Tuesday, March 30, 2021

School honors its custodian

High school custodian Samuel James has been walking to work ever since his car gave out on him. But thanks to the kindness of a colleague, his days of traveling by foot are over. James was recently surprised with a Toyota Highlander SUV outside Citronelle High School in Alabama, and the emotional moment was captured on video and later shared on the school's Facebook page.
"Our custodian Samuel James has been without a vehicle for some time, and has also been down with an injury recently," the school wrote. "We at Citronelle High wanted to help him out and get him back on his feet. Thank you, Sam, for all your years of service and for keeping our athletic facilities and our grounds in great shape!"

Monday, March 29, 2021

The truck stops here

After watching news stories where truckers detailed the harsh realities of trucking in an age of Covid-19, like not being allowed to use restrooms, or being forced to stay in their cabs for several hours after crossing the border, Beverly Perrin and her husband Dick began delivering batches of 75 to 100 personalized thank-you cards every three or four weeks to a truck stop near their home in Chatham, Ontario, Canada. So far, they've delived about 1,000 cards.
"When I first started doing it, they just kind of looked at me like, 'Really?'" said Perrin. "One trucker asked me, 'How much do I pay you?'I told him it's just from me to you, as a senior, that we so appreciate you." One could say that, when it comes to acts of pure kindness, for this thank-you note writer, "the truck stops here."

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Stray dog tries to steal unicorn

Animal control officers were called to the Dollar General in Kenansville, North Carolina, about 80 miles from Raleigh, after employees saw a Lab mix dart into the store every time a customer exited. Each time the stray dog got in, he ran to grab the same plush purple unicorn toy. Samantha Lane, the officer who responded to the store's call, was so taken by the dog's devotion to the unicorn that she bought the $10 toy for the dog.
The canine was happy once he had his beloved unicorn, and went with Lane to the Duplin County Animal Services shelter. The shelter posted a picture of the pup and his unicorn on their Facebook page. He was considered a stray intake at the shelter because no one came forward to claim him. He spent several nights curled up with his unicorn until a family came forward to adopt him, along with his toy. The shelter offered to buy the adoptive family several more toy unicorns, in case the first one wears out.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

A crumb from Nigeria

For more than ten years, Zannah Mustapha has devoted his life to providing hope and peace for children caught in the Boko Haram insurgency. The militant group's name means, "Western education is forbidden," and its fighters have terrorized schools for years. Mustapha, a Nigerian-born attorney and humanitarian, started educating children affected by this ongoing violence in 2007. Now he and his staff teach more than 2,000 students from both sides of the conflict at the Future Prowess Islamic Foundation School in Maiduguri, Nigeria.
They includes orphaned children of insurgent fighters, and children displaced by the conflict. So far, he says 1,023 children have graduated and many have gone on to college. Mustapha did even more lifesaving work four years ago when he helped mediate the release of 103 Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Buzz Lightyear returns to owner in style

In the flurry of a last-minute, unexpected trip, two-year-old Hagan Davis left his Buzz Lightyear action figure on an airplane. His parents never expected to see it again, but they did, thanks to the Southwest airlines ground crew at Clinton National Airport in Little Rock, Arkansas. Taking a cue from the Toy Story film, the Davises had inscribed Hagan's name on the sole of Buzz's space boot. Operations agent Beth Buchanan matched the name with an Elk Grove, California, boy on the passenger list. When her co-worker Jason William Hamm saw Buzz on Beth's desk, he made it his mission to get Buzz back where he belonged.
Hamm emailed the Davises that Commander Lightyear would soon be California bound, but he wasn't content to send Buzz home in a boring, empty box. So he posed the action figure at several airport locales, including a runway in front of a jet plane, and enclosed the photos along with this note. "To Commander Hagen. I am very excited to return to you upon completing my mission. I was able to explore the airport in Little Rock, Arkansas, while I was away, and I have included photos of my adventure. My journey has taught me a lot, but I am so thankful to return to my buddy."

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Sports is about more than winning

Matt Montie is a varsity forward basketball player for Marenisco High School in Wakefield, Michigan. After a recent game against the Dollar Bay Blue Bolts, he noticed that a player on Dollar Bay's junior varsity team was wearing the wrong shoes for the sport. Matt understands the importance of wearing the right gear. So when he spotted the younger player's inadequate shoes, he felt compelled to do something.
After taking off his red LeBron James Nike basketball sneakers, Matt handed them to a member of his school's JV team, who then passed them to the opposing team's athletic director. The JV player in question had alreaady gone home, but the shoes made their way into his hands later that night.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Teachers go the extra mile, literally

Middle school teacher Brandee Brandt pounded on the door of an apartment in San Antonio, Texas, for the third time one January afternoon. As reported in The Christian Science Monitor, she was searching for Davey, one of her students. Finally Davey's older brother opened the door. "You really aren't going away, are you?" he said. She asked him to get Davey, 13, who had suddenly stopped doing his online schoolwork. Brandee and fellow eighth grade teacher Emily Countryman from Rawlinson Middle School would spend all day knocking on doors.
Since school began, a squad of Rawlinson teachers have visited over 100 homes. Every few weeks, school staff make a list of kids who need a visit. Two teachers volunteer, and the school hires subs on the day they are door-knocking. The teachers' relentless pursuit of these kids is why Rawlinson averaged 99% attendance at Christmas break -- about 8% igher than the district middle school average.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Today's crumb honors paw-inspiring handiwork

Darius Brown's sister, Dazhai, taught him to sew when he was only eight. His first project was a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle-themed bowtie. It was so popular with his friends that he knew he'd found his niche. When he learned about all the family pets left homeless by Hurricane Irma in 2017, he was inspired to invest his emerging talent in helping them get adaopted. He knew they'd need to look sharp to attract attention, so he made the dogs bowties.
He soon delivered his first batch of 25 rescue bowties to New York City's ASPCA animal shelter. "I saw how happy the people at the shelter were to get the bowties, and how much the dogs liked them, and I decided to make more," he said. His goal is to give bowties to an animal shelter in every state. He estimates he's sewn about 600 bowties for animals since he started out on his paw-inspiring mission.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Do you ignore yard sales?

According to Sotheby's appraisal, the bowl pictured here dates back to the Ming dynasty of the early 1400's. Of six other bowls of this kind that are known to exist, two are in the National Palace Museum in Taipei, Taiwan. Two are in museums in London, and one is in the National Museum of Iran in Tehran. None are in the United States.
Last year, an unidentified Connecticut man paid $35 for this bowl at a yard sale. Then he sent its picture to Sotheby's, where an Important Chinese Art auction was held this month. His yard sale bowl was auctioned off for $721,800.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

"It's the least I can do."

During the many years that Graham Nesbitt, 65, managed the local skating arena in Seaforth, Ontario, Canada, he routinely went above and beyond the call of duty -- opening the rink early, staying late even in the face of snowstorms -- to ensure neighborhood kids could get in as many hours on the ice as possible. No one is more grateful for his dedication than Bonnie O'Reilly. Her two sons, Ryan and Cal, who skated under Nesbitt's watchful eye, both went on to play in the NHL.
When the community heard that Nesbitt needed a kidney donation, folks lined up to be tested to see if they might be a match. Bonnie was in that line, and when she learned she was a match, the only thing left to do was to arrange for surgery. She told Nesbitt, "What you've done for my boys, helping them achieve their goal of playing professional hockey, it's the least I can do."

Saturday, March 20, 2021

A spoonful of sugar....

A spoonful of sugar may help the medicine go down, but when it comes to a shot in the arm, there's nothing more soothing than a little music -- especially when it's played by world-class cellist Yo-Yo Ma. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, but is also a part-time resident of the Berkshires, and recently he went to Berkshire Community College's field house clinic in Pittsfield to receive his second inoculation dose.
When he drove to the clinic, his cello was in his car, and he realized he could not leave it unattended, for insurance reasons. So he carried it inside. After getting his shot, and while waiting out his 15-minute observation period, he sat down and played a masked and socially distant impromptu concert for his fellow "inoculees." Everyone applauded. The college published footage of Yo Yo Ma's vaccination performance, and the post went "viral," -- but in a nice way.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Students support their substitute teacher

When Jose Villarruel of Fontana, California, opens the door of his 1997 Ford Thunderbird, he's very careful. He relies on the car's power to keep his laptop charged. He is a substitute teacher and tutor, and has been living in his car since 2013. He explains, "I couldn't possibly support my family and extended family in Mexico and rent an apartment here with the income I have."
One of his former students, Steven Nava, would drive to work about 5 a.m. and see Villarruel going through his trunk, and he felt he needed to do something about it, so he created a fundraising account and shared it on social media. This month, on Villarruel's 77th birthday, Nava presented the man affectionately known as Mr. V with a check for $27,000 and a serenade from a number of his former students. Nava said it was an honor for him to help the man who has helped mold so many students.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Waffle maker comes to the rescue

Jenna Roman's son Jerico eats two boxes of Nature's Path frozen maple waffles every day, and no other solid food. The nearly 10-year-old boy from Surrey, British Columbia, Canada, has autism and complex eating challenges, making it difficult for him to stomach any other kind of solid food. But his family recently faced a challenge. The British Columbia company discontinued the waffles, and supplies in Canadian stores ran out. A friend who works at Nature's Path spread Roman's story, and the management took notice.
Samantha Falk, who leads Nature's Path's communication team, said the company wanted to help. "We reached out aross North America and most of our waffles have been sold, but we didn't give up, and we managed to track down six cases at a warehouse freezer in Illinois. Falk said the cases will be shipped to Roman, who has launched a GoFundMe campaign to help pay for a deep freezer to store the waffles. The company also spent a month creating a recipe for the waffles using ingredients available at home, and gave Roman the recipe and the ingredients to use when the six cases of waffles run out.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

She was a shining light...

Michael Lacey hasn't had it easy over the past few decades, having served 21 years in prison until his release three years ago. But during that time, there were still moments of goodness and light. One of them was all the time he spent with his GED teacher, Ms. Rice. Recently he gave her a surprise visit and documented the entire reunion on Tik Tok. It happened after he ran into Ms. Rice's roommate at a photography gig. Together, they came up with a plan for him to show up on her doorstep unexpected. He was nervous at first, but as soon as the door opened, he knew he had nothing to worry about.
The sweet teacher immediately exclaimed, "Mr. Lacey?" Between laughter and tears, she adds, "How are you? Well, come in, come in!" Lacey isn't the first person whose life she changed. He said, "I've seen her help more than 300 inmates get their GED. She never judged any of us. She was a shining light in that dark place."

Monday, March 15, 2021

A girl scout crumb (without cookies)

Josephine Holloway, who was born this month in 1898, worked to ensure African American girls could be part of the Girl Scouts. After graduating from Fisk University, she began working with girls at the Bethlehem Center in Nashville, Tennessee, where she was able to bring Girl Scout-inspired activities to more than 300 girls. She even attended a training by Juliette Gordon Low. When her oldest daughter turned six in 1933, Holloway applied to start a troop, but the Nashville Girl Scout Council would not allow her to start an African American troop.
She did not give up. She continued to fight for her daughters and other African American girls to have an opportunity to join. Then in 1942, she was able to form an official African American Girl Scout troop. She was hired by the Girl Scouts as a field advisor for black troops. In this position, she supervised thousands of African American girls and adults.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Emilee bakes for elderly

Emilee Suddarth, 9, of Lee's Summit, Missouri, loves to bake. She's turned baking into a little business, baking for friends and family. But it's not about profit. She uses her earnings to bake desserts for the elderly who rely on the nonprofit One Good Meal for food deliveries. Emilee and her mom volunteer with the organization.
With annual fundraisers cancelled due to the pandemic, Emilee instead auctioned off a tray of her sweets. There was a bidding war, and the top three bidders donated $100 each. Another bidder offered to match their bids, for a total of $600. That will provide 130 meals to Lee's Summit residents who might otherwise go hungry. "I was speechless," said Emilee.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

She didn't complain

Born in 1983, even as a young girl, Diana Trujillo had a passion for science. But she doubted she'd rise very far in the male-dominated field. When she was 17 fate stepped in. Thinking a second language might expand her horizon, her father offered to send her to live with an aunt in Miami, and she accepted. With just $300 to her name, she took housekeeping jobs to put herself through Miami Dade College. In addition to learning English, she studied aerospace engineering. Sometimes she had to take six busses to get to class. On other days she'd clean bathrooms to help pay her tuition. But she didn't complain.
She became the first Hispanic woman to be admitted to NASA Academy, where she did so well that she was one of only two students offered a job by the prestigious institution. Long story short -- this February, when the Perseverance rover landed on Mars, it was accompanied by commentary from Trujillo in what became NASA's first-ever Spanish-language transmission.

Friday, March 12, 2021

A great student teacher relationship

Jonte Lee is a chemistry and physics teacher at Calvin Coolidge High School in Washington, D.C. He's also among many instructors who have had to adapt to virtual teaching and remote learning. It's important to Lee to give his students a good education, even in quarantine. So he transformed his kitchen into a chemistry lab "for the love of my students." From home, he has streamed fun experiments and demonstrations via Instagram Live -- and his students love it.
He says, "I have gotten 100% participation from my students. They complete the work and they ask questions. They don't just come with their brain -- they come with their hearts. Then I can help them advance academically."

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Texans were generous during the storm

When Tim and Deb Hennessy decided to go to the grocery store during last month's deadly winter storm in Texas, they immediately regretted the trip. Long lines of people were waiting outside to enter the Leander H-E-B Plus. But the couple wanted to be prepared in case conditions worsened, so they shopped for about 15 minutes before the store lost power and the lights went out. Customers continued shopping until the manager asked them to head to the front. Tim and Deb joined what he estimated to be more than 100 people in a slow-moving checkout line. He remembers, "I honestly thought they were gonna say, 'Hey folks, leave your carts, we'll put the stuff away. Sorry for the inconvenience but we have no way of registering this stuff.'" That's when Deb took this picture.
Instead, the cashier waved them through the checkout lane, saying there wasn't time to bag everything. Tim assumed someone would take his contact information for payment later, but when Deb inquired about paying, the cashier just motioned them towards the door, wishing them safe travels home. Again Tim remembers, "I saw all these people going out with carts of food, and no bags, and then it kind of hit us. They're letting everybody leave without asking who they are, how much money do you have, nothing." That's when Deb's eyes began to tear up. "What a gesture in a moment with all these people," he said. "It's been a tough year. Then you get this storm where people's power is out. It was just a nice gesture from the company." And shoppers paid it forward. Out in the snowy parking lot, complete strangers helped each other unload shopping carts into cars. One older lady's car was stuck in the snow, and four other shoppers pushed her out so she could drive home.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Monday, March 8, was International Women's Day. Many famous women were remembered, but our Crumb of Comfort is dedicated to the finest of them all -- wives and mothers. To honor these unsung heroines, we offer a verse written by Edgar Guest, who, for 30 years, wrote a daily poem for the Detroit Free Press. That's more than 11,000 poems. His verses were eventually syndicated in 300 newspapers and republished in 20 books. Today's verse was dedicated to his wife Nellie. If it reminds you of your wife or mother, why not text her and tell her.
Nellie made a cup of tea, made and poured it out for me, And above the steaming brew smiled and asked me, "one or two?" Saucily she tossed her head. "Make it sweet for me," I said. Two sweet lumps of sugar fell into that small china well, But I knew the while I drained every drop the cup contained, More than sugar in the tea made the beverage sweet for me. This to her I tried to say in that golden yesterday -- Life is like a cup of tea which time poureth endlessly. Brewed by trial's constant heat, needing love to make it sweet. Then I caught her looking up and I held my dainty cup out to her and bravely said, "Here is all that lies ahead, Here is all my life to be. Will you make it sweet for me? That was years ago, and now there is silver in her brow; We have sorrowed, we have smiled, we've been hurt and reconciled. But whatever had to be, she has made it sweet for me.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

"He will not see me stopping here..."

In case his poems didn't sell, Robert Frost had a day job. He was a farmer, but not a very good one. On December 22, 1923, he realized he had no money to buy his children Christmas gifts, so he gathered some farm produce, hitched up his horse, and took a wagon load to town to sell. No one bought anything, and as he returned home penniless a sense of failure overwhelmed him. He could not tell his family the bad news, so he stopped the horse and "bawled like a baby." Eventually his horse, Eunice, jingled her bells and he pulled himself together.

He said later, "A man has as much right as a woman to a good cry now and again. The snow gave me shelter; the horse understood and gave me the time." Frost's daughter Lesley agrees his ride home from town inspired a poem which made her father famous. It appeared in The New Republic. Perhaps you remember. "Whose woods these are I think I know. His house is in the village though; he will not see me stopping here to watch his woods fill up with snow." Lesley said it was her father's favorite poem. 

Monday, March 8, 2021

Girl Scouts in emergency shelter sell cookies

It's Girl Scout Cookie season, and one troop in Iowa is absolutely crushing it. Troop 64224 of Council Bluffs has sold more than 5,000 boxes of cookies, shattering its sales goal for the 2021 cookie selling season. And they've done it while living in an emergency shelter for the homeless.
The girls, who are between 5 and 8 years old, live in the Micah House shelter, and their troop membership changes based on who is living at the shelter at any given time. They've reached great cookie heights by using social media, and even fulfilled another goal of selling to customers in all 50 states, and Washington, D.C.

Sunday, March 7, 2021

A crumb from Thailand

A brave navy sailor recently plunged into choppy waters to rescue four kittens from a burning ship off the coast of Thailand. Thatsaphon Saii, 23, received the emergency call and dove into the water -- while still wearing his pants -- to swim over to the wreckage. All eight crew members had alread escaped the inferno and been picked up by a passing fishing boat, but four terrified kittens were left behind.
The kittens ran to the bow of the boat, and were left clinging to a crane structure as flames rapidly engulfed the ship. Thatsaphon swam 50 feet through rough before he climbed aboard the sinking ship and put three cats into an old rice sack. The other kitten he carried on one of his shoulders. All the cats had become dehydrated, but survived.

Saturday, March 6, 2021

A labradoodle love affair

Meet a labradoodle who acts like a human, thanks to his incredible bond with his best friend, a seven-year-old boy who was adopted into the family at the same time he was. Pooch Reagan belongs to grandmother Sandi Swiridoff, 60, who adopted him just months before her daughter, Kari Lewis, 31, adopted Buddy, also 11 months old.
Reagan the dog was over the moon when his new family welcomed a foster baby, Buddy, into their home. The pair are growing up together as brother and sister. Now Buddy and his little sister Reagan, have both been permanently adopted by the Lewis family, so the boy and his dog are best friends forever.

Friday, March 5, 2021

Scottish snowplows have names

Scotland held a public drive this winter to name more than 50 snowplows responsible for keeping the roads safe for motorists -- and the results are funny. The contest was organized by Amey, a company responsible for maintaining public highway. It ran from December 23 to January 23, and online submissions took puns to a new level, plus several tributes to the nation's late, beloved star, Sean Connery.
Plow names recommended by the public included Sled Zeppelin, Spreddie Van Halen, Mary Queen of Salt, and Salt Disney. Bond-themed trucks will be called Dr. Snow, License to Chill, and On Her Majesty's Slippery Surface.

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Free food forest crops up

There's a seven-acre farm in Atlanta, Georgia, where residents can walk into a forest, take a deep breath, and begin picking crops right off the land for dinner. Originally a pecan farm, the Food Forest at Browns Mill contains 2,500 edible and medicinal plants available for anyone in need. It's only 10 minutes from Atlanta airport, and the nearest grocery store for area residents is a 30-minute bus ride away.
Browns Mill is one of a growing number of free food forests cropping up around the country, and citizens and organizations attempt to grapple with problems of hunger and food deserts. In Atlanta, about 125,000 people live in areas defined as food deserts, based on their distance from grocery stores.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Students pay for groceries with good deeds

Linda Tutt High School in Sanger, Texas, north of Dallas, launched an on-campus grocery store in November so students could buy nescessities including toilet paper, meat and basic food items. They pay for their purchases by earning points from doing good deeds. There are 2,750 students in the district. Forty-three percent are considered economically disadvantaged, and 3.6 percent are considered homeless. The high school partnered with First Refuge Ministries, Texas Health Resources and the grocery store Albertsons to open the store, which is completely run by students.
Students in the entire school district can buy whatever they need using a number of points, initially set depending on the size of their family. After that, students can earn more points for outstanding performance in school, doing good deeds in school, or completing jobs around school like helping in the library or mentoring elementary school students.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Linked by kindness

Gosport is a rural Indiana town of 800. It has an elementary school with 150 students -- one room for each grade from pre-K through six. Students learn more than their A-B-Cs. For the past 15 years, the school has included a character education program. Students focus on a different character trait each month, which is woven into academic lessons. The February word-of-the-month was "empathy."
During February, students wrote their name and what good deed they had done on a half-inch wide strip of construction paper. The photo above, taken by Laura Lane for the Herald-Times in Bloomington, Indiana, shows the result. At the end of the month, each student brought his or her links of kindness to the playground where teachers stapled them all together. The chain was long, with 1,847 blue, green, pink, orange, yellow, purple and red links representing 1,847 acts of kindness. "I noticed that my mom was having a hard time with the baby, so I helped by feeding her all by myself," wrote a third grader. After completing the chain, students chanted "kindness matters."

Monday, March 1, 2021

Keeping his competition in business

One Wisconsin restaurant owner has found he gets optimum return on investment when he promotes his competition. Adolfo Melendez, who owns Tex-Mex eatery El Mezcal, knows firsthand the impact the pandemic has had on the restaurant industry. Family-based local places like his are especially hard hit.
To help stave off restaurant cutbacks and closures in his community, Melendez purchased more than $2,000 worth of gift cards to other neighborhood restaurants, and has been raffling them off to his customers via Facebook. Olympia Family Restaurant owner Pete Ananiadis truly appreciates the selfless gesture. "In these COVID times, it's very important to eat local, at small mom and pop shops," he said. "Aldofo understands that."