. Friends that I've spent the last 25 years with. Life is precious and I'm so thankful my heart is still beating, and for the breath still in my lungs." 

How did she survive? Kentucky coal miner John Burke was on his way home from working the night shift when he saw Boggs' car in the creek. Walking into the water, he freed her from her mangled vehicle, and just as he was helping her up the embankment, her car burst into flames. Had he not come along, she would likely have died in the inferno. 

She was rushed to the hospital without even knowing the name of the person who saved her, so she went on Facebook with a plea of finding and thanking her "guardian angel." Burke saw it and messaged Boggs. He downplayed his part in her rescue, but Boggs and her family disagree. "He will forever be my hero," she said. "He was the person who saved my life."

Saturday, February 13, 2021

It was not only lost, but also forgotten

Paul Grisham enlisted in the Navy in 1948. He was assigned to Antarctica as part of "Operation Deep Freeze" which supported civilian scientists. So he shipped out to the frozen continent and at some point during his 13-month tour he lost his wallet, something he later forgot about.

It contained his Navy ID card, drivers license, a pocket reference card telling what to do in case of atomic, biological and chemical attacks, a beer ration punch card, a tax withholding statement and receipts for money orders sent to his wife. There was no cash, since there was nothing to buy in Antarctica. The wallet was found behind a locker in 2014 during demolition of a building at McMurdo Station on Antarctica's Ross Island. But returning it to it's owner took emails, letters and Facebook messages from a group of amateur sleuths. "There was a long series of people involved who tracked me down," Grisham admitted gratefully. 


Friday, February 12, 2021

Remember Bernie's gloves?

 Then you must remember Jen Ellis, the Vermont teacher whose cute and comfy mittens got heaps of attention when he wore them to the inauguration. Good news! Mitten madness isn't over! Ellis has partnered with a company called Vermont Teddy Bear to sell "Bernie Mittens." A portion of the profits will benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Vermont. 

She taught the company's designers how to replicate her patterns, and the whole process will be local and sustainable. Sanders' own team is already selling sweatshirts with his iconic inauguration day look, mittens front and center, and has raised almost $2 million for Meals on Wheels in Vermont.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

An example of pandemic kindness

A pair of family friends from Westerly, Rhode Island, jumped into their snow gear and shoveled out the cars of hospital workers in the midst of a recent winter storm. Abbey Meeker, 29, and her best friend's 10-year-old son, Christian Stone, love giving back in small ways whenever they can. But when the storm hit, Stone (who Meeker says is "wise beyond his years") decided to give back by helping those working around the clock to help the community recover from the pandemic.

They bundled up and headed to Westerly Hospital where they shoveled out more than 50 cars. When the staff came out and saw the duo wiping away car after car, they were beyond grateful and asked to pay them for their services. But Meeker says it was never about money. She told them, "Your storm is inside. This is our storm to handle."


Wednesday, February 10, 2021

"I decided to be that person"

 Deputy Josh Fiorelli of the Osceola County Sheriff's Office in Kissimmee, Florida, was passing by when he noticed a dog that had been hit by a car. The dog was alive, but hurt enough that she could not move. Josh called for help and then sat down beside the dog and started petting her.

Some dogs might get defensive when they're hurt, but she seemed to welcome the officer being there. Josh then put his jacket over the dog to keep her warm. He says, "She didn't have anyone, so I decided to be that person." Carlos Irizzary was walking his own dog when he saw Josh and snapped this photo and posted it online. It was later shared by several news outlets around the country. The dog was soon treated for a dislocated leg.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

An offer she couldn't refuse

Chicago restauranteur Robert Magiet was driving town one January morning when he spotted a shivering tamale vendor braving frigid temperatures. Her name was Yolanda, and her Tamale Cart was near Humboldt Park. On the spur of the moment, he decided to make her an offer she couldn't refuse.

He bought our her entire day's supply -- close to 10 dozen tamales. Then he gave her a big tip and sent her on her way. After she'd gratefully gone home to warm up, Magiet loaded up the copious quantities of tamales he'd purchased and distributed them to some of Chicagoland's homeless population.

Monday, February 8, 2021

In Salisbury, people enjoy getting vaccinated

The 800-year-old cathedral in Salisbury, England, has become a mass vaccination center. David Halls is the cathedral's music director, so he did what he does best. He sat down on the bench and began to play the historic organ.

 He offers a bit of Bach, Handel, and even some Rogers & Hammerstein, to the public as they shuffle through the nave to get their shots. "At times of crisis, people come together and want to listen to music," he says. "So I don't think it's any surprise the effect soothing music has on people who probably are feeling quite stressed for various reasons."  (As reported in The Christian Science Monitor)

Saturday, February 6, 2021

A new use for potato chip bags

 Environmental activist Eradajere Oleita of Detroit, Michigan, is creating much-needed warmth for the homeless using potato chip bags. It's brilliantly simple. By cutting, attaching and ironing used chip bags, and then lining them with plastic, she creates sleeping bags that are durable, waterproof, and EXTREMELY lightweight.

It takes about 150 used snack bags to make a single sleeping bag, and Oleita says she's trying to make 60 complete bags by early February.

Friday, February 5, 2021

Champ gives back to community

 When Dustin Poirier the 32-year-old former Interim UFC Lightweight Champion, wanted to give back to his hometown of Lafayette, Louisiana, he and his wife Jolie looked into their closet for inspiration. They began auctioning off the shorts, jackets and wraps that Poirier used in dozens of storied fights, selling they through a new nonprofit called "The Good Fight," which is dedicated to helping underserved communities in their local Acadiana region. The first auctioned kit was from the Poirier vs Eddy Alvarez fight, and proceeds provided 3,000 meals for their local Second Harvest Food Bank.

In August, 2019, auction proceeds paid for a playground for children, but especially for kids with special needs, fulfilling the dying wish of a young boy in a wheelchair after Jolie heard his story. Poirier says it makes him feel "really proud" and happy --especially since he's the father of a 4-year-old daughter. "I can be a tough guy, travel all around the world and get into bloody fights," he says, "but I can come home and I'm still dad. I can play Barbies. It really balances me out."

Thursday, February 4, 2021

It's Girl Scout cookie time again

 Girl Scout Troop 6000 may look like most other troops, but it's not. All 22 young members of the troop live at the Sleep Inn, a 10-story homeless shelter in Queens, New York City. Troop 6000 is the first troop designed specifically for girls living in the New York City Shelter System.

The troop has become an invaluable part of raising the shelter girls. Since it began, it has served girls from kindergarten to high school. "Every girl in the five boroughs of New York City deserves a chance to reach her full potential; to have her eyes opened to the possibilities for college and careers, to make loving and supportive friends and learn from caring female mentors, and chart her own course and achieve her goals," say a Girl Scout representative. "That's what Troop 6000 is all about."

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

A book club with a mission

The Fabulous Ladies Book Club liked to meet at a restaurant in Ruidoso, New Mexico, but all that changed when the pandemic hit. Like most book clubs, the Fabulous Ladies now meet online. But in recent weeks, they found a good reason to actually see each other in person. They are helping to vaccinate their town. It all started December 28, when book club member Keri Rath, one of the few OB/GYNs in this mountain town of about 8,000, heard that the state had free vaccine doses but needed help putting them into people's arms. 

The club started on January 3, and by January 23 they had administered more than 2,400 vaccine doses, about 30% of their town. One registrations began rolling in, the club members got themselves vaccinated and trained and then got busy running their pop-up clinic. The Fabulous Ladies volunteered as many as 50 hours a week. They are exhausted but exhilarated.

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Boutique owner thinks outside the box

When COVID-19 hit, Virginia Sharp knew she had to keep paying her bills as the owner of a small boutique, so she decided to think outside the box. Given mandated shelter-in-place orders, she transformed her sales efforts from the brick-and-mortar location in Macon, Georgia, to social media which reaches the masses.

Every Friday night she started streaming live fashion shows with  different theme each week, and it transformed her business. Sharp has found an online niche, and it has percolated sales coming from new customers as far away as Alaska. A large part of her business today is packing up boxes to ship all over the country.