Today’s Good News

In NewPodcasts, Outreach by Josh

MORE GOOD NEWS from days gone by…

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Felix knows how awesome that crack of the bat can be. He hit two home runs in one game as his entire family cheered him on. After the game, his parents said he should sign his homerun baseballs. On the first ball, Felix wrote “best feeling ever!”, but on the other he wrote a very special message.

Felix presented the baseball to his grandfather, who he calls Papa. Written on the homerun ball was “Papa I Love You.” Papa burst into tears asking “Why did you do that?” To which Felix said “Because you taught me everything about baseball.”

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Melissa Carrier-Damon (@carrierdamon)

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Jimmy Amisial was on break from Texas State University, visiting his mom in their native Haiti. He brought presents for the children at an orphanage next door to his mom Elicie’s house. On his way to deliver the gifts, Jimmy noticed a group of people gathered around a garbage bin. Lying inside was a four-month-old baby boy.

No one was helping and Jimmy knew immediately he was meant to care for this child. He brought the baby home to his mom, where they fed and clothed the child and met with authorities to track down the parents. They were never found. A judge asked Jimmy if he would become the child’s legal guardian – and despite college tuition to pay, he knew it was not just the right thing to do – it was his purpose.

Jimmy named the child Emilio and is still working towards officially adopting the child. He has split time between the US and Haiti, where he and his mom have been raising Emilio for five years now. Emilio just started school and is a joyful little boy who wants to be a musician when he grows up. Jimmy never had a father – so he is grateful that God gave him the opportunity to be Daddy for Emilio.

Monday, August 29, 2022

Sydney McLaughlin is a gold medal winning US Olympian who knows the real source of her record setting speed – that’s her relationship with Jesus.

When the 22 year old crossed the finish line of the 400-meter hurdles at the World Athletics Championship this Summer, she knew she had first place – then she saw she had broken her own world record time!

She posted to Instagram “Praise. His. Name,” along with a passage of scripture from Hebrews: “So let us come BOLDLY to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”

Sydney has always been outspoken about her faith – using her platform to not only break world records but show the world Jesus. LifeSongs hopes to always use this platform to tell our world about Jesus – and hopefully set some records too. Shareathon in just a week and a half away. Give now!

Friday, August 26, 2022

How can soccer positively impact climate change? A teenaged football star from Kenya is issuing a challenge to FIFA and professional soccer stars with his Trees4Goals program.

Every time amateur footballer Lesein Mutunkei scores a goal in his African league, he plants 11 trees – one tree to represent each player on his team. He hopes to score a lot of goals and plant a lot of trees – and secure some endorsements from professional soccer players willing to do the same.

Mutunkei says “Football is a universal game and climate change is a universal problem.”

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Lesein Mutunkei (@trees4goals)

Thursday, August 25, 2022

You know that sinking feeling of dread you get when a police officer flashes his lights and siren for you to pull over? It’s the worst. But remember, the motto for police is to SERVE and Protect. When Chy-Niece Thacker got pulled over she had no idea what kind of full service Officer Jenkins of the Henrico County Virginia Police was going to offer.

When Officer Jenkins informed Chy-Niece that her brake lights were out and she was just getting a warning, but needed to get them fixed, Chy-Niece breathed a sigh of relief and then began to vent about how she had just had them replaced and couldn’t afford another trip to the mechanic.

Thankfully Officer Jenkins is a bit of a mechanic. He had her pop her hood, started investigating the problem and a few minutes later, when Chy-Niece merged back into traffic, she did not have a written warning and she DID have working brake lights. And a new friend.

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Sid Edwards noticed his 17-year-old son staring at a young man stocking the orange juice display while out at Rouses in Baton Rouge. It is not uncommon for Jack Ryan to fixate on things as a part of how his brain is wired with autism. When Jordan Taylor, the grocery worker noticed Jack Ryan’s interest he asked the boy if he’d like to help.

For the next THIRTY MINUTES, Jordan patiently taught Jack Ryan how to stock the wall of orange juice. Sid caught some of it on his cell phone – he can be heard nearly in tears saying “I’m watching a miracle in action.”

Because Jordan invested just 30 minutes of his day in Jack Ryan, an entire family was able to experience relief and love. The video has been shared nearly half a million times. Others were so inspired by Jordan’s patience with Jack Ryan that they raised over $135,000 for the young man’s education and Neighbors Federal Credit Union bought him a new car to reward him for his kindness.

And Jack Ryan has come back multiple times to stock shelves with Jordan. He has become such a permanent fixture that Rouses offered the young autistic man a full-time job.

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Jeff and Susan Grant were forced to evacuate their home in Shasta, CA during one of the largest forest fires in California history.

The couple feared the worst as they spent a week and half in a hotel, waiting for the all clear to return and pick up the pieces of their life. A friend snuck back to their neighborhood and was able to confirm their home still stood. When the couple returned home they found not only their house in pristine condition, but their garden and yard were green – their pen of baby turkeys were thriving. And they found a note on the door.

Red Bluff Fire Chief Ray Barber had saved the family’s home, watered their garden, checked on the livestock every day the firefighters were in the area. He even left a kind note to encourage Jeff and Susan. The grateful, relieved couple were able to track down Ray and thank him in person, as well as share the story of kindness on social media.

Monday, August 22, 2022

Sometimes your intuition might just be God’s Spirit putting you in the right place at the right time.

That’s what happened with Jessica Higgs. She was delivering groceries for Instacart. The groceries were for an elderly man, ordered by his daughter on his behalf. When Jessica got to the home, something inside of her let her know something was wrong.

Once she dropped off the groceries, she noticed the older gentleman looked very sick. When she stepped inside the home she also immediately began feeling dizzy. She helped evacuate the older man and his grandson who was at the house. Turns out there was a propane leak in the house and Jessica likely saved two lives by listening to her gut.

Friday, August 19, 2022

Larry is a retired veteran of the United States military. He’s a proud man who does his best to take care of his wife and family. In 2020 he suffered a stroke but pushed hard to relearn how to walk and get around. Still, it is a struggle. His roof needed expensive repair work, so Larry took a job delivering groceries in the Ogden, Utah area.

Jen Weiss ordered groceries for delivery – but when she later saw the doorbell cam footage of Larry struggling up the steps, carefully delivering her food, her heart broke for the man. She wanted to know his story, so she got on social media and was eventually connected to Larry’s family and learned his story. Together they set up Venmo to get Larry’s roof repaired – and help flooded in!

Larry and his wife were overwhelmed by the kindness but have since asked folks to give to Toys for Tots or other worthy organizations (like LifeSongs!) now that they are provided for.

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Metairie store NOLA Forever by K is featuring the work of a young artist with a purpose.

16 year old Brent Normand II spent the pandemic expressing his creative side by working with his parents to upcycle his collection of bottle caps. The stylish art is now being showcased at NOLA Forever and bringing awareness to the struggles and talents of kids with autism.

Brent has Asperger’s Syndrome, so the pandemic shutdown was very difficult for him. He was cut off from friends in his Boy Scout troop. Brent is working towards Eagle Scout status, but instead sitting and waiting for COVID to run its course, he got to work creating art which is generating enough money to help pay for future Scout trips. Plus, this should totally earn him an Entrepreneur badge!

Not only is NOLA Forever by K selling the young artist’s work, but anyone who brings in extra bottle caps for his continuing work gets 10% off any purchase in the store.

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Alena Analeigh Wicker is 13, and she has already got her life together.

Last year she graduated high school at the age of 12. Now Alena is going to medical school to become a real life Doogie Howser. This Spring she was accepted to the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Heersink School of Medicine.

Alena shared her exciting life news with her 20,000 Instagram followers – because she is also a social media influencer, of course! She claims to be a normal 13 year old, but I don’t know any other teens who are working on two undergraduate degrees from two separate Universities in preparation for medical school all before she can even take her driver’s test.

Plus Alana created the Brown STEM Girl Foundation to encourage other young women of color to pursue education in the sciences.

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Some guys grow their hair out to hide a bald spot. Or maybe they were really into the Pirates of the Caribbean. But 27 year-old Matt Shaha grew his strawberry blonde locks out for his mom.

Matt’s mom Melanie lost her hair while battling cancer. The brain tumor was successfully removed not once – or even twice – but three times. After the third return, doctors prescribed radiation treatment and with that, her hair was gone. Melanie continued to fight, but said “I don’t mind being sick… I mind looking sick.”

That’s when Matt decided to grow out his hair for a wig for his mom. She would joke as it grew longer and longer, “I love your hair.” To which, Matt quickly responded “Coming soon to a head near you!”

Compassionate Creations fashioned the wig out of Matt’s hair for Melanie. Now they both look lovely whenever they go out.

Monday, August 15, 2022

The Tytovas had to flee their home in Hostomel, Ukraine because the Russians were targeting it as a strategically located town. Kateryna, Olexandr and their two kids literally ran from the shelling near an airport. They not only left their home behind, but they could not bring their beloved pet husky with them. They prayed and hoped to one day be reunited with their home, their neighbors and their dog.

Months passed. Hope diminished. Finally the family was able to return home and dig through the rubble of their town. And sitting on the doorstep was a Siberian husky, happy to greet the family as if they had just come back from the grocery store! The pup had scrounged for food and managed to stay safe from Russian attacks, but never gave up on his family.

 

Friday, August 12, 2022

Every Ukranian is doing their part to help battle against the Russian invasion, even 10 year-old Valeria Yezhova, the European Checkers Champion.

Valeria sits outside a shopping center challenging shoppers and passers-by to a friendly game of Checkers. They usually drop some money in the bucket for the Ukrainian Army. And then get demolished by this 10 year old Checkers wiz.

She has raised hundreds of dollars to donate to a foundation that secures humanitarian aid and equipment for Ukraine’s military. Which takes the sting out of getting destroyed in checkers by a 10 year old girl.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Marksteen Adamson found a bride stranded in downtown London and offered her a ride to the church. Anastasia had multiple ride shares cancel but was fortunate enough to hitch a ride with Marksteen as he was on his way to a reunion.

Though she was 45 minutes late to her own wedding, her fiance was still there waiting for her – and they got married without further delay.

So if you are planning your wedding, either rent a limo or have at least one bridesmaid with a car.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Marksteen Adamson (@marksteenadamson)


Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Eric Akers’ car broke down. It took all of his savings just to tow the car to a shop. He couldn’t afford to get it fixed, so he began walking to work – 33 miles!. That is determination! Once he made it to town, he couch surfed with friends so he could work his shifts – and would then walk home for the weekend. A local news station shared this story and Chris Arsenault was so inspired by Eric’s work ethic, he and his wife gave Eric a car!

Chris had a primary vehicle, so his beloved ‘97 Honda Civic wasn’t getting much use, just taking up space in the driveway. He says, “we need to help our neighbors. It’s a rough time. People are divided, and so I wanted to help him.”

Now Eric can work his job that he loves – and be home with his family every day!

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Chelsea Bell Lantrip is a single mom working as a bartender in Texas. One REALLY good night just changed her life and her son’s.

A couple of girls she had never met before came into the Charles Dance Hall to enjoy an evening out. They befriended Chelsea and were generous tippers. They initially gave her a $1000 tip on a $179 tab. That was overwhelming. But then they said ‘ double it! That left Chelsea in tears.

But wait … there’s more. When the customers finally paid, they tipped Chelsea $4000! Her son is enrolled in Texas A&M as a freshman this Fall – and one generous tip is going a long way to help pay for that education!

Monday, August 8, 2022

Nelly Cheboi grew up in a level of poverty we can barely imagine. Her single mother worked tirelessly so Nelly and her three sisters could attend school in rural Kenya. Often they went to bed hungry or were sent home because the family couldn’t afford tuition. Still, Nelly worked hard and ended up with a scholarship to attend University at Augustana College in Illinois.

Not only was it a massive cultural exchange, but Nelly was introduced to computer sciences and her entire life was transformed. Everything just clicked. She worked hard to improve her typing skills and learned coding. She ended up double majoring in Mathematics and Computer Science.

Wanting to give back to children still growing up in poverty back home in Kenya, Nelly created Technology Literate Africa (TechLit Africa for short!) – a nonprofit organization that recycles used laptops and supplies the machines to individuals and schools in Kenya.

To date, more than 4,000 computers have been provided for kids ages 4-12, providing education that will propel a generation of Kenyans to new heights!

Friday, August 5, 2022

Alexis Burns of Omaha, NE believes in her 17 year-old son A’Ron so much that she quit her job, cashed out her 401k and went all in on this high schooler’s business idea.

A’Ron can be found after school rollin’ ice cream at Roll-N-Sweetz in North Omaha. It’s the store his mom funded. The family didn’t just want to create a successful ice cream parlor, but a safe place in their community. A’Ron and Alexis are providing jobs, safety and ice cream because Alexis believes in her son’s dreams and work ethic.

The young entrepreneur dreams of taking his business around the country with franchising opportunities. He’s a dreamer AND a doer.

Thursday, August 4, 2022

When Tony Philiou started working at McDonald’s in 1962, he was paid 90 cents an hour to slice cheese. He slowly took on more responsibility and became a supervisor, then manager — until he bought the franchise.

He knows restaurants are a challenging business, and to him, ensuring employees are properly paid is a key to success. That’s why, earlier this year when his restaurant closed for renovations for over three months, Mr. Tony continued paying all 90 employees their regular wages.

And it’s that kind of generosity that has dozens of staff members dedicating several decades of their lives working at Mr. Tony’s McDonald’s, many of them rising through the ranks from maintenance to management positions.

Ms. Mary, who is 78, started out at the restaurant in 1977 as a crew person. She is now a manager and has no plans to leave. She says, “He is very thoughtful. He takes everybody individually under his wing. He treats us like family. That’s the main thing.”

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Kevin Cate was having breakfast at a Florida Waffle House with his family. He noticed a man eating by himself and struck up a conversation. The man was friendly. He was also flipping through a large wad of cash and pinning little printed notes on individual $5 bills.

Kevin asked what the man was doing with so much cash – and he shared a story. The man said the last words his mom spoke as she passed on into eternity was “Love Every Body.” And that message deeply challenged him. So for years he has printed little “Love Every Body” notes – sticks them on the cash and hands them to random people he comes across – often at his favorite breakfast spot, Waffle House.

Since 2014 the generous stranger estimates he has given away around $13,000. What words do you live your life by? Are they words of hope and generosity?

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

A stranger – passing by a house – saw flickering flames in the garage and went to the door to alert the family of 10! And it was all captured by their Ring doorbell.

Homeowners Josh and Brittany had no idea the house was on fire – they were watching Stranger Things on Netflix – their 8 kids sound asleep in their rooms. The passing stranger was Moss Strong. It was dark – so she spotted the flames blocks away and followed them to the home. There were no cops or firefighters – no movement at all. So Moss immediately banged on the door to alert the family.

Brittany and Josh grabbed the kids and rushed out of the house. Neighbors and friends have been pouring out support to get the family through as the house is repaired.

 

Monday, August 1, 2022

Farm-To-Table is all the rage in the upscale dining community – but Bobby Wilson has literally brought the farm to inner city tables. Bobby founded Metro Atlanta Urban Farm – a five-acre farm smack in the middle of Atlanta that provides freshly grown fruits and veggies to low-income housing complexes and schools.

And Metro Atlanta Urban Farm has been quite … fruitful! During the pandemic, Bobby fed 25,000 families who live near the farm and helped keep farmers of color afloat by purchasing the food they’d grown outside of the city. Now, he offers free produce to families weekly and teaches them how to start their own gardens.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by @atlantaurbanfarm

Friday, July 29, 2022

Firefighters were called to help save a kitten trapped inside a vending machine at Walmart in Morristown, TN. Lindsay Russell was on her lunch break when she heard meowing coming from the vending machine and spent her entire break trying to rescue the kitten. None of her co-workers could get her out either, so they called in the hero brigade.

The firefighters made short work of it, rescuing the distressed creature. Lindsay, at the epicenter of the kitten rescue decided to adopt the little kitten – naming her Pepsi.

Thursday, July 28, 2022

The first time the fire siren sounded it was to celebrate the graduating seniors of Port Jefferson High School. Caps flew in the air – families cheered – it was a beautiful moment. But then the siren went off again as six of the graduates knew it was GO TIME!

Shane, Ryan, Andrew, Hunter, Keter and Kasumi aren’t just new high school graduates – the six seniors are volunteer firefighters with the Port Jefferson Fire Department. When the alarm sounded at the end of their graduation ceremony the team raced across the street in their caps and gowns – quickly suited up and responded to a garage fire down the street.

The fire was actually next door to one of their teacher’s houses – and Ms. Filippi was immensely grateful for her fearless former students. Thankfully there were no injuries and only the garage suffered damage. The six graduating seniors also reported that their diplomas were safely put away in lockers at the fire station.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Social media was furious on behalf of Kevin Ford, a food service employee, who recently posted an Instagram video, unwrapping a thank you gift he received for 27 years of perfect attendance on the job. Seeing how it contained a reusable Starbucks cup, a bunch of candy, a pen, and a single movie ticket, people decided to give Ford their own gift for his exemplary service—$270,000 in personal donations for the man so near to retirement.

The original unwrapping video was viewed 2 million times, though not everyone was as happy and understanding as Kevin, who said thank you for every item he received. In just over a week, this call for mutual appreciation of a good man who works at the Burger King at Las Vegas McCarren International Airport amassed a quarter-million dollars.

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Corion Evans and his friend KJ are just 16 years old they’ve already saved four lives! The friends were nearby when a car of three teenage girls plummeted into a river at a boat launch in Pascagoula Mississippi.

Without hesitation, Corion swam out to the girls and helped them escape through the windows. KJ pulled them on top of the sinking car and then Corion swam them back to shore.

Corion jumped back in the water to rescue a police officer who was trying to help the girls, but ended up in distress himself.

Moss Point Police Chief Brandon Ashley said “The police department and I commend Mr. Evans’s bravery and selflessness he displayed by risking his own safety to help people in danger. If Mr. Evans had not assisted, it could have possibly turned out tragically instead of all occupants rescued safely.”

Monday, July 25, 2022

Mrs. Brenda’s day job is at the McDonalds in Ocean Springs, MS – but her CALLING is to be a prayer warrior. She is well known for mixing McNuggets and Fries with a personal prayer.

Dylan Brooke shared on social media that she was grabbing some breakfast at McDonalds when Ms. Brenda came up to her and said “God told me to pray with you.” Turns out Dylan was going through some things and the tears flowed as Ms. Brenda got on her knees and prayed with her in the middle of McD’s.

Ms. Brenda spends only about 15 seconds with each person she serves at work – but guaranteed each one is being prayed for. Dylan now comes in at least once a week to pray with Ms. Brenda.

Friday, July 22, 2022

From somewhere in a bustling warehouse in Warsaw, Poland – a volunteer calls out “God is good!” and a chorus response from dozens of others echoes “All the time!” A simple truth turned into a tearful chant as workers organize and distribute essential items to millions of Ukrainian refugees.

A pastor out of Ukraine told his wife on the phone, “We’ve gotten too used to comfortable Christianity.” That’s no longer an option for the Church in Europe. And the response has been beautiful and miraculous. Small congregations housing hundreds. Millions of meals and beds provided across a continent where faith had been quiet and cultural – now loud and roaring like a Lion!

Poland has been ground zero for the response to fleeing Ukrainians. Churches mobilized food and housing faster than the government could – and now many countries and Christian organizations are working hand in hand to manage the growing crisis.

As people who know what it feels like to flee home because of natural disasters, let our hearts be tender to the needs of those evacuated due to man made disasters.

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Linda Taylor has spent most of the last 20 years working in the Minneapolis area, helping the homeless and assisting her neighbors with their gardens. At 70 years old, the retiree was about to lose the home she had rented for 19 years – but her loving neighbors could not fathom their community without her.

The neighbors on 10th Avenue in Powderhorn Park banded together and raised $250,000 to buy the house Ms. Taylor was living in – and gifting it to her free and clear!

The community held fund-drives, bake sales, an art show and in just a matter of months had all the cash needed to buy the property for Ms. Taylor.

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Scotsman David Flucker just celebrated his centennial birthday with a boat tour in his beloved Scotland. But it was the next day that he shared a delicious birthday cake with raspberries with his co-workers and co-volunteers.

Three times a week, David takes 2 buses, plus a 20 minute walk to the St. Columbus Hospice Shop in Edinburgh. It’s a 4 hour round trip. The retired widower volunteers at the shop to help fund the hospice facility after he himself received weeks of treatment there for prostate cancer.

The shop receives many donations of toys, books and puzzles. David’s job is to inspect them for quality control – and to chat with patrons of the shop. As a grandfather of seven, David easily chats up visiting children and their families.

When David isn’t working at the hospice shop, he likes to build model railways, which he auctions off to help raise money for the hospice care of others.

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

A trio of organizations in San Diego has teamed up to provide food and employment to those who need it most, and in the process they’ve reached a milestone.

Here’s how it works. With funding from the Lucky Duck Foundation, The Salvation Army hires residents of its homeless shelter and trains them to be food rescue route drivers for Feeding San Diego. These drivers pick up perfectly-viable food from places like Costco, Starbucks, and Amazon warehouses, that would’ve otherwise ended up in a landfill. The food is then distributed to those in need—often to the residents back at The Salvation Army shelter.

This heartwarming partnership hit a milestone in June, by saving more than half a million pounds of food so far, and every one of The Salvation Army residents who has participated in the program has secured full-time employment and is still housed.


Monday, July 18, 2022

What started as a free power washing job turned into a complete home makeover. A father and son duo who run the YouTube channel “Cabin on the Hill” spend their free time helping their community with free yard work and home improvements. The whole channel is very heartwarming.

They recently painted the entire outside of a woman’s house who couldn’t afford the work. The home was in desperate need of a paint job. It took them six full days of work. They funded the project on their own, which included dozens of gallons of paint and primer. And to top it all off? They even bought flowers to spruce up the yard to go along with the newly painted home.

So, they’re not just restoring houses, they’re restoring faith in humanity.

Friday, July 15, 2022

Madison and her husband just moved to the country. They must have lived in the city their whole lives, because when she sent her husband to the store to buy his first lawnmower, he came back with a small push-mower for their new (very large – we’re talking country acreage here) yard. It would have taken him days to mow their lawn. When Madison peeked out the window, she saw a team of people on yard duty. Neighbors who they had not even met yet noticed him out in the lawn and decided to help out. Madison says she was so moved by the gesture and that it serves as a reminder that “there is still good in this world.”

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Ever get a feeling you can’t shake? Maybe you can relate to today’s good news story.

David and Candace recently welcomed their baby girl, Luna. Prior to their daughter being born, the couple, who currently lives in California, had been preparing for the baby shower and sent out evites via text message.

In error, a message was sent to Angela White’s phone, who lives in Camby, Indiana.
Angles just couldn’t shake it. “Every time I thought about it, I was like I didn’t get that text just randomly,” she said. “I don’t know why, but there was a reason why I got that text and evite to that shower.”

Those thoughts nudged her to send the couple a gift through her small business, Brayve Blanket Co. In her special delivery to the couple, she included a typed letter explaining the error and why she felt compelled to send it over.

The couple was blown away by her act of kindness and how someone they never met could be so generous to them from thousands of miles away.
Candace’s mom put it best: “Luna is so blessed.”

The new parents reached out to their local news station to “pay it forward” after the kind gesture.

Respond to the nudges! Can’t shake something? Act on it! You never know the lasting impact your kindness can have.

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Construction has begun on a new café in Pearl City, Oahu. But it’s not just the menu items causing a buzz. There’s coffee, baked goods and snacks, sure, but the goal here isn’t Michelin stars – it’s a combination of animal rescue, skills training, and wellness.

Dr. Karen Tyson, a neuropsychologist and family therapist, teamed up with KAT Charities, a nonprofit that unites children with disabilities and animals with loving people, to launch Toe Beans & Dreams.

The café will hire young adults with developmental disabilities to serve coffee, snacks and baked goods while also connecting Oahu with furry friends that need homes.
The café will also include space for community groups specializing in behavioral therapy and skills training for children and young adults with disabilities.

“When individuals with disabilities connect with animals, an incredible relationship is formed,” said Dr. Tyson. “Animals are unconditionally accepting and place no judgment or social expectations on people. This breaks down common barriers for individuals with social, attention, learning or physical disabilities and fosters a therapeutic relationship built on love and mutual trust.”

The coffee is just a bonus. Sounds like purrrrrr-fection to us!

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Flint, MI is usually in the news for some sort of disaster – like their well documented struggle providing safe water. It’s a poor community and COVID hit them very hard. Good Church, led by Pastor Leo Robinson didn’t balk at the need in the community – they just got to doing what Jesus said to do: love God and love people.

People were out of work and school and families needed food – so Good Church provided groceries and hot meals. One day someone mentioned needing a place to do laundry and that set Pastor Robinson down a new path. Many folks in Flint rely on public transportation – and the nearest laundromat is miles away. That meant it was a full day of work to get laundry done. Teachers mentioned that kids were missing school because they didn’t have clean clothes to wear.

So Good Church transformed their basement into a free community laundromat. Thanks to some donations, the church set up 4 washers and 4 dryers – with hopes to expand to help at least 100 families each week.

Love God, love people. A simple message, and a powerful one.

Monday, July 11, 2022

Myles Copeland plays minor league basketball on the side, but his day job is being a hero. He’s a firefighter. But recently the 25 year old saw his lives overlap.

While playing a game in New York, one of the referees suffered a major heart attack. Myles checked for a pulse – not there. He checked for breath – nothing. He immediately began CPR and continued chest compressions for 10 minutes waiting on EMS. His swift action saved the man’s life.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by 4thQuarterTV (@4thquartertv_)

Friday, July 8, 2022

If you saw someone in trouble, would you help – or pull out your phone and start recording? 18 year old Mia was parked by the bay in Suffolk. She accidentally hit the gas instead of the break and launched her car over the barrier and into the water.

She was screaming and trying to escape as water came pouring in. All the while, folks along the water’s edge just watched – or pulled out their phones to stream the video. But not 17 year old Anthony Zhongor. The young man dove into the water and managed to force open the driver’s side door to help Mia escape to safety.

The wild rescue happened in just seconds. But Mia is safe because one young man didn’t hesitate to help a stranger in danger – while the world around him acted like it was their chance to go viral with a video.


Thursday, July 7, 2022

The joy of reading opens up worlds of imagination, understanding, empathy and knowledge. Kaila and Raymond Sykes love books so much that they opened the Hidden Gems Literary Emporium – a donation-based bookstore in their hometown of New Brunswick.

Some folks give a dollar – others hundreds – and book donations have poured in – over 40,000 books for Hidden Gems. With such a surplus, the family took the show on the road, taking books out to communities in their minivan. The couple described it as a life changing experience as they recalled the smiles they encountered after giving away free books, games, and educational tools to families.

Since the minivan broke down, they are now fundraising to get an RV which they’ll convert into a mobile book experience as they grow their non-profit.

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

You know that flip flop your stomach does anytime you see flashing police lights behind your car? Ashlye Wilkerson was sure she had been doing the speed limit but then realized the limit had changed and she had not. Her father Tony was in the passenger seat, ready to protest as Trooper Jaret Doty walked up and asked for her license and registration.

Tony explained to Trooper Doty that his daughter Ashlye was driving him home after a round of chemotherapy at nearby Duke University Medical Center. The officer let Ashlye off with just a warning, but went a step further, asking if Tony would mind if he prayed with him.

No longer a passenger and a state trooper – now just Tony and Jaret – held hands and prayed together right there on the side of the road. Jaret slipped a small silver cross into Tony’s hand and assured him that he would continue to pray for him.

Two months later, Tony passed into eternity. But Ashlye will never forget the kindness of Trooper Doty. She now keeps that little silver cross on her dresser where she sees it each morning.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Ashlye V. Wilkerson, Ph.D. (@ashlyev)

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Hurricane Ida did widespread damage, but the loss of life associated with the storm was largely due to the loss of power. It was dangerously hot, folks couldn’t charge their phones and essential home medical equipment couldn’t be powered. A program called Project Lighthouse aims to make sure that never happens again.

The plan is to install solar panels and backup batteries at a network of dozens of public buildings, mostly church buildings across New Orleans and Southern Louisiana. Imagine churches once again being a beacon of hope in a darkened world… These solar powered resilience hubs would be a safe place to get cleaned up, grab a meal, charge devices – including essential medical equipment.

The current models predict once completed, nearly all residents in the New Orleans metro would be within a 15 minute walk of electricity, even in another catastrophic event like Ida.

Monday, July 4, 2022 – Happy Independence Day!

For four years, Lucas and his Boston Terrier Bailey spent the Fourth of July at his frozen lemonade stand in Middlebury, Connecticut. In 2019, he made just over $300 in a day, but the following year, the coronavirus scuttled his plan. Lucas couldn’t physically serve his community refreshing frozen lemonade, but this preteen was still determined to do something good for his community.

“We are in this together,” he wrote on his GoFundMe page that aimed to raise $1,000 for the Middlebury Volunteer Fire Department. “Dear Friends, I’m sorry I’m not able to provide you with my frozen lemonade this year due to the pandemic. This year I’m donating every penny raised to help the Middlebury Volunteer Fire Department. These heroes are on the front line every day, so I hope I can help them during this very difficult time.”

The community responded, surpassing the goal, and proving they are, in fact, in it together to make a difference. I hope Lucas is back with the frozen lemonade this year. I could really go for some frozen lemonade…

Friday, July 1, 2022

Great news for aspiring mermaids: There’s a career for you! Ariel might have believed you won’t get too far by flippin’ your fins – but Merle Liivand is disproving that.

Marine conservationist Merle Liivand is so at home in the water that she doesn’t even need to use her arms to swim – just give the girl a mermaid tail, and she’ll travel a whopping 26.2 miles off the coast of Miami. It took more than 11 hours and earned Merle a Guinness World Record (and a jellyfish sting, but that hardly stopped her).

And though she couldn’t use her arms to complete the swim, she did pick up floating debris she found on her way, adding it to a kayak that paddled next to her. “At the end of the day this isn’t just about a record, it’s about helping the community and the world,” she said – even that pesky jellyfish.

Thursday, June 30, 2022

In 2021, Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work fighting for freedoms of speech and press. He did so from his home country of Russia, which was and is extremely risky. Muratov was so grieved by Russia’s war in Ukraine that he recently decided to auction his Nobel prize off to give the proceeds to UNICEF’s work caring for Ukrainian children who are now refugees.

Previous such auctions had brought in a couple of million dollars – but this World Refugee Day auction just became one for the record books. The Nobel prize auctioned off for $103.5 million!

Within hours of the concluded auction, UNICEF confirmed the money had already been given to help Ukrainian refugees.


Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Are you or someone you know an “overachiever”? The world needs people like you and Ashley Adirika.

Ashley is the student council president, leader of the debate team and founder of a program called Our Story, Our Worth – which works to empower and mentor girls and young women of color. Her dream is to expand this local program into a nationwide non-profit.

And Ashley should have no trouble doing just that because she is going to have one exceptional pedigree. She was accepted into every single Ivy League School (plus seven other elite schools) for college!

Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Penn, Princeton and Yale all want Ashley enrolled this Fall. Various scholarships were offered as well. In the end, only one school gets the honor of claiming Ashley Adirika – and that school is Harvard, where she will major in government for her undergrad starting in September.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Ashley Adirika (@ashadirikaa)

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

In Massachusetts, State Representative Orlando Ramos is careful to listen to even his youngest constituents.

During a career day at a Springfield City school, 5th grader Xavier got to talking with the State Representative about tacos. Xavier’s complaint was that the school lunches never included lettuce on their tacos. A small thing, sure. But the issue of fresh vegetables in school lunches is an important one.

That conversation with a 5th grader led to Representative Ramos’ Home Grown legislation, which now guarantees lettuce will be on the menu for Xavier’s tacos – and for every student district wide.

The State Rep says “I hope this serves as a message to all young people in the city that their voices are important, and they are heard when they speak up, and we’re here to listen.”

Monday, June 27, 2022

An animal shelter in Utah is partnering with an addiction rehab center to provide short-term housing for pets whose people are going through a difficult time. The Ruff Haven Crisis Center already serves as a place where people in other kinds of crises like hospitalization or homelessness can bring their pets for a bit.

Through the center’s partnership with Odyssey House, Utah’s largest addiction program, furry loved ones don’t have to be a barrier to getting addiction help. That could mean 60 to 90 days without being able to care for a pet — but the Crisis Center has their back. The shelter has served around 510 animals through their crisis sheltering program and more than 1,500 through other programming, like their free vaccination and microchip projects.

Clients get videos and pictures while their pets are in Ruff Haven’s care, so they can make sure they’re thriving. What a beautiful way to show support and care for both people and pets!

Friday, June 24, 2022

Have you seen the video of a man finding a kitten on the side of the road — only to be overrun by a dozen more hiding in the grass? Understandably, people are a little obsessed. The man is Robert Brantley, a professional shooter from Louisiana, and he simply couldn’t contain his surprise as the adorable ambush overtook him.

Somehow, he managed to herd all 13 cats into his car and take them home. After going viral, folks from around the country have been calling to offer supplies and adopt the assertive little kittens. Brantley said almost all have been spoken for, and he’s been posting updates about the kittens on his Instagram page.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Robert Brantley (@robertbrantley_)

Thursday, June 23, 2022

It was a terrifying scene at the Chicago Red Line train station. A man had fallen onto the electrified tracks and was convulsing while unconscious. People shouted from the safety of the platform while others pulled out their cell phones to stream the incident. When 20 year old Anthony Perry saw what was happening, he didn’t hesitate – he leapt down to help the man, pulling him to safety. Another person helped Anthony with CPR until EMS arrived.

That act of selfless heroism got Anthony lots of local and national attention, but he wasn’t trying to be a viral internet success, he was just trying to save a stranger’s life.

An anti-violence group leader named Early Walker was so impressed with Anthony, he wanted to pay it forward. Turns out Anthony’s car had died recently which was why he was on the train that day. So Mr. Walker gave him a free car – a lightly used 2009 Audi A8! Now Anthony’s commute time has been cut in half! And each time he starts the car it is a reminder to always look for ways to help people in need.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

The average cost of gasoline is around $5 a gallon in the United States. In Louisiana, we are fortunate – our gas is hovering around $4.50 a gallon. But out West – gas prices are MUCH higher. In Phoenix, AZ, gas costs around $6 a gallon. The profit margin for gas stations is razor thin already – but one gas station owner in Phoenix decided that he would skip making a profit – in fact, he’s taking a loss – just so he can help his community survive this costly Summer.

Jaswinder Singh is losing $500 a day by charging less for gasoline than he pays to keep the pumps on. Jess and his wife just say they are doing their part to help their neighbors get by.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Three police officers near Boston, Mass. responded to a call where a man had climbed out onto the side of a bridge and was threatening to jump. Sergeant Peter Sennott, Trooper Randy Roach and Trooper Paul O’Connor remained calm and had a conversation with the man.

After a few minutes, Trooper O’Connor helped the distressed man back over the guard rails and sat on the corner holding him as he cried.

EMS arrived and took the man to the hospital. This day could have ended in tragedy. But thanks to patient and wise police officers, a man is getting the help he needs.

Monday, June 20, 2022

31-year-old Abdul Hamideh is a budding restaurateur. He owns a series of IHOP diners across five states and most recently opened one in Thibodaux. To celebrate, Abdul got dinner Uptown at Hoshun Asian restaurant. He was graciously served by Ava Guan, who he blessed with a huge $777 tip.

So far, this is a good story. Now here is where it gets GREAT. Ava had been praying for days for God’s help to replace the air conditioners at her church, The Olive C. Church in Kenner. Ava joyfully donated her windfall to the church and the story was shared by local media. When Abdul Hamideh saw the story and realized his connection, he wanted to do more – so he showed up at the Chinese church with a check for $1300 to help cover the rest of the air conditioner repairs.

And since Abdul owns the local IHOP, he sent pancakes to the church on Sunday morning so they could enjoy breakfast as they worshiped.

Friday, June 17, 2022

When baby Evie-Mae was just a few months old, she was blind. Complicating matters, she suffered from hydrocephalus, a buildup of fluid in her brain – causing what the doctors said was irreversible brain damage.

But this is not a tragedy. This is a GOOD NEWS story. Hydrocephalus typically means a short lifetime of tubes and surgeries, but miraculously, by the time Evie-Mae was a toddler, her sight returned. She learned to walk and talk. AND the build up of fluid and pressure DISAPPEARED!

Evie-Mae is now thriving as a seven year old. She lives without shunts, is top of the class, and can see perfectly without any glasses.

Thursday, June 16, 2022

What do Birmingham, Alabama and Pakistan have in common? The answer is Shahzeb Anwer—a 31-year-old man who left his home country for an important surgery in the U.S. But he got so much more than medical help; he found his own ‘home away from home’ in the southern city, and now considers it and all its 211,000 residents part of his family.

When Shahzeb came to Birmingham for surgery to stop his chronic kidney stones, he found out what Southern Hospitality looks like. He made friends everywhere he went. These new friends made sure he had transportation when he needed it – took him out to eat the best food he’d ever had – were so very welcoming that when it was time to return to Pakistan, there were tears of sorrow from Shahzeb and his many new friends.

So when he was getting ready to be married, he did what anyone would do; he invited his new family—all of Birmingham—to his special day in Pakistan!

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

In the mid 70s, Nissa Michael and her family fled their home country of Cyprus. They ended up in London and were able to build a new life. Nissa was a seamstress and her husband a chef.

Years later the family moved to Southwest Great Britain to run the Seaward Hotel along the coast. They raised four children – one of whom (Michelle) still runs the hotel on the sea. When millions of Ukrainians came pouring from the East after Russia launched their invasion, the Michael family knew just what to do: they closed the inn to visitors and turned it into housing for refugees!

Nissa (now in her 80s) greets each Ukrainian family and sits with them, listening to their stories. She says she loves seeing children running around the hotel, just like her kids used to.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

When Vicki Umodu found a lump in the cushion of a chair she had received for free on Craigslist, she thought it was a heating pad someone with a bad back had stuffed into it. The chair was from furniture being given away after a loved one passed.

But when she unzipped the cover on the chair, Vicki pulled out a dozen envelopes of cold, hard cash. She yelled “we’ve got to call the guy” to her son, and quickly returned every cent—saying it never once occurred to her to keep even a dollar.

The money totaled $36,000, which the family believes was hidden away by the deceased as part of a saving strategy. Mrs. Umodu was given $2,200 as a reward for her good deed, money she’ll use to buy a new refrigerator.

“God has been kind to me and my children,” Vicki said. “They are all alive and well, I have three beautiful grandchildren, so what can I ever ask of God?”

Monday, June 13, 2022

Kenichi Horie set a record as the world’s oldest solo yachtsman to sail non-stop across the Pacific Ocean. Mr. Horie set sail on his 19-foot-long sailboat, the Suntory Mermaid III, from San Francisco on March 27. It took him 69 days to cross the vast Pacific Ocean and arrive at the shores of his home in Japan.

This isn’t the first time Kenichi Horie’s made maritime history. In 1962, at 23 years old, he became the first person to successfully make a non-stop journey across the Pacific Ocean – from Japan to California.

“Don’t let your dreams just stay as dreams.” Horie says. “Have a goal and work towards achieving this and a beautiful life awaits.”

Friday, June 10, 2022

Mississippi native Aaron Welborn was on vacation at Gulf Shores. Aaron was snorkeling, hoping to spot sea life or maybe buried treasure. Imagine his shock when he found a half set of dentures near the coast!

The owner’s name was imprinted on the dentures – so using the power of social media, Randy Williams was hunted down – back home and toothless in Wisconsin. Aaron and his wife Blaire overnighted the dentures back to Randy saying “He’ll be eating steak again by Wednesday!”

Of course, before Randy was found, Aaron had some fun on Instagram posting pictures of the found-false teeth enjoying a beach vacation. He included some of the pictures in the box with the teeth when they were mailed to Randy in Wisconsin.

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Betty Sandison just celebrated her 84th birthday with kids and grandkids. And then the following week the family cheered her on as she walked across the stage to receive her Bachelor’s degree!

Betty began working on her college education 67 years earlier. Life got busy – she got married and had children and moved into new adventures with her family. But the drive to get that degree was always there. Now, over half a century later – mission accomplished!

Betty learned new technology to continue working towards her degree during the COVID shut-down. She says, “Don’t let anybody stop you” from chasing your goals.

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

When long-time school custodian Kerry Laing retired at the end of this school year, he didn’t expect a lot of attention. But it turns out that twenty years of investing in teenagers and serving his school had caught the eyes and hearts of many.

Oak Park High Principal Troy Scott calls Mr. Kerry the “..gold standard custodian, incredible human being, Raider legend.” The students built Mr. Kerry a throne to sit on as they cheered and thanked him at a big school assembly before Summer vacation.

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

No matter how attentive a parent you are, kids seem to find a way to danger. Laura Forrester did all the work to make having a backyard pool safe for her littles.

Safety fence? CHECK.
Electronic door security? CHECK.
Teach the kids never to go out to the pool without an adult? CHECK.

You can imagine the panic when her sopping wet 2 year old daughter (Andie) with 4 year old son (Gray) found her in the house and said “I falled in the pool!”

2-year-old Andie snuck out to the pool and fell in, struggling to stay afloat. Her brother Gray jumped in and got his baby sister to safety. Their mom says it is a miracle that Andie survived and Gray was able to save her – calling it “a God thing.”

The very next week Laura enrolled Andie in swim lessons.

Monday, June 6, 2022

Jada Sayles had a very good reason for missing her graduation ceremony at Dillard University: she went into labor that morning.

21 year old Jada Sayles was studying criminal justice at Dillard University in New Orleans when she discovered she was pregnant. Although her May 14 due date was the same day as her college graduation ceremony, Sayles wasn’t troubled — due dates are just an estimation – and doctors figured she had a bit more time.

But the night before her graduation ceremony, Sayles felt contractions. She headed to the hospital saying, “I brought my cap and gown because I thought they would just send me home.” However, Sayles’ labor advanced and within hours she welcomed her first child, a son named Easton M’Kale Fuller.

Although Sayles had missed her 8:00 a.m. graduation ceremony that morning, she texted Dillard University President Walter Kimbrough with the update. He showed up the next day wearing a suit and carrying his presidential regalia, ready to re-create a proper graduation ceremony in the new mom’s hospital room.

Sayles was shocked. The improvised ceremony acknowledged years of hard work.

“This is memorable for all of us — I have been president for 18 years and this is the coolest thing I have ever done,” Dillard President Kimbrough said. “Jada persevered over a lot and she is a phenomenal person.”

Sayles is warmed by the love. “When people say how strong I am, it’s so encouraging,” says the new mom. “But I am also very sleepy.”

Friday, June 3, 2022

Women make up less than 4% of all construction workers, even though wages earned at construction jobs are often double that of restaurant and hospitality work, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nora Spencer taught herself the trade and became a licensed general contractor while renovating a home. She discovered that women she worked with at homeless shelters wanted to learn, too.

So Nora created Hope Renovations – a free 10-week program to teach women everything they need to know to break into the contracting business and find well paying construction gigs.

“We have folks from all walks of life that come to us… single moms, women in recovery, women who are just re-careering,” Spencer said. “If we really want to get women into this industry, we need to take out all the barriers that we can.”

Hope Renovations graduates even build for their community, often at no cost. It’s the gig that keeps on giving.

Thursday, June 2, 2022

Max is a black Labrador retriever who just saved his person’s life. Sherry Noppe was recently diagnosed with dementia. Sherry took Max out for a walk and then the pair disappeared for three days. But thanks to Max, both are now safely recovered.

Sherry got disoriented and led her and Max to a marshy area three miles away from their normal walking spot. Max never left her side and barked non-stop – for THREE DAYS – to alert anyone that Sherry needed help. As volunteers searched for Sherry, they finally got close enough to hear Max’s barks.

Both were recovered and treated and safely back at home – thanks to Max.

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Dr. Akaki Lekiachvili is a physician with the CDC in Atlanta, but he grew up in another Georgia – the country that was ruled by the former Soviet Union. After the fall of communism, Akaki was introduced to Star Wars and immediately fell in love with the galactic battle between Good and Evil.

Dr. Lekiachvili calls himself a “tinkerer” with a passion for space. Starting back in 2016, the good nerdy doctor started building a life sized replica of an X-wing fighter from Star Wars. The project got so big he had to build a 30 foot extension on his garage – and then later a full X-wing hangar in the backyard. His wife was less than thrilled.

Finally, after 6 years of tinkering, the 2/3 to scale X-Wing was complete – with articulating wings, inflatable R2-D2 droid, auto cockpit and a 4 mph ground taxi engine, controlled via remote control. Akaki put in buttons that light up, a targeting computer just like Luke Skywalker used to take on the Death Star and plenty of sound effects.

Six years – $100,000 in supplies – endless hours building – but for what? Well Dr. Lekiachvili has taken his build on tour, as a fundraiser for Ukraine, who is currently battling another evil empire. Lekiachvili and his wife, who is from Poland, both have family in countries neighboring Ukraine. So they set up the X-wing and take donations as kids climb into the cockpit and play.

When it comes to spreading hope, the good doctor quotes Master Yoda, “Do or do not. There is no try.”


Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Sadly people of faith have a bad reputation amongst wait staff – often rude, demanding and cheap. We can be better.

Maybe we can even be like a friendly couple who ate at The Big Cheese, where Jennifer Vernancio is a waitress. Jennifer was having a rough day – ran late to work because her sitter wasn’t available – it was just one of those days. But her first table of the day was going to change all of that.

A couple had sandwiches and drinks – were very kind to Jennifer – paid their bill and headed out. But they left Jennifer a tip that left her shook. An $810 tip on a meal that cost less than $50! Jennifer was sure it was a mistake and took it to her manager. But it was no mistake – it was just a HUGE blessing!

Jennifer was able to get her teenage daughter some new shoes, a toy for her toddler and pay off some pressing bills because of the generosity of one couple. Imagine if all of God’s people lived lives of extreme generosity!

Monday, May 30, 2022

Everyone wants to feel wanted. Imagine being wanted by every single branch of the US military! Graduating High School senior Noble Rasmussen plans to devote his life to serving his country – he just has to decide which military branch to join. The teen from Nebraska was accepted to all five military academies!

In the end, Noble decided to go with the Air Force – having already served as a cadet in the Civil Air Patrol. Who knows, he might be able to join the Space Force down the road.

If you have served in the Coast Guard, Navy, Air Force, Army or Marines – thank you. I know it isn’t Veterans day, but we can still appreciate you and your families sacrifices, right?

 

Friday, May 27, 2022

Elizabeth Bonker has a type of autism that severely affects communication abilities. And yet, when she gave the commencement speech at Rollins College in Florida as one of five graduating valedictorians, Elizabeth was heard loud and clear.

Using a text-to-speech program, this brilliant young woman urged her fellow graduates to live a life of service, just like Rollins’ most famous graduate, Mister Rogers. Elizabeth Bonker said because she cannot talk, she is often dismissed or minimized. Technology has opened up new opportunities for her to share her amazing brain, and she dreams of living a life in service to others like her.

By her estimate, there are approximately 31 million people with non speaking autism around the world, just waiting to share their voice. Using text to speech, Elizabeth says “We are all called to serve as an everyday act of humility; as a habit of mind; to see the worth in every person we serve.”

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Flavio Dantas is a proud new papa in Brazil who was so excited to meet his baby daughter. He spent the months leading up to the due date casually chatting with his wife’s growing womb – telling his not-yet born daughter Antonella how much he loved her and how much fun they would have once she was born.

Thankfully someone had a camera going when Antonella was born, because as soon as her daddy started talking to her, she beamed the biggest newborn smile ever! And that magical moment has been shared thousands of times online.

Flavio said, “It’s a lot of love in one photo. A love that doesn’t fit inside the chest.”

The beautiful Antonella even has her own Instagram account where she flashes quite a few epic smiles.

Wednesday,  May 25, 2022

It’s a sad but true fact that the celebration and sense of accomplishment that comes with graduating college also often means the looming realization that student loans and debt have not, in fact, magically gone away. But for the Wiley College Class of 2022, it looks like that’s exactly what happened when an anonymous donor cleared the balances of the graduating class.

The historically black college in Marshall, Texas, hosted its 133rd Commencement Convocation over the weekend, where more than 100 students were set to walk the stage and earn their diplomas. Hermon J. Felton, president and CEO of Wiley College, told graduates in a surprise announcement during the ceremony: “If you have a balance, you had a balance. You no longer have a balance.”

The students’ balances were cleared by an anonymous donor. Typical tuition, including room and board, costs $17,500 per student at Wiley.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

A dramatic rescue happened just off the coast of Grand Isle. Sgt. Stephen Rhodes was issuing a boating ticket when he noticed a boat capsize just off shore – The passengers crawled on top of their capsized boat and began screaming for help. Without hesitation, the Wildlife and Fisheries officer, with the help of some good Samaritans in the area, launched an emergency rescue operation.

Many of the boaters couldn’t swim and few spoke English. They were able to communicate that a young girl was missing. Sgt. Rhodes dove under the capsized boat and recovered the unconscious 7 year old who was not breathing. Rhodes performed CPR and she began to breathe again – after a short stay in the hospital, the girl is expected to make a full recovery.

Monday, May 23, 2022

Twenty-three years ago, Tracy slipped a $100 bill and note to a couple of young sisters headed to America as refugees. And it forever changed their lives.

In 1999, 12-year-old Ayda Zugay and her older sister boarded a plane to America, fleeing the former Yugoslavia with barely anything to their name. On board, a fellow passenger slipped the young refugees an envelope with $100, a pair of earrings, and a note. “I am so sorry that the bombing of your country has caused your family any problems” it read. “I hope your stay in America will be a safe and happy one for you — Welcome to America — please use this to help you here. A friend from the plane — TRACY ”

For years, Ayda has been trying to find the woman who she says brought an immeasurable amount of comfort and hope with her gesture – comfort and hope that neither sister has ever forgotten.

Recently CNN wrote a story about the sisters, and within days, the mysterious Tracy was found! Tracy Peck says she clearly remembers seeing the two girls on the plane, scared and unsure, surviving violence and displacement that Peck couldn’t imagine.

Peck and the sisters had an emotional reunion over video call. “You both are remarkable young women,” Tracy told them. “I’m so thankful I was sitting next to you on that airplane…and so proud of you both for what you’ve become.”

Friday, May 20, 2022

12 year old Gabriel Clark likes to do woodwork – specifically making beautiful wood bowls and cutting boards. Gabriel started selling his wares in order to buy a dream mountain bike – but internet fame has led to so much more.

Gabriel’s dad Richard was bragging about his son’s skill when the pictures of the woodwork went viral. Suddenly there were 20,000 requests for hand hewn bowls in his DM’s! That was a bit overwhelming, so Gabe decided to make one special bowl.

Richard and Gabriel invited fans to buy into a lottery to win the Clarkie Woodwork bowl – with all proceeds going to Save The Children Ukraine non-profit. The internet did its thing – famous people shared the raffle – and the Clarks raised over $300,000 with just the one bowl!

The winner was Renuka Chapman who declared, “This bowl will be one of my most treasured possessions. It represents hope, compassion, and kindness… It will have pride of place in my home.”

Thursday, May 19, 2022

46% of formerly incarcerated people return to prison after their release. But one program called Education Wins, or Edwins for short, is boasting a far better stat of less than 1% of the more than 500 people that have now gone through their program in nearly a decade!

The program is actually a Cleveland, Ohio restaurant that specializes in French cuisine with a mission to educate, support and employ those who were previously incarcerated. The employees learn about leadership, life and fine dining skills that they can apply in and out of the kitchen. And all of the employees also have access to classes and housing through donations.

“You give someone a great chance and you support them. This is what happens,” Brandon Chrostowski says. He runs Edwins and he knows first hand. He said, “I received a break when I was 18 going on 19 and the judge gave me probation instead of a long sentence.” He later found a chef who mentored him and he went on to work in Michelin-starred kitchens in Paris and New York.

He says, “We’re not asking about what you did. We’re not looking at your experience, we’re not looking at your past. Whatever it may be, we’re looking at taking you to where you want to go.”

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Traditionally, adults with intellectual disabilities who might not thrive at typical colleges don’t have a lot of higher education options after high school. But at the College of Adaptive Arts in San Jose, California, adults with special needs can have a college experience full of intellectual inquiry and discovery.

CAA co-founder DeAnna Pursai watched her sister Angel, who has Down syndrome, deal with frustrating higher education limitations. So the College of Adaptive Arts offers 10 unique Majors – everything from business to theater and health and wellness – so her sister and others like her can get excited about their future and realize their potential.

“There are adults out there everywhere who are languishing because they’ve been sidelined because traditional college is not for them,” Pursai said. “But when you give them a safe space, it’s an unbelievable transformation.”

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

What if ordering a pizza saved your life? That’s Caryn Sullivan’s story. She ordered a pizza late one night and while waiting for the DoorDash delivery, she fell suffering severe brain trauma. When Sophia Furtado arrived with Caryn’s pizza, the DoorDash driver knew exactly what to do!

Sophia had taken EMT training. She called out for help, waking Caryn’s husband Robert who had been asleep in the house (I mean, she ordered a pizza at 10 PM so go easy on Mr. Sullivan). They called 911. While the ambulance was on the way, the 911 operator worked with Sophia over the phone to secure and stabilize Caryn, who was unresponsive.

Caryn spent weeks in the hospital recovering from two severe brain bleeds caused by her fall. She’s had to relearn how to walk, drive and write. But despite a terrifying experience, her life was saved and she made a new friend – her guardian angel, Sophia from DoorDash.

Monday, May 16, 2022

Henry DeHart was filling up his car with gas in Chattanooga, TN. He says he wasn’t really paying attention to the price – knowing it was going to be high. What choice did he have? But when his tank hit full, he noticed his total was only $5.64! That was for 12 gallons of gasoline! Obviously there was an error at the pump.

Now, Henry could have decided this was someone else’s problem and tore out of there with some super cheap premium unleaded. But Henry has honor. He understands that this gas station is someone’s livelihood. So he went in and reported the error to the clerk. Would you have done the right thing?

Friday, May 13, 2022

To quote Dr. Ian Malcom, “Life, uh, finds a way.” Even in war torn Ukraine, babies are being born. Sometimes in evacuation sites and bomb shelters. This presents many healthcare problems – but problems that can be solved when we work together.

Incubators are vital technology that have saved countless newborn lives in the past decades. They are expensive though – costing around $20,000 a unit. And they can be clunky so they aren’t exactly portable in a warzone. Jane Chen of Embrace Global got to sciencing and developed an ultra portable baby-bag incubator that uses hot wax to maintain warmth for a newborn preemie.

The low-cost incubator costs only a couple hundred dollars to make, doesn’t require stable electricity, is light-weight and reusable – it is a miracle product. And Embrace Global is providing THOUSANDS of them to Ukraine.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Embrace Global (@embrace.global)

Thursday, May 12, 2022

I like to imagine the faces on the staff at the Idaho Human Society when nine-year-old Ben Miller recently stopped in and dropped off a plastic bag filled with $1,150 in cash. For three years, the young man has been raising money through a lemonade stand after he visited the shelter in 2019 and noticed that some cats didn’t have toys.

According to Ben’s mother, Amy Miller, Ben has spent hours selling lemonade – even offering lavender flavor – alongside treats like cookies. In total, he’s raised about $2,000, and his mom says she’s blown away by the support. Some people have traveled nearly an hour to get some refreshments and make a donation, and others have sent money virtually.

A representative from the shelter said they’re in the middle of kitten season, and every dollar they can get helps pay for medical care, food, and yes, toys.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

David Rush is from Idaho, father to two boys, and has a love for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math – also known as STEM. He has an electrical engineering degree from MIT and has worked in the tech sector his entire career. But success for David isn’t just in his career accomplishments or educational achievements – he wants to INSPIRE!

So David set out to beat or create 52 Guinness World Records in 52 weeks. One year – one record a week. And he’s very close to achieving the goal! 49 records have been verified with 4 more being verified. In fact, David has over 200 world records to his name – everything from “Fastest 100-meter dash while juggling blindfolded” to “Popping 10 balloons between 2 people in 15.25 seconds.”

David’s hope is to use these fantastical feats to inspire his sons and other students to pursue education in STEM.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Police departments often have special pushes to fight drugs, stop human trafficking or even a sting on parking without feeding the meter – how often do you hear about a police department with a Random Acts of Kindness Project?

The Oceanside Police Department in SoCal is showing some California Love by taking time each month to help in their community. In March they handed out cash at local gas stations when gas topped $6 a gallon. Now they are helping shoppers pay for their groceries!

High gas, inflation and market instability means that the cost of food has skyrocketed across the globe. The OPD has been surprising shoppers with Random Acts of Kindness cast to pay for their groceries.

Monday, May 9, 2022

Retired Maj. Ray Ferman served in the U.S. Army and later U.S. Air Force for two decades. But he didn’t stop there.

When he returned to Sherman, Texas, after fighting for his country, Ray volunteered with the senior center to help deliver food for Meals on Wheels. And at age 96, Ray still continues to deliver meals to elderly people in need across Texoma.

Hometown Heroes founder Rayce Guess says of the retired major, “Servant’s heart, like it says, Jesus was a King, but he came to serve, and so Ray epitomizes that, and he’s serving even now. What more can you say about that?”

But Ray Ferman doesn’t see himself as a hero. He says, “I just enjoy the opportunity to be helpful.”

Friday, May 6, 2022

It’s Teacher Appreciation Week, and one teacher in Louisville, Kentucky is teaching students the importance of kindness — and providing creative outlets for them to practice it daily.

Stefany Bibb is a teacher at John F. Kennedy Montessori Elementary School.
She also leads the school’s “Kindness Crew”. Students in the Kindness Crew often hold doors for others, greet students and teachers each morning with posters that have positive messages, focus on being helpful and respectful, and help others to remember to be kind.

Fourth-grade member Aniyah Cox said her favorite act of kindness is giving hugs. “I like to make people smile and I like to make them smile because it lights up my world and I know it makes them feel warm inside, too.”

5th grader John Johnson says, “My favorite act of kindness is being able to hold the door for other people, because it shows that you care about them.”

Ms. Bibb hopes these students take the foundation of kindness they’ve started at Kennedy Montessori and continue to build upon it in the future. I hope so, too! Sounds like they’re off to a great start. What’s your favorite way to show kindness to others?

Thursday, May 5, 2022

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Food is a love language.

Lasagna Love is a non-profit program that connects community members through gestures of kindness, goodwill, and support.

In 2020, prompted by the COVID-related struggles of families in her community and her own feeling of helplessness, Rhiannon Menn launched the platform to deliver home-cooked meals to neighbors in need.

The San Diego mom says, “There were so many moms that I knew who had lost childcare, who had lost jobs. They were just feeling stressed out,. And so literally one day, I was just like, I’m gonna make extra meals.”

Before long, her effort to comfort members of her community had grown into something much larger.

In just two years, Lasagna Love has successfully united participation of more than 30,000 men and women from around the world. More than 200,000 meals have been delivered through the platform, feeding over 850,000 people. As more meals are delivered, the ripple effect has become more profound, as recipients said they were inspired to pay it forward.

Rhiannon shares, “When we launched Lasagna Love, our mission was to provide comfort during a time of uncertainty. As we move into our third year of operation, we recognize that our true power is so much greater. We are inspiring pay it forward acts of kindness across communities and increasing feelings of connectedness and support among neighbors.”

It turns out a little lasagna goes a long way.

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Tom Perri is about to hit a major milestone: 600 marathons. The avid runner from Maple Grove, Minnesota averages 36 races a year. He’s run marathons in all 50 states – 5 times each!! Believe it or not, that’s the least of Perri’s achievements.

He has stage 4 prostate cancer and has continued running marathons since the diagnosis, saying he didn’t want to sit and watch on the sidelines. He’s also continued to help other runners reach their goals, motivating them when the going gets tough.

Tom says, “I just love to help people do that stuff. It’s all about helping another runner.” and that he’d rather be remembered not for his accomplishments in running (although they are impressive!). He wants his legacy to be that of helping others.

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

It was Shawen Christenson-Bueckers’ first year of college when she was offered the opportunity to save a stranger’s life.

Shawen is a registered bone marrow donor for Be The Match, a nonprofit organization that helps patients who need bone marrow transplants. When they matched her with a little girl on their list, she didn’t think twice about donating.

One-year-old Amelia Bellmore was the child in line to receive Shawen’s marrow, and naturally, her parents were thrilled! Amelia was only seven months old when she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia.

So, at two years old, Amelia received Shawen’s life-saving bone marrow. The rules of the organization require the identity of the donor and recipient to be kept secret from each other for a year. However, Shawen and the Bellmore family were allowed to exchange anonymous letters.

Amelia’s mom says, ”I remember getting the letters from her that she sent anonymously and crying and just praying that we could meet her someday and that she could be part of Amelia’s life.”

When the year was finally up, it was time for the big reveal. And Shawen and the Bellmore’s decided to meet during a special Be The Match event at Brigham Young University, where Shawen is a student. When they first laid eyes on each other, the moment was magical.

Shawen was able to get to know the Bellmore family and bond with little Amelia. Thanks to Shawen, Amelia is now living her life as a free-spirited toddler, attending preschool, and making friends.

Monday, May 2, 2022

When she’s not working as an ER nurse at Southern Hills Hospital in Las Vegas, Brooke Johns is often still at the hospital, serving as a volunteer instead. She spends some of her free time offering hair care for patients, going from room to room to see who would like to have their hair brushed or braided or receive a head massage. She enjoys being a soothing presence for patients who are recovering from surgery or have been in the hospital for months, and likes that she’s not rushed as she would be during regular work hours. “If somebody needs me for an hour, I can give them an hour. If somebody needs me for 15 minutes, I can give them 15 minutes. There’s freedom in that,” she says. In the last year, Nurse Johns estimates she’s provided this extra care to more than 100 grateful patients.

Friday, April 29, 2022

Ben Miller loves animals and is a burgeoning entrepreneur – combining his loves by using his lemonade stand to fund his local Humane Society.

Over the last couple of years of running a lemonade stand has allowed third-grader Ben to give $2000 to the Idaho Humane Society – which he did in style. He put the cash in a large plastic bag and walked it into the Humane Society office.

If you are ever in Boise, Idaho – look for Ben Miller’s lemonade stand. He’s got classic lemonade, lavender lemonade, cookies and even dog treats on sale!

Thursday, April 28, 2022

When Omar Hegazy lost his leg in a car accident he was very angry. But he channeled that energy into swimming – and now he holds 2 Guinness World Records!

31 year old Omar Hegazy just broke the records for longest distance swam underwater with one breath AND longest distance swam underwater with one breath with fins. Not only is he accomplishing unprecedented feats under water, but the athlete has become a motivational speaker to teach kids to not be overwhelmed by negative circumstances.

Omar has done other notable things since his accident. He swam across the Gulf of Aqaba in 2017 and cycled 700 kilometers! He says, “I found a way to let out my anger and frustration, but it was also where I felt really free and capable.”

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Mobile Medics International is in the danger zone, helping Ukrainians as they escape the war with Russia. Teresa Gray began her career as a paramedic, then became a nurse and then founded Mobile Medics International out of her hometown of Anchorage, Alaska.

When Russia attacked Ukraine, MMI set up on the Ukrainian/Romania border to provide medical care to refugees by the hundreds. It’s the most dangerous mission Mobile Medics International has taken on to date.

Normally MMI teams of 5-10 medical professionals are on site for a couple of weeks, but this time they are staying put to continue to help – since over a quarter of the population of Ukraine has had to flee their homeland. Lots of lives to help – so Teresa Gray holds the line.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

During the pandemic food insecurity grew at unprecedented rates. Unemployment was up – the cost of food was up – healthy meals became more difficult for many families to provide. And with that need, community fridges began to appear. Think of it as a micro-food bank, the food version of a little free library.

Refrigerators began appearing in safe to access spots. Residents with extra food from their grocery run and local restaurants keep them full of fresh produce and other grocery staples. And it is free for anyone to come and grab something to cook for dinner.

Need food? Or just want to be involved? CLICK HERE to find community fridges in New Orleans!

Monday, April 25, 2022

Students in Mr. Julian’s class often gave him a hard time about his well-worn 4 years-old shoes. Students at Tech Freire Charter School in North Philadelphia started a GoFundMe page to raise money for some cooler shoes for Mr. Julian – specifically the Nike Blazer 77s.

But generosity bloomed inside the gag and the GoFundMe page raised over $3000! So Mr. Julian took the class on a field trip to the mall to buy him new tennis shoes and grab lunch at Chick Fil A. The rest of the funds were donated back into the school.

Friday, April 22, 2022

Millions of refugees have fled Ukraine – most into neighboring Poland. The Polish people have been pouring out resources, opening their homes and being incredible hosts during this scary time for the Ukrainian people. But even in such a stressful situation, the refugees have proven to be the very best house guests.

There is a tradition in Ukraine called “subotnik.” Basically every Saturday it is tradition to clean up your house and public spaces. So the Ukrainians in Poland are continuing that tradition in their temporary homes in Poland.

Many refugees have taken to cleaning up the parks, forests and public spaces in Poland on Saturdays as a way to thank their host country.

Thursday, April 21, 2022

What was your job during college? For Maria Balboa, it’s working at a local H-E-B grocery store near her school in Corpus Christi, TX. Not too long ago she was bagging groceries for a woman who found out at the register that her SNAP card was down to just $19 – about $140 short of the grocery bill. The woman began to pull things aside to return to the shelves when Maria felt a prompting in her heart to take care of the bill.

$137 is no small bill for Maria either. But she knew she could help and so she did. The woman was very grateful and trying to hold back tears in front of her two grandsons. She later wrote the store manager to share her difficult circumstances and the life changing good deed that Maria had done for her.

The store’s manager paid Maria back in full and gave her a gift basket as a reward for her kindness

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

The cost for adoption within the United States runs between $20,000 – $45,000. In comparison, the cost for having a baby runs on average around $11,000 before insurance. But still Joel and Kendra Paris knew they wanted to adopt a child. So they got creative in their fundraising.

After living abroad, the couple had become used to high quality baked goods – the types of bread that were missing in their new home of Abilene, TX. But Joel has a knack for bread-making and decided to bake their way to adoption.

Fundraising is a long hard road, but the couple is walking it out, with each artisanal loaf of bread. Their efforts are also going viral as people share their beautiful work and bring light to the rising cost of domestic adoption.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Joel Paris (@joelmparis)

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Betty Reid Soskin is the National Park Service’s oldest active ranger, and she just retired a few months after her 100th birthday. Soskin worked at the Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond, California, which highlights the work of American civilians on the World War II home front.

As one of those civilians herself, Soskin shared her own World War II experiences with visitors, illuminating the largely untold stories of African Americans and other people of color during the war.

Ms. Soskins says, “Being a primary source in the sharing of that history — my history — and giving shape to a new national park has been exciting and fulfilling.”Monday, April 18, 2022

Generations of the Johnson family called the house on Adams St. in Lake Charles “home.” Linton Johnson Sr.’s father was a sharecropper. He sold 30 bales of cotton and used the money to build the house. It stood the test of time and weathered many storms. But the one-two punch of Hurricanes Laura and Delta took out the remaining structure.

The Johnson family has countless memories in that house – on that street. Kids playing football out front – the garden full of okra in the back – the smell of pies coming from the kitchen. In the wake of Hurricane Laura, Linton Johnson got connected with Samaritan’s Purse – an army of volunteers in the region to help clear debris and help families.

After the debris fields were cleaned, all that was left of the Johnson family home was a plot of land. But with the help of Samaritan’s Purse, a foundation was poured. Walls were built. A roof. Electrical. Drywall. Soon total devastation gave way to a brand new home!

Through the Samaritan’s Purse rebuild project in Lake Charles, God began to write a new chapter for this close-knit family. When the home was complete, the Johnsons, their church family and Samaritan’s Purse prayed over and dedicated the home to the Lord – and then the bill was handed over to Linton Sr. Stamped in bright red letters were the words PAID IN FULL.

Friday, April 15, 2022 – Good Friday

Our friend Greg in Brentwood, England shared with us about a music program his daughters Lissy and Maddie are in – and how these kids are helping Ukrainian refugees.

The Brentwood Youth Band was formed in 1990 as a way to teach children how to play instruments and read music. It’s inexpensive (about $1.50 a week) to participate and kids don’t need to know anything about music prior to joining. They simply need to commit to two practices a week.

In early March The Brentwood Youth Band was given the chance to help Ukrainian refugees with a fundraising concert. The kids learned the Ukrainian national anthem and worked it into their Spring recital. The performance was 2 hours of music and fun – and the children’s band raised about $20,000 to support the British Red Cross work for Ukrainian refugees!

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Merrill Pittman Cooper is Harpers Ferry, West Virginia’s newest high school graduate – at 101 years old. Mr. Cooper attended Storer College in the mid 30s, one of the few education opportunities for Black Americans back in the day. When his family moved to Philadelphia during his senior year, he had to drop out of school and work to support the family.

Mr. Cooper went on to have a very full life. On a recent trip with his family to visit Harpers Ferry – now a part of the National Parks system – he told his family how he regretted never getting his high school diploma. The family reached out to the park staff, worked with the department of education and on March 19th, they threw a graduation ceremony and presented the 101 year old with his diploma!

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Bismack Biyombo is honoring his father with a grand gesture. Biyombo is an NBA player for the Phoenix Suns. His father passed away just last year in their native homeland of the Democratic Republic of Congo. To celebrate his father’s legacy and give back to his home country, Biyombo has dedicated his entire annual salary to building a hospital in the Congo.

The NBA player says, “This year, to give my father a gift that will continue to service people, my salary for this season will be going towards the construction of a hospital that will be named after my dad back home to give hope to the hopeless and for those individuals that cannot take their family out. The idea is to give them better conditions so that they can somewhat have hope that their loved ones could potentially be able to leave and see another day.”Tuesday, April 12, 2022

The 2022 version of a “Gone Fishin'” sign is apparently, “Took my son to Legoland!”

Genji Sato owns and runs Sushi Sasabune in Glendale, CA. It’s a hopping joint – and the sushi chef has confessed he doesn’t feel like he spends enough time with his young family. So one day last month, he decided to close the restaurant for a day of fun with his son at Legoland. He left a note on the door and headed out.

Fans of the restaurant shared the note online – cheering on their favorite sushi chef for his priorities. Hundreds of thousands of internet likes and shares later – it feels like the entire world was more excited to see a dad play with his son than to get a tuna and crunchy roll for lunch!

Monday, April 11, 2022

A Citgo gas station in North Carolina decided to throw their community a gas sale out of gratitude for their hard work and perseverance. The Burnsville Citgo listed gas for $2.25 a gallon for a few hours and word got out fast.

HUNDREDS of cars lined up down the street to take advantage of the gift of cheaper gasoline. Usually idling in your car in a long line leads to outbursts of anger – but the crowd was so thankful and thrilled for the break at the pump, that it was all smiles for miles.

Friday, April 8, 2022

We all have parts of our jobs that we love and parts that we dread. Does anyone enjoy those job review meetings with management? Absolutely not! Some police officers in Southern California recently got the PRIZE assignment – to hand out money!

Police near San Diego received a $20,000 grant to help their community deal with absurdly high gas prices. Officers took envelopes of $50 gift cards to local gas stations and started handing out the gifts to help fill up residents’ cars!

Thursday, April 7, 2022

Back in the 1940s, during WWII, mail was a primary source of communication between the battle front and the home front. And many letters were backlogged. That’s where heroes of the Six-Triple-Eight come in.

In 1945, the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, nicknamed the “Six-Triple-Eight,” traveled to England to wade through 6 months of backlogged mail from the war in Europe. This all-Black women group in the Army Corps sorted MILLIONS of pieces of mail in just a couple of months, while working in dangerous post-war conditions. They dealt with rampant racism – the military was still segregated at the time – no heat in their warehouse – and even tangled with a German U-boat and rocket explosions.

You’ve likely never even heard of the Six-Triple-Eight before – but perhaps Hollywood will pay attention. They were just recently awarded the highest Congressional honor in America – the Congressional Gold Medal – for their effort to restore communication lines through mail.

To quote the son of the late Army Major Charity Earley, who led the Six-Triple-Eight, “It’s wonderful. And it’s time.”

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by The Six Triple Eight (@6888ww2)

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Allison’s dad Bill Collins was a firefighter in Des Moines, Iowa for almost 40 years before retiring last year. Allison wanted to make this birthday special, so she took to TikTok to share her idea to get t-shirts from fire departments in all 50 states. A quarter million views later, t-shirts began pouring in from all over the country!

Some of the fire department shirts came with notes from other firefighters telling stories of harrowing adventures and wishing Bill a very happy birthday. One handwritten note came from a widow of a firefighter who lost his life on 9/11.

Allison was overcome by the generosity of so many people helping make her dad’s birthday special, saying “Being a firefighter, you’re part of a family.”

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Move over, Clark Kent – Kayden Reid of Mobile, AL is the new Superman. Kayden is only six years old, but he leapt into action to save his 2 year old sister, Kaycee. The toddler darted into the street in front of their home and was in the path of an oncoming car when Superman came to her rescue.

Kayden saw the car coming and jumped in front of his sister, throwing her out of the way. But that meant that Kayden got clipped by the car in the process.

The driver immediately stopped to make sure the children were alright – Kayden and Kaycee’s mom is not pressing charges saying it was not the driver’s fault. Kayden went to the hospital to get a few stitches, but was mostly just a little scuffed up.

Kayden was rocking a Superman costume a few days later when the Mobile Fire and Rescue truck came for a visit, letting the pint-sized hero explore the truck and tell his hero origin story.

Monday, April 4, 2022

Students at West Side Elementary School in Healdsburg, California, have recorded a series of bilingual “pep talks” to help anyone who needs a little encouragement (and frankly, who doesn’t?). Dubbed the “Peptoc Hotline,” the public art project was concocted by Jessica Martin, a local artist who doubles as the art teacher for the small school.

“The adults among us have been holding everything up for so long, it’s amazing to see what comfort children can bring. I was moved by the incredible collection of advice and encouragement they gleaned, and how easily and distinctly they were able to communicate it.”

In less than a week, the project went viral, receiving between 300 and 500 calls an hour, and up to as many as 5,000 calls a day.

The advice is refreshingly kid-like: Get some ice cream. Think of groundhogs. Punch a pillow and cry.

It’s incredibly precious. Call and hear for yourself: 707-998-8410.

Thank you to everyone who has given to support recovery efforts – to everyone who has served a hot meal, provided shelter and prayed for Arabi. And also, thank you for your generosity lived out loud by supporting LifeSongs during Shareathon!

Friday, April 1, 2022

A group of elementary school students found a thoughtful way to comfort their creative art teacher who is mourning the war in Ukraine. Arina McAllister is a Ukrainian native, and says her heart is broken witnessing what’s happening around her family and friends, and to the country she loves.

An idea was cooked up by a cafeteria lady at Pevely Elementary, who suggested McAllister’s students surprise her with a colorful display of flowers along the school’s hallways.

“A lot of our students don’t know what’s going on but they know their teacher, their favorite teacher, was in need of extra love this week,” Principal Katie Dunlap said.

When Arina McAllister came into school Monday, she was greeted with dozens of colored-in blooms, many of them sunflowers — a symbol of Ukraine.

“I never expected to grow a garden of love,” Arina said. “I think every single sunflower represents love and support and I have hope.”

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Nearly 4 million Ukrainians have fled their invaded country – and strangers from all over Eastern Europe are leaving strollers, car seats, winter coats and toys at the Polish border for the refugees.

To help alleviate some of the stress and emotions attached to fleeing Ukraine, Polish communities are helping strangers get settled with basic necessities in a place that may not feel anything like home. That compassion greets the refugees the moment they step off their train onto the platform. Strollers, carriers, jackets, toys, stuffed animals, diapers, even walkers for the elderly, have filled the area alongside the railway.

The generosity appears to be spread largely by word of mouth. And help isn’t just available in the form of physical supplies – some people have been holding up signs, offering rides to different places across Europe and volunteers are helping refugees find a place to stay – be it a school gymnasium or families who have offered to take in women and children.

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Liam Moore is a passionate kindergartner from Ontario, Canada. He doesn’t completely understand what’s happening in Ukraine, but he knows that help is needed, so he is ALL IN to offer help. Liam emptied his piggy bank to send to Ukrainian refugees.

His $20 came from weeks of doing chores around the house. He had been saving for quite some time, but suddenly the need in Ukraine was more important than anything else he could put it towards.

Liam was participating in a school wide fundraiser at St. Paul’s Catholic School. Those Kindergarteners through 7th graders had a goal to raise $500 – but thanks to the excitement of Liam and other kids – they smashed that goal and raised over $2000.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

One of the great challenges with the Russian invasion of Ukraine is how it impacts adoptions. A couple from San Antonio, TX has been waiting since 2020 to bring home their adopted son. Now 4-year-old Ruslan – who suffers from cerebral palsy – is home in Texas with his new family.

Special needs children rarely get adopted out of the Ukraine. They live short lives in underfunded medical facilities. But God opened doors through Reece’s Rainbow for Kelci and Theron to find their son Ruslan. In December the couple flew to Ukraine. But then Ruslan got sick and they had to figure out the complicated visa situation. It was on February 16th, just ahead of the invasion that the family was able to escape back home to the United States.

It was a whirlwind of miracles and kind acts from strangers that allowed the three travelers to escape before Russia invaded Ukraine. Some of those strangers have since lost their lives, fighting for their country. But Ruslan lives on – receiving medical care and the love of his new family in San Antonio.

Monday, March 28, 2022

Chef Jose Andres owns and operates World Central Kitchen. Over the years, he’s responded to several humanitarian crises such as hurricanes and tornado aftermath and now, he’s on the ground at the Polish border with Ukraine making sure no one goes hungry. It’s estimated that around a million Ukrainians have fled their home country for the safety of Poland or Belarus.

Last year, Chef Andres was the recipient of Amazon’s Jeff Bezos’ Courage and Civility Award, which came with a reward of $100 million. (Yeah you read that right – big prize money) He’s using that award money to help the people of Ukraine.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by José Andrés (#chefjoseandres)

Monday, March 14, 2022

31-year-old Tom Littledyke is a former Royal Marine in Great Britain. He’s trained to help in crisis, so he knew exactly what to do when Ukrainian refugees began pouring into neighboring European countries.

Tom loaded up a 16 seater bus with sleeping bags, pillows and toys for scared children and drove 1,000 miles to Poland to distribute the goods and help with boots on the ground. His friends and family helped – they raised over $5000 worth of support to pay for the supplies and trip in less than half a day.

After dropping off the goods, Tom plans to use his van to help move refugees to homes throughout Europe, saying “It doesn’t matter what we do as long as it’s something in the right direction.”

Friday, March 11, 2022

Justice Smith and his 5 year old son Justus Mateo were driving home from a dentist appointment when they noticed a homeless man on the corner. The elder Justice felt led to give to the man, but was out of cash. That’s when his 5 year old son spoke up, insisting they give the man the 30 cents he had in his pocket.

Justice was proud of his son, but hesitant to hand the homeless man 30 cents for fear that he would think it a useless gift. But he shook his head and rolled the window down saying to the man “I’m sorry man, I don’t have any cash on me, but my son back here wants to give you everything he has right now. He just turned 5.”

The man’s eyes lit up and looked at Justus Mateo saying “God bless you little man! Thank you so much!”

Justus Mateo’s dad recognized he almost missed an opportunity to live out kindness, writing “I almost told our son by my inaction that what he had wasn’t enough. I almost showed him that what he sees as a good thing, and is in fact a good thing, isn’t good enough to make a difference in someone’s life. I almost taught him that pride was more important than helping another human.”

He says his son reminded him “It doesn’t matter how much you have or how little; giving in love and sincerity will often bless others more than we think.”

Thursday, March 10, 2022

The New Orleans Saints were looking for a new coach. One thing the Saints never expected was for a child to apply for the head coaching spot… but Izzy did!

She’s a Saints fan who lives in Tennessee. When Saints owner Gayle Benson received Izzy’s application, she sent back a heartwarming reply that explained why they hired Dennis Allen instead. Mrs. Benson added, “Keep up the good work on your grades. I am so proud of you for 100% on your math report card. Stay well, continue to work hard in school and always remember you can do anything you work for and set your mind to.”

In addition to the personal letter from Ms. Benson explaining the organization’s decision to hire Allen, Izzy also received a team photo & an official Saints football signed by the team.

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Linda Durrence is a foster parent in Georgia who started the Blossom boutique to help foster kids with clothing & hygiene needs.

Fostering children is a special kind of love. Many of these kids come into a home with just the clothes on their back – so Blossom will provide foster kids with seven full sets of clothes and shoes for FREE! And they’ll do it again as the seasons change and the children grow!

Linda told news outlets, “We just want to be able to be just be the hands and feet of Jesus.”

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

When Jared Veldheer retired from his 11-year NFL career as an offensive tackle, he had one thing on his mind – being present for his kids. So the ex-NFL-er took a $15-per-hour part time job as a lunch worker at his children’s elementary school. The 34 year old traded in 2-a-day practices for a 7:45 AM start time, preparing pizza, corn and chicken nuggets for 250 children at St. Paul The Apostle School.

Not only does he get to take his kids to and from school every day, he gets to see them at lunch and in the hallways. Plus he has a background involving nutrition and is able to shape the food offerings to a more healthy, balanced diet for the kids. He says the kids are less interested in his NFL past and more excited to see what’s for lunch.

Monday, March 7, 2022

Disheartened and lonely after losing her best friend to a sudden heart attack, Cynthia posted on Nextdoor to see if anyone would be open to building a new friendship. She suggested starting a women’s group and over 200 ladies around Houston, TX responded with interest in joining.

Cynthia invited her neighbors to meet up and the group was born. They have now been meeting for nearly five years! The group even set up a friendship fund where the women chip in just $25 a year to put away in case any of the members fall on hard times, are battling an illness, or need a bit of extra support.

Due to the incredible response, Cynthia now helps other women in Houston create their own friendship groups to form new connections.

Friday, March 4, 2022

Before the pandemic, in 2018, Naoki opened a miniature railway model-train themed ramen restaurant in Osaka, Japan. It’s a VERY niche market. And when the pandemic shut Japan down, times were tough for the family. But in their distress, God sent a miracle in the form of a helpless kitten.

Despite having very little, Naoki fed the kitten. The next day its mamma showed up and he fed her too. After that the whole family of cats descended on the closed ramen restaurant looking for food.

Not only did caring for the cats soothe Naoki’s heart, but the cats loved to explore the model train displays. That led to some great pictures. And if there is one thing the internet loves, it is cute cat pictures.

The Instagram posts went viral and now the restaurant is thriving as fans from all over the world come to see the cats and trains! Plus visitors can adopt the stray cats – more than 60 have found forever homes through the work of Naoki and his family.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Naoki Teraoka (@diorama_syokudou)

Thursday, March 3, 2022

Steve Robinson and his family were on a trip to Detroit when they got the chance to have dinner with Steve’s old college roommate, Richard Koonce. The families enjoyed eating and reminiscing, but Steve couldn’t help but notice Richard looked thin and unwell.

Turns out Mr. Koonce was battling a rare liver disease. Treatment wasn’t going well and he was looking for a living donor for a liver transplant. Steve didn’t even hesitate – offering to share his liver. After a blood test confirmed he was a match, the pair went under the knife on Valentine’s Day.

There’s a couple of months of recovery involved but so far, everything looks good. Instead of a heart on Valentine’s – these friends shared a liver of love.

LifeSongs has been part of this community for over 40 years now, and that’s because of YOU and your DONATIONS! Grateful we haven’t been in need of a liver, but we sure are appreciative of all you give to support LifeSongs!

Wednesday, March 2, 2022 – Ash Wednesday!

In Wisconsin, during the Winter, nobody wants to bundle up, brave the cold and snow, simply to bring the garbage cans back up to the house after the trucks have run. To many neighbors’ surprise, their garbage cans started magically moving back to the house on their own. Of course it wasn’t magic – just a very kind neighbor.

75-year-old retiree Dick Pontzloff was tired of being trapped inside and decided to use his time helping neighbors by returning their garbage cans from the street. He rides his bike around the neighborhood and helps every family with a garbage can on the street.

One of Dick’s neighbors, Melody, said, “You know the kindness that strangers give is an unexplainable feeling. And he doesn’t even realize how nice of a gesture it is and how much we appreciate it.”

Tuesday, March 1, 2022 – Happy MARDI GRAS!

Los Angeles Rams star Andrew Whitworth has had quite a month. Not only did his Rams win the Super Bowl, Whitworth was also honored with the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year Award. Considered one of the biggest honors in football, the award recognizes a player’s “outstanding community service actions off the field, as well as excellence on it.”

Whitworth has committed to helping families in both the LA area and his home state of Louisiana through various programs, including his newly-launched “Big Whit Homes for LA Families” program. Through the program, Whitworth donates money to repair homes in Louisiana and help low-income families in LA move into affordable housing. He’s also donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to provide scholarships and school supplies for Louisiana schoolchildren, wishes for terminally ill children, and to the NFL players’ social justice fund.

Whitworth told CNN helping people feels just like making a winning play on the field. “When I can make them appreciate that someone cares about them, when I can just let them feel more confident in themselves because of something I’m able to do, I feel that same feeling.”

“Helping people feels like a winning play.” Thank you for helping our community hold on to hope through your support for LifeSongs!

Monday, February 28, 2022 – Happy Lundi Gras!

One thing that is glaringly obvious is that we have all gotten a little weirder after a 2 year long global pandemic. That was the complaint from Curtis Kimball’s wife. He says, she said he’s getting weirder and needs to make some friends.

Curtis didn’t disagree – he got to work on fixing his loneliness – with the help of some pancakes. Curtis set up a pancake making station in front of his San Francisco home on a Saturday morning. He had taped invitations to telephone poles around the neighborhood inviting his neighbors.

Curtis didn’t expect anyone to show up, but at the very first pancake Saturday there were 100 people hanging outside his home. Turns out, he wasn’t the only one feeling lonely. The joyful community event has continued and grown each time – over 300 people attended the second pancake breakfast and helped prepare and serve food for their neighbors.

We are so grateful that YOU make it easy for us to be friends by being part of our LifeSongs family! Thank you for your support!

Friday, February 25, 2022

16 year olds Ryan and Dominic have almost 80 merit badges between them. Swimming, first aid leadership, service, community engagement and all the skills of being lifelong scouts. They’ve done it all!  But just a couple of weekends ago the pair were elevated to the elite Eagle Scout classification.

They were Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and now the highest rank you can climb. The teens say it took a lot of work and discipline but it was well worth it. Not everyone who joins a boy scout troop makes it this far. According to Boy Scouts of America, from 1912 to 2019, about 2.5 million boys have earned the rank of Eagle Scout.

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Jackie Dean loved picking up a couple of Caramel Macchiatos while out with her mom, Millie Burnham. When her mom passed away during the pandemic, planning the funeral became an impossible task – they have had to reschedule three times. One morning, on the way to the funeral planners office she pulled into the drive thru and instinctively ordered two drinks before pausing and changing the order to just one.

She had been crying all morning already and the tears began to flow again as she explained her mistake to the barista. When Jackie pulled up embarrassed and ready to pay, Starbucks gave her the coffee on the house – and even drew a little heart on the lid for Jackie.

Just a small thing – a free coffee and kindness. But it meant the world to a grieving daughter.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

A blizzard hit Regina, Saskatchewan – super high winds and whiteout conditions on the road. Shannon St. Onge and others found themselves stranded on a rural road. 911 was jammed. Emergency responders could not get through. In a last ditch effort for help, Shannon posted on Facebook letting friends and family at least know where she was trapped.

Andre Bouvier Sr. (an 80 year old retired man on a nearby farm) saw the message and bundled up to brave the storm – armed with mittens and a flashlight. It was no short walk from his farm to the road. He found Shannon and others drifting towards oncoming traffic in the white out conditions – many running low on gas, trying to keep warm.

The retiree helped them off the road to safety and perhaps made some lifelong friends. He says:

“Life is what you make it. When you can help somebody out, that’s the joy of it.”

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Dolly Parton is a national treasure. Decades of music, film and a love of literacy for children. She even funded one of the premier COVID vaccines. Now she is making sure her employees have hope for their future.

Dollywood – yeah, she even has her own theme park in TN – will pay for their employees to go to college! Full time and part time employees will have their college tuition paid in full – plus cash to cover books and fees.

Monday, February 21, 2022

Warrick Dunn was born in New Orleans – was a high school football star in Baton Rouge – shattered college records with Florida State and then was a first round draft pick into the NFL – snagging a lucrative deal with Tampa Bay in the 90s. He would go on to play 12 years in the NFL. That’s a really successful career. But it’s Dunn’s off-the-field work that is even more impressive.

When Dunn was drafted by the Bucs, his coach was Tony Dungy. Coach Dungy is a very outspoken Christian and encouraged his players to invest in their communities, not just in the weight room. Warrick Dunn took that to heart and started the Warrick Dunn Charities with a focus to help single parents purchase their own homes – a dream his mother never got to accomplish before her passing.

Just before this year’s Super Bowl Dunn’s charity helped a single parent close on their new fully furnished home in Los Angeles – the 200th home provided by the charity! He partners with Habitat for Humanity and helps provide grants for down payments as well.

Friday, February 18, 2022

The Adventures of Dillon Helbig’s Crismis by Dillon Helbig is handwritten in a leather bound red gator skin journal. 8 year old Dillon and his grandmother slipped it onto the bookshelf at Ada Community Library’s children’s section. When Dillon’s mom found out what they had done, she went back to the library to find the book was missing. Turns out the librarians had stumbled upon the 88 page original work and LOVED IT.

The library got permission from Dillon’s parents to put a barcode on it and made it an official library book. Word spread and now The Adventures of Dillon Helbig’s Crismis has a 55-person waitlist!

Dillon is already working on his sophomore book, The Jacket Eating Closet.


Thursday, February 17, 2022

A Chicago non-profit is equipping and enabling some young moms to pursue higher education by providing money for childcare and coaching.

25 moms are getting financial help from New Moms and City Colleges of Chicago to finish their degrees after dropping out to care for their families. Only about 8% of single moms in Illinois complete an associates degree within 6 years – New Moms hopes to help change that trend.

And it’s not just the money – it’s coaching and tutoring and all kinds of support for these awesome women. Not only will these degree tracks help encourage these women, but provide new job opportunities moving forward.

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Imagine getting an email from your dream school – yes you have been accepted – AND you have won a prestigious full ride scholarship with room and board! Only one such Centralis Scholar Award exists for Central Michigan University. However, 58 students got the congratulatory email.

Chaos ensued. That’s a pretty big “oopsie.” And the school is doing their best to make it right. The 57 students who didn’t actually land the scholarship are still being given a full tuition scholarship to make up for their mistake.

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

From fighting for his life against cancer to a Winter Olympian, Max Parrot has had quite the journey. He was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in December of 2018 and underwent 12 rounds of chemotherapy. 7 months later, Max rang the bell declaring that he had beaten cancer. Then it was right to the weight room to begin training for the Olympics.

Max is a snowboarder for team Canada and a 7 time X-Games champion. After fighting and beating cancer, his next task was to beat the rest of the world in the slopestyle snowboard contest in Beijing. And that’s exactly what Max Parrot did – winning Gold last week at the Olympics!

Monday, February 14, 2022 – Happy Valentine’s Day!

A little kindness and some pasta can go a long way. A customer put in an order for fettuccine shortly before closing time for a restaurant. He realized his faux pas and wrote a note with his order saying he was stuck at home, sick in bed and had just woken up hungry. He understood if they couldn’t make his order.

The restaurant was touched by the customer’s thoughtfulness – and not only did they make him some delicious fettuccine carbonara – they included free garlic bread and a note of their own, thanking the customer for his thoughtfulness and wishing him well.

That landed the restaurant a 5 star Google review and viral goodwill on social media.

Friday, February 11, 2022

The Buffalo Bills won’t be in the Super Bowl … again. But their quarterback Josh Allen is inspiring fans of every team to do good. He started the Patricia Allen Fund to honor his grandmother. The money goes to the Oishei Children’s Hospital in Buffalo.

When Josh Allen made a game of it against the Chiefs – sending the game to overtime with only 13 seconds on the clock – that inspired a Facebook group of Chiefs fans to donate $13 each to the special fund out of respect. In less than 24 hours Chiefs fans had given over $178,000 to Josh Allen’s charity. That number nearly doubled as the week rolled on – over $306,000 was given – and that number continues to climb!

So even though the Bills (and eventually the Chiefs) didn’t get to the big game – they did make a BIG difference in the world. And that is even more Super.

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Imagine being the parent of an aspiring Olympian. Constant gear to replace – uniforms to purchase – practices to drive to and from all the time. No Olympian gets to the Games on their own. So Anna Hoffman knew the first person she had to tell when she made the USA ski jump team.

Anna recorded herself calling her mom and posted the entire thing on TikTok. She says telling her mom that she made the Olympics was one of the best highlights of [her] life. But what did her mom have to say to the incredible news?

“Oh, Anna Banana!”

Which is kind of perfect. Thanks to all the parents that shuttle their kids and encourage them to chase their dreams.

@hoffmann__anna Getting to tell my mom I’m going to the Olympics is probably one of the best highlights of my life @Team USA #skijumping ♬ original sound – anna

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Mikaela Shiffrin has plenty of Olympic jewelry – 2 Gold medals and 1 Silver from the Sochi and Pyeongchang games in 2014 and 2018. But she’s back in the Olympics this time, racing for a more emotional reason than victory for the United States.

In 2019, her father died in a tragic accident. It left her entire family stunned and overwhelmed. Mikaela’s dad was her biggest fan – and an avid photographer who would spend his days capturing her and her brother as they skied the mountains of Colorado.

Losing her dad led Mikaela to a dark depression. At the encouragement of her brother, she decided to put her skis back on to honor her father’s memory – and she has done just that! She has since set a record for the most World Cup wins in History in women’s slalom. And while it has been a difficult start for the skier – quickly faltering in her first 2 races, she is competing in 5 different disciplines at the Beijing games with 3 more to go.

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

A real friend sticks closer than a brother … or sister. Brittany Bowe and Erin Jackson are both Olympic speed skaters for Team USA at the Winter Olympics in Beijing – and they are besties that push each other to greatness. Weirdly enough, the speed skaters are from Ocala, FL – which has become the epicenter of speed skating for Team USA.

Erin had a mishap in a qualifying round that bumped her from the 500-meter team race. That would not stand for Brittany who stepped down from the race and had Erin replace her. Both speed skaters are currently participating in the Olympics this week!

Would you give up the spotlight for a friend? Jesus said there is no greater love than to lay your life down for a friend.

Monday, February 7, 2022

Lafourche Parish was beaten down by Hurricane Ida last year. But wherever there is great need – there is great opportunity to do good! Ms. Andi Sonnier had an idea to provide many necessities for the Nicholls State community and it didn’t take much to get others onboard.

Andi is a licensed social worker and Nichols Case Manager of Student Affairs. With just a couple days of hard work, she opened The Colonel Closet – a thrift store on the Nicholls State campus – but a store with a twist. The Colonel Closet has nice clothes, food and household items – and everything there is free for students, faculty and their families.

Hundreds of folks donated money and resources to make it possible – and as much of the community is being rebuilt, it is deeply impacting lives. Pallets of supplies and donations have poured in from around the country.

Friday, February 4, 2022

When you are in charge – the buck stops here. No matter what the need is, it’s on the leaders to take on the challenge. And sometimes that means grabbing a mop.

There’s a shortage of teachers, custodians and lunchroom workers all over the country. An elementary school principal in Las Vegas still got the job(s) done. Principal Joseph Uy of Gwendolyn Woolley Elementary has been vacuuming classrooms, preparing food in the lunchroom and substitute teaching, in addition to his administration duties. Just one example of all our hard working administrators and teachers going above and beyond to serve our kids!

Principal Uy (His name is pronounced, “Ooh-eey”) pitches in wherever the needs are. When his staff took pictures and his story went public, the Las Vegas Raiders heard about it and decided to send him to the Superbowl! It would be awesome if every great teacher and principal and frontline worker could be recognized with Super Bowl tickets – but SOFI Stadium is only so big.

Thursday, February 3, 2022

Tampa Bay resident Patrick Rhodes began the Lunch for Healthcare Heroes program back in April of 2020 – it was the early days of the pandemic. Patrick bought and delivered more than 600 pizzas and sandwiches to local hospitals. It was a way he could do good.

Word got out and Dwayne The Rock Johnson thought what Rhodes was doing was awesome, so he personally paid for 200 more meals. In 2021 Patrick Rhodes partnered with the Inspire Foundation and together they delivered 2,021 meals to frontline heroes.

As the program grows, food and school supplies are being delivered to teachers too. Patrick says, “I strongly believe that small acts of kindness will change the world.” And he is proving that motto true.

Wednesday, February 2, 2022 – Happy Groundhog Day! (Phil saw his shadow, so 6 more weeks of Winter)

A supermarket in the Netherlands wants to help combat loneliness for their elderly customers with what they call “chat checkouts.” Unlike streamlined self-checkout counters designed to get you out in a hurry, the Kletskassas (chat check-outs) are specifically designed to slow things down and create opportunities for conversations.

The head of Jumbo Supermarkets says, “Many people, the elderly in particular, can feel lonely. As a family business and supermarket chain we have a central role in society. Our shops are a meeting place and that means we can do something to combat loneliness.”

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

A team from Seytons Electrical in Hull England did wiring work for 6 weeks at the Anderson family’s home. Theo Anderson, the five your old who lives in the house, quickly befriended the electricians and was so interested in all the work they were doing.

Theo would follow the workers around with endless questions and help whenever he could safely help. Theo basically became their mascot during the rewiring project. Once the job was done, Theo’s mom got the bill and Theo got a paycheck!

Seytons Electrical wrote out a check for £15 (about $25 US), listing Theo’s jobs of measuring items, counting sockets, delivering cookies and “Quality Assurance” – defined as asking lots of questions!

Monday, January 31, 2022

Nate Armstrong runs Big Oak Tavern. Like everyone else, he struggles to care for his staff and keep the business afloat – once again switching to a take-out only model for safety. It’s exhausting, but nothing compared to local hospital employees.

To make sure those medical workers are getting fed, Nate has relaunched the Hero Meals program in Roswell – with the hope to inspire other restaurateurs to do this statewide. Through fundraising efforts Nate’s restaurant is providing free meals to hospital workers, COVID testing site employees and keeping his own employees on the payroll.

The goal is 20,000 to 30,000 meals given in the next six months. It’s all about touching the people that really saved our lives,” Armstrong said. “It’s a simple thank you that we need to deliver.”

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Big Oak Tavern (@bigoaktavern)

Friday, January 28, 2022

A Southwest Airline employee found a stack of handwritten letters dated from the 1940s to the 1970s left on a flight. They belonged to the family of Rachel DeGolia. They were a collection of letters from her mother Lois, written to family members – a glimpse into her mom’s heart – Lois had passed away from cancer many years back. Rachel’s brother had flown with the irreplaceable letters with the intent of scanning them for digital copies – but he got off the plane without the priceless documents.

Sarah Haffner with Southwest Airlines poured over the letters and Googled every name she could find, hoping to connect with the family – and eventually she found Rachel DeGolia. She called immediately and before Sarah even finished saying “Southwest Airlines” Rachel KNEW they had found the priceless letters from her mom. They have since been digitally backed up.

Thursday, January 27, 2022

23 year old Dusti Talavera was smiling as she watched three kids from her apartment complex slipping and sliding on the frozen over pond. As Dusti continued doing her dishes she saw a terrible accident happen – the ice gave way and the three children fell into the deep frozen pond.

Dusti raced out her door and pulled two kids to safety. When she went back for the third, a six year old girl, Dusti also fell through the ice into the 16 foot deep pond. Thankfully another neighbor brought rope and they were pulled to safety.

Emergency responders began CPR on the unresponsive little girl and secured a pulse before she was rushed to Children’s Hospital. Thanks to Dusti and others, all three children will be ok.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

A boy named Fallon loves to visit the local JB Hart Music Co store in his hometown of Grand Junction, CO. Fallon was born with Williams Syndrome, a developmental disorder that can cause a lot of medical problems. But Fallon has a talent on the guitar and he loves to play a specific axe – what he calls the Pantera guitar – and Fallon can shred.

One day another customer watched in awe as Fallon played on his dream guitar with so much passion. The shopper later asked the store if he could buy the guitar and gift it to the boy anonymously the next time he came in. Unbeknownst to the shopper and store, Fallon’s family moved to Texas – but 8 months later, while in town visiting family – the boy showed up to play on the guitar and was so excited when the store told him it was his to keep!

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Melanie and her grandfather Rene Neira shared a lot of the college experience. Back in the 1950s Neira dropped out of school to get married and start a family. Over the years he picked up credits. And when his granddaughter Melanie started college – he enrolled too!

This past December Melanie graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in communications and her grandfather got a degree of recognition in economics. Mr. Neira’s studies are still a little incomplete because he suffered a stroke shortly before the coronavirus sent classes online – a challenge he hasn’t quite conquered. But since he was just a few hours shy of his degree the school honored both granddaughter and grandfather together at the graduation ceremony. Melanie even got to push her grandfather’s wheelchair across the stage to receive his diploma!

Monday, January 24, 2022

DaVante Williams was an Uber driver who got stuck on the frozen I-95 a few weeks back. Thousands of motorists were trapped for nearly a day on the shutdown interstate outside of Washington DC. His passenger was a young teenage girl trying to get from the train station to her parent’s house. It should have been a 2 and a half hour trip – but it turned into much more.

DaVante was trapped with a scared young woman just trying to get home. He didn’t have blankets in the car and was running low on gas – so he communicated with his passenger and her parents via phone and was able to book the girl a hotel room, using his own money. While he offered to complete the journey when the roads opened up the next day, a family friend was able to come and pick up the teenage girl.

Hours later DaVante heard from the family who were so grateful for his hard work and for caring for their daughter. Uber reimbursed the young man for his expenses – but as the story spread, DaVante was offered a new job making much more money.

Alto is an upscale rideshare company that operates in just a few select areas – including DC, where DaVante lives. His new job has him teaching other drivers customer service and maintaining their elite vehicles.

Friday, January 21, 2022

Just a couple of weeks ago, snow and ice shutdown I-95 in Virginia just outside Washington DC. Motorists were stranded. No one could escape for 16 long, cold hours. And before long, folks started getting hungry.

Casey and John Holihan were stuck in that wintry mess. But their car wasn’t far from a beacon of hope on the frozen interstate – a Schmidt’s Baking Co. truck. Casey was quick to call the local bakery and coordinate with the owners to distribute the fresh baked bread to other stranded motorists.

The driver opened the back of his truck, and the Holihans started delivering loaves of bread to cars along a two-mile stretch of road. The couple gave out bread until there was none left – and expressed to local news crews how grateful they were to Schmidt’s Baking Co. to choose caring for people over the loss of profits that day.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Jennifer Smith is a nurse at the adult day health care program at the Grand Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Rome, New York. Right before Thanksgiving, one of her favorite patients called her, distraught. John Burley had been hospitalized for pneumonia and lung problems, and no one was available to take care of his 12-year-old dog, Boomer. The dog had been picked up by animal services, and John was desperate.

Jennifer didn’t hesitate to help care for Boomer while John was in recovery. She tracked the pup to a local animal shelter and adopted him on behalf of her patient. Jennifer and Boomer go visit John at his recovery center so the two can spend some time together each week.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Dayvon Johnson is only 11 years-old, but he is a legit superhero. Back in December, Dayvon saw one of his classmates choking. Having watched a YouTube video on the Heimlich maneuver, he successfully saved his friend who had tried to swallow a water bottle cap.

Later that afternoon while walking home he saw a house on fire and an elderly woman trying to flee. She was using a walker and Dayvon knew she needed help, so he sprinted across the street and helped her to safety.

The young man says he wants to become an EMT when he grows up – but he’s already been made an honorary deputy thanks to his courageous acts!

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

The employees of Sanipac, the local waste management company in Springfield, OR, have really gotten to know their community. They are forever going up and down the streets of neighborhoods, getting to know everyone as they pick up the trash.

For the last 10 years, Sanipac has provided bikes for kids in their community. For some, it’s the only way they can get to school every day. At the Sanipac family Christmas party, while eating and laughing and dancing – families put together over 150 bikes that were then given to families from the school district that were in need.

Monday, January 17, 2022

Shortly before Christmas, a beloved former teacher, Irma Vitrano and her husband, John, who is currently principal at Fontainebleau High, saw their home damaged by a fire. Thankfully no one was hurt, but the damage was severe.

Together, the Vitrano’s have impacted so many lives. Before becoming a principal, John was Coach Vitrano – raising up high school basketball players for decades. Many of their former students have joined together to help the Vitrano’s rebuild their home. A GoFundMe account was created with a goal of raising $15,000. That goal has been more than doubled already.

Friday, January 14, 2022

Olivia Jennings of Memphis was about to pump gas into her car, joking with a couple of young men who were headed out of the convenience store with a bag of orange juice. As Olivia went to put her card in the gas pump, one of the young men said, “Oh it’s ok, I got it.” He handed her $20 to fill her car up.

Olivia was stunned by his generosity and took a picture with the young man and shared it on Facebook – bragging about the quality of the youth in Memphis. That post has been shared hundreds of times on social media.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Shaq wants every child to be able to unwrap presents on Christmas morning. And while he can’t do it all (yet) he was able to make dreams come true for some kids south of Atlanta, but handing out 1000 Nintendo Switches – another 1000 PS5’s. And he bought out a Walmart of every bike they had.

Imagine rolling into an elementary school and just watching kids scream for joy with tears in their parents eyes? The former NBA star has been hosting Shaq-a-Claus events in communities since 1997!

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Notables (@notables.co)

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Proverbs 3 says “If you can help your neighbor now, don’t say, ‘Come back tomorrow, and then I’ll help you.'” If you get the chance to do good – just do it!

That’s the mindset that a friend in San Angelo, TX had when he saw a family sitting together on the street corner shortly before Christmas. They had a sign asking for any help of any kind. While this stranger didn’t have any cash on hand, he felt led to feed the family.

So he went to a nearby restaurant and bought a family-sized meal – and brought it over to the mother, father and their young daughter outside. The family was incredibly grateful and joyful over the gift of food for Christmas.

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Sydney Raley spent last Summer – just 15 years old and on the autism spectrum – working at McDonalds in her hometown of Eden Prairie, MN. Between fixing the ice cream machine and frying the fries, Sydney managed to become a hero.

One Saturday while working the drive-thru, Sydney noticed a customer looked in pain. The woman was coughing and choking – her young daughter in the car was terrified. Sydney had learned first aid as a babysitter and knew she had to act fast.

15 year old Sydney leaped through the drive-thru window, got the choking woman out of the car and performed the Heimlich maneuver – but she wasn’t strong enough. So she coached another customer standing nearby and he was able to clear the woman’s esophagus. Then Sydney instructed the girl in the car to call 911.

When local police arrived they hailed young Sydney as a hero – and even gave her $100 as a cash reward!

Monday, January 10, 2022

North Philadelphia has been on a downward trend for decades. Generations live together in households, struggling to get by and stay safe. In Philly, 1 in 23 people are on parole. And the best way to keep out of trouble is to get a job. But former prisoners often struggle to find employment. Michael Carter knows. He spent 12 years in prison. But today he’s the executive chef at Down North Pizza.

Down North Pizza was created by Muhammed Abdul-Hadi to help save his grandmother’s neighborhood. The pizza shop exclusively hires ex-cons to help provide a legitimate way forward. And delicious pizza of course.

Down North Pizza is one of many local businesses aimed at both revitalizing Philly and humanizing a massive part of the American population. The key word here is “Redemption.” And that’s something Jesus people can really understand.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Down North Pizza (@downnorth_pizza)

Friday, January 7, 2022

Kenneth Allen is an attorney in Indiana. For years he has purchased Christmas presents to distribute in local schools. This year, he thought why not let everyone pick out their presents. So Kenneth purchased 300 $100 gift cards (That’s $30,000 worth of gift cards) and handed them out through school officials and at the store itself.

The store – Meijer – did a quick 10% sale for everyone who had the gift cards to help out even more. The attorney told the local paper, “I’m doing what God put me on the planet to do… help people.”

Thursday, January 6, 2022

Dusty Hudgins was digging through his late mother’s belongings when he happened across some old cookbooks. His mom had once worked in a school cafeteria in Abilene, TX – back in the 60s and 70s. Dusty wondered if anyone would remember those favorite recipes.

So Dusty shared his find on a Abilene Facebook Group and discovered that a LOT of people remembered his mom’s food and were excited to get the recipes. Dusty decided to have the old recipes republished in a cookbook – the proceeds going to charity.

The newly published cookbook features recipes from generations of school cooks with Southern classics like cornbread and barbeque chicken and some very vintage feeling options like Chicken loaf with fruit.  To order a copy of Our Favorite Recipes, email Dusty at [email protected].

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Carol Mack has lived a life of service to Jesus and to children. She was a teacher for 45 years – leading 1st and 2nd graders at Christ Lutheran School in Big Bend, WI. For years Carol has battled cancer and now, her battle is drawing to a close.

Carol’s condition is worsening and she had to step down from teaching and begin hospice care. Though Carol has no children of her own, she has helped raise countless children for nearly half a century. A couple dozen of her students gathered at her hospital room and sang worship songs for Ms. Mack.

Not only was it a beautiful display of Christ’s love for Carol Mack, but it touched the hearts of the many nurses at Aurora St. Luke’s Hospital as well.

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Ebony works for Dunkin Donuts and Suzanne frequents the store. Smiles and greetings became a full fledged friendship over the years.

Suzanne got worried when Ebony wasn’t at work for several weeks in a row. She did some digging and found out that Ebony and her children had been evicted from their home. So Suzanne stepped in to help her friend in her time of crisis.

Suzanne contacted many local organizations that help with housing. Working closely with several non-profits, Ebony was given a fully furnished home for her family! Ebony and her children had Christmas in their new home thanks to Suzanne.

Monday, January 3, 2022

When disaster strikes, one of the first needs everyone has is simple – food. So when tornados devastated Mayfield, Kentucky a few weeks ago, Jim Finch put his grill and a truckload of food in the pickup and drove over to serve.

Over 40 tornadoes touched the ground, devastating many communities in December. Jim knew that folks need to eat as they dig through the rubble and decided to help in every way he could.

Jim knew folks had no power – had no restaurants – nothing – and he knew he could cook simple meals for many. So he did. Be like Jim.

Friday, December 24, 2021

Serving his community is something Wilmar, an Amazon delivery driver from New Jersey, takes very seriously. And that worked out well for a grandma named Gigi when she wandered away from home.

Wilmar was working in her area when he spotted the 92-year-old, who has Alzheimer’s, and stopped his van to check on her. He read her medical alert bracelet and saw that she lived nearby, so he got the number on the bracelet, called her granddaughter Karen, and drove her home.

He says, “I think it’s very important that the community looks out for one another. If something happens, see something, say something. You just wanna make sure that your neighbors are safe, everybody’s happy. It benefits all as long as we’re all contributing.“

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Thousands of kids around the world are born with mouth problems that keep them from the simple act of smiling. One plastic surgeon has devoted his life to helping these kids to smile again.

Dr. Subodh Kumar Singh has performed over 32,000 surgeries for free to restore a beautiful smile to kids all over the world the past few decades. Dr. Singh said, “My father Gyan Singh and mother Giriraj Kumari (she died last year) taught me to serve the poor and live ethically. I feel God made me a plastic surgeon to serve a divine cause.”

Perhaps you can’t surgically repair a broken smile – but you can be the source of a smile wherever you go this holiday season.

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

The Make-A-Wish foundation grants thousands of wishes for sick children each year. A lot of kids wish for a trip to Disney World or a new gaming console, but 13-year-old Abraham of Jackson, Mississippi wished for something different. He wished to feed the homeless.

In September, Make-A-Wish organized a one-day event to hand out free food to Jackson’s homeless population, but that’s not all they’re doing. Once a month for the next year, Make-A-Wish is going to partner up with Abraham to do the same thing.

Abe hopes and prays this can turn into a nonprofit someday. He plans to call it, “Abraham’s Table.” Don’t let Make-A-Wish have all the fun this Christmas – partner with your church or LifeSongs to be a difference maker in your community!

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

In 2014, John Russo said that if and when he beat throat cancer, he’d celebrate with a grand Christmas display for his New Jersey neighborhood to enjoy. So when he beat the disease the following year, he started a decorating tradition that has brought joy every year since.

John’s tricked-out lawn celebration includes inflatable décor and lights set to a computerized, 40-minute, 15-song holiday playlist in an award-winning display that adds $200 to his monthly electric bill. All just to make kids smile!

The local police department has even gotten involved to help this year. For the first time, visitors can donate to the department’s annual holiday toy drive via a drop box placed outside Russo’s home.

Monday, December 20, 2021

Texas businessman and philanthropist Mattress Mack of Houston surprised a family from Houma with … everything.

The Thomisees lost everything in Ida, so they decided to start over in Houston. They found jobs, scraped by and were living in a hotel for nearly two months before they could afford a deposit on an apartment. Even after securing an apartment, they had no furniture or home supplies.

Until one Wednesday morning when a moving truck showed up outside their door. Inside the truck was a home full of free furniture, dishes and home supplies – all a Christmas present from Mattress Mack and Gallery Furniture.

Friday, December 17, 2021

There’s no I in TEAM. One football team in California has proven that to be true with the incredible way they work together. The varsity football team out of Riverside went undefeated, 12-0 until losing in the championship game. That’s a miraculous season, especially after losing every single game the last seven seasons. But despite their incredible turn around the team hasn’t heard a single cheer from the stands. Because all 23 players on the team and their coach are deaf!

The Cubs don’t play in a special league – they dominated teams with many more players without disabilities – and they crushed the competition. The team has inspired not only their community, but NFL coaches have reached out to the Cubs to congratulate them and share how they’ve inspired the pros! Whatever you may struggle with, God can still do amazing things with your willing heart and use you to inspire others.

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Jenni immigrated to the U.S. from Ethiopia 20 years ago. She used to work for a technology company and she drove Uber on the side, but all that changed the day she met 88-year-old Paul Webb. Paul is isolated because his wife passed a few years ago and his memories are nearly gone because of dementia.

Jenni knew that this was a sign from God to care for someone on a deeper level so she quit her main job at the tech company to care for Paul full time. Jenni and Paul simply spend quality time together each day.

Jenni said, “A lot of people with a lot of wisdom, they are dying at home alone so the rewarding part is changing his life. Changing his last days. He’s 88. You don’t deserve to be alone.”

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

8 year old Summer Linn believes everyone needs a little Christmas. She wants kids in foster care to not feel forgotten, but “wanted and loved.” So Summer hit the kitchen and whipped up some delicious cupcakes to inspire her community to generosity.

Summer is selling cupcakes to raise funds to buy Christmas presents for foster children in her home town of Pearland, TX. The 8 year-old has a full baker’s dozen of kids she’s already bought presents for – and with each cupcake sold, more children will be able to unwrap something special next weekend.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

For over 10 years Chad Turns has been the UPS driver that delivers packages in Dauphin, AL – a little town with fewer than 800 residents. You could say he’s one of the most popular people in town – because he delivers all the goods. And he goes the extra mile.

It’s the small attention to details that makes Chad a superstar. He delays delivery of presents til after the kids are in bed, so as not to ruin the surprise. Since everyone knows everyone, Chad has learned the living rhythms and tries to meet people where they are. He’ll track folks to relatives’ houses so they can sign for anticipated packages.

During the pandemic, Chad regularly worked 60-80 hour weeks. Folks depended on deliveries more than ever. And Chad always showed up. The town wanted to treat their hero to a big tip, so they started a secret Facebook page to organize donations. They collected over $1000 and surprised the UPS driver on his last pickup of the day with the entire community holding up signs of thanks for Chad. As you can imagine, there were plenty of tears of gratitude all around!

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by CNN (@cnn)

Monday, December 13, 2021

Kitty is the coolest Great Grandmother. At 80 years old she decided to put in a fancy in-ground pool for her 29 grandkids and great grandkids to enjoy. She invested her life savings in the new home with a backyard that dreams are made of. But those dreams turned into a nightmare.

A strong winter storm destroyed the pool, causing the concrete to crumble and fiberglass shatter. There was nothing she could do about it. Insurance wouldn’t pay out the $80,000 repair bill. Kitty’s trouble was shared with a local news team who wanted to draw attention to how poorly her insurance company treated her. But the story also caught the eyes and hearts of several local construction companies.

They teamed up to put in a brand new pool for Kitty and her family at no cost to them! Eight companies and dozens of employees donated time and resources – some of these companies are actually rivals, working together to help restore Kitty’s dream.

Friday, December 10, 2021

Kindness beats accomplishment every day of the week. The world might remember you for great accomplishments – but the people who matter will remember your character.

When Wichita State University whooped Tarleton State 65-51 on the basketball court, Wichita star Dexter Dennis had every right to party it up with his team in the locker room. Dex, however, threw on his workout hoodie and headed to the stands of the arena to help pick up trash.

A local newsman snapped a video of the basketball star on clean-up duty and asked around. Dexter wasn’t being punished, he just wanted to lend a helping hand to the cleaning crew who make their home games clean and comfy.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Boy Scouts are always prepared. They are literally trained to help anyone in need. That training came in real handy for 12-year-old Scout David King while he and his mom were hiking the hills of Kailua, Hawaii.

David and his mom found a couple lost in the wilderness with no water and an injured 100-pound dog. After sharing water with the wanderers, David fashioned a stretcher out of some branches and a t-shirt so he could carry the dog to safety.

Give David ALL the badges!

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

There are a lot of blue roofs across SELA as Winter approaches. Many are living in rough conditions as the post-Ida rebuilding continues. This puts some in danger as colder temperatures eventually make their way South. That’s where Janice Hamilton is making a difference.

Janice created the Blankets for the Bayous Facebook page to make and deliver warm blankets to people in need. Janice started out making blankets for the homeless community of Montegut. But the need has grown and now she is recruiting others via Facebook to give and participate in making blankets for the devastated bayou parishes.

So far she has given out over 400 blankets and pillowcases. Many more are being made. And many more lives will be warmed both inside and out by this hometown hero!

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Eddie Morgan owns Harbor Docks in Destin, FL. The family owned marina and restaurant is also Eddie’s pulpit for sharing a love for fishing and teaching kids how to bait their hook. Each November, he treats 300 children to Take-a-Kid-Fishing Day, a tradition that his own father started 27 years ago. The group heads off on about 50 fishing boats for a day of sunshine, fishing, and local history. The trip is free, and kids get a fresh fish lunch and a fishing rod to take home. So far Eddie’s family has taught more than 7,000 children how to fish!

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Harbor Docks (@harbordocks)

Monday, December 6, 2021

You know those neighborhoods where people go all out with the Christmas decorations? We’re talking, slow-down-the-car, is that Al Copeland, don’t-look-at-the-electric bill kind of stuff. That’s the kind of neighborhood where Dale and Julie Marks live, in Des Moines, Iowa.

Dale and Julie had a hard year.  They both caught Covid-19, and Dale survived two strokes and a heart attack while battling the disease. After all of that, putting up Christmas decorations seemed like an impossible task until a group of volunteers stepped in with kindness and muscle to spare.

Local contractor Bob Coffey heard about the Marks’ situation, so he and four of his employees came out to do the work for free. With some direction from Dale, who observed safely from the porch, they strung light after festive light until the house looked like they all knew it should: Full of holiday cheer.

Friday, December 3, 2021

Kelly and Anthony had quite the meet-cute. They were hanging with some mutual friends on the Jersey Shore. Anthony is blind. He didn’t have a cane with him, so Kelly grabbed him by the arm to guide him around for the day. In some ways, she never let go.

Their first date was to a film premier. That film was a documentary about Anthony – who wrestled in high school against sighted opponents, and practiced Judo – going so far as training for the Paralympics. Kelly needed a dress for the premier, but thoughtfully considered her sightless date by picking a dress made of velvet, so he could touch it to “see” she had dressed up special for him.

Anthony swoons over his now-wife about how his life changed when they fell in love. Kelly became his eyes for the world – describing the sights on their many adventures together. For her wedding dress, Kelly was intentional to pick a dress that had many tactile embellishments like embossed flowers and velvet tassels with a mix of fabrics so her husband could “see” how beautiful she was on their special day.

When Kelly met Anthony at the altar and she placed his hands on her dress he immediately began crying for joy.

*I imagine the dress looked like this:

Thursday, December 2, 2021

One of the most dangerous parts of a natural disaster is dealing with power generators. They can cause fires and put off enormous amounts of carbon monoxide.

Thankfully a quick to act 9 year old in Brockton, Massachusetts knew about the dangers of carbon monoxide. Jayline heard her father call for help and saw him pass out as she approached. Her mom was also overcome by the invisible carbon monoxide. Jayline held her father’s locked iPhone to his face to open the phone with Face ID, and called 9-1-1.

In the end, emergency responders treated 5 people in the home for carbon monoxide poisoning – but all made a full recovery – all thanks to the quick reaction of 9 year old Jayline.

Tuesday, November 30 – Wednesday, December 1, 2021

The LifeSongs family came together for the SPIRIT OF GIVING and provide over $20,000 for this radio ministry! Factor in the special matching and you brought in $40,000 for the ministry of LifeSongs in just a couple of day! That’s some real GOOD NEWS!

Monday, November 29, 2021

Retired FBI boss steps up to help community with school bus driver shortage
After retiring from the FBI, Michael Mason wasn’t quite ready to completely stop working, and when he heard there was a bus driver shortage in Chesterfield County, Virginia, Mason knew he found his calling.

“As far as I’m concerned, I’m transporting the future of America, and that’s what I really love about the job,” he said. While at the FBI, he was executive assistant director, making him “fourth on the FBI’s food chain,” Mason told WTVR. “I’ve done some important things, but guess what? This is important, too.”

Driving the bus gives him a routine, and allows Mason to do his part assisting others amid the pandemic. He would love for people to hear his story and consider doing something to help in their own backyards. “I believe if all of us gave a little something, wow, how we could impact the world,” Mason said. “How we could change the world.”

Friday, November 26, 2021

There’s a tragic lack of fatherhood in the world today. One group of about 40 dads is trying to fill that void in their Shreveport neighborhood.

Michael LaFitte started Dads on Duty to help curb violence that was breaking out at Southwood High School. Kids were getting in fights, some had been arrested. A few dozen active fathers decided they could help, so they take turns hanging out at the school campus, providing protection and being a loving presence to help the many kids who don’t have any positive male role models in their lives.

How do you get high schoolers to trust you? Turns out just being there, and always having a dad-joke ready to role is all it takes!

Since Dads on Duty stepped up, there have been zero fights on campus and the students say you can really feel the happiness in the hallways.

Thursday, November 25, 2021 – Happy Thanksgiving!

Dottie is 95 years old and gets around in her wheelchair pretty well. She went with her family for a week-long vacation to Orange Beach, Alabama. Her wheelchair was not made for sand, so that’s where God sent Shane.

Shane was the lifeguard on duty the very first day of Dottie’s vacation. He saw the family coming to the beach and offered to take Dottie to their spot at the waterfront. He put her in his 4×4 and drove her as close as he could. Then the lifeguard picked up Dottie and carried her to her beach chair by the water.

Shane made sure that every day that followed during Dottie’s beach week, a lifeguard was there to collect and deliver her to her spot – and bring her back whenever she was ready to return to her condo. Dottie’s family was overwhelmed with gratitude and tried to tip the lifeguards multiple times a day – of course they declined the gesture saying, “All the pay we need is watching [Dottie] smile.”

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Sometimes creation really reflects the Love of our Creator. Luna was a black leopard cub that was rejected by her mother, who was a part of a traveling zoo. A woman volunteered to adopt and care for the leopard cub and took her into her home.

That’s where Luna would meet her big brother, a Rottweiler named Venza. These two big, dangerous animals have become snuggly, adventurous pet siblings over the last year – and star in a series of Tik Tok videos posted by their adopted mom.

Sometimes family is the people and puppies that choose you. Thank you for being a part of the LifeSongs family. As you celebrate the holidays, know that you are truly loved. The same God that provided a home for a little leopard is watching over you too.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Two middle school students are being praised for their brave actions that helped save their school bus driver. Conner Doss and Kane Daugherty, both students at East Paulding Middle School outside Atlanta, were on a crowded bus when their driver, Miss Julie, pulled over and yelled for help.

When Kane ran up to her, the driver was bright red and shaking. He managed to pick up the dispatch radio and ask for help. The dispatch called 911 and helped the boys set the emergency brake, flashing lights and emergency stop arm. The boys knew Miss Julie had diabetes, and got her to eat and drink something as they waited for help. Together with their classmates, they waved down cars from bus windows and caught the attention of a pastor, who prayed with the worried students.

The driver is now recovering, and school leaders recognized the pair’s bravery at a recent school board meeting.

Monday, November 22, 2021

Do you enjoy working with your hands? Ken Postema has always been a builder. The Western Michigan native built go karts and bikes as a teenager and got into wood work after purchasing 10 wooded acres in rural Michigan – where he built his family a dream home with his bare hands and lumber from the property.

Ken has honed his skills over the decade. Now retired, he’s putting his building skills to work for the cause of Christ. Working with his friends from church, his grandkids and his 91 year old father, Ken processes trees from his forest and produced 10,000 toy wooden cars to go into Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes!

Sounds like Ken is quite the overachiever. You don’t have to make 10,000 toys to make a difference. Today is the last day for collection week with Operation Christmas Child – so you still have time to help!

Friday, November 19, 2021

Barbara and Margarita are just two grandmas, retired in Miami, FL who love to sew and share Jesus with children. For years the duo made stuffed animals and donated them to orphanages and hospitals in south Florida – but they wanted to do more to directly share Jesus along with their custom-made toys. Then someone connected these talented grandmas with Operation Christmas Child.

Prayer answered!

Barb and Marg met in Sunday School nearly 20 years earlier. Now their nimble fingers turn out hundreds of stuffed animals made from donated fabrics and even gently used t-shirts. Each stuffed animal tells a story and comes with a handwritten note from one of the ladies, sharing about Jesus.

“We make them, God places them,” Margarita said. “One box is going to reach a child—that’s a soul that is going to be touched by Jesus. One child at a time, it’s going to make a difference.”

Thursday, November 18, 2021

On board the 57 foot long sailboat christened Cloud 9, a small group of missionaries and hundreds of shoebox gifts sail a 40 mile stretch in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The destination is Ennibur Island. It’s one of the most remote places on earth, between Hawaii and the Philippines. But dozens of children are about to celebrate the real reason for Christmas thanks to Operation Christmas Child!

Four missionaries bring the Gospel and a ton of presents to the nearly 300 children on the island. Everyone is sweating through their clothes. Christmas in the South Pacific is a balmy 85 degrees. Songs are sung and the Christmas story is acted out in their native language. Then the kids start tearing into gifts sent to them from families just like ours!

The joyful sound of hundreds of children playing and shouting echo across this remote island with no electricity or even a landing strip for small planes. At the end of the day, over 130 children, not including many adults, prayed to make Jesus King of their lives. The small churches on the island are given many resources to continue growing this new faith.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

25 years ago, Sallie Simmons retired from a lifelong career as a nurse. She had a new car – and an exciting new season in front of her. But she felt in her heart that a life of leisure was NOT what God was calling her to. So she doubled down in her commitments at church and was soon introduced to Operation Christmas Child. That’s where Sallie found her second life calling.

This was over a quarter century ago! Now Sallie is 93 years old and leading her church’s Operation Christmas Child ministry. She packs shoebox gifts, praying for the children and families that will receive them.

“A box may go to a child who has never had a gift. It shows them that someone in the world loves them. That can change a life… Those boxes go to the ends of the earth to tell others about Jesus.”

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

“Amor a la Vida” means “Love for Life” – it’s also the name of a church congregation hidden in the mountains of Pichincha, Ecuador. Pastor Segundo Santacruz leads his excited and growing congregation as they meet needs and share Love with the native community.

Amor a la Vida provides food for their community – as well as virtual education through their one shared laptop computer. But every year at Christmas – that’s when the real magic happens! Kids and families get shoebox gifts from Operation Christmas Child when Amor a la Vida hosts the gift distribution each December.

It was at such a Christmas party that 12-year-old Romina heard the Gospel, saw the Gospel lived out, and decided to commit her life to Jesus! Romina is a talented pre-teen who loves to sing and do artwork. She prayed that God would provide some art supplies and sure enough – when she opened up her Operation Christmas Child shoebox there was a brand new pack of fine-tipped, colored markers front and center!

Now she sings her gratitude to God for providing for her needs and wants. Imagine what dreams God can use you to fulfill this Christmas!

Monday, November 15, 2021

16-year-old Jane Marie Franks is just a small town girl in Tennessee, making a difference around the world through Operation Christmas Child!

“We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.” That’s the heart of Jane Marie’s message when the teenager toured elementary, middle and high schools in Linden, TN. She rallied students and teachers to pack over 1,000 shoebox gifts – which is pretty impressive considering the entire town only has about 2,000 residents.

Where does Jane Marie’s excitement for spreading the Gospel through Operation Christmas Child come from? Jane was adopted by her Tennessee based parents when she was just 6 months old. She was born in Guatemala – a place she and her family have returned to for mission trips. She’s seen first hand the difference that can be made with a simple gift at Christmas.

CLICK HERE to read more!

Friday, November 12, 2021

Four years ago, a heartbreaking assignment changed Lt. Brian Zach’s life for good — and for the better. Zach responded to a welfare check in Kingman, Arizona, where he met 2-year-old Kaila. The little girl was covered in bruises and other injuries. As they waited for social workers to help get Kaila out of her abusive home, Zach made friends with his small charge.

In fact, they got on so well that authorities later contacted him when they were searching for a foster family. Zach, along with his wife and two children, immediately said yes. They were only supposed to have a short time together, but before they knew it, the family was making memories with Kaila. They were seeing her off to school and taking fun trips. Now, they’re her real, adoptive family.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Positive News (@globalpositivenews)


Thursday, November 11, 2021

Andrew, who is on the autism spectrum, was really struggling to make friends at his new school. But lonely lunches are now a field of dreams with new friends. A football coach at the school saw Andrew’s struggle and encouraged his team to befriend the teenager. Soon his table was full of football players who became fast friends.

The footballers invited Andrew to hang with them after practice and ultimately he became the team manager. He got more than just a friend to eat lunch with – he found his place with a new family at school.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

The Love In Action food bank is not just about the food; it’s really about showing and spreading the love of Jesus. It takes nearly 50 volunteers to handle the volume of food that gets distributed one Saturday every month. Along with hundreds of dollars in free food, the Gospel gets passed along to each family.

Love In Action began 20 years ago when husband and wife team The Campbells felt called to step up and help their community in Alabama. They organized support from several local churches that helped make this dream a reality.

We all know there aren’t many expressions of love more well received than the gift of food! Locally, our friends at Second Harvest Food Bank supply many other regional food pantries. You can learn more about volunteering or supporting Second Harvest at no-hunger.org.

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Over the years, there have been several studies showing the physical effects that being kind can have, but there hasn’t been much research into how university-aged students respond to treating others with kindness.

Dr. John-Tyler Binfet and Dr. Sally Stewart from the University of British Columbia just completed one such study. Participants in the study completed 353 acts of kindness ranging from helping others to demonstrating appreciation.

Dr. Binfet said, “We know being kind yields a number of wellbeing benefits, such as stress reduction, happiness and peer acceptance, and we know mental health impacts learning. The post-secondary environment is often the last training ground to prepare students for life, so we want to understand how we can prepare students for optimal mental health as adults.”

So there you have it, college kids; scientific proof that being kind will help you do better in school AND be happier in life.

Monday, November 8, 2021

At one time in our lives, we all need second or third or fourth chances and Peter Mutabazi knows all about second chances. He was born in Uganda to an abusive father and ran away when he was 10 years old. After graduating college, he moved to the U.S. and began serving as a foster parent so he could give kids what he didn’t have – a safe, loving home.

Since then, Peter has fostered more than a dozen children, one of which is now his legally adopted son. In March 2020 when the pandemic was beginning, the father-son duo took in another one and another one. He now has four kids at his home.

Peter says, “My goal is to lift up those who have been forgotten and to say you’re special, you matter.”

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Peter Mutabazi (@fosterdadflipper)

 

Friday, November 5, 2021

Sophie took her children to a restaurant last weekend last week. While her children were playing in the play area, she was trying to win a pink and purple teddy bear for her little girl on one of those claw machines. After three attempts, she gave up and proceeded back to her table for the meal. Little did she know, a 10 yr. old boy was watching her quest to win that bear, so he tried his hand at the claw game – and won! He walked over to her table with the same stuffed animal she was trying to win in his hand and said, “I’ve just won it for your little girl.” Sophie said, “I was nearly in tears it was such a nice thing to do.”

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Today’s story shows the power of kindness and reminds us it’s never too late for gratitude.

When’s the last time you got a thank you card? One letter that a police department in Kentucky received last week really stuck out. The letter was thanking the department for a random act of kindness one of their officers performed 71 years ago! 

The letter read: “Back in 1950 my bride and I stopped in your city for lunch & when we left, this little card was under my wiper. For two 17 yr. old’s we didn’t have extra money for a parking ticket. My wife carried this card in all her wallets since then & we often talked about how kind your city is. I have lost her recently & just wanted to send this. Thank you.”

The department doesn’t give out those little cards anymore, but Police Chief Darrel Kilburn said small acts of kindness will always be a part of their culture.

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

For medical reasons we have to say this – laughter is not actually medicine. But sometimes it is the best medicine! When Neiva Fett of Madison, WI was recovering from back surgery, it was laughter that kept her inspired in the long road to recovery.

Laughter specifically brought on from cheesy “dad jokes.” Neiva’s neighbors, Tom and Jennifer Hanser, would post a dad-joke on a sign in front of their house. Neiva’s doctors told her the best recovery exercise for her was to walk around her neighborhood. It was the dad jokes that pushed her to go that extra block each day.

The Hanser’s jokes started as a way to bring joy to their neighbors during the pandemic shut-down. Wisconsin gets real cold for like 6 months out of the year, but every day Neiva would suit and boot up so she could get her prescribed exercise and joke of the day.

Would this joke (taken from the Hanser’s yard) inspire you to brave the Wisconsin Winter?

“I canceled my subscription to the Scrabble club. Now they’re sending me threatening letters.” 😂

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

The newly reopened Country Diner in Hegins, Pennsylvania was packed during a lunch rush when a diner asked manager Lorrie Renninger if she could pay for everyone’s bill. The diner went on to pay for all of the customers’ meals AND she also tipped the two servers a total of $100.

It was an act of kindness not only for the customers at Country Diner but also for the employees, especially during a difficult time. Lorrie the manager said, “Business has been up and down. Even though we’re opening, we still can’t get the help, you know. We had to do reduced hours.”

The generous patron wanted to remain anonymous, but employees want her to know how many people she touched by her generosity.

Monday, November 1, 2021

Portsmouth West High School and visiting Waverly High School were ready to begin their basketball game in Ohio when the sound system went out and their anthem couldn’t be played. After just a moment of awkward silence, a clear, strong voice burst forth from the stands.

Trenton Brown, father to one of the basketball players, sang the anthem a Capella to a stunned gymnasium. Trenton was used to singing with his church choir and band but he had never performed like this. Thankfully a friend captured the moment and put it on Facebook!

Later Trenton revealed he wasn’t planning on singing but his wife nudged him and said “Just sing!” The anthem is special to his family, whose oldest daughter Grace is currently serving in the US Air Force. After his impromptu performance he got to watch his song Zeke play in his very first varsity basketball game – but no word on the final score.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Hattie Craft is a living legend. The Lower 9th Ward mother to all has spent half a century dolling out frozen cups and plates of food through a slot in her front door to generations of children. She fought for and won federal help in the 9th ward after Hurricane Betsy in 1965. She’s spent every year since as an advocate for her community.

In the late 70s she organized a petition to have Mayor Dutch Morial pave the neighborhood roads of her community. Hattie is known for her kindness and generosity.

That’s why a couple of weeks ago for her 99th birthday, cars lined up for blocks to drive by and celebrate her loving spirit from the drive-way of her daughter Alice.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

How do we combat violence and hate in our country? It might be as simple as popping open a lawn chair.

21 Days of Peace took a look at the homicide numbers in the suburbs of Minneapolis and the local churches and community simply set up their lawn chairs and sat there. The idea was to be “violence interrupters” with just their presence. And guess what… It worked!

Violent crime bottomed out in the areas where folks were sitting in their lawn chairs. Inspired by their success, groups in Nashville and Baltimore did the same thing – and they saw a 40% drop in violent crime and far fewer arrests.

The organizers of the first 21 Days of Peace credit local churches saying, “We draw on the power of congregation—of family, of friends, and of community to try to interrupt the violence. And our faith gives us the courage to put ourselves in harm’s way.”

Monday, October 25, 2021

School pictures are usually terrible for everyone. The student has anxiety – the photographer is exhausted and the parents are dropping a lot of money on a terrible picture that may or may not end up in a wallet.

North Farmington High School decided that the Seniors deserved to have more fun with their school pictures – so ever since 2014 they’ve been allowed to wear costumes for their school ID pictures. And if you were worried about the imagination of today’s youth, you need not be – these kids had a ball with their costumes.

Forrest Gump? That’s an easy costume to put together. A couple of friends synced their pictures up to be a scene from Disney’s Tangled – one posed as Rapunzel, the other as Mother Gothel.

Disney makes a bunch of costume appearances, one of the best being the angry tea lady from Mulan.

CLICK HERE to see even more awesome student ID photos!

Friday, October 22, 2021

It’s amazing how near-strangers can somehow become deeply connected to our lives. In 2013, Jacqui Webb spent three weeks at Tufts Medical Center in Boston after suffering life-threatening wounds in the Boston Marathon Bombing. Jacqui says she was deeply grateful for the caring staff there, and the thought crossed her mind that if she ever had a baby, she would want to be back at the same hospital.

Sure enough, this past August, Jacqui returned to the same hospital to deliver her first child. Nichole Casper, one of the nurses, recognized Ms. Webb and her fiancé, Paul Norden, on the list of incoming patients. (Norden and his brother, J.P., each lost their right legs in the bombing.) Casper had cared for them in the aftermath of the attack.

The nurse made sure she was there to greet the new parents, and they shared a touching reunion. Jacqui said it was comforting to be treated by someone who knew what she had been through. And for Nurse Casper, it was a rare and precious moment to be able to see two people, whom she had helped through the worst moments of their life, find a new happiness.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

A nice hairstyle can mean so much more than fashion. For kids, it can give them the confidence to take on the challenges of a new school year. That’s why Brittany Starks, a single mom in Nashville, Tennessee, started offering free hair braiding services.

Despite knowing plenty of struggles herself, Brittany was moved to share her skills with struggling families in her community so their children could go back to school looking their best. She didn’t think she’d receive a big response, but was shocked at how many people were in need of such care.

This school year, Brittany has braided the hair of more than 35 children, and has enlisted the help of fellow hairstylists. She’s also launched a GoFundMe for supplies, and it’s smashed her initial goals. “As a single parent who has gone through so much of the same struggles they did, I know what these parents are feeling,” Starks said. “And if I can help in any way, even if it’s just putting a smile on their faces and easing this burden, I’m going to do it.”

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Marie Robinson just turned 100 and she says, “serving the Lord and not hating anyone is the secret…” to a long and happy life.  Marie Robinson celebrated her 100th birthday with friends and family at a local community center – because they needed room for all of the people who love her!

When asked to share her wisdom to younger generations, Ms. Marie warns everyone to raise their children right, “..tell them how to love one another.”

Family is very important to Marie. She and her late husband Moses raised nine children and were blessed with 35 grandchildren, 101 great-grandchildren and 18 great-great grandchildren… so far.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Josh and Cassie Sutton are realtors from Virginia. Their preschooler Harvey has boundless energy, so the family loves to go on hikes together. This past spring/summer the family took off of work and hiked the entire 2100 miles of the Appalachian Trail, stretching from Georgia to Maine.

The family spent 209 days on the Trail, camping most of the way. Harvey loved climbing rocks, finding tree frogs and other wildlife – and making his world famous Peanut Butter and Skittles tortillas for snacking.

Harvey was just 4 years old when the family started their hike, turning 5 along the way. His parents said keeping his imagination engaged over the months of hiking was a real challenge but his enthusiasm was contagious, especially as they met and travelled with other Trail hikers.

Just a couple of days after finishing their journey on Mount Katahdin in Maine, Harvey started Kindergarten. They survived a snow storm and camping as a family for over half a year. I think it’s safe to say that Harvey can handle Kindergarten, no matter what challenges that may bring!

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Josh Sutton (@livesutton)

Monday, October 18, 2021

It was super exciting when The Magnolia Network launched this Summer, bringing Chip and Joanna Gaines back into our living rooms … but fans were pretty split on the return of Fixer Upper – not for the show – it’s great. No, the problem was Chip Gaines’ hair. It just kept getting longer and longer …

But the reason Chip Gaines grew his long hair during the pandemic was to spark others to generosity. Chip cut his hair and donated the locks to Children with Hairloss, while asking fans to donate to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. The hope was to raise $100,000. They ended up raising over half a million dollars!

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Chip Gaines (@chipgaines)

Friday, October 15, 2021

Three years ago, at age 8, Eleanore Lowe decided to sell lemonade in her Metairie neighborhood to help provide entertainment for children at local hospitals.

Her second lemonade stand was for the Order of the Sister Servants of Mary, a nonprofit organization that cares for the sick and terminally ill.  And more recently, Eleanore held a third lemonade fundraiser. This time, social media users decided where the money went, with people voting for their favorite nonprofit.

In all, Eleanore has raised $800!

Eleanore is now a veteran do-gooder at 11 years old. While the pandemic has put many of her extracurricular activities and fundraising events on hold, she encourages everyone to try something new and practice, practice, practice.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Imagine getting all the way to the Olympics, only to take a bus to the wrong venue for your event. It’s enough to make you sweat, right?

That’s exactly what happened to Jamaican runner Hansle Parchment when he accidentally ended up at the aquatics arena instead of Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium on the day of his semifinal in the 110m hurdles. Luckily, a kindhearted volunteer helped Parchment get there just in time. The Japanese Olympic volunteer gave the runner some money to take a taxi to the stadium.

Here’s the best part: Hansle Parchment went on to qualify for the final, and then won gold! Afterward, he tracked down the volunteer to thank her and show off the gold medal she helped him win! That attitude of gratitude is expected of Jamaican olympians, according to Jamaica’s Prime Minister, Andrew Holness, who praised both the athlete and volunteer, saying “Every Jamaican knows gratitude is a must.”

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Officer Thomas noticed a man walking in the rain without shoes on and asked him if he needed socks and shoes. He bashfully replied, “Yes.” So she ran to go get him some shoes, but when Officer Thomas returned, the man was gone. She continued to carry around the shoes in the trunk of her car just in case she happened upon him later.

Later, while working an extra security job at a grocery store, Officer Thomas noticed the shoeless man outside. Since still had the shoes in her car, she was finally able to give them to the homeless man.

This kind police officer was not aware that she was being filmed during her act of kindness. She simply saw a person with a need that she could fill and did so.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Orion Jean is a young man on a mission – to share the gift of reading with hundreds of thousands of kids.

In 2020, Orion won a student kindness contest where he displayed his own campaign of compassion. He says, “Kindness is a virtue we can all possess. If we are willing to. So why not start today. Because right now, it’s what we need more than ever.”

For Orion, winning that contest “was really just the catalyst to something so much bigger.” With his $500 prize, he donated toys to a Dallas Children’s hospital. Next, through food drives and partnering with a relief group, he helped collect 100,000 meals for Texas families. Now, his focus is books for children who may not have them at home.

“I hope that the impact that I have had is enough to keep people continuing to race to kindness and continuing to join me in this marathon because it’s not a sprint,” Orion said. “It’s not a one-time thing, it’s not a three-time thing. It’s something that can hopefully be continued on for years and years to come.”

Monday, October 11, 2021

Anyone who says that miracles no longer exist have never heard Brittney Bedwell’s story. Years ago, she was in an ATV accident that left her paralyzed and unable to have future kids. Several doctors told her that she’d never be able to walk again, but her determination said otherwise.

But Brittany WAS able to walk. In fact, she walked down the aisle at her wedding!  And, despite what doctors said about her never being able to have kids, she’s now four months pregnant!

Brittney’s sister said, “She leaves me speechless. So, I’ll just say – Brittney Bedwell inspires me to never give up. To believe in miracles. To stay strong. To defy the odds. To love deeply and freely. Happy wedding day, baby sister. You are STUNNING and STRONG!”

Friday, October 8, 2021

Student debt is at an incredible all time high in the United States – an estimated $1.7 trillion. That might as well be a fictional number, it is so much debt. But in the face of despair comes hope.

South Carolina State University announced they will use federal stimulus money from the pandemic to forgive almost $10 million in student debt – impacting 2,500 students!

Imagine the joy and relief of these students! If you want to learn how to manage your finances in a Godly way – don’t miss Money Wise every weekday at 10 AM on LifeSongs.

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Six-year-old Blake asked his mom to make him a shirt that simply said, I WILL BE YOUR FRIEND. He just wanted to be welcoming to new kids at his school in Fayetteville, GA.

Blake’s Mom, Nikki shared the story in USA TODAY. She said, “Blake… wants to meet people right where they are, just like Jesus does.”

What would your custom back-to-school t-shirt say? (Might I recommend: God is Good All The Time)

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

A group of high school students have designed and built a wheelchair stroller attachment so that people with disabilities can walk their babies.

The idea was born when one of their teachers was expecting a baby and they learned how nervous her wheelchair bound husband was. It was going to be tough for him to get in on some precious parenting moments. These high schoolers put an intense amount of thought into the project, working for months, taking into account the terrain around the dad-to-be’s house and making sure the design was something he could operate independently.

The result is the “WheeStroll,” a simple wheelchair attachment that allows parents to place their baby safely in front of them as they wheel around.

The students won two international awards by the Make:able 3D Printing Challenge for their wheelchair project: “Best Inspirational Story” and “Best Showcase of Iterative Design.” And they aren’t looking to get rich off of their innovation, either. The school shared the 3D printable plans and necessary tools for free to the internet.

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Most people who become nurses do the job because they want to help people. Over the last 18 months that has been a next to impossible task. Sadly these titans of healthcare often put their own needs on the backburner. How can you give back to the nurses who have given so much? Well we can start with a mani-pedi.

The Marco Pelusi Hair Studio in West Hollywood, CA has been doing free makeovers for some of the local nurses. Marco said, “They have worked so hard, so diligently, so ferociously… We wanted to make them feel good so when they get in the mirror in the morning, they’ve got some pretty color to look at and they’re energized to go back out on the front lines.”

We can make a difference for our local nurses too. For starters, take precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. But also check with your church about ways to care for healthcare professionals.

Monday, October 4, 2021

A good parent wants a hope filled future for their children. Parents of children with special needs face even more challenges as their kids become young men and women. There are simply not as many education and job opportunities for folks with learning disabilities – but all hope is not lost.

Joel Wegener has two adult children with Down syndrome. Josh and Mary Kate wanted to work, but finding a job proved challenging. So dad Joel made them a job. He purchased an ice cream truck and started the family business. And business is booming!

The Special Neat Treats ice cream truck rolls throughout town, frequently selling out – the Sponge-Bob popsicle is the best seller. Joel, Josh and Mary Kate have connected with their community in many special ways – and encourage other families with special needs kids each day.

Dad Joel says, “No matter what your abilities are, there’s something you can do and you can spread joy and interact with people.”

Monday, September 27, 2021

Liz Cooke is better known as LionheartLiz – her Instagram handle. She’s an influential designer and owner of Lionheart Prints on Magazine Street in New Orleans. While she survived Hurricane Ida with minimal damages, she wanted to help Terrebonne Parish in the aftermath.

LionheartLiz encouraged her Instagram followers to join her in making a difference. Together they raised thousands of dollars and were able to deliver cleaning supplies, essential personal items for women and children, plus a generator and solar lights to be distributed at the Houma-Terrebonne Civic Center.

Cooke and her followers literally filled up a uHaul trailer with as much as they could fit and delivered it to the scene of so much devastation. Her act of goodwill is a great reminder that you don’t need to be some huge organization like the Red Cross or the Cajun Navy to make an impact.

Friday, September 24, 2021

Lucille Fortin usually relied on her husband Waldo to take the lead when it came to hurricane preparation. But Waldo passed away last year and 70 year old Lucille was left to fend for herself during Hurricane Ida.

Lucille was able to evacuate safely with family to Texas during the storm. While there, she called to pay her PosiGen energy bill, and found herself sharing about how overwhelmed she was about cleaning up her home to account manager Elizabeth Newell. The phone conversation turned into a therapy session.

Lucille said, “I was kind of upset, and [Elizabeth] nurtured me.”

Elizabeth was inspired to help Lucille, a customer she’d never met in person, clean up her house after the storm, so she enlisted the help of her colleague Manuel. They met at Lucille’s house in New Orleans East a few weeks after the storm. They cleaned the refrigerator and freezer, which was jam-packed with spoiled food. They hauled debris, soiled rugs, and spent hours battling a yard of knee-high weeds.

Elizabeth and Manuel took care of it all. They were angels for Ms. Lucille.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

LifeSongs has long supported and worked with Second Harvest Food Bank (remember all of those awesome Strike Out Hunger bowling days at Rock ‘n Bowl?). Second Harvest meets food needs for 23 parishes across Southern Louisiana. Ever since Hurricane Ida, Second Harvest has been a non-stop buzz of activity. Not only are the loading docks of their Elmwood facility rolling out supplies to trucks all day everyday, but on the other side of the building, their chef run kitchen is cranking out tens of thousands of hot meals.

Executive chef Matthew Taylor leads a team of cooks and volunteers cooking and packaging hot meals to be delivered across the region every day. With dueling assembly lines and constantly refreshed hot pans of delicious and nutritious food – it’s a well-oiled machine of goodness that puts out around 7,000 meals a day. Since Ida, Second Harvest has delivered nearly 2 million pounds of food.

Second Harvest is always looking for volunteers – and now the need is greater than ever. You can learn more about serving and supporting Second Harvest at no-hunger.org.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Our Daily Bread is a local food bank that has faithfully served the disadvantaged of Tangipahoa Parish since 1999. Their mission is to alleviate hunger and make an eternal impact by sharing kindness and compassion with everyone who is in need. And they have been VERY busy these past few weeks.

Ms. Joy in Ponchatoula recently retired from her job of 24 years to commit her time and focus to serving at Our Daily Bread Food Bank in Hammond. [CLIPS] She told us, “We have been serving 2,500 meals a day since Wednesday after the storm. It is heartbreaking to see so many still in need, but I am thankful I am part of the team that gets to serve.”

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Individuals, families, church groups – so many folks have come to SELA to help pick up after Ida. One group of landscapers from Houston visited St. John the Baptist Parish and helped clear out properties, cut down trees and clean up neighborhoods.

Lorena Mercado-Hunter was a part of this team of Houston landscapers. She was floored by the devastation, telling WWLTV, “Every single house… everyone just lost everything.” Adding, “..it’s heartbreaking but I’m glad I was able to come out here, make a little difference, help people out.”

And Lorena did help. Her whole team from Don A Cut Above the Rest Landscaping worked hard all weekend long. And so did many many others. And we cannot thank everyone enough for their willingness to serve. Long months of hard work lay ahead for many communities stretching from Terrebonne through the river parishes, on up to Tangipahoa.

Monday, September 20, 2021

10th Ward Buck and Lucky Johnson got together to turn an abandoned McDonald’s parking lot on the corner of Downman and Morrison into a place where locals could pick up free food and resources as they rebuild and restore after Ida. Many volunteers have joined the cause and bring food – boil seafood on the spot – and help load water and ice into cars.

The bounce rapper and local actor hope to eventually turn the site into a food truck hotspot, but right now they are just glad they can help their neighbors during this trying time.

Friday, September 17, 2021

In the middle of a community in shambles, First Baptist Church Golden Meadow is meeting needs by becoming a one-stop, drive-thru needs meeting beacon of hope. No AC, roof damage and downed trees are a lot to deal with. The needs are great, so FBC Golden Meadow is doing what they can to meet as many needs as possible.

Pastor Matthew Chouest decided to make the church building a drive-thru makeshift shop to distribute resources. Anyone can pull up and hand over their list of needs – and then volunteers gather everything they can for that person and load it in their car. Food, clothes, cleaning supplies – whatever they have is going to anyone in need.

The Cajun Navy set up in the parking lot to cook and hand out meals. In between distributions, volunteers work on cleaning up the debris at the church house, which also took heavy damage during Hurricane Ida. Now that’s what I call Bayou Hospitality!

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Just a couple of days after Hurricane Ida devastated Southern Louisiana, the Virginia-based non-profit Mercy Chefs was on the scene, utilizing volunteers and churches to provide hot meals to the hardest hit places.

Thirteen sites were set up; from Celebration in Metairie and Church of the King in Kenner – out to Violet in St. Bernard parish, LaPlace in the River Parishes, on down to Houma and Golden Meadow. And Mercy Chefs knows how to get it done – they learned in Lake Charles just last year after Hurricane Laura.

Mercy Chefs may be based in Virginia, but their roots are right here in Southeast Louisiana. Founder Gary LeBlanc is from Gonzalez and lived in New Orleans for 20 years. He went through Katrina – he knows the devastation and decided he would spend the rest of his life on the frontlines, helping people recover.

While Mercy Chefs is faith-based, they are not pushing religion on folks who are hungry – they are just meeting needs, like Jesus demonstrated. Many people who received meals immediately signed up to be volunteers for days afterwards.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Breeze Airways made New Orleans one of their four main hubs – connecting other Southern cities like Little Rock, Louisville, San Antonio and Tampa. The new airline is offering $1 million in free flights to get New Orleans residents home, first responders to the worst hit areas and volunteers into town to help with the Ida recovery.

Anyone can apply for the free flights at flybreeze.com. What a beautiful gift to Southeast Louisiana?! The deadline to apply is next Wednesday, the 22nd.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

The video game industry is helping Louisiana (and others impacted by Hurricane Ida) with a bundle of games. These games don’t teach you how to shingle a roof or run power lines – but their proceeds are supplying the Cajun Navy, Bucket Brigade, food banks and more!

A bundle of 15 video games put together by local developers aimed to raise $5000 by packaging their games for a suggested $10 donation. The bundle sale ended last Friday.

They did not raise their target of $5000.

They raised nearly $30,000!

Monday, September 13, 2021

One of the first “heroes” many children meet are firefighters. Fire departments do a great job of being involved in the community – letting kids climb around on the big red fire engines – and teach fire safety at local schools. This they do when they are not busy being superheroes.

Like the name says, firefighters fight fires – something they have been called to do frequently with much of Southern Louisiana depending on generators for power. But they are also usually the first on the scene at accidents, as emergency medical responders. For the last couple of weeks Bridge City Firefighters have also become ice delivery people – checking in on an elderly community slow to get power back.

The ice helps, for sure, but a friendly face full of concern might mean even more. Especially after a weekend where as Americans we remember the impact thousands of firefighters made responding to the September 11th attacks 20 years ago. The famous Mr. Rogers’ quote about looking for the helpers still holds true,”.. you can always find people who are helping.”

Friday, August 27, 2021

College is very expensive. There are all kinds of grants and scholarships you can apply for, but millions of Americans still end up drowning in student loan debt. Now the largest private employer in the country is declaring NO MORE to student debt.

Walmart announced a program to pay college tuition and the cost of books for its full time AND part time associates! That’s over 1.5 million people that essentially just got a full-ride scholarship because of their generous employer.

Not to be outdone, Big Box rival Target says they’ll pay for college for their employees too – and even help cover the cost for grad school! So if you were worried about your future after high school, two of the world’s largest employers will give you a job and a free college education … it’s gonna be ok, friends.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

18 year old Sebbie Hall of Great Britain is making the most out of pandemic life.. Sebbie suffers from a rare Chromosomal issue, which creates learning disabilities. His mom Ashley asked him to think about what skills he could use to raise money for charities.

Without missing a beat, Sebbie responded, “I can be kind.”

Every day Sebbie performs at least one act of kindness. So far he’s done over 1,600 good deeds in his community. And with that “wonderful determination” (according to Prime Minister Boris Johnson) Sebbie has raised tens of thousands of dollars for charity.

Sebbie has walked neighborhood pets, watered gardens, washed cars and baked cakes. He’s handed out PPE for medical personnel and even given warm coats to the homeless. A bit of a Lothario as well, Sebbie has handed out 100 roses to 100 women just to make them smile, on his way to serve at a local food bank.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

The Baltimore Museum of Art is arranging an exhibition called “Guarding the Art,” which will feature a selection of works chosen by unsung giants in the art community: Museum security officers.

One officer chose a series of pre-Columbian sculptures because they made him feel connected to his Puerto Rican ancestry. Another officer with a classical music background chose a piece by German painter Max Beckmann that depicts the artist’s second wife, a violinist.

Whether it was a personal connection to the artwork or a more indescribable one, the 17 officers involved are changing ideas of what it means to “know” art.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Lisa Radcliffe’s son Buster was born with a neuromuscular condition that requires him to wear adaptive braces. The medical wear scared other children in Buster’s preschool and that led to a world changing business.

Lisa thought, “if the orthotics looked like superhero gear, every kid would want to wear them!”

So Lisa started PunkinFutz, which produces super cool looking orthotics for kids. The name PunkinFutz was a loving childhood nickname from Lisa’s dad. The product line, which includes bags for wheelchairs, compression vests for children with sensory issues and fidget toys for the ADHD crowd has been so successful that Lisa was able to quit her full time job and focus on the business.

 

In fact, it was such a big deal that Sesame Street and JCPenney have joined PunkinFutz to develop an exclusive line for their stores!

About 75 percent of the company’s staff has special needs and Lisa hopes to build an entire product line factory that is built to be manned by people with all manners of disabilities.

Monday, August 23, 2021

Pianist Tonee “Valentine” Carter received the biggest tip of his life last Wednesday, courtesy of strangers who heard him play virtually. Carlos Whittaker was dazzled by Carter when he spotted him playing the piano at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, and shared videos of the performance with his 200,000 Instagram followers.

Carlos asked them to help him deliver Carter his biggest tip ever, and within 30 minutes, $10,000 had been sent via Venmo and Cash App. When Whittaker told Carter about the tip, he was stunned. “I love giving and donating and helping people, but I never expected someone to do it for me!” Carter said.

The money kept coming in, and that $10,000 grew to $70,000 by Saturday. Carter has kidney disease and receives dialysis treatment nightly, but that doesn’t stop him from going to the airport nearly every day, because when he plays the piano, “I feel like the happiest man in the world.”

Friday, August 20, 2021

A cute kitty wearing glasses would make anybody smile. This is a story about how a bespectacled cat is helping children regain their confidence.

Danielle Crull runs a pediatric optometrist office in Mechanicsburg, PA. She specializes in helping young children with severe ocular problems. Many of her patients have had surgery and are keyed up when it comes to anyone touching their eyes.

That is until a glasses-wearing rescue cat named Truffles hops up into their lap. Dr. Crull says Truffles loves to accessorize with glasses and loves to snuggle with the kids, helping ease their anxiety when getting their own glasses.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Brayden Morton grew up in rural Canada and became hooked on drugs at a young age. He became a dealer – was involved in gangs and violence. He nearly died multiple times and even tried to take his own life. After 15 failed attempts to get off drugs, the 16th time was the charm.

When a drug addicted young woman stole his dog Darla for some quick cash, Brayden was crushed. But he was able to find the young woman, retrieve his Shar-pei Darla and instead of pressing charges, has offered to help the young woman get clean.

Braydon told her that he recognizes the struggle – he truly has been there before. Westminster House is a drug addiction treatment facility with a bed now waiting on this girl, whenever she is ready to do the work.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Tripp Hughes is a winner. The 7 year old has spent the last three years battling cancer – and recently rang a Fire Truck bell to celebrate his final chemo treatment. When you feel like a winner – you want others to feel like winners too. And so Tripp got to work.

For his seventh birthday this young fighter collected cash and new toys to donate to other kids in the hospital still in the middle of their own fight. Thanks to some generous friends, Tripp was able to donate over 2500 toys and $6000 to the children’s hospital he had just left.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Have an old clunker lying around? Eliot Middleton will cut you a deal. The restaurant owner/mechanic fixes up old cars and donates them to people in need throughout rural South Carolina. To get the vehicles, he trades people a plate of ribs from his restaurant, Middleton’s Village BBQ.

“You don’t have a car, you don’t have a career,” Middleton says simply. “I want to help everybody looking to better themselves when transportation is what’s holding them back.”

So far, he’s collected 100 cars and surprised 33 people with a repaired ride. Middleton says he is committed to using his time and skills to help hard-working community members. It’s also a way to help himself heal: He learned how to fix cars from his father, who passed away in 2020. Every car he fixes, every life he changes, is carrying on that beloved legacy.

Monday, August 16, 2021

Joan Cather runs a Martial Arts training school in Bridgeton, Missouri and this Summer, she and her class were invited to ride on a float in the town’s 4th of July parade.

Halfway through the parade, a fellow karate instructor stopped the parade when he noticed a man in need of medical attention. The other instructor – an off-duty cop – began chest compressions. At first there was no pulse – but the CPR worked and the man was breathing on his own when the ambulance arrived.

A few minutes later, after re-starting the parade, Joan and her co-instructor stopped everything once again to help someone in distress from the heat. CPR and emergency response is a skillset taught and required at Joan’s dojo – and the parade put that need on full display.

After the parade was over, Joan and her team took home 1st place trophy for the performance category – which was just icing on the cake!

Friday, August 13, 2021

The fire started at the entrance to the apartment building and quickly shot up the stairwell to apartments above. Firefighters and first responders came as fast as they could – but it wouldn’t have been quick enough to save everyone from the burning building.

But neighbors and strangers alike saw the flames and began to work together to save everyone. Some scaled the outside of the building to help residents escape through windows. Three people had to go to the hospital but dozens of others were saved because of the swift action of their neighbors.

The chief fire warden praised his community saying, “It’s amazing to see this kind of involvement and to act when other people are in danger, I am proud to see that the residents acted the way they did.”

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Over the last five years, Rodney Smith Jr. has inspired thousands of young people to mow dozens of yards in their communities for free. Smith, 33, is the founder of Raising Men & Women Lawn Care Service in Huntsville, Alabama. In 2017, he took his lawn care service on the road, traveling to all 50 states to help out veterans, cancer survivors, senior citizens, and people just trying to get by. He’s also started a program called the 50 Yard Challenge, which challenges young people to mow 50 yards in their communities.

More than 2,000 people have signed up, and they get t-shirts and other perks along the way — including new lawn care tools if they finish. Why mow so much? Smith says it builds character, and helps people feel connected to their communities.

“My mission in life is to give back,” he says. “Especially to those who need it the most.”

 

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

THANK YOU to our amazing superheroes in the medical field. We couldn’t be more grateful for you and the hard work you’re doing.

Florence “SeeSee” Rigney, is said to be America’s oldest working nurse. After more than 70 years caring for patients, 96-year-old Rigney is officially hanging up her scrubs for a well-earned retirement. Rigney’s career in nursing started when penicillin had just been introduced to the medical field, and she ended it as a beloved operation room nurse in Washington state.

Imagine the the thousands and thousands of lives she’s cared for in 70 years! Nurse SeeSee may get to put her feet up now, but her legacy is far from over. The hospital system has established the SeeSee Rigney Nursing Endowed Scholarship Fund to inspire future generations of nurses.

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Officer Rose Cauthron’s home in Bridge City was severely damaged in a storm last month. The roof began collapsing and needed to be replaced.  Officer Rose works with Causeway Police and formerly worked with the New Orleans Police Department. The collapsing roof isn’t even the biggest trial she’s currently facing. About a month ago, she lost her stepson to an accidental gunshot. The grief, the roof, and her brother’s mental health have all been overwhelming.

Seeking help for PTSD, Rose reached out to Michael Parker, who volunteers with Project Refit. Project Refit is an organization that helps first responders, active duty military, and veterans dealing with isolation or PTSD.  Parker said, “I knew we couldn’t do anything about her stepson or her brother, but I was like we can raise this money, we can help her out [with the roof].”

The group raised $8,500 to fund repairs and NOLA church volunteers helped out along with volunteers from all over including New Jersey, Arkansas, and Northern Louisiana, who camped outside in tents so Rose would not feel alone or afraid while construction was underway.

Monday, August 9, 2021

They go by the nickname, The Shathi Sisters – which means “togetherness” in Bangladeshi. The Shathi Sisters get together once a month to cook up a storm at the St. George’s Anglican Church for a multifaith food kitchen in downtown Montreal.

One Saturday a month, the Shathi sisters produce 100 meals for the homeless and less fortunate of their hometown. They noticed the increase in homelessness due to the pandemic and wanted to make a difference. The plan is to do even more than a once a month cook day.


Friday, August 6, 2021

Hidilyn Diaz did something for her home country of the Philippines that no other Fillipino Olympian has ever done – brought home the Gold!

Diaz is a two time Olympian – and at 30 years of age she was able to deadlift 127 kg (around 280 lbs) – setting a new world record and for the first time since The Philippines began sending athletes to the Olympics in 1924, Diaz is bringing home a Gold medal!

But how she got to the Olympics is the real story. Like many athletes, Hidilyn spent the last year on COVID lockdown. She wasn’t able to see her family after getting stuck in Malaysia due to a travel ban. Stranded without proper training equipment, the innovative Olympian used water jugs to weight train!

Diaz thanks God for opportunities and encourages young Filipinos to “..dream high… That’s how I started. I dreamed high and finally, I was able to do it.”

Thursday, August 5, 2021

When Rayssa Leal was 7 she went viral for skateboarding in a fairy costume. But now Rayssa is trending on Twitter because she’s an Olympic champion!

Rayssa became internet famous back in 2015 when Tony Hawk shared a video of the costumed little girl nailing a heelflip at her home in Brazil. Now she’s rocking a Silver medal on the Olympic podium as one of the first Olympic Skateboarding champions in history – at just 13 years old!

The teenager now has over 6 million Instagram followers, but doesn’t want to be bogged down by fame. She said, “I want to go on with being a little girl that I am, having fun with my friends. I don’t want to have too many responsibilities right now. I just want to be a lovely, lively little girl that I am for the whole [of] Brazil.”

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Rayssa Leal (@rayssalealsk8)

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

There is a lot of expectation heaped on Olympians. South African swimmer Tatjana Schoenmaker was feeling the pressure so the devout Christian took to her Instagram to pray for peace.

The swimmer wrote: “Father God, may Your will be done, may Your peace fill us up, may we praise You no matter what the outcome. May we be empowered by Your strength to give our all and may we forever be in awe of Your goodness! Thank You for bringing us to this very moment.”

But that “outcome” was going to be better than Tatjana could have possibly anticipated. She started destroying records – setting an Olympic record in the prelims for the 200-meter breaststroke, then setting a new world record and winning the Gold medal in the finals! She also took Silver in the 100-meter breaststroke.

Tatjana became a Christian in 2016 and has used her social media presence as a way to give God glory as she competes on the international stage. At the Olympics, she wears two swim caps – one for South Africa, and another with the phrase “Soli Deo Gloria” written on it. Glory to God Alone.

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

From fleeing the Syrian Civil War to saving refugees all the way to swimming in the Olympics – this is the story of young Yusra Mardini.

The Mardini family lived a relatively comfortable life in the suburbs of Damascus, the effects of the Civil War were minimal for them. But steadily the violence grew. One day their father, a member of the national swimming team, was arrested and beaten. Their world began to collapse. It was decided that Yusra and her sister Sarah would have to flee the country.

The pair of teenagers went to Turkey and were then crammed on a boat built for 7, but had 20 refugees trying to get to the Greek Island of Lesbos – which has become a waystation for refugees. Just 15 minutes into the voyage, the little boat’s engine sputtered out. Yusra and Sarah got into the cold water, along with a couple of other refugees and used ropes to literally pull the boat through the Aegean Sea to port at Lesbos. They weren’t just swimming for their own lives, but the others on the boat.

Once on dry land, the sisters traveled to Berlin, Germany – often by foot – to live in a refugee camp. While living in a foreign land, Yusra and Sarah connected with a local swimming club for young athletes. With help of their new friends, the sisters were able to get papers and officially immigrate into Germany.

Yusra then went on to become the youngest ever UN Refugee Agency Goodwill Ambassador. And just a week ago in Tokyo, the young woman proudly carried the flag for the Refugee Olympic Team during the Opening Ceremonies.

Monday, August 2, 2021

First Lieutenant Amber English draped herself in the American flag, with her skeet shotgun resting on her shoulder and a gold medal between her teeth! She won top marks and even set an Olympic record by hitting 56 out of 60 targets.

Lt. English’s journey to the Olympics has been a long and difficult path. She went out for the Olympics in 2012 but came up short. Then just before trials in 2016 her father passed away. Again, a missed opportunity. But after 4 years in the Army, at the age of 31, she’s an Olympic champion.

Amber is one of nine US soldiers representing America in the Olympics this year.

 

Friday, July 30, 2021

An Argentinian fencer lost her Olympic match but still won something even better than Olympic Gold. After losing 15-12 against a Hungarian fencer, Argentina’s Maria Maurice was giving an interview when her coach and boyfriend handed her a large handwritten note saying “Do you want to marry me??? Please!”

Maria turned around to find Perez on one knee for the proposal. After screaming in glee she said “YES!!” Maria’s fiancé is a gold medalist fencer himself. Soon the pair will return home to Argentina to celebrate with their friends and family.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Olympic sprinter Allyson Felix is making sure mothers of young children, like herself, have the resources necessary for childcare. She and her sponsor Athleta have created The Power of She Fund: a $200,000 childcare fund for athletes competing this year.

The grant program helps fund child care costs for mothers who are also athletes while they travel to competitions. Ahead of the Tokyo games, The Power of She Fund gave nine mom/athletes $10,000 grants to help cover childcare while they win medals for Team USA.

Tokyo will be Allyson’s 5th Olympic Games. She’s won nine medals, six gold and three silver. She’ll once again be running the 400m dash.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

When Sydney McLaughlin qualified for the Tokyo Olympics for track and field, she also set a new world record. She was the quickest woman ever to compete in the 400-meter hurdles.

As soon as a microphone was put in her face what came rushing out was “All the glory to God!”

The outspoken Christian went on to praise God and thank him for her coaching team. This is her second trip to the Olympics. The hurdle competition begins on Saturday in Tokyo.

The Olympian wrote on her Instagram, “by grace, through faith, Jesus has given me everything. Records come and go. The glory of God is eternal. Thank you Father.”

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

It’s been a really challenging few years for track star Quanesha Burks. She excelled in high school and went to the University of Alabama on scholarship. In 2019 her grandfather (who helped raise her) passed away, causing her performance to drop off. Then 2020 hit and the pandemic impacted every athlete. While training for an Olympic run, Burks was sidelined with a bone injury for three months. Her coaches didn’t think she would be ready for trials, but hard work and determination prevailed.

At the trials for the Tokyo Olympics Quanesha Burks landed a personal best long-jump of 6.96 meters, and took third place overall, securing her spot on the Team USA roster.

Quanesha said, “I didn’t have everything laid out for me. I didn’t have all the eyes on me. I feel like still to this day I get overlooked. That’s okay. I just know it all starts with your confidence within. Everything I’ve become is because of my mindset and my determination. It’s been a journey and it all started with a little girl working at McDonald’s and here I am.”

Monday, July 26, 2021

18 year old Kieran Moise just graduated high school and is preparing to enter the Air Force Academy – but first, he was going to need a very important haircut. Six years earlier Kieran lost a friend to cancer. Inspired to help children recovering from chemotherapy, Kieran decided to grow out his afro to donate hair to be turned into free wigs through Children with Hair Loss.

By the time school was over, Kieran had grown an impressive 19-inch afro. He then organized a hair cut event to raise $1000 per inch that got chopped ($20,000) before signing up for life in the Air Force.

Kieran noted, “There’s nothing special about helping others, you just have to want to do it.”

Friday, July 23, 2021

Danielle Gletow is the founder of One Simple Wish, an organization that helps donors grant wishes from foster kids, foster parents and young adults who have aged out of the system. It’s emotional work, and one night last month, Gletow was feeling the full weight of it. Her friend had just passed away from ALS, and she was overwhelmed with anxiety over whether she could support all of the people counting on her.

In fact, she had made a special birthday wish days earlier, asking the public for donations on One Simple Wish‘s page. Little did she know that at the same time, a Reddit user was writing a post on the message board site that would change everything. The Redditor, who goes by dartdoug, answered the question “What is something you’ve done purely out of the goodness of your heart but have not told anyone?” by mentioning the One Simple Wish site.

Within hours, the Reddit community had donated sneakers, books, toys, electronics and more, fulfilling dozens of wishes. By last count, donations after the post have totaled more than $185,000. Danielle was blown away.

Danielle Gletow expressed her gratitude by sharing about the young people who would be helped by the outpouring of support: “I want them to feel valued and seen and not for what they’ve been through, not for their trauma, but just for who they are. For their sense of humor. For their intelligence. For their quirkiness. For their interest in writing or art. I want all of them to have some sense of wonder and hope and childhood. And this is what Reddit did.”

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Some kids as young as 2 or 3 are getting ticketed by police in Bogalusa – but not for breaking the law, rather, for being upstanding young people. And by tickets, I mean coupons for free snowballs and ice cream!

The Bogalusa police force are pumping up their numbers by issuing over 200 tickets for local treats to kids of all ages, hoping to build a better relationship with young people and stop crime before it starts.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Jonathan Bright is a police officer in Tennessee and last week, he and six of his fellow officers just finished a 12-hour shift and stopped by Waffle House to get something to eat, but it was closed. The reason was that several employees walked off the job mid shift leaving them so short-handed that they were forced to close the restaurant.

After working their 12-hour police shift, the officers jumped in and started helping out at the Waffle House by cleaning, taking orders, and getting the restaurant running again.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Retired Judge Keith Davison decided that grief would not get the best of him. A few years ago he lost his wife to cancer after 66 years of marriage. His grown children have yet to provide grandkids, so Keith became the unofficial grandpa to all the kids in his neighborhood. And he became their favorite grandpa by putting in a HUGE pool.

There is no community pool in Morris, MN – but Judge Davison has extended the invite to his new, huge, 32 feet long, 9-feet deep backyard swimming pool for everyone in the community. Parents are required to be present with the kids. Keith’s backyard has become the Summer hangout spot for dozens of kids and families.

The 94 year old former judge stays fit by swimming laps before and after the children descend on the pool – and then enjoys talking with the families as they live up some Summer fun.

Monday, July 19, 2021

When someone is in trouble – heroes act fast. 16 year old Joseph and his friend 15 year old Dominic are absolutely heroes. The two boy scouts were riding their bikes surveying the damage after flood waters moved through their hometown of Columbia, Missouri when they heard cries coming from a flooded basketball court.

The two young men saw a young woman fighting to keep her head above water. She had tried to swim through the flooded playground but was caught in a current and cramping up. Joseph and Dominic did not hesitate – jumping into the deep and dangerous waters to rescue the flailing woman. She was later taken to the hospital and is expected to be ok.

For their part in the rescue, Joe and Dom were awarded the Citizen Life Safety Award by the local fire department.

Friday, July 16, 2021

We’ve heard so many stories about how during the pandemic, there has been a surge in generosity. Those with the means, blessing those in need. Stumble Inn Bar & Grill in Londonderry, New Hampshire is a local dive known for their chili dogs. A new customer must have really enjoyed his meal because he left a whopper of a tip.

The bill was for $37 – the tip was for $16,000! The diner told the staff to not spend it all in one place as he walked out the door. That is a baller move!

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Chicago police officers were patrolling the 6th district and saw some kids having fun playing basketball. But the milk crate they were using as a hoop had seen better days. So the officers hatched a plan. They collected cash from their coworkers and surprised the neighborhood kids with a brand new basketball goal and some fresh basketballs.

The kids were so excited it was high fives all around. It took 9 officers a few hours to put the goal together, but afterwards they stuck around to shoot some hoops with the kids. This is a gift these families will never forget – and maybe some of these kids will grow up to become cops because they experienced the difference that can be made.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Captain Jennifer Dowker was busy cleaning her glass bottomed boat, docked on the Cheboygan River in Michigan, when she saw something glimmer in the sunlight. It was an old timey glass bottle … and inside was a piece of rolled up parchment.

Jennifer fished the bottle out of the river and read the note inside. Dated November 1926, the note said, “Will the person who finds this bottle return this paper to George Morrow and tell where it was found.”

Jennifer’s crew shared the message in the bottle on Facebook and folks tracked down Michele Primeau – the daughter of George Morrow, who wrote the message nearly 100 years ago. George passed away back in 1995 – but this past Father’s Day Michele got to reminisce about her dad with this special glimpse into his past.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

When Richard Scott William Hutchinson came into the world last year, doctors at Children’s Minnesota Hospital in Minneapolis gave him a zero percent chance of survival. The infant was born five months premature – recognized by Guinness as the world’s most premature baby. Richard weighed just 11.9 ounces and was so tiny, he could fit in the palm of his parents’ hands.

But inside his little body beat the heart of a fighter.

After six months in the hospital, Richard was discharged from the NICU. This June, he celebrated his first birthday as a thriving, smiling little boy.

Monday, July 12, 2021

For your average 8 year old boy – a Pokémon card collection is the equivalent of your grandmother’s fine china or those Beanie Babies you “invested” in back in the 90s. It’s a priceless possession. Bryson started collecting Pokémon cards when he was just 4. But at age 8 he put up a sign, “Pokémon 4 Sale” in his front lawn.

Bryson’s best friend is his puppy Woodruff, a black lab mix. Woodruff got sick with a virus and Bryson overheard his parents talking with the veterinarian that it would cost hundreds of dollars to save the dog. Bryson wanted to help so he put his Pokémon collection up for sale. When neighbors got wind of what Bryson was up to, the donations started pouring in. Most didn’t want the cards – just to help Woodruff.

While Bryson did sell a few cards – a lot of neighbors made donations of both cash and their own Pokémon cards to the cause. The family quickly had enough to treat Woodruff, who is now back to his healthy happy self. Someone told the Pokémon Company what Bryson did for his pup, and they sent him a ton of new Pokémon cards to make up for the few he sold.

Friday, July 9, 2021

A young man named Jabari Richardson – a student at Texas A&M – was in the process of moving when he saw a man on the side of the road. The man was homeless, holding a sign that simply said “Anything helps, God Bless.”

Jabari pulled some clothes and shoes out of his trunk and gave them to the grateful man. What Jabari didn’t know was the person behind him in traffic filmed the entire thing and posted it to TikTok.

That kind of generous act quickly went viral – set to the country song “The Good Ones” by Gabby Barrett. It’s been viewed well over 6 million times. Jabari was identified and interviewed by local news. He told reporters that his mom raised him to understand not everyone is as blessed as he is and to never take that for granted.

@amburandlex##DADMOVES ##summerschool ##goodpoint ##viral ##helpingthehomeless ##tallahasseeflorida ##foodtiktok ##intothethickofit ##blackmusic ##blacklivesmatter♬ The Good Ones – Gabby Barrett

Thursday, July 8, 2021

A dad wanted to inspire his kids to never give up in pursuing their dreams – and in the process raised a ton of money and got super jacked. Over the course of 12 months, Nate Carroll completed 1,500,231 pushups. He averaged 4,100 pushups a day – often doing many more.

Not only is he the toughest dad on the block, Nate raised money for Tunnels to Towers Foundation – a nonprofit that pays housing bills for families of fallen police and firefighters.

For Nate it was never about breaking records – which of course he did – it was always about showing his children that the key to tackling incredible challenges in life is to take it a little bit at a time.

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Michael is 18 years old and is on the autism spectrum, experiencing extreme emotional outbursts. He’s mostly non-verbal but has found a handful of ways to express himself – like editing short videos with special effects, trying to make his dad Mike laugh and playing video games.

Michael was with his dad in Walmart one day and spotted a full-sized old school arcade cabinet. The young man was so enamored by the expensive hardware, his dad, Mike (who was laid off from his job during the pandemic) decided to put his engineering skills to work and built an even better arcade system just for his son.

Mike wired together a stereo with a computer system loaded with games and put it all into a custom built wood frame, tricked out with paint and lights. Michael LOVED his new arcade cabinet. Since completing the project and sharing it online, another family with an autistic child has hired Mike to build one for them.

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Cancer patients look for inspiration and hope everywhere. Faith, family, friends, art and music give strength in the fight. Juan Lopez of Marrero spent a year battling cancer. The 13 year old found peace in listening to classical music.

Now that the hardest part of Juan’s battle against Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is over, the teen is living his best life – and learning to play the piano. While in the hospital, Clair de Lune became his anthem – a challenging piece on the piano. And Juan now gets to practice the piece in style.

Make A Wish, Chick-Fil-A and Larargue Piano banded together to gift the survivor a Yamaha Baby Grand Piano! Juan is now cancer-free and getting better at the piano every single day.

Monday, July 5, 2021

Stefani Shamrowicz really hates litter. It’s her pet peeve. The Colorado native had to take a month off of work in May, so she decided to travel and see family and friends – and along the way, she collected 126 bags of litter.

Steff used GoFundMe to pay for gas and lodging as she travelled and collected litter into garbage bags, chronicling the entire thing on Instagram. She picked up waste in 12 states – the biggest offender being Ohio – Arizona and Florida rounding out the top 3 littered states visited.

Friday, July 2, 2021

Timothy Harrison spent a lot of his senior year working part time at a local Waffle House in Alabama. Timothy had taken a Saturday morning shift off to attend his high school graduation – but the morning of – he showed up to work.

His manager, Cedric Hampton asked him what was going on and it turned out Timothy couldn’t get a ride to the graduation venue, about a half hour drive away, nor could he afford his cap and gown – so he just decided to come into work.

The staff and patrons of the Waffle House quickly put together the cash to pay for the cap and gown, and manager Cedric grabbed his keys to take Timothy to his graduation ceremony. After a local news channel did a story about Timothy and his Waffle House family, a local State college offered the young man a full scholarship.

Just recently the soon to be college freshman took a tour of the school campus – with Cedric, his manager and mentor from Waffle House right by his side.

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Thank you to the men and women in local police forces that are out to serve and protect everyone – everyday. It’s a hard – sometimes impossible job. We’re praying for you – and thankful for your service. Usually when police make the news, it is for all the wrong reasons – but the unsung acts of good public servants will not go unnoticed.

Recently police in Pasco, FL were called to a gas station in response to someone loitering behind the building. When they pulled up, deputies noticed the man looked hungry and had no shoes. They talked with the man, bought him a sandwich and some flip flops to protect his feet and then he went on his way with some basic needs met.

That type of story happens in communities all over the country every day. Let’s be like these cops, today.

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Last year, 8-year-old Desiree Mohammadi wanted to help care for the healthcare heroes in New York City. She emptied her piggy bank – a grand total of $52.65 – and donated it all to Northwell Health to buy snacks for front-line workers. Desiree dreams to one day be a doctor on the front-lines as well.

One day came on her 9th birthday.

As a way to say “thank you” to the thoughtful little girl, LIJ Medical Center invited Desiree to shadow some doctors on her 9th birthday. She got a white coat, a stethoscope and jumped right in at the Labor and Delivery Unit. Throughout the day Desiree learned how to dress wounds, use various health instruments and experience a day as a doctor.

The staff at LIJ Med Center all said you didn’t need a stethoscope to experience Desiree’s big heart – she showed compassion to every person she met.

It might be a few years before Dr. Desiree is treating patients at the hospital, but she knows the path before her and is walking it with lots of hope and a group of healthcare professionals already cheering her on.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Hats off to Verda Tetteh, a graduating high school senior from Massachusetts who graciously accepted a $40,000 scholarship from her school — and then asked that it be donated to a student attending a community college instead.

Verda was inspired by her mom Rosemary – who works two jobs to provide for the family. Verda’s mom immigrated from Ghana and graduated from Community College, so that’s where Verda wants to invest her $40,000 scholarship – in the lives of others like her mom.

Meanwhile Verda is off to Harvard to study biochemistry. She has other scholarships and financial aid so tuition won’t be a burden on her family. Verda said matter of factly, “We’re blessed to be a blessing. I thought that I was in the position where God has blessed me so much, and I thought it was the right thing to do to bless somebody else.”

Monday, June 28,2021

7 year-old Lawson Haas is a really cool kid. He loves fishing, hunting, martial arts – and especially baseball. Back in May he helped his Northshore team to a nearly undefeated season. But after one game he wasn’t feeling very well. He had a fever, headaches and bruises. Two days later Lawson was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia.

The brave 7 year-old has already begun chemotherapy. His family says he is a fighter and will beat this. But Lawson will eventually need a bone marrow transplant. But he will not be walking this journey alone.

Next time you are on the Northshore you might see someone wearing a Lawson Strong bracelet or t-shirt. The community is rallying around the family with blood drives, online fundraisers for medical expenses and a huge baseball tournament to help raise money for the family as they focus on the fight ahead.

Twenty-four local teams signed up to play in a fundraising baseball tournament for Lawson. Of course his team is fired up to win it all for their friend and teammate.

Friday, June 25, 2021

A mega church in Ohio – Crossroad Church – has multiple campuses and boasted a weekly attendance of over 35,000 people pre-pandemic. This year marks the 25th anniversary for the church and to celebrate, they are spreading their considerable resources to a host of other non-profits and ministry organizations.

To celebrate 25 years the church will dole out $2.5 million in grants over the next several months, starting with a $100,000 gift to City Gospel Mission, which cares for the homeless in Cincinnati. They also plan to help fund organizations in Haiti and India.

The generous spending spree was actually inspired by the federal government. In the middle of a global shutdown, Crossroad Church was fortunate to make their operating budget with the help of the Payment Protection Program loans. Grateful for the help in their time of need, the church now wants to give until it hurts to help as many other organizations as they can.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

One new mamma was trying to balance her new family with completing a graduate degree at MIT. Can you say overachiever? Her supervising professor of neuroscience, Dr. Troy Littleton wanted to help ease his student’s burden so he bought a pack ‘n play for his office, so he could watch the 9 month old while her mom got some research work done.

Dr. Littleton calls it a win-win because while mamma gets to finish her graduate studies, he gets to play with a baby!

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Tia’s husband Rodney and Susan’s husband Lance were both on dialysis. Tia and Susan are both nurses at Children’s hospital in Atlanta and connected so they could encourage each other on the difficult journey. Both women had been tested and were not a match for their own husbands – but a chance conversation in the hospital bathroom led to the discovery that the ladies were a match for each other’s husbands!

Instead of waiting forever on the kidney donor list, the wives immediately went into surgery to give kidneys to both Rodney and Lance. Now the families are forever linked – they literally share body parts!

Interested in learning more about kidney donation? kidneyregistry.org

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Tom Stevens was working hard to get the Majestic Ventura Theater open for business now that COVID restrictions have eased in California. While wiggling through a crawl space to do some electric work, Tom discovered a long-forgotten wallet. There was no cash – just some old photos, a Grateful Dead ticket stub and an expired California driver’s license for Colleen Distin.

Tom shared his find on Facebook hoping to get the wallet back to Colleen. In just a couple hours – with over a 1,000 shares of the post, Colleen responded to Tom – excited to see the 40 year old photos again. Colleen had lost her wallet when it fell out of her purse while on a date in 1975. The old family photos immediately brought tears to her eyes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=67nNO-n0qHo

Monday, June 21, 2021

Yeva crossed the finish line of the 4×1 relay – arm in arm with three of her teammates. They didn’t win the race – but they brought everyone to tears.  Yeva Klingbeil was a senior at Shenendehowa High School this year. She’s also been battling an aggressive cancer since 2019. Her friends from the school’s track and field team have gone every step of the journey with Yeva. They’ve done fundraisers to help pay for treatment and included Yeva in every way they could at school.

Yeva has never given up hope for a full recovery, largely because of the support of her friends. She’s undergone chemo and radiation and the tumor has shrunk by half – praise God!  At the last track and field race of the year, her teammates half-carried Yeva across the finish line where she was met by all of the competitors cheering her on – a celebration of her won’t quit spirit.

Friday, June 18, 2021

In America it can be hard to fathom the type of poverty experienced in the developing world. A family in Paraguay was living in literal garbage until strangers from all over the world heard their story – and bought them a house.

A mom and her three children were left homeless when the children’s stepfather burned their home to the ground and was sent to prison. They scrapped for building material and were living behind the city dump. One little boy would collect recycling to make money for the family to get food.

Their story was told via TikTok by Aaron Murphy – an American who went to South America to learn Spanish. Raising over $30,000, Aaron was able to purchase this family a house, clothing and furniture. These children had never been in a shower before. The mom is now operating a small restaurant out of the house and the children are all back in school. They have hope and a future thanks to the generosity of strangers from around the world.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by MURPHSLIFE (@murphslife)

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Chef Q. Ibraheem runs an upscale catering business and underground supper club in Evanston, Illinois. It took her years to grow her dreams, and she was finally tasting the fruits of all her labor when the pandemic hit.

Chef Ibraheem watched as schools shut down and families were plunged into food insecurity. Putting aside her own fears for her business, the chef started a program called Kids with Coworkers (referring to children who were home with their parents). Kids With Coworkers prepares and delivers healthy meals to struggling families.

The work came naturally to Chef Ibraheem, since she had volunteered for years with youth programs in the Chicago area, teaching young people how to grow and prepare vegetables from local community gardens. Word of her efforts quickly spread, and donations started arriving, which enabled her to expand. Since March 2020, Ibraheem says she has provided more than 60,000 meals to more than 600 people.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Since 2015, Virginia Rose has been helping mobility-challenged people like herself participate in her favorite pastime: birding. Rose says there’s something deeply satisfying about being engrossed in nature, appreciating the present moment and searching out feathered beauties that leads her to pick up her binoculars time after time. But navigating trails with a manual wheelchair can be nearly impossible. So she founded Birdability, a non-profit group that helps people find birding locations that fit their needs.

So far, the group has mapped out more than 500 birding sites along with their accessibility scores, both in the US and a few internationally. Anyone can access their interactive trail map, and Birdability members can even become captains to help lead inclusive excursions. That’s the other beautiful part of Birdability: connecting people so they can nerd out about birds, together.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Devarius Peters showed up excited to graduate from Hahnville high school this past Spring – he even got some brand new black and white leather Alexander McQueen shoes for the ceremony. But as he was walking in, a school employee informed Devarius that the shoes broke the dress code and he could not wear them if he wanted to walk across the stage.

Devarius was heartbroken and embarrassed. That’s when his former teacher, Mr. John Butler stepped in to help. Mr. Butler quickly slipped his own shoes off and had Devarius put them on so he could walk the stage with his peers. John’s own daughter was also graduating with Devarius, so he took his seat in the auditorium with no shoes, just socks. The folks around him chuckled – they had no idea that the teacher’s shoes were on the feet of his former student on stage.

Devarius, whose feet were a little too small for his borrowed shoes, proudly slid across stage and accepted his diploma with a special grin for his former teacher’s kindness. And the St. Charles School Board is working to change their graduation dress code rules to be more inclusive.

Monday, June 14, 2021

A father and his two children were out fishing on the St. Johns River in Jacksonville, FL. It was a hot day, so while anchored, the kids were swimming by the boat. That’s when the current suddenly kicked up and swept them away. Thanks to a cool minded dad and a strong swimming 7 year old, everyone survived the scary ordeal.

When the current became too much for 7 year old Chase and his 4 year old sister Abigail, their father Steven jumped into the water to help. He was able to reach 4 year old Abigail, who was in a life vest, but could not get back to shore. His 7 year old son Chase, who was not in a life vest, battled the rough water for an hour, inching towards shore. Thankfully Chase is an incredible swimmer. As soon as his feet hit dry land he ran to the nearest house to get help.

Rescuers arrived and were able to save Steven and Abigail, who had drifted almost 2 miles further down river. Chase is the hero of Jacksonville for never giving up in the face of great danger.

Friday, June 11, 2021

When California couple Krystal Duhaney and her husband Patrick had their first baby, they struggled to make ends meet. Now Krystal owns a successful business and they wanted to help out other struggling new parents.  Krystal & Patrick decided to spread some kindness by leaving $1,000 worth of cash inside baby products at various Target stores in Southern California. They slipped dollar bills into diaper boxes and under unopened formula lids at the Target stores.

Krystal posted about her Target adventure on Instagram at the end of April and in the weeks that followed, Krystal’s post went viral and has since earned nearly 96,000 likes and hundreds of comments from people commending the couple for their generous actions.

Though the couple was praised on social media, Krystal said she just hopes their gesture will inspire their children, and people raising kids all over the world, to be kind to others.

“As parents raising two young children, it’s really important for us to let our children know… kindness matters and that you never know what somebody’s going through.”

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Charter boat captains Mark Pisano and Paul Strasser have a whopper of a story to tell! Thirty-five years ago, Mark & Paul were piloting a charter back from Catalina Island off the California coast, when they came across a capsized boat and an orange life vest bobbing in the waves. Mark jumped in and pulled out 9-year-old Desiree Rodriguez — the only survivor. Her mother, father, sister, aunt, and uncle all perished in the incident. Desiree had been in the water for 20 hours when they found her.

Thirty-five years passed. Mark & Paul always wondered what happened to Desiree. Then a podcaster invited both men on his show, along with a surprise guest. On the show, Mark & Paul were reintroduced to Desiree Rodriguez and they could not hide their joy.

Now Captains Mark and Paul keep in touch with Desiree, who said the podcast recording really gave her a sense of closure about the tragedy in her past. Desiree and her aunt, who raised her after the incident, were invited to join Mark & Paul on their boat. It was the first time Desiree had been back on the ocean since she was rescued at age 9.

The journey was their first memorial — a commemoration of the family she lost — but also a celebration of guardian angels she gained.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Zohaib Begg is one incredible 8 year-old. He fought and beat cancer at age 4. When the pandemic hit last year, the then 7 year-old self-proclaimed “Chief Kindness Officer” collected more than 6,000 pieces of Personal Protection Equipment for the doctors who helped heal him as a preschooler. Now Zohaib has turned his big heart to helping the homeless in his hometown of Washington DC.

Zohaib gave himself a lofty goal of helping 1,000 homeless people on Global Youth Service Day. He got some help from Sharon Wise, who was once homeless and now advocates for the homeless in the D.C. metro. The pair passed out food, toiletry kits and other supplies to people in need at an underpass off New Jersey Avenue in the shadow of our nation’s Capital.

Each supply pack was filled with donations from local companies that 8 year-old Zohaib personally reached out to, including socks from Bombas, food from Chickfila and groceries from Trader Joe’s.

Zohaib says, “I believe in spreading kindness, and all my donors and partners for this event share this vision and also believe that no one is too young to make a difference.”

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Meredith Crane watched with frustration as her children (born deaf) struggled to find jobs. With that in mind, she started a company called Keepsake. She produces T-shirt quilts and blankets out of Columbus, OH. Over the last twenty years, Meredith has employed around 125 deaf and hard-of-hearing people at her company.

Keepsake takes old t-shirts and turns them into quilts for their clients. It’s pure comfort – and for many of the deaf employees at Keepsake, each blanket is a vote of confidence in their abilities and achievements.

Monday, June 7, 2021

It was March 29, 2011. Michael Shannon was off for a drive on the Pacific Coast Highway near Dana Point, about an hour’s drive south of Los Angeles. But this joyride wasn’t going to end well. A tractor-trailer crashed into Michael’s SUV.

Michael was alive – but trapped – and he could feel a fire starting to move towards him. He had no way of calling for help. Michael probably shouldn’t have survived. But that’s when the heroes showed up.

A team of two county firefighters and two paramedics were on their way back from another call. Two minutes after the crash they were on the scene of the accident and helping free Michael from the wreck. The paramedics broke out the Jaws of Life and extracted him from the vehicle while other firefighters worked to put out the fire. Michael was air-lifted to a hospital, where he spent the next 45 days undergoing treatment. The crash cost him two toes, which had to be amputated, but he otherwise — miraculously — survived and recovered.

And in a strange way, he had himself to thank.

Orange County paramedic Chris Trokey was one of the heroes of the day, helping rescue Michael from the fiery crash. And while Chris didn’t know it until he arrived at the hospital, it turned out that they had met before – 25 years earlier.

Chris Trokey was just 3.2 pounds at birth, and doctors had initially given him a 50/50 chance at surviving, but the attending pediatrician monitored his health around the clock and made sure he was stable. That pediatrician? Dr. Michael Shannon.

Trokey’s family long credited Dr. Shannon for saving the future paramedic’s life, and as coincidence would have it, the once-premature baby was able to repay the favor. They’ve made a habit of keeping in touch since. The pair get together for dinner every year on the anniversary of the car accident. And Chris recently became a father. Can you guess who his son’s pediatrician is?  Dr. Shannon.

Friday, June 4, 2021

The owner of a car dealership in Opelousas, LA says it isn’t unusual for his staff to find homeless folks sleeping on his lot every morning. Some find a way into the cars – others on boats or simply under awnings to get out of the weather. They try to help out whenever they can. Al and his team found Jamie outside one morning and the friendly homeless guy hit it off with the car sales team.

They took Jamie to a local hotel, fed him a hot meal, shopped at Walmart for some of his needs and while the men took care of him, Jamie shared his story. He had recently become homeless when his grandparents had passed away. Sean, one of the guys from the car dealership, shared the entire day on TikTok and before they knew it – donations and care packages came pouring in!

They set up a GoFundMe page to manage the gifts, which have surpassed $23,000 to keep Jamie off the streets and help him get his life straight. This group of men are determined to hold Jamie accountable and walk this journey with him.

Thursday, June 3, 2021

A girl named Monyay from Bradenton, FL had just about given up hope of ever having parents. She grew up in foster care and had resigned herself to doing life on her own. But at age 19, everything changed.

Monyay met Leah through the Safe Children Coalition – a non-profit in Florida that helps with the foster care system. Leah was assigned Monyay’s case and they hit it off. She became a mentor to Monyay while she was in high school. But the 32 year old Leah really loved Monyay like a daughter – and decided to make it official if Monyay would have her.

On April 27th the pair, 32 year old Leah and 19 year old Monyay, sat before a judge and he proclaimed them officially mother and daughter.

“I still can’t really describe the way I felt in that moment. It was beyond words,” Monyay said. “That’s the one thing I’ve wanted my entire life, to have a mom.”

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Ashley Fox was shopping with her 3 year old son Norris in tow. Norris is non-verbal and was recently diagnosed with autism. At the checkout, a stuffed animal puppy they had picked up turned out to be too expensive, so Ashley put it back.

Cue meltdown.

Ashley said it must have looked like she was kidnapping her own child as she rushed the toddler to the car as he screamed and cried over the stuffed animal. As Ashley was trying to buckle Norris into his car seat, she felt a tap on her shoulder.

A woman from the store held out the stuffed animal and offered it to Ashley to give to Norris. He immediately calmed down and before Ashley could even fully process the gift, the lady walked away with a knowing smile.

Thousands have now heard the story because Ashley shared the encounter on social media. A random act of kindness changed the world for that mom and her son. Miracles can happen – even in a Walmart parking lot.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

A lot of retirees head for Florida. The state has invested in a lot of senior care facilities, medical care and of course they are famous for tax breaks. A dozen former circus performers recently made the move to the sunshine state and they are loving it.

Oh, by the way, the retirees are elephants. The former Ringling Bros circus performers are making a new life at a wildlife refuge outside of Jacksonville, FL.

The White Oak Conservation staff was concerned the circus elephants might have a hard time adjusting to a wilder lifestyle after a career spent with acrobats and applause, but so far the dozen elephants, ranging from 8 to 38 years old, have all enjoyed exploring the North Florida woods – living their best lives for the rest of their lives.

Monday, May 31, 2021

Earlier this year in Toledo, OH, Jimmy Preston was driving to work and saw a young man trudging through a snowstorm on foot, headed to work at his job at a Kroger supermarket. Jimmy stopped and offered John Brandeberry a ride, taking him to work and learning his story.

After dropping his new friend off at work, Jimmy connected with a non-profit called Blessings in Disguise and started a journey of helping the young man. They paid for John to take driver’s ed and get his license. Then Jimmy and a local Toyota dealership raised funds to buy the young man a used car!

So now John drives to work in his 2013 Toyota Rav4 that was given to him – complete with a new bike and bike rack plus 6 months of car insurance!

Friday, May 28, 2021

Najee Harris was drafted in the first round (24th overall) this Spring by the Pittsburgh Steelers. In college, the Running Back played for Alabama – but before that, he was just a kid from California whose family received a helping hand.

In 2010, Najee’s family (two parents with four kids) lived in a small room at the Greater Richmond Interfaith Program Homeless Shelter. Instead of sweeping a sad and scary part of his life under the rug, Najee is using his newfound fame to educate others about homelessness.

When Najee Harris got the call that he would be a Pittsburgh Steeler – he was celebrating with his family at the very homeless shelter he spent time in as a child. The now-NFL star threw a pizza party for the shelter workers and families that are currently living there.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Joshua Nelson got a scholarship worth nearly $50,000 – which will cover tuition and boarding for four full years. That’s some serious good news. But Joshua had been preparing for college for a while – saving up his money in case he didn’t get a scholarship. Now that he doesn’t have to worry about school costs – he is using his college savings to bless another student in need.

As the president of his High School’s Multicultural Achievement Council, Joshua is putting up $1000 and asking other individuals and local businesses to match his investment to create a scholarship for a deserving minority student. And he hopes that the newly created Joshua Nelson Leaders in Action Scholarship will take off for years to come.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Students from Valley Christian School spent two days packing 10,000 meals for families in need – and not just for their community. About 1500 of the meals were sent to churches and food banks near the school. The rest were shipped to Haiti to be distributed in schools and orphanages.

Haiti is in a constant state of emergency and need. From natural disasters to failed governments – it is a dangerous place. But a handful of students using their free time are going to share meals and the gospel with the people of the island nation.

Every student at Valley Christian – no matter their age or grade – took part in this food project. Some decorated the shipping boxes, others wrote messages of hope, while older high school students prepared the food and loaded boxes.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Ronnie Kass has been driving a school bus for St. Tammany Parish since August 2020. The kids love him and say he is sweet and loves to laugh and joke. But one Monday morning earlier this year, no one was laughing.

Ronnie has been undergoing chemo and radiation for esophageal cancer. On a recent Monday, his body just gave out. He started shaking – he was having a seizure. Ronnie still – somehow – managed to pull the bus over and put it in park before passing out – keeping all of his students safe. The kids noticed the danger and called 9-1-1 immediately.

Doctors discovered the cancer has spread to Ronnie’s brain. But the community is rallying around the Kass family – starting a GoFundMe to provide for their needs while Ronnie gets treatment.

The fundraiser hit $7000 in less than six hours. Now it is up over $35,000 with a goal of $50,000 to help the family.

Monday, May 24, 2021

Singer Tabitha Haly has some serious pipes, and her strong singing voice is precious to her in more ways than one. Tabi has spinal muscular atrophy, also known as SMA, which is a degenerative condition that affects muscle movement and respiration. She has never been able to walk, but her father introduced her to music when she was three years old, setting off a lifelong healthy singing practice.

Some physical tasks have become difficult for her over the years, but being able to maintain strong lungs and vocal cords has kept her voice ringing loud and clear. Tabi released her first album, “I Wrote Life,” in 2019.

At her live shows, she advocates for disability rights. Her first single, “I Am Able,” is Tabi’s personal reminder that if, “I can help someone. I can be someone. I can be generous to someone. And most importantly, I can be loved like anyone else.”

Friday, May 21, 2021

You never know when your love story will begin. Some couples meet online – or at church – or a cursed Prince kidnaps a girl who grows fond of his talking teacups and singing candlesticks and then one day there’s just something there that wasn’t there before…

For Evan and Sydney, a chance encounter and mountain rescue led to their one-year anniversary all during a pandemic.

Evan is in the Air Force – stationed in Colorado Springs. But he was visiting his mom and step-father in Sedona, AZ to help around the house as his step-father was battling cancer. An avid mountain-biker, Evan set out to get some exercise and came across a damsel in distress.

Sydney is a massage therapist, going to school to be a social worker. She was enjoying a run along a hiking trail in Sedona – but took a tumble and broke her leg. She was waiting on a friend to come help her when Evan found her. Even carried Sydney the last half-mile of the trail to get her help.

In all the excitement the pair failed to exchange numbers. Months of recovery passed – and Sydney couldn’t find Evan on social media. She and her mother reached out to their local newspaper to get help searching for her Knight in Shining Biking Shorts. Eventually news made its way to Colorado and found Evan.

Sydney and Even just celebrated their one-year anniversary of their fateful meet-cute and are madly in love.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

If you knew your time was limited, how would you spend your remaining days and dollars? A man in Tennessee decided he would use his remaining time and resources to be a blessing.

The man, who wishes to remain anonymous, went to Gatlinburg, TN to enjoy the serenity of the mountains, while preparing for his step into eternity. He and his daughter enjoyed lunch and dinner at the always-busy Burg Steakhouse. After dinner, the man left a hefty tip – and then some.

Wanting to bless the staff of the steakhouse, the terminally ill customer left a $1000 tip for the waitstaff. Then he went on to pay for two other tables’ meals anonymously.

Hopefully it doesn’t take a diagnosis for us to live so generously. Thank you to everyone who supports LifeSongs – in the good times and the difficult times.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Walker Smallwood grew up playing baseball. He was good too. He dreamed of going to college and then playing professional ball. But life can be messy.

The 17-year-old Kentucky boy was diagnosed with cancer. Instead of taking the mound – he was taking chemotherapy. He had a rare bone cancer in his leg that required six surgeries and 18 lengthy hospital stays. The result was Walker went into remission! Praise God! But his leg is permanently weakened, making it too dangerous to play ball.

Walker would still play catch with his friends and cheer on his teammates. Before his senior season was over, his coaches and parents decided to let Walker take the mound one last time. They figured he could pitch for an inning without risking too much. Walker agreed to pitch until he gave up a hit.

But then a Disney sports movie happened. Walker never gave up a hit. He struck out all but two batters and ended the game with a no-hitter! The game ended and both teams were in tears, celebrating the incredible story of a young man who defeated cancer and still played the game of his life!

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Leticia Flores-Gonzalez was having some Christmas fun with her 4-year-old twins Luna and Gianella. They wrote out their Christmas wish lists to Santa and tied them to a couple of balloons – releasing them into the wind from their home in Liberal, Kansas.

The winds did not blow the balloons to the North Pole. In fact – they went the opposite way. Luna’s balloon made it all the way to Grand Cane, Louisiana before getting snagged by a tree. It was there that Alvin Bamburg spotted the debris while out deer hunting. Alvin was so excited to see Luna’s Christmas wish list. She asked for Candy, Spiderman and Frozen dolls, My Little Pony – and of course, a puppy!

Alvin showed the list to his wife, Lee Ann – they shared with some other family and friends and put together the presents for the little girl, whose list they believe God blew directly to them. They were able to connect with the girls’ mother, Leticia, and get Gianella’s list as well – so many people in their community wanted to be a part of blessing these little girls.

Finally this Spring – Alvin and Lee Ann got to top off the Christmas wish list in person – making the 600 mile trip to meet the family and drop off the most important item on Luna’s list – a new dachshund puppy!

The girls’ named their pup Max – the families are now forever bonded in friendship – and many have been inspired by their story.

Monday, May 17, 2021

He’s only been painting for five months, and already, Jake Garcia’s art is a collector’s item. The Boston resident is a nursing student, but he recently discovered a love for painting.

“I just thought it would be really nice if you’re walking down the street and you see this scene you really like and you look down and there was an oil painting of it,” Garcia said.

He ran with the idea, and has left several of his original paintings in spots around Boston. “I’ll see something I like, I’ll set up, I’ll do a painting of it, and I’ll do my best to leave it somewhere in the vicinity.”

Jake hopes this inspires others to pick up their own paintbrushes. “We’ve all been inside and a beautiful thing to do is to just go outside and just enjoy the sounds and the sights and the smells and just paint what you see.”

Friday, May 14, 2021

8 year old Jaxson and his almost-2 year old sister Leila were in the backseat of the car munching on chicken nuggies. Suddenly Leila began to choke – a chicken nugget was lodged in her esophagus. Jaxson didn’t panic, though – he knew exactly what to do thanks to Nickelodeon and wrestler turned actor John Cena.

Jaxson calmly alerted their dad and asked him to pull over. Then Jaxson used the heel of his hand to strike Leila’s back – dislodging the food and allowing her to breath again. The hero 8 year old did all of this before Dad could even pull the car over and get to the backseat.

Where did the 8 year old learn this life saving maneuver?

John Cena taught it to him on the Nickelodeon show The Substitute. Local news shared the story – which eventually made its way to John Cena. The former wrestler immediately reached out to Jaxson to congratulate him on his heroic, brave action.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Asking for help can be a real hit to our self esteem. Thankfully the world has girls like Andi Musser in it.

Andi is in 5th grade. When one of her friends at Shreve Elementary mentioned needing new clothes – Andi didn’t hesitate. She went home and rummaged through her closet, grabbing everything she had outgrown. The next day her friend was thrilled to have some cute clothes from a great friend.

Andi was so overwhelmed by the good feeling of helping others, she asked her mom Jessica if they could help even more people. Andi and Jessica pitched the idea of a Kindness Closet at the school to the principal. It would be a safe, private space where students could pick up needed gently used or new donated clothes.

Principal Adam Stein was all about the idea – so Andi gathered clothing donations from a bunch of local stores and the school opened up the student organized Kindness Closet.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

The Olympics are just 72 days away (hopefully). After a year delay – a global pandemic – and miraculous vaccine distributions, the world is ready to compete and celebrate incredible stories of incredible athletes.

One of those stories belongs to a Japanese swimmer named Rikako Ikee. Miss Ikee first competed in the Olympics back in 2016 when she was only 16 years old. In February 2019 she announced she had been diagnosed with leukemia. Rikako fought the cancer with the same tenacity she showed training for the Olympics. After chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant, she returned to the pool and began to train once again.

Rikako was discouraged by how weak her body had become from the leukemia, but continued to push herself. She hoped she might be able to contend in the Paris games of 2024, but expected to sit out the Olympics being held in her home country of Japan. But at qualifiers, Rikako became fired up – wanting to represent her country at Tokyo – and won the 100-meter butterfly qualifier!

This Summer we will all get to cheer Rikako Ikee on when she competes for Japan in the 4×100 medley relay.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

A couple of pageant princesses are spreading friendship in a variety of ways! 7-year-old Skylar Catron makes and hands out friendship bracelets everywhere she goes. She loves the smiles and thank yous she gets from each person.

This spunky 7-year-old earned the crown she’s wearing – Skylar is a USA National Miss South Carolina Princess. Her sister Sloan is a Junior Princess who also spreads kindness with crayons, through the Coloring Kindness program.

The sisters also collect bottle caps to be recycled into Buddy Benches – a spot on playgrounds where friends can be made. The idea is any lonely child can visit a Buddy Bench and other kids will immediately invite them to play.

Monday, May 10, 2021

He’s the mayor of FlavorTown – host of the Triple D – Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives – Guy Fieri is one of the most recognizable food personalities on TV – with his killer Camaro and bleached spiked hair. He felt the sting of the pandemic at his restaurants around the country – and personally, not getting to spend Christmas with his elderly parents.

He’s also watched many of his peers in the restaurant industry struggle to make ends meet – so he used his fame to help – by raising over $25 million to support the restaurant employee relief fund.

Friday, May 7, 2021

Dustin Vitale cooks his mom breakfast every morning and thanks to her for the privilege. When his mom, Gloria, was diagnosed with terminal cancer last year, he decided he would try to take her on one last trip — the trip she always dreamed of — to see the pyramids in Egypt. He also wanted to bring along all 14 family members.

Never mind that Dustin works as a middle school teacher in Philadelphia and could never afford the $10,000 to bring everyone. Dustin decided to raise the cash by selling cheesesteak sandwiches. He told neighbors and spread the word on social media. Before long cars were double parked outside his house to buy cheesesteaks. A local food truck offered to peddle the sandwiches at another location to help.

In less than six weeks the family had brought in almost double what they needed for the family trip to Eqypt – over $18,000! The trip is booked for later this year.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Jessie Hamilton worked as the house cook at the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity house at LSU in the 80s and 90s. She would start her days at 4am – serving her boys breakfast, lunch and dinner. She was basically the Phi Gamma Delta momma – giving rides to the grocery store and the doctor to baby-faced college boys.

Andrew, a Phi Gamma Delta brother back in the 80s, has kept in touch with Jessie over the past 30 years, and called her at the start of the pandemic just to check on her. He found out she was still working two jobs because she couldn’t afford to retire.

So Andrew and nearly 100 other fraternity brothers pulled the greatest Animal House prank of all time – they raised over $50,000 to pay off Jessie’s mortgage! On her 74th birthday the fraternity gave Jessie two checks – one to pay off her house, the other to spend however she wants.

Andrew said, “[Jessie] is the type of person that inspires me, people that don’t have a lot, but give a lot. She’s the most giving person you’ve ever met.”

Jessie Hamilton said she plans to enjoy retirement from the comfort of her paid-off home, adding, “This has been a blessing to me. I am grateful for what God has done. Andrew answered my prayers. He’s my guardian angel.”

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Garett Talcott teaches kindergarten at Ella Baker Elementary. During the pandemic, Mr. Talcott would go on field trips by himself – and film them for his kids. It was like each video was a virtual field trip. Of course Garett Talcott went viral for his awesome teaching – and has only expanded his virtual curriculum.

From hiking wildlife parks to doing kitchen science experiments and dance parties – this kindergarten teacher has done everything he could think of to engage his students who were stuck at home doing virtual learning.

@vividmichaelField trip with the class to the zoo! ##woodlandparkzoo ##zoo ##penguin ##zookeeper ##antarctic ##arctic ##seattle ##fieldtrip ##onlineclass ##remoteteaching♬ original sound – Mr. Talcott

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Tik Tok dances are all the rage. If you are coordinated. Not a single person on staff at LifeSongs has the moves. Or if they do, they are keeping their skillz secret. Thankfully the world is full of dancers.

Back before the pandemic, David Jamison, a 5th grade teacher out of Memphis, went viral with his personalized hand shakes and fist bumps for each of his 75 fifth-grade students. Just look up the hashtag #thedopeeducator.

But Mr. Jamison says now – in the world of facemasks and social distancing – that “you don’t have to physically touch a child to actually ‘touch’ a child.” He’s crafted personalized tik tok style dance moves to greet each of his students into the classroom. And the dope educator has some moves worth being jealous of.

Monday, May 3, 2021

Katie Booser is a 3rd grade teacher in Santa Barbara. Not only does she teach her kids math & science, she teaches them to believe in themselves with affirmations each morning such as “I believe in myself”, “I am strong”, and “I am smart.” She’s made words of affirmation a key part of her teaching strategy.

For the last 10 years, Katie Booser has led third graders in daily affirmations – that’s nearly an entire generation of kids who have had love spoken into their lives! Katie says that words of affirmation are “how we change the conversation… that’s how our world becomes a better place.

Katie recalls being an anxious kid in school herself – and the teachers who taught her to believe in herself were inspirational. She says “I am” statements trick your brain into believing what you are telling it.

Friday, April 30, 2021

Arlyne Radford is a helper to many and a hero to her daughter Kelly. Kelly nominated Miss Arlyne to be a LifeSongs Helper & Hero – winning her mom some free Chickfila and a parking spot at the Drive-In Theater Tour (with Zach, Mac & Cain)! Here’s Miss Arlyne’s story of bringing smiles (and hashbrowns) to her community:

“My mom’s name is Arlyne Radford. She’ll be 81 yrs old next month. She works full time at the St Rose Waffle House. She’s been there for 10 yrs and with the company over 20 yrs. She worked through the pandemic. When COVID first started, it was usually just her & one cook & the manager. Oftentimes the cook & the manager were the same person.

She’s loyal to her customers and to Waffle House. Over the years, instead of donating items to Goodwill, we’ve given them to my mom to bring to her Waffle House family. She will report back to us on who got what and how much the kids and mothers appreciated the items.

I believe she’s doing the Lord’s work right there serving people the best she can at the Saint Rose Waffle House.”

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Recently a man walked into a Dunkin Donuts determined to do something good for his community. The year was rough – but he was blessed and free food is always a great way to bless others. He told the cashier he wanted to pay for the next $1000 worth of food any customer ordered. The cashier was stunned and asked the man to repeat that order…

He thought about it a second and said – nope, make that the next $4000 in food orders. He proceeded to buy $4000 worth of Dunkin Donut gift cards that the store handed out as folks came in all day. Over 300 people got fed – and not just donuts, but full meals!

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

The Appalachian Trail is considered the longest hiking footpath in the world, spanning 14 states and nearly 2,200 miles from Georgia to Maine. It’s a tall order for anyone, but Dan Schoenthal is bound and determined to do it. Dan, 56, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2015. Despite the challenges of the disease, he took to heart his doctor’s advice that staying active was just as important as any other part of his health regimen.

Dan did the first 300 miles of the journey last year, and started back up again this April. While he’s excited to work toward a yearslong dream, and keep his body moving, Dan is also raising awareness of the disease and funds for the Parkinson’s Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to improving care for those with Parkinson’s and finding a cure.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Griffin Baron was 21 years old at the time – working as a shift supervisor at Starbucks in Wilmette, IL when he heard screaming coming from the bathroom. A customer had gone into early labor and everyone in the building could hear her surprise. Jonathan Celner was going to be born – fast – like as fast as you can order a grande coffee.

Griffin helped deliver the baby boy just moments before EMS arrived on the scene. Flash forward 18 years. Griffin is now married and a father of two – but he never forgot the little boy he helped deliver. Someone sent him a Go Fund Me link – and that’s how Griffin reconnected with Jonathon. The young man’s mom had passed away years ago – and he and his brother had just lost their father too.

Griffin met up with Jonathan at the very Starbucks where the former barista helped deliver Jonathan to hear about his life – and find out how he can once again help this young man in his time of need.

Monday, April 26, 2021

It’s more than 2,500 miles from Disneyland in Southern California to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, and Don Muchow ran them all.

Don Muchow, 59, has been long distance running for years to raise awareness for Type 1 diabetes, which he has lived with since 1972. Originally, he was just planning to run across the country, but decided the two iconic spots would make good goal posts. He started in February 2020, and had planned to finish by May. But the pandemic hit, and he had to make some starts and stops to stay safe.

Finally, on April 5 this year, he made it to Disney World where he was greeted by cheering park staff who loaded him up with balloons, souvenirs and a very well-deserved Mickey ice cream cone. He kept going after that, running two more days to reach the Atlantic Ocean and truly complete his coast-to-coast mission.

Friday, April 23, 2021

Amy Harper has nominated kindergarten teacher Jennifer Falgout as the LifeSongs Helper & Hero – winning her delicious Chick Fil A and a parking spot at the Drive-In Theater Tour on May 6th featuring GRAMMY winner Zach Williams, Mac Powell & new-comers CAIN! Here’s what Amy has to say about Jennifer:

“Jennifer Falgout is a superhero because she has been safely teaching our kindergarteners full-time, in person, since August. Her super hero power is gracefully implementing all the new COVID restrictions/guidelines with a class of 24 kindergarteners and at the same time successfully teaching them to read, do math, and spur on their love for Jesus! Thanks to her our kids have had some sense of normal during this crazy time, and they are thriving in her classroom!”

Jennifer – congratulations on becoming a LifeSongs Helper & Hero! And thanks for breathing life into those little learners this school year.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Politicians are people too. While I don’t know many people who are thrilled by their congress people, we should actively pray for them. It’s been a rough time – with the attack on the Capitol building just a few months ago. To provide some comfort and relief, Clarence – a 160-pound St. Bernard spent last week roaming the halls of Congress offering snuggles.

Clarence is the first official Police Comfort dog in the United States. Clarence and his handler have done tours of duty not only in DC, but at Sandy Hook, Las Vegas and at the Boston Marathon bombing aftermath. He’s our nation’s goodest boy.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

A groomer and animal control officer in Omaha, Nebraska, helped save a pet owner’s life, thanks to their instincts and basic human concern. When a regular customer didn’t show to pick their dog Lola up from an appointment, the PetSmart employee sensed something was wrong. The groomer attempted to contact him, but had no luck.

PetSmart called Animal Control Officer Kisha Witherspoon, who also felt uneasy about the situation. She contacted an investigator, who went to the owner’s house and got no response. Police were finally able to enter the home, and found the man lying in distress, suffering a medical episode.

The man is now getting medical care, and Lola is freshly groomed and safe with family members. The Nebraska Humane Society thanked the people involved for their quick thinking. It’s also a great reminder that just a little extra care could save someone’s life.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Recently in Atlanta, Shaq was visiting a friend who works at a Zales Jewelers. While there he overheard a customer shopping for an engagement ring. The ring he had picked out was on sale – but he didn’t have enough of the down payment to lock in the sales price.

That’s when Shaq walked up, slid his credit card across the glass and said “Don’t worry about it, I’ll take care of it.” Shaq is always looking for ways to bless others – saying he tries to do a good deed every day.

Monday, April 19, 2021

Finn Lanning is a middle school math teacher – the good kind. The kind that makes class fun and takes the time to get to know his students. One day after class his student Damien told his teacher that he would be leaving school.

Damien was in foster care and in need of a kidney transplant. Since no family could care for him and cover his medical needs, Damien was moving into a children’s hospital for care until a kidney match could be found.

Mr. Lanning couldn’t take it – he quickly got certified as a foster parent and took Damien into his home. Up until this point Finn Lanning was a happy bachelor, with no desire for a family. Flash forward a couple years and he has officially adopted Damien as his son – plus Damien also received his kidney transplant!

Most kids wouldn’t call moving in with your math teacher a fairytale ending – but for Damien and Mr. Lanning – it is a real happily ever after!

Friday, April 16, 2021

Talley Boykin has faithfully driven his school bus in Southern Louisiana all throughout the coronavirus pandemic. He has kept his kids safe – been considerate of every family – and been a light to everyone who knows him.

Talley’s wife Tammie nominated him as a Helper & Hero on LifeSongs – winning him $25 in Chick-Fil-A gift cards and a parking spot at the upcoming Drive In Theater Tour featuring Zach Williams! But more importantly, Tammie got to brag about how God uses her husband Talley.

Several of the kids on the bus call him Paw Paw Talley following the lead of their grandson who rides the bus to school each day. When he missed driving for a few days, concerned calls came flooding in wanting to see Mr. Talley return. He’s a friend and light to these kids each day.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Great teachers might retire after a long fruitful career … but they never actually stop teaching. Vernetta Price has gone from wrangling students to helping neighbors get access to the COVID-19 vaccine.

Ms. Vernetta lives in rural Mississippi. She’s so concerned for her elderly neighbors, she has started a carpool to get the entire community of Sardis, MS to the doctor. She has signed up over 80 people for the vaccine and helps drive anyone in need to their appointment.

Vernetta says she wants everyone to be protected so life can return to normal and she can go back to church.

The COVID battle is personal for Vernetta. Her daughter-in-law is still dealing with COVID’s long term effects after contracting the virus last summer. A dear friend and local minister just passed away from the virus. Friends have lost loved ones. So Vernetta won’t stop until she can help protect the most vulnerable in her community.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Brandon Jones’ mother in law is in her 70s and has terminal lung cancer. She lives in Vermont while Brandon and his family reside in Baltimore. Since she can no longer travel down to visit, Brandon and his wife Rina make the six hour drive to Vermont regularly.

Rina’s mother has a favorite restaurant in Baltimore called Ekiben. The Japanese restaurant features a tempura fried broccoli dish that is her absolute favorite. On the last trip up to Vermont she jokingly asked Brandon to bring her some take-out. Fried broccoli doesn’t travel well, so Brandon reached out to the chef at Ekiben – Steven Chu – and asked for the recipe so he could fix the dish for his dying mother in law.

Chef Chu did him one better. The Chef and a couple of his cooks loaded up the ingredients and drove all the way to Vermont to fix the favorite dish (along with several other dishes) from the back of a truck so they could deliver it hot and fresh to this sweet lady.

Chef Steven Chu said, “..it was a huge honor to be able to help fulfill the family’s wishes. This is about her, not us.”

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

A Canadian couple named Beverly and Dick Perrin wanted to make sure the hard working truckers felt appreciated during this difficult year so they began delivering stacks of hand-written thank-you cards to truck stops.

Each card reads:
“Thank you so much for bringing supplies to our stores. Even though it is sometimes under harsh circumstances. Take care. Stay safe. God’s blessing on you always. Love Beverly Perrin, a very grateful senior.”

Beverly and Dick recognize the essential work of truckers during the pandemic – and the unique challenges they face. Many of the services they depend on – even just clean bathrooms – have been shut down but they kept on … well, truckin. So far the trucker lovin’ Perrins have delivered over 1,000 letters of appreciation.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Last year the global COVID-19 pandemic cost hundreds of thousands of people their livelihood. But when great struggles come – great love abounds. Sometimes in the form of free hot dogs.

Perfectly Frank is a hot dog joint in Norfolk, VA. Early on in the pandemic they put up a bulletin board where anyone in need could grab a ticket for a free meal, no questions asked. Other customers would pre-pay for the extra meals to benefit those who lost their jobs or were trying to feed a neighbor.

The Franks for Friends program started when a single patron gave $2000 to the local restaurant to help the staff and community. Generosity begets generosity and others pitched in to make sure there was always a hot meal for everyone.

In fact, the Franks for Friends program was so huge the store was able to package and deliver free after-school meals for students – all free of charge. And even though the pandemic seems to be waning – Perfectly Frank hopes to continue this free food program permanently.

Friday, April 9, 2021

Sharon Allen of Houma is an amazing home-health nurse who served long hours and sleepless nights for the past year, treating every patient with kindness and grace. Nurse Sharon pushed through 2020 not just for her patients – but as a patient as well. She is battling cancer, but still working and still making a difference!! She is a warrior!

Sharon’s friend Patricia shared about this Hero on lifesongs.com – winning some Chickfila for Nurse Sharon, plus a ticket for the outdoor Drive-In Theater Tour this May featuring Zach Williams, Mac Powell and Cain!

Maybe the Helpers and Heroes in your life were also nurses. Or perhaps first responders – teachers – parents – grocery workers – the list is endless! Who has made a difference in your life? Tell us about your Helpers and Heroes for a chance to tell their story and win them great prizes!

Thursday, April 8, 2021

A year ago, Tyrone John, a high school math teacher in New York City, became the first patient to be intubated with COVID-19 at his local hospital in Queens. At the time, the city was just starting to experience the country’s first coronavirus surge. Tyrone, who is just 39 years old, was the hospital’s first critically ill COVID-19 patient. After being intubated, he was in a coma for almost three weeks.

But Tyrone went from there to become the hospital’s first COVID-19 patient to recover, an “incredibly powerful” moment for the staff. Tyrone recently returned to the facility to thank the intensive care unit staff who saved him. When he walked into the hospital courtyard, he was met with cries of, “Oh my God, he looks so good!”

“You were one of our first, sickest patients,” nurse Michelle Parcels said. “And so you gave us hope by your recovery in those dark moments where we were having so many losses. You gave us hope that what we were doing made a difference.”

The vaccinated hospital staff proclaimed that “hugs are back” and immediately wrapped their arms around Tyrone.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

A good handyman can fix just about anything. What makes a great one? Listen to this…

Tony Antonelli, husband, father, and grandfather to 13 grandchildren, was in need of a new kidney after his first transplant failed.

Dan Reynolds, an army veteran and jack of all trades, who knows a thing or two about tough times, was in Tony’s neighborhood doing yard work and noticed Tony looked a bit pale. He asked what was going on, and Tony shared his health condition with Dan. Dan’s immediate response? “I’d be happy to give you a kidney.”

The two were a match, and, just over a month ago, underwent successful surgery. Hero? Yes. Though the two have another name for each other: Blood Brothers.

“It doesn’t take much to help another human being. You just have to have some compassion,” Dan humbly says.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

When Carver St Pierre grows up, he wants to be a police officer. He’s ready to serve and protect. But it might be a few years yet … Carver is only seven years old. Much of his childhood has now been marked by a global pandemic – and that is pretty rough.

Officer Rob Ekross of the Hopkinton Police department heard about this child’s dream to become a cop, so Officer Rob wanted to make this year special for Carver. Carver was unable to celebrate his last two birthdays with friends and family because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, however, Officer Rob Ekross was going to make it the coolest seventh birthday ever!

The local cop purchased a couple of gifts for this future police officer and delivered them to Carver in his squad car on his seventh birthday.

The whole department wished Carver a happy birthday and said they look forward to serving with him as an officer… in 2035.

Monday, April 5, 2021

Jose Villarruel left an impression when he was Steven Nava’s substitute teacher in high school. “Mr. V,” as students called him, made an effort to get to know the kids he subbed for. He’d ask them about their days and what they’d eaten for lunch, and he’d crack jokes while taking attendance. Kind gestures made his classes fun and memorable.

Steven Nava didn’t know back then that Mr. V lived in his car, something he’s done for the last eight years to save money to send to his family in Mexico. Steven, now 21, recently spotted Mr. V sleeping in his car early one morning and decided then to raise enough money to get his beloved substitute a more permanent place to stay. So far, he’s raised more than $27,000 for the 77-year-old, due in part to Mr. V’s new fans on TikTok.

Mr. V was stunned by the donation, telling CNN he accepted the gift “with an open heart.” He plans to use some of the funds to visit his wife and children, but in California, he no longer feels alone — Nava and his other former students have become like family themselves.

@stvnna7Im so thankful.. SURPRISE MR.V! HAPPY BIRTHDAY 🥳❤️😩 ily ##foryoupage ##fyp ##thankyou ##viral♬ original sound – Steven Nava

Friday, April 2, 2021

When artist Jayashree Krishnan paints yet another portrait of a brave pandemic first responder, she pays special attention to the eyes.

“Each person’s set of eyes that I have painted so far, they tell their own story,” she says.

Krishnan has painted more than 150 such portraits — some of the eyes laughing, others hopeful, others luminous despite seeing such heavy and haunting loss.

The Seattle-based artist began the project to show appreciation for two cousins who worked 13-hour shifts, seven days a week, at a Michigan hospital. Now, she takes requests and suggestions from social media.

Do you know of a Helper or Hero whose story needs to be shared? CLICK HERE and tell us all about them.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

A young man in 8th grade was sent to the principal’s office for refusing to take his hat off in class. Like most schools today, hats are not allowed. But his fresh cut was a lopsided mess. Principal Jason Smith actually knows his way with the clippers and offered to fix the boy’s hairline. Both the student and his parents were incredibly grateful.

After rushing home for his clippers and tightening up the boy’s cut – all was well. No punishment was needed – just a helping hand from a real hero. Principal Smith is always looking for ways to help his students (he’s even bought at least one student some new shoes). He’s not just trying to push kids through a grade, he’s trying to inspire them to learn and grow.

And it sounds like it is working.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Something delicious is growing in southeast Atlanta. It’s the nation’s largest free food forest, spanning 7.1 acres of land ripe with 2,500 pesticide-free edible and medicinal plants.

In 2016, the Conservation Fund bought a foreclosed plot of land and with the help of a US Forest Service grant and a partnership with the city of Atlanta, the forest began to take shape. Now it is tended by volunteers, and is part of Atlanta’s larger mission to bring healthy food within half a mile of 85% of the city’s 500,000 residents by 2022.

One in 6 Georgians face food insecurity, and 1 in 4 Atlantans live in extremely isolated food deserts, so access to fresh produce in the area is more critical than ever. While New Orleans is known for delicious food – large portions of our population also don’t have easy access to fresh fruits and veggies. Where can we build our own free food forest?

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Calvin Tyler may have one of the greatest comeback stories of all time. Almost 40 years ago, Tyler had to drop out of Morgan State College in Maryland because he couldn’t afford it. Now, he and his wife Tina just committed $20 million to the school for need-based scholarships.

You see, after Calvin Tyler dropped out, he took a job as a UPS driver in Baltimore, and over the years, worked his way up to senior vice president of operations. He retired in 1998 and joined UPS’s board of directors. The Tylers already have a scholarship fund in their name at the school, and their donations over the years have helped more than 200 deserving students get an education at Morgan State.

Maybe your story isn’t going the way you planned. God still has incredible things in store for you!

Monday, March 29, 2021

Kids offer sincere insight into genuine care and love. For example, 4th grader Lex Thompson decided to take his birthday money and use it to encourage the heroes of the pandemic.

The nurses working at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center were astounded when the LaSalle Elementary fourth grader began delivering coffee gift cards to the ICU nurses that had been battling to save lives in the COVID-19 ward.

Lex didn’t bat an eye using his birthday money and savings, saying “..they probably just needed something to tell them they were doing the right thing and that they were supported.”

Friday, March 26, 2021

Before the sun was even up restaurant owner Robert Magiet was out in the frigid cold buying and delivering 15 dozen tamales to freezing, hungry homeless people on the streets of Chicago. But the tamales aren’t a product of his restaurant – he’s trying to help local street vendors get out of the frigid cold of Chicago.

Robert buys out the entire stock of tamales from street vendors so they can get out of the cold and go home for the day. Then, he hands the food out to the homeless. Robert takes tamales to homeless shelters and tent camps under train tracks.

The restaurant owner paid out of pocket until he posted pictures on social media. The public thought it was a great idea and donations poured in. Buying the tamales does a lot more than get vendors out of the cold. It gives hope to those who need it most.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Yes, Chickfila employees really are that awesome. Not only is it their pleasure to serve us, their customers – they love each other too!

17 year old Haley Bridges was the lucky winner of a car at their Chickfila Christmas party – WOW! I usually just get a candle or something from our office Christmas present exchange.

The team at this Wisconsin Chickfila are a tight knit family. Haley met her best friend, a Hawaiian transplant to Appleton, WI named Hoku. Hoku was riding her bike to work each day. Imagine being from Hawaii, to the frozen tundra of Wisconsin! So Haley and some other coworkers had a secret plan to give Hoku the car if any of them won.

Merry Christmas indeed! Hoku was overwhelmed by the generosity of her friends – and of course the teenagers now all cruise the town on their off days in Hoku’s new ride.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

It was a Winter storm that took Texas by surprise. Drivers were stranded – stuck in ditches – scattered all around the Austin, TX area. That’s where the hero of our story shows up. Ryan Sivley took his 4-wheel drive vehicles to the aid of those stranded motorists – rescuing nearly 150 cars from the snowpocalypse in just two days.

Ryan himself is recovering from substantial injuries from an automobile accident. And while he couldn’t do any heavy lifting, he knew he could use his truck to help others who were stranded. Not only did he help tow vehicles out of ditches, he offered rides to stranded motorists – including getting some local nurses to the hospital so they could treat the injured.

A reminder that heroes shine when others despair. Ryan inspires us all to look for ways to help – no one can do everything, but everyone can do something.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Today’s story is about a woman who literally gave the coat off her back to keep a stranger warm.

Tina Powell was in the Giant Eagle Supermarket in her Pennsylvania hometown and gave the customer in front of her in line a compliment on her jacket. Tina was hoping to find out where she got the coat so she could go get one herself. The customer kindly explained she got it in Spain and that was that.

But when Tina walked outside, the customer had taken off the jacket to give it to her. Tina told her it wasn’t necessary but the customer insisted, saying she had a feeling… God told her she was a wonderful person. Tina began to cry.

Have you ever had one of those moments where God reminds you that He sees you and He has got you in his arms? Tina does for sure. And she’s got a warm coat as a daily reminder.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek’s positive impact will be felt forever, and his family just added one more piece to his legacy. Trebek’s family donated a significant portion of his natty wardrobe to The Doe Fund, an organization that provides support and paid work to underserved Americans with histories of addiction, homelessness and incarceration.

In all, the family donated four suits, 58 dress shirts, 300 neckties, 25 polo shirts, 14 sweaters, nine sports coats, nine pairs of dress shoes, 15 belts, two parkas and three pairs of dress slacks. Doe Fund participants will use the items in their reentry program for job interviews.

“During his last day on set, Alex extolled the virtues of everyone opening up their hands and their hearts to those who are suffering,” said Mike Richards, the game show’s executive producer. “Donating his wardrobe to those who are working to rebuild their lives is the perfect way to begin to honor that last request.”

Friday, March 19, 2021

College is hard work – and paying for it can be equally challenging.

When Dee Mitchell started at Oklahoma State University, he was also working a full time job at Wal-Mart after his mom lost her job. He was working to provide for his family and to keep from drowning in student debt. Dee is also a student athlete, who tried out for the OSU basketball team and made the cut! You gotta be able to really hustle to keep all of these irons in the fire. But Dee was getting it done.

OSU Coach Mike Boyton, showed up one day at the Wal-Mart where Dee worked and surprised the young man with a full-ride scholarship for the rest of his time at school. Dee’s teammates Zoomed in to see Dee break down in tears of joy.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

The Olympics officially start on July 23rd, but before that, the Olympic flame travels via torch from Athens, Greece to Japan, where runners take the flame on a tour of the host country. The relay will start later this month and include 10,000 relay runners.

Kane Tanaka, the world’s oldest living person, who at the tender age of 118 is planning to carry the Olympic torch this May in Japan. Ms. Tanaka, who has twice survived cancer and lived through two global pandemics, will take the flame as it passes through Shime in her home prefecture of Fukuoka.

She’ll get a push from her family while in her wheelchair, but she’s determined to walk at least a few steps at the end. Tanaka is almost as old as the games themselves. She was born in 1903, just a few years after the modern Olympic Games began in 1896.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021 – Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

It’s Girl Scout Cookie season, and one troop in Iowa is absolutely crushing it. Troop 64224 of Council Bluffs, Iowa, have sold more than 5,000 boxes of cookies, shattering its sales goal for the 2021 cookie selling stretch. And they’ve done it all while living in an emergency shelter.

The girls, who are between the ages of 5 and 8, live in the Micah House shelter. They’ve reached great cookie heights by using social media, and have even fulfilled another goal of selling to customers in all 50 states, and Washington, DC. Now, they’re looking for their next big win.

“Like any smart businesswomen, they’re going to be taking a look at those goals and reassessing,” Beth Shelton, CEO of Girl Scouts of Greater Iowa said. “They’ve got it figured out.”

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Jamie Freeman is a champion. He isn’t a football player or coach – Jamie is the janitor at Greenwood High School. But Jamie, who has cerebral palsy, has always offered words of encouragement to the student athletes all season long.

When the Greenwood Bulldogs became state champions this year, they presented a championship ring to Jamie – as an essential part of the team.

As Jamie’s impact on the team went viral, stories poured in from his community about his outstanding character. A follower of Jesus, Jamie uses his cerebral palsy as an opportunity to share the Gospel whenever he can.

Monday, March 15, 2021

Hunter Kahn, a mechanical engineering student at Cornell University, donated multiple Nintendo Switch consoles and games to Children’s Minnesota Hospital in Minneapolis after cashing in big on the recent GameStop stock madness.

Hunter made about $30,000 in the wild push to buy up stock of the mall retailer, and used a portion of it to purchase a bundle of Nintendo Switch Lites, multiple games and e-shop gift cards, and screen protectors and cases. The hospital says patients are already using his gifts.

Hunter is also encouraging others who have profited from the movement to use their good fortunes to pay it forward. Plus, he’s putting the rest of his money toward another good cause for himself — his college tuition.

Monday, March 1, 2021

An elementary teacher in Mexico named Ms. Nay converted her pickup truck into a portable classroom to go visit her autistic students during the COVID shutdown!

The school was shut down because of the pandemic, but Ms. Nay refused to let her kids fall behind. She would drive two hours every day to visit the kids who did not have access to books or the internet to keep on top of their school work. Ms. Nay put a small table in the bed of her truck with a couple of chairs – one for her and one for a student.

Teacher and students all wore masks and sanitized each time. A picture taken by a grateful mother went viral and drew attention to many other teachers who have gone above and beyond any expectation or hope to help kids during this scary time.

Do your kids have a special teacher like Ms. Nay? Tell us about them when you nominate your school to be a LifeSongs Prayer School of the Day!

 

Friday, February 26, 2021

Matthew Walzer (16 years old), who has Cerebral Palsy, wrote to Nike in 2012 saying he was disappointed no athletic brand had thought to create sneakers adapted for people with disabilities like him.

Part of the letter reads:
“Out of all the challenges I have overcome in my life, there is one that I am still trying to master, tying my shoes. Cerebral palsy stiffens the muscles in the body. As a result I have flexibility in only one of my hands which makes it impossible for me to tie my shoes. My dream is to go to the college of my choice without having to worry about someone coming to tie my shoes everyday.”

Nike brought the teen visionary on to create a hinged sneaker that closes upon pressing one’s heel down and is therefore hands-free. The first completely hands-free Nike FlyEase will hit shelves this year and run around $120.

Way to go, Matthew! You’re a pioneer!

Thursday, February 25, 2021

It’s so isolating in the hospital with all the COVID protections! Terry Martinez is 86 years old. She was admitted to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital with COVID, but 5 days later, she heard her husband Frank was admitted too! He’s 93 years old, but they were in separate areas of the hospital.

The nurses heard that Terry & Frank have been married for 63 years and decided to surprise them with a romantic dinner date! They transported Frank to Terry’s room, and they were able to eat together and hold hands. The picture is so cute.

Pray for Terry & Frank, they are still in the hospital with COVID, but their doctors say they are stable.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

BBQ can save lives! Jonathan Jones started Smokin’ Hope to help beat food insecurity in Phoenix, AZ. Jonathan loves to smoke meat, so the self-taught cook turned his passion into a nonprofit organization. Smokin’ Hope was born from Jonathan’s desire to feed people experiencing food insecurity. And like many local caterers here in SELA, it all started with a party at his house!

After throwing a backyard barbeque at his home in 2018, Jonathan had the idea to give the leftover barbecue to those in need. And from that first generous delivery, a movement was born!

The first Smokin’ Hope bbq was meant to feed maybe 30 people – but he ended up providing for nearly 100 folks! Now with financial backing from a GoFundMe page and local business support – plus a small army of volunteers – Smokin’ Hope feeds over 1,000 people every quarterly event in downtown Phoenix!

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Did you notice your energy bill spiked last month? Just wait until February’s bills hit. Running that heater, plus rising costs for energy is being passed on to the consumers and one local church is stepping in to help their community!

Household of Faith Family Worship Church International, near New Orleans, has raised $125,000 to help people pay their huge energy bills. The first lady of the church, Dale Barriere says they were inspired by God to help as many people as they could with an extra $100 towards the high energy bills.

The church put up $50,000 – then Entergy MATCHED that contribution to help – and then the church got even more fired up and raised another $25,000 to help aid those most vulnerable.

Monday, February 22, 2021

A woman in Detroit is creating much-needed warmth for the homeless using potato chip bags.

Environmental activist Eradajere Oleita got the idea from an activist in the UK, and it’s brilliantly simple: By cutting, attaching and ironing used chip bags, and then lining them with plastic, Oleita creates sleeping bags that have a foil lining that helps reflect body heat.

The sleeping bags 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 the end of February.

Friday, February 19, 2021

When Shonda Lemon, a mail carrier in Chicago, noticed a senior citizen on her route hadn’t picked up her mail in a few days, her gut told her something was wrong.

Shonda Lemon has a soft spot for the elderly, and she often greeted Helen Iwanski, 89, during her day. Helen would even sometimes attach candy to outgoing mail to thank Shonda for her work. When Shonda noticed Helen’s absence, she called the police to ask for a well-being check. When police entered the house, they found Ms. Iwanski on the floor, where she had fallen and been unable to move for several days.

Luckily, after a hospital stay, Helen is on the mend, and her family says she calls the postal worker her angel.

Shonda says she’s relieved her older friend is going to be OK – saying, “Each person has an intricate part of your life and you never know how important they may be.”

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Tunesha Griffith is one of the coolest people you will ever hear about. She’s African American – an Army Wife – a video game designer – a drone engineer – AND a kidney donor! In fact, Tunesha says that once you donate a kidney, the rest of life’s challenges don’t seem so big anymore.

When she donated her kidney to her sister back in 2013, it meant months being out of work – so she and some other gamers hosted fundraising gaming events to help cover the costs – and they were so successful it actually paid for others too.

Her outstanding work snagged her a Google Generation Scholarship to study drone engineering, which landed her in a special Unmanned Systems Application program at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. And Tunesha accomplished all of this while dealing with a severe obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Tunesha has accomplished everything she has set her mind to so far – now she aims to join NASA’s Artemis program to explore Mars and engineer life-sustaining settlements on new worlds. Dream BIG. Like Tunesha.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Dr. JoeAnn Ballard was given a future by her foster parents, so she is paying it forward. For over 40 years, Dr. JoeAnn has fostered over 70 children in Memphis, TN. (Not seven – I said SEVENTY) She and her husband have always opened their home to folks in need – founding the Neighborhood Christian Center to feed everyone.

After a week of work, she would cook all Saturday to provide Sunday dinners at the Center. The Ballards learned that there is never a shortage of love when you open your heart to children in need.

Dr. Ballard’s pastor says that the entire Memphis community is blessed by God because he put the Ballards in their lives.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021 (Mardi Gras)

Most of us started to struggle with our New Years’ Resolutions after just a few days. 5 year-old Jase Black knows more about finishing strong than we can ever dream of.

The little boy just rang the bell at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital celebrating that he beat cancer – after 60 weeks of chemotherapy. Over 20% of his entire life has been spent fighting cancer but Jase did it!

His entire family and oncology team danced as he rang that bell in celebration! Now that’s a Second Line we can all join in on! Let Jase inspire you – no matter what you face. Whether it is a diagnosis, relationships or whatever – God has got you – you CAN do this!

Monday, February 15, 2021

Kids of all skin colors can now more accurately draw pictures of themselves and families with Madi Wilson’s line of inclusive crayons. The spunky, artistic 8-year-old felt left out when there wasn’t a color that matched her skin in the crayon box.

Madi’s World Changer crayons have 16 skin colors, 4 hair colors and 4 eye colors. Madison says she wants kids to have more options for skin colors than just peach and brown.

To make this dream come true, Madi’s mom Vashti created an online fundraiser called Madi’s Treasure Box. But the idea took flight, raising tens of thousands of dollars. Now the family has turned Madi’s Treasure Box into a non-profit organization that is creating multicultural tools for schools to foster a more inclusive environment.

Friday, February 12, 2021

Just a couple of weeks ago, a young black girl was able to return home after MONTHS in the hospital. It wasn’t COVID that put her there, but gun violence in her neighborhood. Her life would have been lost had it not been for a brave NOPD officer.

Officer Daniel McCreary responded to the shooting back in November. His training kicked in when he saw Chlo’ee Williams scared and bleeding. McCreary immediately began treating the serious wound while whispering calm soothing words to the little girl. Then an ambulance came and rushed her to the hospital.

More than three months later, after a stay in Critical care and weeks of rehab, Chlo’ee was released from Children’s Hospital in her new wheelchair. And waiting just outside the door with balloons and gifts was her doctors and Officer McCreary.

The forever bonded pair high-fived as the cop handed her a pink unicorn stuffed animal and she gave him a trophy for being a “number one” officer.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Dr. Joia Crear-Perry has committed her life to serving Black women in America – who are incredibly underserved in the healthcare system. Dr. Crear-Perry had a scary third pregnancy and realized that there were social stresses that were creating the complications.

As a doctor she has led the way in researching how racism and socio-economic issues cause many health issues in Black women, specifically. Dr. Crear-Perry has put together an incredible team of minority healthcare providers to normalize medical care for women who had previously felt cut-off from the system.

The doctor believes that in order to conquer racism in America, we need to embrace JOY – show grace to one another instead of dwelling in despair. She has made it her life’s goal that no other woman of color would feel as broken as she once did.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

One of the long term effects of severe COVID-19 infections is shortness of breath and breathlessness. We are a long way away from doctors getting a handle on the lifelong effects of this virus. The good news is that there are exercises you can do to increase your lung capacity – and that’s where the opera steps in!

The English National Opera has created a singing, breathing and wellbeing program to help recovering coronavirus patients. They call the program ENO Breathe – created in “concert” with national healthcare providers. Opera singers lead patients through the same breathing and singing exercises they use to maintain lung capacity.

ENO Breathe does so much more than help with shortness of breath. The act of singing is scientifically proven to improve mental functions and reduce anxiety with endorphins!

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Sy Newson Green was a high school freshman when his world pretty much fell apart. His dad suffered a heart attack and needed a transplant. His mom was in an accident that impaired her vision. Both parents lost their jobs. Without their income, his future at the Palma School, the private all-boys Catholic high school he attended, was in trouble.

But Green was about to get a helping hand from an unlikely source.

A group of inmates at California’s Soledad Prison pooled their income from working jobs as prisoners, and with a little outside help, raised most of Green’s tuition to get him all the way through his sophomore year to graduation. All told, the sum was $32,000.

And it was all inspired by a book club!

Jim Micheletti, an English and theology teacher at Palma School launched a reading program at Soledad Prison seven years ago. In the program, students and teachers met regularly inside the prison to discuss books with inmates. It became an opportunity to change students’ opinions about inmates—and offered prisoners a chance to break those stereotypes.

Jim, the English teacher who created the program says, “[The students] go in thinking ‘monster,’ and they come out thinking ‘a man, a human being.’ They’ve done bad things, but there are no throwaway people here.”

It was one of the books, Miracle on the River Kwai, that inspired two inmates to create the scholarship fund for Sy Green. The inmates worked for three years to gather enough money to help the student through school. Sy graduated last year and is now a student at San Francisco’s Academy of Art University.

Monday, February 8, 2021

Dani LaBriola hasn’t perfected parenting, but she has decided to change her focus when it comes to her twin 11-year-old kids. So much of society tells us to think of ourselves first – to chase happiness and success. Dani, instead, is teaching her kids to serve others.

Step One: Teach your kids about character.
Step Two: Help them create serving habits that will shine through their entire lives.

The Crafting Character systems that Dani created for kids aged 4-10 aims to complete this two-step process using a storybook with corresponding stuffed animals, like a turkey, eagle, ladybug and duck.

Dani’s books are already winning awards and helping parents who are suddenly spending a lot more time with their young kids during a global pandemic!

Friday, February 5, 2021

Six year old Nico lost his favorite stuffed deer, named Rudolph. Nico’s toddler brother grabbed the stuffed animal and tossed it into a frozen canal while out for a snow covered walk in their hometown in Ottawa, Canada.

Each day the family would walk by and see the stuffed animal, just out of reach, slowly being buried in snow. Mom put the word out on Twitter asking for help and the city responded by sending an ice skating team to retrieve the frozen Rudolph for young Nico!

After thawing and washing the stuffie, Nico and Rudolph were reunited and frozen folks in lockdown had something to cheer about on social media!

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Farming technology continues to innovate in ways that can renew entire communities with job opportunities and fresh fruits and veggies! A Kentucky-based company called AppHarvest has built three indoor farms in the rolling hills of Kentucky. These were former coal towns, now producing tomatoes for the entire Eastern United States!

Using pesticide-free, sustainable methods, the company is delivering produce to grocery stores across America. AppHarvest has raised over $1 billion in financing to expand into other communities. They even have Martha Stewart on their board of directors. She says she is already using the tomatoes in her recipes at home.

AppHarvest doesn’t just want to feed people today – they are investing in tomorrow. They have partnered with eastern Kentucky High Schools to develop agricultural curriculum for students, providing practical hands-on teaching in their indoor farms.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

You may not think of yourself as a hero, either, but you are having an impact in the lives of others everyday through your support for LifeSongs! Helping others hear encouragement and the reminder of God’s goodness everyday to find hope in Him?
Sounds pretty heroic to us…

Seventeen-year-old Bianca Rivera doesn’t count herself as a hero. But her family may think differently. All of them lost their sense of smell after contracting Covid-19, except for Bianca, who didn’t catch the disease. So when the family’s home in Waco, Texas, caught fire last week, she was the only one to smell the signs.

Bianca says she woke up in the early morning to the smell of burning plastic, and immediately encountered a wall of smoke. She managed to get all three of her family members out in time, and then went back in and grabbed their four dogs. Everyone was OK, but the house was a total loss. The local fire department said the family is lucky to be alive.

Bianca says she didn’t worry about herself, or getting hurt in the process. “I just did what anyone else would do for their own family,” she said. “I just wanted to get everyone out safe and alive.”

Sounds like a hero to us.

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Having something stolen is a terrible violation. Robbie Pruitt’s bike was stolen and at first, he was angry. But after letting go of his frustration, he turned that anger into compassion. Bikes are hard to come by during the pandemic. Robbie started thinking: What if the person who stole his bike truly needed transportation to get to work?

So Robbie Pruitt, an assistant pastor at the Church of the Holy Spirit in Leesburg, Virginia, posted it to a local Facebook group. He offered to fix bikes for free for anyone who needed it. Also put out a call for unwanted bikes, which he would repair—again for free—and then donate to folks who could use them but didn’t have the money.

On the first day, Robbie collected 30 used bicycles. That was followed by more than 500 responses.

By the end of last year, Pastor Pruitt had refurbished more than 140 for donation or to return to their owners all fixed up.

Monday, February 1, 2021

Brent Rushton, affectionately known as Papa, has been hard at work for 15 years making quilts to donate to others in need. These are masterpiece quilts – one actually auctioned off for $3,000. But mostly they are given to veterans, road home shelters and most recently immigrants and refugees with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

Papa jokes that he spent the first 75 years of life being mean so he wants to make the most out of the time he has left. At 80 years old, he spends at least 6 hours a day quilting. He’s produced 200-300 quilts over the years. While he has gotten a few fabric donations and even a grant from a local bank, mostly Papa pays for the supplies himself.

“I’d go nuts if I didn’t have something to do,” he said. “I feel pretty good about helping somebody get a smile on their face.”

Friday, January 29, 2021

Allie Shroyer is a Girl Scout. As you know, Girl Scout cookies are on sale now, but this is a very different year. It’s almost impossible to sell door-to-door or set up outside popular stores. So her parents challenged her to get creative.

They recorded a video of Allie with her sales pitch on a Ring doorbell camera. She then sent the video to friends and family.

She says: “Hello, I’m Allie. Would you like to buy some Girl Scout cookies? Well you can buy them $5 each so would you like one, or two or three or four or five? Or six or seven or eight or nine or 10? I don’t know. Maybe 11 or 12?”

After Allie’s video was shared online she smashed her sales goal. She quickly sold 600 boxes. Her mom said her one goal is to make the world smile.

Did she ever.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Five-year-old Aryana Chopra rang in the new year in the most productive, positive way possible: She designed and handmade 200 cards to send to every resident at a senior living home in Vestal, New York.

Aryana’s father is a doctor on the front lines of the pandemic, so she knows how serious coronavirus is. Aryana knew folks were feeling lonely so she started making cards for the people in the nursing home who cannot go out and meet their friends and family.

When her mother noticed Aryana hard at work making the cards, she called the local nursing home and asked how many residents were there. Two hundred is a tall order, but Aryana worked for almost two weeks to make them all, decorating each one with a unique combination of rainbows, snowmen, kids holding gifts and special New Year’s messages.

Even then, that wasn’t enough for the little girl. She broke open her piggy bank and bought the resident a few more gifts to make Christmas even more special.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

It’s a special kind of selfless when someone chooses to help others even when they’re struggling, too. And there is no shortage of heroes who have stepped up this past year to stand in the gap for others!

Take Carolyn Alonzo, who owns a Fetch! Pet Care franchise in Chicago. She’s seen her business take a huge hit during the pandemic, and to make matters worse, two of her dogs died. But out of her grief, she created the non-profit Obi’s Pet Pantry to help people who are having a hard time financially providing for their pets. Carolyn used some of her stimulus money and some donations to keep it stocked with food, blankets, collars, shampoo and other pet supplies.

Others are using their stimulus money to pay it forward, too. Jeff Suchon of Highland Park, New Jersey, has purchased more than 30,000 masks with his economic relief payments, even though he lives on a fixed income and can’t work due to health concerns. Matthew Pierce, a teacher at Milton Hershey School in Hershey, Pennsylvania, used his stimulus payments to buy UberEats gift cards for many students and their families.

Mr. Pierce challenges his community saying, “We have to model good civics. It’s not something we’re born with. We need to give back in times of need.”

Thank you to every person who has given to LifeSongs during all of the challenges we have faced together. Because of you, the message of Hope continues to be heard all across SELA and the world!

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

10-year-old Ethan Hill knows that the best way to show your gratitude is to pay it forward. He learned this lesson by befriending a homeless man who lived under a bridge near Ethan’s school.

The man’s name is Mr. Marcus. Ethan was worried for Mr. Marcus when the weather started getting colder and wanted to do something to help. So with the help of family and teachers, the 10 year old founded Ethan’s Heart. His non-profit collects and distributes essential items for people living on the streets.

Ethan shares, “It feels like it’s not all about you, it’s not a you story.” This world changing young man wants everyone to know you can do something – it doesn’t have to cost a lot of time or money – just care for the people God puts in your path.

To every church, every ministry and institution that cares for the most vulnerable in our community – Thank you.

Monday, January 25, 2021

The world continues to seek better ways to treat drug addiction and the cycle of destruction it causes. Nelson Mendonca was in and out of prison due to drugs for 20 years, until someone showed him how to channel his energies into helping others around him.

It all started by learning how to knit using a loom hook. Nelson started knitting hats for the homeless while in prison and when he was released, he began teaching knitting skills through a local recovery program. After completing the recovery program, Nelson stuck around for a 2 year internship, and has continued to build a community of men who knit.

The Phoenix Society is what they guys have named their knitting group – and they provide knitted hats for homeless, single moms and others in need all while growing and holding each other accountable in the continual struggle against addiction.

 

Friday, January 22, 2021

 

A teenager has won Petco’s $50,000 essay contest and is donating all of her first-place prize money to the animal shelter.

13-year old Sydney Hertzberg volunteers at the shelter and is the place she adopted her cat. She says the cat actually rescued her. In her essay, she wrote about how the kitten has been her best friend.

Sydney has an illness called POTS. Some of the symptoms are dizziness, fatigue, and muscle aches. She said her cat (named Mr. Mittens) weighed just 4 ounces when she got him. He had to be bottle-fed. Sydney thought she was going to help save his life, but it turned out that Mr. Mittens helped save hers.

Every week we spotlight a pair of adoptable pets with the LASPCA. Your next pet is waiting on you.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Neil Heritage lost both legs in an attack by a suicide bomber in Iraq in 2004. After recovering from his injuries, he completed triathlons, learned to ski and even joined a team to row across the Atlantic Ocean! Now, 39, the former soldier from the United Kingdom has notched another achievement: becoming the first above-the-knee double amputee to scale the Matterhorn.

It was Neil’s third attempt in three years to reach the peak. Co-climber Mark Hooks said it was “just so special, managing to achieve something we’ve worked so hard on over the years.”

The former soldier uses his incredible accomplishments to make a bigger difference. He raised over 6,500 euros for his veterans’ charity during his Matterhorn climb.

Hooks said his friend’s specially designed prosthetic limb fell off near the summit and took more than 20 minutes to reattach. Neil Heritage won’t be resting on his laurels, though. His next challenge is to kayak the Amazon river.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Illusionist Rick Lax was just five years old when he began practicing and performing magic tricks. His parents bought him a Toys-R-Us magic set, and he loved it. Throughout his childhood, he never stopped practicing and his illusions grew ever more sophisticated and successful.

Rick has since gone on to become an illusion consultant for David Copperfield. He’s helped create and produce magic tv shows. But today the magician focuses on using his skills to help people who are feeling down because of the pandemic.

The illusionist heard about an upset young boy who couldn’t celebrate his birthday with friends because of the pandemic. So Rick Lax sprang into action. Working with the boy’s Mom, the magician slid food, clothes and other gifts “magically” into a McDonald’s bag for his Mom to give to the birthday boy.

It’s a classic “bottomless bag” trick.  The gifts just kept coming – baseball equipment, gift cards, a stuffed baby Yoda and a new iPhone. The boy was thrilled and beyond grateful.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Today’s Good News is a bit of a modern history lesson. Bobby Greunewald is a business savvy guy. He created and sold two tech companies before he even graduated college. He had money, vision and passion. He also loved Jesus fiercely. So instead of staying in the business world he joined the staff at Life.Church in his mid-20s.

The thing is, being a pastor wasn’t as easy for Bobby as running tech businesses. Each day was a struggle and he felt like he was on the wrong path. He debated quitting his church job because he wasn’t sure he was making a difference for Christ. After much prayer and counsel with his pastors and friends, Bobby decided to stay the course and continue working for the Church.

And thank God he stayed the course – because shortly after his decision, Bobby Gruenewald thought up and developed the YouVersion Bible App. This free bible app has taken the Gospel to every corner of the world and has done more for spreading the Bible in native languages than anything since the invention of the printing press!

Friday, January 15, 2021

Patrick Brady was serving at a US military base in the former soviet nation of Georgia when one day while hard at work, a little fluff ball of a puppy wandered her way onto the base. She was smaller than Patrick’s boot, but very friendly. Patrick named her Marshmallow and over the next few months she became a source of great joy for the entire barracks – especially when they were on lockdown from COVID.

Marshmallow was pretty easygoing, but she has a fondness for mud, so Patrick and his comrades had to bathe her frequently. When it was time to return home, Patrick contacted the International SPCA and Operation Baghdad Pups Worldwide to navigate the tricky rules to get his puppy home with him. It took some work and wasn’t without drama, but ultimately when he boarded his plane home, Marshmallow was right by his side.

Maybe your next pet will simply wander into your yard, but it’s a little bit easier to adopt a pet here than in Eastern Europe! Simply check out the LifeSongs Pets of the Week.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Over 350,000 Louisiana residents have experienced that awful moment that the nurse says “Yep, you tested positive.” COVID-19 is running rampant – and whether it is a severe case or mild symptoms, every person in your household has to go into quarantine with a single positive test. And this creates a logistical nightmare!

Thankfully the United States Postal Service are experts on logistics. Lisette LeJeune coordinated with her mail carrier to drop off her mail in a bucket instead of the mailbox, that way they wouldn’t be touching the same things and reduced the risk of her mail carrier getting sick. Lisette and her 2 sons were in quarantine and trying to follow all of the rules.

This touched the heart of their mail carrier, who put together a package of canned soup, cookies and gummy snacks for the family and dropped it off with their mail, along with a “Get Well Soon” card. Once this pandemic is over, that mail carrier is going to get the biggest hug in the world.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Erin Durga is a teacher. She loves being a teacher because her dad was a teacher. When she first began her educator’s journey her dad offered this word of advice, “Befriend the school custodians because they are the heart of the school.” That’s exactly what Erin did – she made friends with Pat Mertens – the school custodian.

While Pat is certainly the heart of their elementary school, he needed another organ – a kidney. When Erin heard about the need, she didn’t hesitate – immediately offering hers!

Pat received the kidney transplant in July, which was a success. Both he and Erin were healthy enough to return to work in August, for one of the most challenging school years in American History. I guess you could say the pair are closer than ever!

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

It’s a regular segment on the nightly news now – an update on what kind of business support the federal government is working on. Holding together the global economy during a pandemic has been a challenging task. Most businesses in America are small, local businesses. And while federal support has helped – shopping local does even more!

Many local businesses also support non-profits and relief organizations with their proceeds. Many of these local businesses have been featured on national news programs – like Fisher Space Pen in Nevada who sells craft made pens and supports first responders. When Metal Art of Wisconsin was featured on World News Tonight, they got over 3,000 new orders the next morning. That led to new hires and a booming business.

In St. Louis a father and son donate a face shield for every one that is purchased – over 20,000 shields have been donated since last year! Even here at home in Southeast Louisiana local businesses sew profit into things like Second Harvest Food Bank and support for LifeSongs! If you want to shop local, visit the LifeSongs Business Partner Directory and find local people doing good work!

Monday, January 11, 2021

Sometimes all you need is a hug – but the global pandemic has isolated so many people. None are more affected than the elderly. In order to protect residents, many assisted living centers and nursing homes have been closed off to all visitors during the pandemic. The sense of isolation and loneliness can be overwhelming.

Becky Hudson, the lifestyle director for Heartis Clear Lake assisted living in Webster, TX, reached out to a local Boy Scout troop to find a creative way to let family and friends reach out and touch their loved ones, without risking viral spread. 17 year old Boy Scout McCain Penrod took point on the project and built hug booths.

The three structures are made of wood, plexiglass and long-sleeved rubber gloves that let you literally reach out and hug grandma! The residents and families love the hug booths so much that the construction plans are being shared around to other facilities. Even if you can’t reach out and touch those you love right now – you can still show them love with an encouraging text, phone call or leave a King Cake at their front door!

Friday, January 8, 2021

Alvin Kamara is a joy to watch on the football field. His Christmas Day, record-shattering performance and 6 touchdowns helped the Saints beat the Vikings, led in points for any individual player in Fantasy Football this season and ended up blessing a charity as well.

Kamara took to the field in Christmas cleats – rocking red and green shoes that broke the NFL rules on uniforms. He knew he was going to get fined (he can afford it as one of the best paid players in the league) and smiled when asked about it – saying he would just pay the fine and match it towards charity.

True to his word, when the NFL fined him $5,000, Kamara donated a matching check to Son of a Saint – a charity that mentors boys who have lost their fathers. And the cherry on top – some of those Fantasy Football players showed their gratitude for all of Kamara’s points by making donations to Son of a Saint as well! Thanks to some Christmas cleats, Son of a Saint has received over $30,000 in donations!

Thursday, January 7, 2021

If you are new to Southeast Louisiana – bienvenue! Prepare to re-learn how to spell. For example, we spell go with all the wrong vowels – it is “g-e-a-u-x” down here. KC Kilpatrick founded Geaux 4 Kids to provide Geaux Bags for minors in need.

The Geaux Bags have pajamas, toiletries, a backpack, pillow food, water and much more. These special Geaux Bags are given to kids rescued out of dangerous home lives. When these kids are pulled out of dangerous living conditions, they often have nothing but the clothes on their backs.

KC has adopted children out of the foster system in Louisiana but uses Geaux Bags to help thousands of children that she can’t bring home. Want to join in the mission to help these children? Visit GeauxBags.org!

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

What if you were in a position to give a gift that would radically change the New Year for hundreds of families? That’s what one doctor in Arkansas has done.

Dr. Omar Atiq of the Arkansas Cancer Clinic (who is also a professor at the University of Arkansas) hatched a Christmas plan to change lives. The clinic opted to completely forgive all outstanding bills for all of their patients – to the tune of over $650,000.

Dr. Atiq decided to close the oncology practice during the pandemic and wanted to help his community in whatever way he could. By forgiving the outstanding bills – most of which were co-pays and deductibles that insurance would not cover – he freed over 200 families of heavy burdens, just in time for Christmas.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

When Bethany Moultry turned 6 in August of last year, she had something particularly special on her birthday list. She wanted to help homeless people through this difficult time, and care packages seemed like the perfect idea.

Bethany and her mother Colleen launched “Bethany’s Happy Bags for the Homeless” on Facebook, created an Amazon wishlist and partnered with local homeless shelters in Georgia. Each bag contained a handwritten note from Bethany as well as essential items homeless people need like beef sticks, first aid, toiletries, masks, Gatorade and more.

The initiative went Facebook viral in October, and now students across the country are volunteering their time to make the bags. Bethany’s family says the bags are a great way to get people involved in their community during a time when more traditional forms of volunteering have been put on hold.

Monday, January 4, 2021

Two kids miss their daddy. He’s currently serving overseas in the military, so they don’t get to talk directly with him often. But kids are great with technology and they figured out they could send their dad video messages through their front doorbell.

The family has a RING doorbell that takes videos. Their father can access the videos from anywhere. So the kids send him messages every day – chronicling their days, their haircuts, learning to ride their bikes without training wheels. It is beyond cute and yes, I’m crying now.

Friday, December 25, 2020

There are so many families in need this Christmas. But we can’t be overwhelmed by statistics – we must simply do what we can. And everyone can do something to help.

Still it is great to hear stories like this – the Boys and Girls Club of Metro Atlanta partnered with Cricket Wireless to provide some much needed income for one Atlanta family. Neighbors nominated the Cook family and they were the fortunate ones who received $2500!

The gift became even more of an event when the Cook kids’ favorite WWE wrestler, Kofi Kingston sent a video with a message of hope!

Thursday, December 24, 2020

It was really something to see folks learning to sew just to provide Personal Protection Equipment for at risk workers back when the pandemic began. Now, as Winter fast approaches and the pandemic stretches into another season – there’s another need to be met. And that’s where Suzette Aposhian comes in.

Suzette runs Scarves in the Park out of Salt Lake City, Utah. Through donations and her own sewing prowess, Suzette collects hats and scarves to hand out at her local park when the holiday season rolls around.

She’s given out thousands of winter-wear to folks – and distribution involves hanging the clothes out in the park and letting folks come claim what they need – that way there isn’t any hangups with pride. Suzette thinks the need will be greater than ever this year – and she got some help to meet demand from a local Credit Union, who donated $500 to Scarves in the Park.

I can’t sew, but I know my church gives me ways to help others in need during the holidays. And if you don’t have a church to check with – we can connect you to a local body of worship on the Church Guide on lifesongs.com!

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

In April, two dads in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, decided to have a bake-off — mostly out of boredom. They had no idea it would turn into a movement! When Scott McKenzie was furloughed from his job, he vowed to acquire an untapped skill every week. Baking homemade chocolate chip cookies was at the top of his list. The 58-year-old man had never made them from scratch; he decided it was time. Despite making quite a mess in the kitchen, the cookies turned out pretty good!

Proud of his small achievement, Scott shared a photo of his homemade creation on Facebook. That’s when Jeremy Uhrich, 42, a fellow Huntingdon dad and a longtime friend of Scott’s, challenged him to a cookie competition. And as they say, “It was on like Donkey Kong.”

After the mayor chose the winner, they delivered the remaining dozens of cookies to essential workers, who were touched and delighted by the sweet gesture. It gave the dads an idea. They created a Facebook group called “Cookies for Caregivers,” thinking maybe a handful of people in the Huntingdon community might volunteer to bake treats for essential workers on a regular basis. Within a few days, the group had over 100 members, all eager to participate.

Over the past eight months, the pair — now known around the small town as “the cookie guys” — and their 100 volunteer bakers have made more than 15,500 cookies. And new chapters of Cookies for Caregivers are popping up in communities across America.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

A small restaurant in Cleveland received a holiday surprise. The restaurant, Nighttown was voluntarily closing until January due to the increase of Covid-19 cases in Ohio. Brendan Ring, who owns the restaurant, said that he was having lunch at his restaurant when a regular customer came over and left his check at his table that included a huge tip.

At first Brendan thought it was a $300 tip, but after he put on his glasses he realized he missed a zero. It was a $3,000 tip on a $7 bill. He ran out to the customer to make sure he hadn’t made a mistake. “He said, “No, that’s what I intended. Share it with the staff, good luck to you guys, Merry Christmas and we’ll see you when you come back.”‘

There were four servers working on Sunday, and each of them got $750 from the tip. Brendan cannot believe the generosity of this customer or the outpouring of love for the simple story. When his sister, who still lives in his native Ireland, saw the story in her newspaper she immediately contacter her brother to share the joy.

“We’re all so desperate for uplifting news, if this was a normal year, yeah, this would be a good story, but it’s a great story because of the year we’re in.”

Monday, December 21, 2020

A third-grade student at Fairview Elementary has been collecting new or gently used blankets to give out to the homeless in Fort Smith, Arkansas because she wants to make sure those in need are able to stay warm this winter. Chloe Durham is 8-years-old, and she is making a big difference in her community with “Chloe’s Cozy Drive.” And her genuine concern for others is inspiring all those around her.

Blanket donations have been pouring in since Chloe started her drive on World Kindness Day, and she has collected over 250 blankets & sleeping bags to be donated to The Next Step homeless Services. Chloe’s parents, Aaron and Emily Durham, both teachers at Fort Smith Public Schools, said Chloe has a huge heart and is always wanting to help others.

The outpouring of love from friends and family has been such a positive light during an otherwise dark time with this pandemic,” said Emily.

“Chloe is overjoyed every time she checks the front door and finds another blanket or Amazon delivery with her name on it. She just really wants to help the homeless and prays for them at night.”

Emily said she is grateful for the friends and family who have donated because they are truly empowering Chloe to do big things.

Friday, December 18, 2020

Aubrey is a Fedex driver in Ohio and would often see a boy named Eli playing basketball in his driveway with his parents or friends. She noticed his basketball hoop was a bit beat up, so she decided to change that.

Aubrey purchased and delivered a brand new basketball and hoop to Eli’s house with a note that said, “I just wanted you and your son to have the best hoop that’ll grow with him and all his friends! It’s wonderful that you guys shoot hoops with him.”

When his parents showed him the new basketball goal and told him who it came from, he knew exactly who Aubrey was. He started crying and, of course, he instantly was ready to play some basketball.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Mystery surrounds Idaho Secret Santa, giving out $500,000 to families! A Secret Santa in Idaho is taking things to a whole new level. A teacher was gifted a new car. A blind man was given thousands of dollars in gift cards. Many others have also received special and timely gifts.

This “secret Santa” has been giving out gifts to people in the East Idaho community for the last six years. The generous donor wants to remain a mystery, but this year, he will give more than $500,000 to area families in need, some of which are nominated by friends and families.

This is generosity lived out in spectacular fashion! We can do the same, by paying attention to the needs we can meet in our own bubbles. While we can’t afford to give out new cars and hundreds of thousands of dollars – each person can do something! And we want to say thanks and acknowledge the incredible generosity of the listeners who support LifeSongs each month!

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

We cannot thank the front line responders enough for their work through this pandemic, but Starbucks is at least keeping them caffeinated. Front-line responders will receive an iced or hot brewed coffee for free at Starbucks for all of the month of December.

The Starbucks vice president for Global Social Impact said the company decided to announce the offer because “it has been an extraordinarily difficult year, especially for the front-line responders who are serving our communities.”

Of course, the question remains – who is considered a “frontline” worker? Doctors, nurses, public health workers, pharmacists, dispatchers, firefighters, paramedics, police officers, dentists, dental hygienists, mental health workers (therapist, psychologist, social worker, counselor, etc.), hospital staff such as janitor/housekeeping/security and active-duty military.

If someone you think should be on the list but isn’t is in your life, you know you can always treat them to a cup of coffee.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Remember Homeward Bound? The tale of a couple of dogs and one mischievous cat crossing dangerous forests to find their family. It was a tearjerker for every 90s kid. And it has happened in real life! 11 months ago a pitbull went charging out an open door and disappeared.

The family searched, posted signs, offered rewards … nothing. Nearby a human began feeding a stray who was scared by every person who approached. By offering food this kind human was able to reunite the pup with her family after getting her microchip scanned by a local vet.

Does this story leave you wanting to adopt a pet for Christmas? Check out the LifeSongs Pets of the week on lifesongs.com!

Monday, December 14, 2020

The Whitleys — like thousands of other smart families who forwent their usual Thanksgiving crowd to help stop the spread of the coronavirus — are the kind of people who need to feed. They are that house, the one always full of people, buzzing with activity. And the thought of a quiet, small Thanksgiving was agonizing for them.

So the Whitleys decided to cook the same amount of food as always and take at least 50 Thanksgiving dinners to the people they see living under bridges, in parks and in tents throughout the nation’s capital.

Across the country, families like the Whitleys have had the same idea — a beautiful and synchronous gesture by the kinds of humans who insist on feeding and nurturing people, whether strangers or friends, despite the constrictions of the coronavirus pandemic.

Friday, December 11, 2020

When the pandemic upended their wedding plans, Emily Bugg and Billy Lewis tied the knot at Chicago’s city hall last month instead. But there was still one piece of unfinished business: What to do about their $5,000 nonrefundable catering deposit?

The newlyweds decided to turn it into 200 Thanksgiving dinners for people with severe mental illness. “This just seemed like a good way to make the best of a bad situation,” said Emily, who is an outreach worker at Thresholds, a nonprofit dedicated to helping people with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and other psychiatric conditions. In the week leading up to Thanksgiving, dozens of Thresholds clients received a boxed dinner of turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, green beans and other fixings from a high-end Chicago-based caterer, (Big Delicious Planet). This was especially important because Thresholds’ usual communal dinners were canceled because of COVID-19. Emily said, “We hope they can still feel the warmth of knowing that we care about them. These small moments of connection are what’s keeping us going during these difficult months.”

The planned venue for the wedding (Salvage One), also agreed to put the couple’s deposit toward a future event for the Epilepsy Foundation, another cause Emily has a connection to.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Last Christmas, NOPD Daniel McCreary’s wife gave him an unusual gift, a little black bag of first aid supplies. And just last month, the New Orleans police officer used it to save the life of a 7-year-old girl, shot in crossfire of gun violence.

Officer McCreary’s combat training kicked in, using that first aid kit from his wife. What lasted for a few minutes felt like hours. “I’ve got four kids, and one’s 7 years old as well, so I don’t think you can really prepare for that,” McCreary said.

While waiting for the ambulance, McCreary kept the girl motivated to hang on by exchanging names and birthdates. Later, he heard that she made it out of surgery and into the hospital recovery room. He hopes the family will one day let him meet her. “I hope that she’s flooded with support and love and everything that she deserves,” McCreary said.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

There are still remnants of downed trees littering SELA after a crazy hurricane season. Storms all across the country and knocked down some mighty trees – even up in Mount Vernon, Iowa.

That’s where 12-year-old Tommy Rhomberg lives. Like most 12 year olds, Tommy has been trying to stay busy during this unique school year of shutdowns and pandemics. When a storm knocked down a lot of limbs around his town, Tommy grabbed his grandfather’s whittling tools, some sandpaper and got to work.

This crafty kid made baseball bats from the many limbs he collected after the big storm. He sells them and uses a portion of the proceeds to provide for neighbors whose homes took damage. While these bats aren’t strong enough to play baseball with – each one on display from a thoughtful buyer means another family gets help repairing their roof! Sounds like a home run to us.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Many will celebrate this Christmas with empty chairs at the table. It has been a year of great loss around the world. Life in the Bible is described as like a blade of grass or a flower in the field – beautiful but short lived. One family knows this all too well.

The Cheek family in Vestavia Hills, AL have had all too short a time with twin daughters Ally and Bailey Grace. The girls suffered from a rare genetic issue that already claimed the life of six year old Ally last year and will soon take Bailey Grace.

With time slipping away, the entire neighborhood joined together to give Bailey Grace one last spectacular Christmas – decorating every house to the nines. Mom Morgan Cheek knows that sorrow is just around the corner – but each Christmas light means so much to the family – and to Bailey Grace.

What kindness can you show to someone who is grieving this Christmas?

Monday, December 7, 2020

Saints star linebacker Damario Davis’ family is back with him in New Orleans. His wife and kids had been in Nashville, where the Davis’ 1-year-old daughter, Carly-Faith, was undergoing monthly tests after being treated for retinoblastoma, an eye cancer that most commonly affects young children.

But Carly-Faith is doing well and the doctors no longer have to see her every month – and that means the family can be reunited. In fact, the latest report is that there is NO SIGN of cancer! Not all victories are on the field.

Friday, December 4, 2020

There’s a silver lining to those months spent at home — longer hair means more wigs for people who want them. Nonprofit hair stylists who make free wigs for cancer patients say they’ve received a boon of donations from people who’ve grown their hair out in the last several months.

Waiting longer between cuts has led to longer donations — something especially exciting for nonprofits who cater to kids, since many younger girls and teens want long-haired wigs. More men and boys are donating their hair to charity than before, too.

If you’re ready to chop off all the hair you’ve grown out, many nonprofits will gladly accept them. They all have different requirements for donations in terms of length, but keeping the hair clean, dry and secure is key since loose or wet hair can’t be donated. It’s also a good idea to trim loose ends before donating — healthy hair makes for better wigs and happier recipients.

Thursday, December 3, 2020

To complete a triathlon is a Herculean feat — there’s the exhaustive 2.4-mile swim, the grueling 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile marathon that turns legs to jelly.

Chris Nikic did it all at just 21 years old — and became the first person with Down syndrome to complete an Ironman triathlon. With the help of a guide, Chris crossed the finish line in under 17 hours, which is the cutoff time to complete the Ironman. The race wasn’t without hiccups, though — at one point, Chris fell off his bike and was attacked by ants during a rest stop. But neither insects nor a bloody scrape could stop him.

Now Chris has got his sights set on the 2022 Special Olympics! But in the meantime, he’ll continue to fundraise for Down syndrome research, saying, “I achieved my goal and now I want to help others like me.”

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

When Jericha Palmer’s car died, there was no money to fix or replace it. Jericha’s family of 8 did their best to get by, taking Uber when there was cash and walking almost everywhere – including all the way to work.

Some neighbors noticed Jericha’s trouble and secretly began collecting donations from friends to buy the family a new vehicle. In a matter of days they had scraped together about $5000 and bought the Palmers a used Honda Odyssey minivan with room for all 8 of them!

As you can imagine there were lots of tears of joy from everyone involved. Pay attention to everyone around you this Christmas. Ask God each day how you can be a help – how you can be salt and light.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

At the Veterans Healing Farm, former service members have the opportunity to grow plants and flowers while cultivating friendships. John Mahshie says he felt “alone and isolated” after leaving the Air Force in 2008, yet “sucked it up and pressed on.” He knew other veterans were struggling with their own issues but might not know how to reach out for help, and in 2013 he decided to plant fruit trees, berry bushes, herbs, and flowers on nine acres of land he owned in Hendersonville, North Carolina.

With that, the Veterans Healing Farm was born. There are bunkhouses on the property for vets to stay in, and John says they not only learn new skills, but also “that they can trust people and they are valued.”

Over the last six years, the farm has donated more than 35,000 pounds of produce and flowers to veterans.

Monday, November 30, 2020

Medical workers on the front lines of the pandemic deserve the world — or at least a really, really good break once in a while. Enter the Hero Recharge program, which provides free outdoor adventures, like surfing, rock climbing and mountain biking, to hundreds of frontline health care workers in major cities across the United States.

Hero Recharge is run by First Descents, a non-profit that organizes adventure retreats for young adults with cancer and multiple sclerosis. As the pandemic overwhelmed health care workers, bringing with it risks of burnout, illness, PTSD and depression, the organization’s founders saw another way to help.

“These health care workers have been stuck for days, weeks, months inside, without seeing the light of day,” said Brad Ludden,founder of First Descents. “The outdoors is a tremendously powerful place for healing and connection … (and) one of the most powerful things we can provide them.”

Friday, November 27, 2020

As a society, we collect weird stuff, right? POGs and Beanie Babies – any of those ring a bell? But baseball cards are an American tradition – it’s basically how I learned statistical math. A nine-year old young lady named Reese Osterberg loves to play baseball and collects cards. But one of the fires in California destroyed her home and her substantial collection of baseball cards.

The California Department of Forestry shared her story on local radio and that’s where Kevin Ashford got his chance to shine. Kevin, like Reese, loves baseball and collects cards. In fact, his lifetime collection is valued around $50,000! His plan had been to sell his baseball card collection on Ebay, but once he heard about Reese, he knew where his collection belonged.

Reese and her mom, Amy, were so overwhelmed by the generous gift, that they wanted to pay it forward. So the pair are sharing their new collection of cards with kids at Children’s Hospital in Central California. Reese was quick to give away most of the Dodgers cards – because she’s a Giants fan.

Not only has Kevin given Reese an immeasurable gift, the families have connected and look forward to watching some baseball together as soon as the pandemic is over.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Happy Thanksgiving!  As you enjoy your thanksgiving 2020 meal today, here’s something to be thankful for:

125 million meals and counting! At the start of the pandemic, Convoy of Hope set a staggering goal of collecting and distributing 10 million meals – knowing the long term effects of a global shutdown were going to be incredible. What they didn’t expect was for God to do one of those “multiply the meal” miracles.

The ten million goal was for the end of 2020 – but it took about 2 weeks to blow past that. So far over 125 million meals have been collected and distributed through Convoy of Hope.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

A 5th grader in north Texas has a habit of setting very lofty goals for himself… he also has a habit of exceeding them. So, it isn’t surprising that Orion Jean wants to continue his mission to do good for others into the holiday season.

Earlier this fall, Orion collected and donated hundreds of toys for hospitalized children in Dallas through his Race to 500 Toys drive. Now, he’s started another drive with the goal of donating thousands of meals to people in need by Thanksgiving.

Orion says, “This has been a rough year for everybody, and now it’s more important than ever to show support and love to anyone who needs it.”

The Race to 100,000 Meals food drive continues through today! You can get involved at racetokindness.com. And while you’re there, check out Orion’s Kindness Can Change a Nation video which won him the Think Kindness National Speech contest!

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Jennie Kelley-Crosby has become well-versed in coronavirus self-care measures having worked throughout the global health crisis as a nurse at MetroHealth Medical Center in Strongsville, Ohio. As much time as she has spent finding ways to break away from the daily stress of her work, as encouraged by her employer since the pandemic started, Jennie has a heart for all of the educators that also bear the brunt of pandemic stress every single day.

So Jennie and some other parents arranged for Greg Esterburg’s Off The GRIDdle food truck to park at Strongsville Middle School to provide lunch for teachers and staff members as a way to show love and community support for other essential workers that have been called upon for extra duty. While the lunch delivery provided support to teachers and staff at the middle school, it also was meant to support local businesses, which continue to be hit hard by pandemic-related restrictions.

Jennie says, “There is so much negativity, and unrest in our community right now that is unsettling. We cannot change how other people are dealing with stress, but we can choose not to participate in spreading negativity, misinformation or hatred on social media.”

Monday, November 23, 2020

“I see a child that may have been forgotten by man, but is known, seen and LOVED fiercely by their Creator.” Those are the words of shoebox packer Natalie Kubosh.

What a year. Though it’s been filled with challenges and obstacles, it’s also been filled with opportunities. Natalie says, “I see an opportunity to share with them the greatest gift through a shoebox gift. This LOVE has the power to turn lives around by bringing ultimate healing, perfect peace, and never ending JOY to their young hearts.”

Thank you for generously sharing HOPE, LOVE and JOY this season with children around the world, too. If you didn’t have a chance to pack a shoebox gift before the drop-off deadline, it’s okay – You can still pack one online!

Friday, November 20, 2020

Both Alison in Utah and Amie in Tennessee are encouraging their churches to Build a Shoebox Online this year. In a few clicks from a computer or handheld device, the page allows people to choose items to include in a shoebox with a letter and photo. Samaritan’s Purse will pack and ship the shoebox for a donation of $25.

“This is a great opportunity—especially for those who are not getting out because of the pandemic or those who like to shop online,” Alison said. She plans to encourage members of her church to use Build a Shoebox Online for Christmas gifts—filling one on behalf of someone else or sending the link to friends and family when they ask for gift ideas. Alison finds the price makes it perfect for this use.

So, whether you pack a traditional shoebox, build one online, or give to the project in some way, it all gives a child the opportunity to experience God’s Greatest Gift—Jesus Christ.

“It’s the body of Christ working together to share the Gospel,” Alison said. Amie said, “We know that the world needs Jesus more than everything. Don’t let what’s happening with COVID-19 in 2020 cause you to neglect that calling. Just pack a shoebox!”

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Even if you’re primarily remaining in your home, you can still pack shoebox gifts. You can build a box online! And people are getting creative with other ways to fill shoeboxes with joy, including sharing online shopping wish lists.

Or for those who aren’t as savvy with online shopping, Amie Winstead invited church members who are stuck at home to fill pencil pouches with writing utensils to be ready to be packed into shoebox gifts by the families at their church. Others are knitting hats to pack in shoeboxes.

Crystal Daggett of Topeka, Kansas, shared her journey of packing shoeboxes at home:  “Each year after National Collection week, I begin praying for the following year. This year it was clear to pack 2,020 shoeboxes. Then the virus hit: no job, no church in person, no collection from church members, weakened immune system.”

Crystal wondered if the goal was even reasonable, but she sensed that “with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). She continued: “From using curbside pick-up, to taking advantage of stores going out of business, I have been using this time of isolation to party with God all year…which means 2,020 children will have the opportunity to hear the Gospel after a hard year of this virus.”

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Katie Engjurjan, a chiropractor from West Chester, Ohio, plans to encourage shoebox packing at her office. Last year, she set up a Christmas tree in her lobby and patients dropped off items for shoeboxes, or picked up boxes to take home and fill on their own. 

The plan this year involves lots of plexiglass to keep everyone safe during the pandemic but it won’t stop the gift giving – not by a longshot!  Katie started the project in full force in October, but tells her clients about Operation Christmas Child all year long.  Her patients often send donations and gifts, including hand-sewn crossbody bags, school supplies, and toothbrushes to include in shoebox gifts.

While Buddy the Elf says that the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear – I think having a heart for the lost and showing love with shoebox gifts might be even more effective! CLICK HERE to build a shoebox gift online!

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Since mid-March, Milan Baptist Church of Maynardville, Tennessee, has met for Sunday worship in their parking lot. The audio for their service airs over an FM radio station in their area so their congregation and other townspeople can tune in from their cars. Yet even though they are unable to gather in their sanctuary, they are opening their building up for shoebox packing.

The church is filling their fellowship hall with various items members have collected throughout the year, and inviting individual families to sign up for a specific time to come and pack shoeboxes. Parents and their children will fill shoeboxes with the stuffed animals, school supplies, and bars of soap and washcloths provided as well as visit the letter-writing station and photo booth to be sure to include these personal elements the child will love. Volunteers at the church disinfect each of these stations in between each family.

Last year, Milan Baptist aimed to pack 1,100 shoebox gifts and ended up filling 1,379. After praying about it, two people in the church independently felt God was leading them to pack 1,500 shoeboxes in 2020. Little did they realize what challenges would come.

But they pray – they pack – and they expect God to multiply their efforts!

Monday, November 16, 2020

Calvary Salt Lake, a church of 2,200 in Salt Lake City, Utah, collects Operation Christmas Child shoebox filler items from local businesses and individuals year-round. They store these gifts-in-kind—ranging from shoes and clothes to flashlights and school supplies—in two shipping containers in their parking lot until it’s time to pack them into shoeboxes for boys and girls ages 10 to 14.

This year, the church is preparing shoebox bundles—complete with empty boxes, all the quality gifts necessary to pack them full, and instructions—that can be picked up at designated times in October by small groups of all kinds. Families, neighborhoods, and groups of coworkers and friends are all welcome to pick up a pack to assemble with proper social distancing and deliver back to the church in time for National Collection Week, Nov. 16-23.

Alison Long, the Operation Christmas Child project leader for Calvary Salt Lake, has been involved in this ministry since 1996. She encourages church members to use the project as an outreach to their friends who may not know the Lord. She asks people to show an Operation Christmas Child video so packers understand what the project is all about and also to “write a letter, take a picture, and put it in the box” to encourage the child.

“We’re really trying to get people to see that God is calling us to be light in the darkness. Operation Christmas Child is a project God uses to bring kids to Jesus. It’s evangelism, discipleship and multiplication,” Alison said. “We need to be bold, we need to be brave, and we need to be a light. Operation Christmas Child gives people something to focus on that’s good.”

Friday, November 13, 2020

In a word, why do YOU pack a shoebox?

“’Go and make disciples,’ are power-filled action words in the Great Commission,” said volunteers Dave and Lauren Sebring. “For us, ‘obedient’ is the one word that describes why we love to pack shoeboxes. God does His part and we are humbled and overjoyed to do our part to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to a hurting world that needs hope. And to give great joy to children who receive small reminders that Jesus is the Greatest Gift and He loves them.”

OCC Gift suggestions: Colorful adhesive bandages, toy dinosaurs, watercolor set with paintbrushes

Thursday, November 12, 2020

In a word, why do YOU pack a shoebox?

Serena Butler sees her one word—“renewal”—working in a variety of ways through shoeboxes.

As a staff member, she witnesses a “renewal of hope” when a community suffering from violence, hatred, crime, and loss receives permission from local authorities for children to receive shoebox gifts and as a result, “people begin to give their lives to Christ.”

For her, Operation Christmas Child also means a “renewal of life”—especially for a bus driver named Fusani whom she met in Togo. He was raised by a family who adhered to another religion. He spent a day shuttling a team to shoebox outreach events, and after a long conversation with Serena on the way back to the hotel for the evening, he gave his life to Christ.

She also believes shoebox packing provides a “renewal of calling for pastors and ministry partners in both sending countries and receiving countries as they hear the Holy Spirit calling them to share the Gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth.”
It leads to a “renewal of vision as the Lord opens our eyes to the souls still waiting to hear the Name of Jesus. They live in deep jungles, on high mountains, across vast oceans, or maybe in the house next door,” Serena said.

Through all these examples, she encourages people to pack shoeboxes, because it brings a “renewal of perspective as we watch the impossible become possible.”

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

In a word, why do YOU pack a shoebox?

Volunteers Josh and Nicole Kingsbury chose “seeds” as their one word because of the powerful, life-giving force that a shoebox brings into the lives of those who pack them as well as those who receive them.

“We started packing shoeboxes as a way for the children in the church to be actively involved in the Great Commission,” Josh and Nicole said.

“We love that each shoebox is an opportunity to share the Gospel with children around the world. Each shoebox gift acts as a seed both at home and overseas.”

Need some gift ideas for your Operation Christmas Child shoebox? How about: Hat, scarf, mittens, small puzzles!

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Sue Alice Sauthoff says, “Operation Christmas Child exists for and by the local church.” On her first Vision Trip with Samaritan’s Purse to Paraguay, she brought U.S. church leaders to meet a South Korean pastor who had moved to the South American nation two years earlier seeking to plant a church.

“For two years he had been there unable to penetrate into this community that was so closed off,” Sue Alice said, “And the day that he showed up with cartons full of Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes, people came out of that community that he had never seen before.”

Parents began welcoming the pastor into their homes. He soon offered the shoebox recipients the follow-up discipleship program, The Greatest Journey and the locals who were trained to teach the course received tools that equipped them to disciple their community for a lifetime.

Today “that church is growing and thriving.” This new congregation was started, in part, because local churches in other countries packed shoeboxes to help build Christ’s Kingdom.

Even if your worship services are hampered by the ongoing global pandemic – here’s a chance to be the Capital-C CHURCH! Through OCC!

Monday, November 9, 2020

In a word, why do YOU pack a shoebox?

For Nathan Jansen, his one-word answer is GOSPEL. “That one word encompasses so much: Good News, the Great Commission, the hope of the world.”

Nathan served as a missionary in Southeast Asia for nine years before joining the staff of Operation Christmas Child. “One of the most difficult things that we struggled with on the mission field was finding bridges into the lives and hearts of those we were working to reach,” Nathan said. “When I heard about Operation Christmas Child, I was amazed how these simple shoebox gifts were used by the Lord to bring the Gospel to some of the most difficult places in the world.”

Nathan sees that shoebox gifts open hearts to God’s Greatest Gift—the Lord Jesus Christ. He hopes the word Gospel will prompt others to pack shoeboxes. He said, “I pray you’ll be encouraged, too, just with that word and knowing that God is bringing Good News and great joy to people all around the world.”

Friday, November 6, 2020

Nancy Osborn is a prayer coordinator for the Maine West team of year-round Operation Christmas Child volunteers in the Portland area – but she wasn’t always so confidant in her prayer life.

About seven years ago, Nancy felt burdened to learn how to pray more effectively. At the same time, one of her friends had contacted Operation Christmas Child about getting involved. She was encouraged to start a prayer group focused on the project and invited Nancy to join her.

“I wanted to grow in prayer,” Nancy said. “How perfect is God.”  Two years later when Nancy’s friend was asked to serve in an area leadership role, she asked Nancy to be her prayer coordinator.

“I’d never seen myself leading any kind of prayer group,” she said. “Why would someone who doesn’t know how to pray lead a prayer group? It certainly didn’t make sense to me. Apparently, it made sense to God, so here I am following.”

Reflecting on her five years in the role, Nancy said, “It’s been a great growing experience for me, both learning how to pray and watching other people pray. Every year has been better and better.”

Although she never imagined herself in the role, Nancy said she’s found serving as prayer coordinator fulfilling: “It helped me become a prayer warrior.”

You can be a prayer warrior, too! Would you join us in praying for all the boys and girls on the receiving end of these OCC Shoebox gifts? And if you want to pack or send one of those gifts, CLICK HERE!

Thursday, November 5, 2020

In remote, bush regions of Liberia, less than 3 percent of the population consider themselves evangelical Christians. Pastor Bobby, Dian and Sandee set out into this area down a path that was overgrown with trees. Stopping along the way to remove branches that had fallen into the trail, the trio eventually arrived in a small village consisting of 300 people.

40 children from the area came to receive shoebox gifts. At this outreach event, 70 residents of Vanyanpa accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior! Less than a week later, Bobby returned and hosted the first church service in this Mano village. A new generation is being transformed by gift-filled shoeboxes.

Amazingly, the first churches ever were started in each of these villages last year, soon after Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts were delivered to their children. These gifts and the message of the Gospel reach people even where there is no road! Praise God!

Please pray for church planting efforts among the unreached peoples of Liberia through Operation Christmas Child.

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

When people tell Karabo Maretlane he’s lucky, he says, “I’m chosen.”

Karabo grew up in a village in the southern African nation of Lesotho. When he was 5 years old, his father died and his mother left him with his grandmother. As this elderly woman raised him, she taught him how to read, write, and follow God. But Karabo’s grandmother died when he was still young and, shortly afterward, his mother died as well. Loneliness set in like never before as he realized he was an orphan.

Karabo’s uncle soon invited him to come live with him in the city. It was there that a friend invited him to an Operation Christmas Child outreach event where he received a box full of gifts just for him.

“That shoebox filled one of the holes in my heart,” he said.

Today Karabo is part of a family again and he encourages others to pack shoebox gifts for other kids around the world: “If you hear the voice of God, do not harden your heart” (paraphrasing Hebrews 3:15).

Now more than ever, children need hope. You can bless a child like Karabo with great joy and the Good News of Jesus Christ by packing a shoebox or building one online.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

The little boy in Central Africa with the big name was called Marvellous because his mother wanted to praise God for how He had already helped her family through many struggles.  When he was just 6 years old, he was separated from his family. Thankfully, the family’s prayers for his safe return were answered the following month.  They praised God for His faithfulness when they reunited with Marvellous.

Just a couple of years later, at age 8, Marvellous received an Operation Christmas Child shoebox gift at church.  He was elated to receive school supplies in his shoebox, calling it an answer to prayer to help him start school.  He loved to write and draw, so he was especially thankful for the notebooks, pens, and pencils.

“God hears the cries of His children,” said Marvellous, who is now a 22-year-old college student in Charlotte, North Carolina. “My shoebox gave me hope. Still today, I think that it was a message, a gift from God. These precious shoeboxes share the love of Christ with children around the world.”

A special letter packed in his shoebox gift continues to remind Marvellous of God’s faithful care, even now many years later. It read: “No matter where you are, just know that God loves you no matter what you are going through in life.”

Wherever God leads him, Marvellous plans to continue to cling to the Lord’s promises for His children.  You can impact a child’s life, too. Find out how RIGHT HERE.

Monday, November 2, 2020

Andy Loos and his wife Jennifer moved to Guam in September 2019, after pastoring for 22 years in the U.S. and planting churches in Ohio and Florida. Wherever they ministered, they were always actively involved with Operation Christmas Child. They packed boxes with their kids, and they also collected shoeboxes at their churches. But when they moved to Guam, they had no idea they would soon be distributing boxes and not just packing them.

The first shoebox distribution on Guam occurred in January 2020 at Guam Bible Fellowship. Andy and Jennifer were overwhelmed by what they saw. “A little girl at the distribution had asked her dad for some art supplies, but they couldn’t afford any,” Andy said. “She opened her box, and it was filled with art supplies. She was so excited and so were her parents. They were wiping tears away as they saw the joy on their little girl’s face. And only Jesus knew how to get that box to that little girl.”

There also was a boy at the event who was having trouble with his socks. “The socks were all stretched out, and he would continually have to pull them up,” Andy said. “When he opened his shoebox, a brand new pair of socks were inside. He immediately took off his shoes and socks and put the new socks on. His mom was watching and said, ‘Look! This is exactly what you needed.’ Something as simple as socks and art supplies, these things that many people take for granted, were the gifts that these children needed. It was so awesome to see how the Lord knows how to give good gifts to His children.”

Andy sums up the goal of this shoebox project in clear terms: “The boxes allow us to minister to these kids and their families, and to share with them the Greatest Gift of all, who is Jesus Christ.”

Please pray for the children on Guam and for Andy and Jennifer as they resume distributions and begin teaching The Greatest Journey.

You can get involved, too! CLICK HERE!

Friday, October 30, 2020

Dads everywhere are waxing on and off, thanks to Cobra Kai’s popularity. But dojo skills aren’t all there is to martial arts. Jeffrey Wall, 15, is as compassionate as he is fierce. The accomplished Tang Soo Do Korean martial artist is helping his community stay fit while sharing his love of the sport with everyone — especially senior citizens.

Before the pandemic, Jeffrey Wall taught karate at a local nursing home. He named his program Golden Age Karate and refers to his students as “Super Nanas” and “Super Grandpas.” However, with social distancing, Sensei Jeff had to get creative. He started posting classes on Youtube and Instagram, and with the help of his fans, sends love notes to help his students feel less lonely.

His slick moves and big heart have earned him kudos from around the globe, but he says he’s counting down the days until he can see his super seniors again. “To see their faces light up is the best feeling in the world.”

Thursday, October 29, 2020

When’s the last time you got mail that wasn’t electronic OR some sort of junk or spam? And when’s the last time you WROTE correspondence and sent it to someone via “snail mail?” Dust off your stationary and practice your penmanship – Victorian Senior Care, an assisted living community with 14 facilities in North Carolina, is looking for pen pals!

After months of strict no-visitors rules, the facility wants to connect its residents to people from all over the world. It only took one question for their mission to go viral on Facebook: Will you be my pen pal? Residents posed with cards telling potential pen pals a little bit about themselves and man, who could say no to these fine individuals?!

Say hi to Ms. Edna, who loves Family Feud. Spare a stamp for Macy, the checkers champion and church choir star. There are literally dozens more wonderful people at the facility looking for some snail mail kindness.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

When your nickname is “The Dogfather of Harlem,” you know you’re doing something right. Brian Taylor owns the Harlem Doggie Day Spa in New York City, and he’s living up to his (nick)name by offering free services to pet parents financially impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Taylor says he’s lost about 80% of his business because of coronavirus restrictions, but his regulars are extremely loyal — and extremely kind.

When Brian posted about a pup relief fund online, plenty of customers pitched in. With their help, he raised $2,000 and has helped about 12 pet owners so far.

Here’s a fun fact: The Dogfather started his career in finance, but decided to get certified as a groomer in 2010 after noticing there weren’t a lot of grooming facilities in Harlem. A decade later, he’s groomed more than 6,000 dogs.

Maybe you’re ready to become a “Dog Father” too. If you’re considering adopting a furry friend, check out our adoptable pets this week!

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Alex Johnson is 14-year-old and wants to help people understand what it’s like to live life on wheels. The eighth grader has used a wheelchair for years, and when he was in 5th grade, he had an idea to start a “Spend a Day in My Wheels” challenge to help his classmates understand things from his perspective.

Recently, the idea went all the way to the top of the Tennessee government. A group of bipartisan lawmakers met with Alex and spent a workday in loaned wheelchairs to get an idea of the freedom and frustrations — like opening refrigerator doors — that wheelchair mobility brings. The group agreed the experience was eye-opening, and Alex hopes it will help leaders see the world with an eye toward accessibility.

“I could talk to you for hours and hours about the difficulties people in wheelchairs face on a daily basis,” Alex said in a speech. “Until you actually sit in a chair, you’ll never fully understand.”

Monday, October 26, 2020

Carol Rosenstein has been helping people with dementia through the power of music since 2014. Her non-profit, Music Mends Minds, has created 20 bands that have improved the quality of life for more than 200 people.

There’s plenty of evidence that shows that listening and playing music is beneficial for people with neurodegenerative diseases, and that’s more important than ever during a pandemic. Isolation takes a huge toll on seniors, and raises their risk of dementia. Rosenstein moved her organization’s programming online. Dozens of participants now meet virtually several times a week to play music together and enjoy a little bit of normalcy.

“What the world needs now is music. Music is medicine for the mind,” she says. “We can bring such happiness and hope in this moment of relative despair.”

 

Friday, October 23, 2020

A Virginia mom and her daughter are working to spread art and positivity throughout their community, and it rocks! Katie and Abby Mallory are a part of the Kindness Rocks Project.

It is a trend on social media where people paint rocks and leave them for others to find and collect. Photos of the painted rocks and hints of where to find them are shared on Facebook groups.

Katie said she enjoys spreading this time with her daughter and spreading a little joy with others.

Northshore peeps have been rockin’ the rocks for a while – CLICK HERE to join their group!

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Brittany had just picked up her four-year-old and her seven-year-old kids from soccer practice and decided to get something quick for them to eat and McD’s. She didn’t have her wallet on her so Wyatt paid for the meal. When she went back later that night to pay him back Wyatt insisted the meal was on him.

Brittany took her story to Facebook, sharing about how much she appreciated Wyatt’s kind gesture. She wrote, “I just want his parents to know how KIND & 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,” she explained. “Wyatt, do not let this world change your kind heart young man for its people like YOU that will change this world for the better!”

Brittany heard that Wyatt was saving up for a car, she created a GoFundMe for him and was able to raise $32,000 for him to buy a new automobile. Wow – that is what I call a Happy Meal!

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Dogs are a gift from God. They are man’s best friend – largely because they are so incredibly loyal! That loyalty paid off once again in a heartwarming story out of St. Louis where a missing child was kept safe by a new four-legged friend until he could be found.

Kh’amorion Taylor, who’s just a toddler, wandered away from his St. Louis home one morning wearing only his pajamas. But Kh-amorion wasn’t alone for long – he quickly found a friend in the form of a stray pit bull who stayed by the boy’s side for the entire ordeal.

A concerned neighbor found the lost child along with his doggo-companion. Kh’amorion was soon reunited with his father, with whom he was anxious to share about his adventure with his new puppy friend.

The stray dog’s heroic actions may have even earned it the best possible reward: The police department is considering adopting the pup.

Maybe you’re considering adopting a furry friend, too? Check out our adoptable pets this week!

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Missouri art teacher Misty Byrd is made of some strong stuff. When she learned one of her student’s mothers needed a kidney, she immediately offered one of hers. Ms. Byrd had taught Shannon Croney’s fifth-grade son, Fischer, since he was in kindergarten, and says it just felt right to be a lifeline to the family.

Sure enough, the two women were a match. The surgeries went off without a hitch over the summer, and Shannon is adjusting to her new organ. But now, the two women are turning their attention to another member of their community: Jason Eagleston, a single father of three who also needs a transplant.

It’s hard to imagine the incredible strength of someone who is moved to give up a part of their body — with tangible risks — but Ms. Byrd says it’s worth it.

“You’re saving somebody’s life. It’s an amazing gift to give to somebody … There are hundreds of thousands of people out there waiting.”

Monday, October 19, 2020

What do you do when you’re laid off during a pandemic? Panic, probably. Job hunt. Maybe feel sorry for yourself. And if you’re Brian Schwartz of Wayne, New Jersey, you rev up the lawnmower.

The 39-year-old digital advertising executive was shocked when he was laid off in June. As he contemplated his next move, he realized that senior citizens in his neighborhood were staring down an even bigger danger in the form of Covid-19. He started mowing the lawns of elderly veterans in his community, free of charge. The service grew, and became I Want to Mow Your Lawn. He now offers his service in four New Jersey counties, and two other friends who have lost their jobs during the pandemic have joined his efforts.

Brian says, “With all going on in the world, it’s the least I could do for our elderly neighbors.”

Friday, October 16, 2020

For three years, Shirley Raines and her volunteer team of licensed hair stylists, barbers and makeup artists have been providing free beauty services to homeless people living in Los Angeles’ Skid Row, one of the largest homeless communities in the country. She started her nonprofit Beauty 2 The Streetz because she believes everyone deserves to look and feel better. Plus, Raines points out, being homeless doesn’t mean you don’t have a life.

“We’re talking about people who go to work five days a week,” she says. “They want to get beautiful for their spouse. They want to get cleaned up and beautiful to go to work. The little kids who are still going to school need a fresh haircut.”

There’s also healing in giving back: Raines lost her 3-year-old son in an accident about 30 years ago. In the depths of her sorrow, her sister urged her to “find a purpose for the pain.” She began working with homeless communities, and soon, Beauty 2 The Streetz was born.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Suttie Economy is a 94-year-old World War II veteran and this hero wants to have his coffin painted like a pack of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit gum when he passes. Weird? Sure, but what’s NOT weird these days…

So why does Suttie want his coffin to look like a pack of gum? His longtime friend Sammy Oakey (who also happens to run a funeral service) says Suttie is known famously throughout his community for handing out Juicy Fruit gum to everyone he meets.

That began during World War II, when Wrigley took Spearmint, Doublemint and Juicy Fruit gums off the civilian market to make sure all of the supply went to the US military. He’s been giving it away to friends and strangers alike ever since.

Suttie’s brother John explains further, “[Handing out gum] served as a symbol for his mission to talk to people about the World War II memorial and to honor the deceased veterans that died for our freedom.”

Suttie is currently at the Virginia Veterans Care Clinic recovering from a heart condition, but whenever the time comes, he will certainly have a send-off worthy of his sweet deeds.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

What do you do to help your community after a devastating hurricane? For Rikesh Patel, the owner of 25 McDonald’s franchises in Louisiana, the answer was one phone call away. After Hurricane Laura hit his town, he called the corporate office, and within a day, a restaurant on wheels dubbed the “McRig” arrived in Lake Charles to help feed families in need.

Over the next six days, Mr. Patel says they served more than 10,000 free brown bag meals of cheeseburgers, fries and bottled water. “It was just really neat to see the whole family aspect, of how we’ve always said we’re like a family and it just really came to life during such a tragedy,” he said. Some of Mr. Patel’s restaurants are still closed due to damage and power outages, and for those employees who can work, he’s offered them time-and-a-half and housing if they need it.

We know just how it feels to be on the receiving end of love and support, especially after a storm. Thank you for loving others and being such a beacon of light to our neighbors in need.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

The pandemic has backed up food supply chains, which has led farmers to throw away ton after ton of excess product that can’t reach restaurants or grocery store shelves in time. In Washington state, a unique non-profit is helping re-route all of that great produce to people who really need it.

A few months ago, George Ahearn, who grew up in the farming town of Othello, Washington, got the idea to connect farmers in the eastern part of the state with food banks and meal programs in the west. Except, there was a problem: You can’t just drop off bunches of dirty potatoes and onions. Instead, George linked up with Nancy Balin and Zsofia Pasztor, who organized convoys to drive across the state to pick up the produce, and assembled volunteers to clean and bag the food.

To date, EastWest Food Rescue has helped deliver EIGHT MILLION POUNDS of fresh produce to help people in need. The founders of EastWest Food Rescue say everyone should, “..Just figure out what you are passionate about and what you could get involved in.”

Words of wisdom. What are you passionate about? Loving God and loving people? Us too. Thank you for joining us in bringing the message of HOPE to our community every day on LifeSongs.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Cancer has affected most of us one way or the other. We’ve either battled it, walked through it with a friend or family member, or grieved a loss become of it. Tim Gjoraas, a 45-year-old teacher from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, knew he may not have long to live. After battling colon cancer for several years, doctors told him it was terminal. So Tim started working on his bucket list.

The brave man didn’t want to go skydiving or ride a bull named Foo Manchu – rather, he decided it was finally time to repaint the outside of his house. It was something his wife had always wanted, and if ever there was a time for fulfilling wishes, it would be now. Word got out to his community, and more than a dozen people showed up to get the job done while he could still enjoy it.

The family and friends got to work while telling stories, and within half a day the house was a beautiful new shade of blue. It’s just one way, Tim says, that his friends and neighbors have stepped up during this difficult time.

Thank YOU for stepping in during these challenging times, too. You’re making a difference sharing God’s love and the hope we have in him with our community every day. We’re grateful you’re part of our LifeSongs family!

Friday, October 9, 2020

No animal is as brave as a Chihuahua. The little dogs think they are 100x’s bigger than any problem they face. Kismet is a 13-year-old toothless Chihuahua who is sharing his brave attitude with patients at a dentist office in California.

No one LIKES going to the dentist – but for many it is a very scary place to be. So Kismet snuggles up to patience in the waiting room acting as an emotional support animal for anyone who is especially nervous about getting their cavity filled – he’ll even sit in their laps while they get dental work done.

Kismet was a coronavirus adoption back in July – and he has fit into the family dental practice far better than anyone could have imagined. Especially considering he has no teeth. Looking to adopt a new pet for your family? Every week LifeSongs partners with the LASPCA to highlight some great adoptable dogs and cats (and more)!

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Dads don’t need capes to be superheroes – just power tools. A group of fathers in Gaithersburg, MD have been spending their weekends building school desks for local students doing distance learning from home.

Desks by Dads was founded by Al and Jessica Berrellez this past summer when their daughters’ school mentioned many students were going to have a real challenge with distance learning. The couple created a simple blueprint that makes a classic wooden desk for about $40 in a little under an hour. They shared the plans and now they have a movement on their hands.

Al and Jessica were on Good Morning America talking about the exciting work – connecting the community and highlighting the impact of Black and brown dads in particular.

Want to see the desk plans – and even join in the movement? CLICK HERE!

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Food supply is essential. We’ve seen that lived out all year with the coronavirus pandemic. From farm to grocer to table – every link in that chain is needed.

Lane Unhjem is a farmer in North Dakota – where he grows and harvest wheat and canola. While harvesting his crops, Lane suffered a heart attack. The good news is that he is going to be fine. But what about the farm?

That’s when 50 of his neighbors, also farmers, showed up with heavy equipment and took care of his 1,000 acres of crops in a single afternoon. Now Lane can simply recover and regain his strength, without worrying about his livelihood.

So how can you help your neighbor? Maybe they don’t need 1,000 acres of wheat harvested – but could you mow their yard or clean their gutters? LifeSongs knows what it feels like to have neighbors care for you in your time of need – thank you for giving during Shareathon!

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Having a good repairman is worth its weight in gold. Someone trustworthy to help with those projects that require more than a phillips head and a youtube video – that is a gift from God. And Gloria Scott got a true gift in her electrician, John Kinney.

Mr. Kinney came to repair a light fixture and saw that 72 year old Gloria’s home needed a lot more than a little light electric work. Pipes were busted, the sink was broken, there were holes in the roof and evidence of rodents. Ms. Gloria said she just couldn’t afford to keep up with the house.

So Mr. Kinney did his job – and then came back a few days later with a full force of friends who began working on Gloria’s home – all for free. Word got out on social media and the neighborhood raised $100,000 and donated meals and materials while the projects were being finished.

The community rallied to help Ms. Gloria – calling themselves Gloria’s Gladiators on Facebook.

LifeSongs has many wonderful business partners – from plumbers and electricians to lawyers and doctors and car dealerships. If you want to support local businesses and Christian businesses – be sure to check out the LifeSongs Business Partner!

Monday, October 5, 2020

89 year-old Derlin Newey found out real fast that his social security check wasn’t enough to live on – plus he was bored. So he started a new career delivering pizza for Papa Johns. And that’s how this octogenarian became a TikTok star.

The Valdez family has over 53,000 followers on TikTok – and they like pizza. They also really like Derlin and request he delivers their frequent pizzas. Every time he rings the bell, Derlin has a catchphrase “Hello, are you looking for some pizza?” – which the Valdez family frequently feature on their TikTok feed.

Derlin has become a smash hit for his kindness and sincerity. The Valdez family wanted to give Derlin a really big tip, so they recruited their TikTok followers to raise $12,000 for the 89 year old pizza delivery driver, which they presented him with, along with a t-shirt that reads “Hello, are you looking for some pizza?”

Derlin was overwhelmed by the kind gesture – though he confessed, he doesn’t really know what TikTok is.

Friday, October 2, 2020

With our busy schedules and reliance on technology for entertainment, it’s hard for little ones to get enough of the outdoor physical activity that’s crucial for healthy development. And during a pandemic when parents are especially crunched for time, it’s even harder to ensure that happens.

But one solution could be lying right at your feet, according to a new study: owning, walking and playing with a family dog could encourage your toddler’s social and emotional development.

In fact, there’s an interesting side effect of the COVID-19 pandemic: There has been a surge in pet adoptions. New Orleans area animal shelters have seen a dramatic spike in the number of pets being fostered or adopted — in some cases almost double the rate in 2019 — and in good news, they’re seeing those cats and dogs staying put in their new homes.

Dog ownership has been linked to responsibility, positive identity, empathy and trust. This was a nice example of how, even in the youngest kids, a dog can be a positive influence on their behavior. Ready to consider moving past the cat videos on YouTube and add a furry member to your family? Check out our adoptable pets of the week here!

Thursday, October 1, 2020

“Rhonemus.” That was the only clue on the dog tag 12-year-old Kolton Conrad found glimmering under the water of Ohio’s Hocking River. Kolton and his father and brother were on a July Fourth trip picking up trash in the area and Kolton, who wants to serve in the armed forces someday, knew he wanted to return this small bit of treasure to its rightful owner.

With a single Facebook post, the Conrad family had their answer: The dog tag belonged to Steven Rhonemus, a Marine veteran who sadly died in a 1974 motorcycle crash at the age of 24. However, the Conrads were able to track down his sister, Kimberly Greenlee, and arrange an emotional reunion. Kimberly was amazed that this young man really seemed to understand the deep meaning of those dog tags and knew what it would mean to the family.

Another meaningful coincidence: Kolton’s mother suggested Greenlee meet them at a spot where Kolton loves to fish. Greenlee was shocked because it was also one of Rhonemus’s favorite places to ride motorcycles. Now, the long-lost tag is with Rhonemus’ 46-year-old daughter, who never got to meet her father.

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Do you know CPR? After today’s story, you are going to want to learn. Sonja Frazier is the night shift manager of Taco Bell in Clarksville, TN. I don’t know if Taco Bell in Clarksville is the same as it is here in Gentilly – but the line is longest AFTER 10 PM. So Sonja is used to cars wrapping around the building. Still this one evening in August, nobody was moving in the line.

Sonja went out to see what was holding up the line and found a man passed out at the driver’s seat. She found the man’s pulse – which was weak – had her employees call 9-1-1 and began CPR. After 11 minutes, first responders joined the scene and took over. Sonja says the man started to come to as they loaded him into the ambulance. It was only then that she stopped and cried in relief.

When interviewed, Sonja deflected all of the hero talk and encouraged everyone to learn CPR. She also said, “I believe I was there for a reason.”

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Matthew 6:3 says “when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.”

Nine women in Tennessee did just that, giving secretly for THIRTY YEARS! A group of nine women (they call themselves the 9 Nanas) kept a secret for decades that not even their husbands knew about.

For three decades, they met at 4:00 AM, anonymously paying bills and buying clothes for people in need, and sending them care packages, each of which contained a homemade pound cake and a note that read “Somebody loves you.”

Thanks to their elusive work, these women — all over the age of 50 — contributed more than $900,000 to their community.

Talk about making a difference! You know, you make a difference in our community, too, through YOUR giving. No 4am baking required! We’re so grateful for and encouraged by your support for LifeSongs. Thank you!

Monday, September 28, 2020

In New Orleans, we’re surrounded by water. So it might be hard to imagine what it’s like for Californians in a dry climate having to fight blazing wildfires. But we DO know how to help our neighbors in need, and so does a California restaurant.

Mo’s River Road Grill in Salinas is giving first responders free meals as they work hard to battle the fires in their communities. It started with free water and snacks, but by the first night, 10 firefighters turned into more than 70 coming in for a meal.

Restaurant owner Terry Moshin says, “It feels joyful. It feels like that’s what we should do. The whole community has really come together and it’s’ awesome – everyone wants to help, and it’s kept their mind off the fires.”

The response from first responders has been humbling, too. Terry adds, “They are so kind, they love their job. To see them work so hard for us, we can do something for them,” and this is it.

We know what it’s like to be humbled by an overflow of support from the community, too. Thank you so much for your support and for being part of the LifeSongs giving family!

Friday, September 11, 2020

Even as Hurricane Laura bore down on a hospital in Lake Charles, Louisiana, someone had to watch the babies. NICU staff at Lake Charles Memorial Hospital worked through the Category 4 storm that damaged the hospital (despite some having damage to their own homes and a mandatory evacuation order).

The staff had their hands full! Two teams took shifts caring for the little angels, who have since been able to be safely transferred to other hospitals across the state to continue receiving care.

Over a dozen nurses and respiratory specialists are being hailed as heroes for protecting the babies through the storm. Dr. Juan Bossano said, “In a small town like this, people have to pull together. I’m proud of them. And the babies are doing better than all of us!”

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Just a couple weeks ago was the 15th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. The storm changed many of our lives forever. Though painful, we also experienced an incredible outpouring of love and care from family, friends and complete strangers.

Now New Orleans is uniquely positioned to return the favor by caring for our neighbors from Southwest Louisiana. Hurricane Laura was the second strongest storm to ever hit the United States – and it demolished Lake Charles. Tens of thousands are displaced and in need of help to rebuild their lives.

Facebook groups, nonprofits and even the New Orleans Jeep club have joined the Cajun Navy, National Guard and Red Cross on the ground to help with clean-up. Here in SELA, folks are providing places to stay, food to eat and even laundry service – free of charge through Imagine Waterworks.

Instead of waiting for the local, state and federal government to step in, the people of Louisiana are just doing the work and helping the people. It’s beautiful. Good job, y’all.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Mr. Russell Ledet was used to walking the long, sterile hallways of the hospital. As a security guard he would check the dark corners and offer assistance to patients and employees in need of help.

Now, Dr. Russell Ledet walks the hospital corridors with even more purpose. Dr. Ledet went from security guard at Baton Rouge General Hospital to medical student at the same hospital, saying, “I’m here now, and every moment walking these halls with that white coat on is a blessing, and I am grateful.”

While he was a security guard he was also an undergraduate student at Southern University and A&M College in Chemistry and Biology. He then went to NYU School of Medicine to obtain his PhD in molecular oncology and tumor immunology and then accepted a full ride scholarship to Tulane University School of Medicine to obtain his Medical degree and my MBA simultaneously.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Before the global pandemic, Will Burch used to hold house parties at his New Orleans home on Bartholomew St. The band would set up on the porch and folks would start grilling and it was just a party.

Now, Will uses his house to meet more immediate needs, like diapers and food for families hurting with job losses and other concerns. His house is a part of the NOLA Community Fridges, which uses social media to communicate on a small scale where anyone can get help, without standing in some big line for federal aid.

In the bins in front of Will’s house are diapers, baby food, toys and other supplies. The community drops off their extra to give away – and anyone is welcome to take what they need. As of this week, there are at least seven locations around town for the NOLA Community Fridges.

Monday, September 7, 2020

Paying it forward has never been more delicious! Inspired by other restaurants in town, customers at Slice Pizzeria NOLA began buying extra slices and entire pizzas and leaving the order for anyone in need.

Here’s how the Pay It Forward Slice Program works: Any customer can buy extra food and put the order receipt on the wall. Then, anyone in need can come and grab the order – no questions asked – and the food will be freshly made for them – for FREE!

It might be the only meal someone gets all day. So many hospitality jobs have halted in New Orleans. On top of the Pay It Forward Slice program, Slice Pizzeria started offering free slices on Friday nights.

Friday, September 4, 2020

Here’s the tale (tail?) of a pup named Tucson Prime. He was a stray dog that frequently visited a Hyundai dealership for petting and free food. The crew at the dealership grew so fond of the stray that they adopted him as a group and gave him a job as the mascot for their business!

The staff gave Tucson Prime his own laminated ID badge and the manager says that sales have definitely increased with their new salesdog. In fact many customers return to visit the pup and bring him gifts, long after they bought their new Hyundai.

You have a positive impact every day, too, you know. It may not be through wagging tails and selling cars, but your continued support for LifeSongs helps provide hope and encouragement, which is so needed these days.

Thank you for giving to LifeSongs!

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Social distancing rules are presenting all kinds of challenges for in-school learning. But one teacher took the new safety measures as an opportunity to make the classroom more fun.

Texas Kindergarten teacher Jennifer Birch Pierson realized the social distancing measures were going to be difficult for children, so she wanted to cheer them up by turning desks into trucks—- even making the required desk shields look like windshields! What a thoughtful and amazing teacher!

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Good News Movement (@goodnews_movement) on

Talk about going above and beyond! We’re so grateful for our amazing teachers who are making a difference every day. You’re making a difference, too, you know. Thank you for covering our teachers, students and families in prayer every day with us through the LifeSongs Prayer Schools. And thank you for sharing hope and encouragement with us every day, too, through your support for LifeSongs!

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

For 85 years, Ellis Marsalis Jr. was a jazz icon in New Orleans. He was also the backbone of a musical family and beloved in the local community. Sadly, Marsalis passed away from complications of Covid-19. The NOLA music scene mourned his passing, and now his son, Delfeayo Marsalis, is determined to carry on his father’s legacy.

The younger Marsalis founded KNOMA, Keep New Orleans Music Alive, to financially support local musicians now, when they need it most. Marsalis knows that music can bring people together, and the only way to do that now is to help those who create it.

“Happiness, joy, and celebration — ideals that are very much needed today.” .- Delfeayo Marsalis

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Mask making is turning into a popular do-good hobby. For one couple in Arvada, Colorado, it was also a good justification for breaking out their old 1922 Singer Model 66 “Red Eye” treadle sewing machine.

The beautiful black iron contraption originally belonged to Giselle Williams’ great-great grandmother. When Giselle’s hairstyling and knitting businesses came to a standstill during the pandemic, she asked her husband Darin to help her restore it. Well, he did her one better. He fully rehabilitated the machine, and then taught his wife how to use it.

Giselle Williams had never sewn a thing, but her husband’s grandmother was a seamstress and taught him how to sew during his childhood summers. Now, the couple has made and distributed nearly 500 masks to first responders across the globe. The Veterans of Foreign Wars even recognized Darin Williams for his contribution to the community.

Monday, August 31, 2020

Isabella is a living miracle. At only six years old, Isabella has undergone five surgeries – and she has the scars on her little body to prove it.

Isabella was born premature, with a blood clot in her right arm. Now her arm shows the signs of her multiple surgeries. The staff at Children’s Hospital New Orleans wanted her to feel strong, as she continues to heal – so they performed a special operation… on Isabella’s American Girl doll.

The doll, named Bells, now has matching scars on her arm – just like Isabella. The hospital re-enacted the surgery too – gave the doll matching clothes and Isabella’s haircut – the two are basically twins! And both Bells (the doll) and little Isabella are strong!

Friday, August 28, 2020

What’s the best part about a baby shower? The snack food, right? Second best part? The great games – like guess how many toilet paper squares it will take to wrap around the pregnant lady! Classic.

(The answer is always less than you think and no one feels good about this afterwards.)

A neighborhood recently celebrated an inbound baby for their beloved mail carrier, Ms. Nanh. The community had watched her expanding belly as she waddled her way to the mailboxes each day. So the homeowners decorated their yards with baby shower decor and left presents for Nahn one day during the pandemic as she dropped off mail – she ended up picking up just as many gifts for herself and baby number 4!

Thursday, August 27, 2020

We lean on the dependability of mail carriers now more than ever! Do you get a little thrill whenever the mail, FedEx, Amazon or UPS truck pulls up out front? A little boy in Los Feliz, CA also gets excited every time the brown UPS truck pulls up. He runs out to greet the driver, Hector, and to see if someone sent him something.

But usually there is nothing in the truck for this little boy. That never diminished his enthusiasm. So much so that Hector put together a box filled with toys and made a special delivery just for this gracious, excited child.

Hector had a bit of a toy collection going for the day in the future when he might have a son of his own, but decided that his friend on the UPS route needed the joy a bit more.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

For 18 years, Jeison Aristizábal has been working to give young people with disabilities in Cali, Colombia, a brighter future.

Aristizábal has cerebral palsy, and his non-profit, ASODISVALLE — an acronym that translates to Association of Disabled People of the Valley — has helped transform the lives of more than 1,100 young people and their families.

Now that coronavirus is tearing through Latin America, Aristizábal and his organization have had to switch gears. They’ve shuttered their therapy, education and medical facilities for a while, but are offering in-home and virtual medical treatment and physiotherapy to make sure the children they would normally serve don’t get left behind during this critical time.

“It’s important to give the best of ourselves in these moments,” Jeison says. “If we set our hope and we set our will, we can rise above all the adversities.”

Friday, August 21, 2020

A few weeks ago a bomb-like blast rocked the Lebanese city of Beirut. It destroyed a large chunk of the ancient city, injuring thousands and was the cause of a tremendous loss of life. Within hours of the terrifying blast, emergency responders around the world began to mobilize. The Lebanese military were first on the scene, followed by aid from France and Egypt.

Within a couple of days the emergency response division of Samaritan’s Purse had loaded up a massive supply jet with medical gear, food, water and a team of disaster specialists and medical workers. The 15-member response team flew out of North Carolina, landed in Lebanon and got to work distributing 26 tons of relief supplies, while building temporary shelters for people who just lost their homes.

Samaritan’s Purse are the same people behind Operation Christmas child. The emergency response comes in the name of Jesus – to a nation that is largely Muslim.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

There may be no activity as perfectly 90s as rollerblading! And with the pandemic bike boom – roller blades might be the only exercise equipment you can find…

A couple of hockey players for the University of Massachusetts were bored during the Summer – their sports season cut short by the pandemic. But Andrew Walker and Jacob Adkins wanted to stay in shape AND make a difference so they laced up their roller blades to make a cancer research fundraising 900 mile trip from Boston to Mason, Michigan.

They call themselves the Men in Blades – and together raised over $30,000 with their 10 day rollerblading journey. Both young men have been affected by cancer and wanted to use their time to make an impact for other families facing the battle.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

You’ve heard of a room with a view – well now you can get a room with a ZOO! The Pairi Daiza Resort has been awarded Best Zoo in Europe three years in a row – and you can book one of 100 rooms with 8 different views of the wildlife – right in the thick of the habitats.

Not only does your hotel stay come with complimentary breakfast and wifi – but 24 hour park access! And it is a bargain, with rooms starting around $150 per person. Plus the cost of a flight to Belgium – which is where the zootel is.

So what room would you want? Wolves? Bears? Sea lions, Tigers, Polar Bears?

Much like our own Audubon Institute, the Pairi Daiza Resort & Zoo fight to protect natural habitats and preserve endangered species.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Though we haven’t had a new superhero movie to watch in sometime – during the global pandemic we have had a chance to better appreciate the heroes that actually live among us. Heroes like our veterans. Thank you for your service.

Due to the coronavirus many aging Veterans have had to spend an enormous amount of time alone. And you know what they say about “idle hands.” However, an organization called Help Heal Veterans (which has been kicking around since 1971) sends special crafting kits to Veterans in the United States to occupy the time and develop new skills. Some of the crafts actually aid in recovery from injuries.

In the last couple of months Help Heal Veterans have sent over 150,000 crafting kits to Veterans around the country. Some of the kits include building a wall clock, making wallets – or even a full leather messenger bag!

One Marine veteran with MS says the project did way more than just help pass the time – “It relieved a bunch of stress, anxiety – helping us mentally, spiritually and physically!”

Monday, August 17, 2020

Months ago we shared with you the story of Captain Tom Moore, who raised millions of pounds (like dollars, but English) for the British healthcare response to COVID-19. The 100 year old World War II vet raised the funds by walking laps in his garden.

Captain Moore has become a bit of a rallying point for the British people and has fans around the world. Some of his biggest fans are the royal family – in fact, recently in a beautiful outdoor ceremony at Windsor Castle, the Queen of England knighted Captain Moore.

Normally you have to kneel before the Queen for such an honor, but the Royals opted to let Tom Moore simply bow, because he was worried he might not be able to get back up if he took a knee. I mean – he is 100 years old. Along with his knighthood, Moore was also promoted to Honorary Colonel in the British Army.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Have you grabbed the art supplies during the pandemic? There is something peaceful about crayons and a coloring book that can’t be put into words. But it can be put to good use.

Four high school students out of Long Beach, CA created a kid-focused Covid Coloring Book for their economics class project. But unlike Zach Morris at Bayside High who would try and use this assignment to get rich – these four fifteen-year-olds (Lauryn, Ella, Sofia and Erin) created a non-profit called Be The Change Coloring Co. to use their coloring book to raise money for charity.

The 28-page coloring book features characters Al E. Gator, Wally the Narwhal and Sam the Snail. The characters explain the do’s and don’ts for staying safe during the pandemic, including how to properly wash your hands. The book even comes with a face mask.

40% of the sale goes to charity – which the buyer gets to pick! So far the Be The Change Coloring Co has sold over 2,000 coloring books. The four friends are now working on a second book, “Stand Up for Your-Shell-ves,” which tackles teaching children about racism and discrimination with the help of Sam the Snail.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Lydia Denton is just 12 years old, but is already an accomplished inventor. She developed a device that could save the lives of kids in the backseat of hot cars called the Beat The Heat Car Seat. The safety seat measures the temperature inside a car, sending an alert when it reaches 102 degrees.

Lydia designed the portable device after learning about children who were accidentally left inside hot cars. The North Carolina elementary student won the CITGO Fueling Education Student Challenge with the Beat The Heat Car Seat – which scored her a sweet prize of $20,000. Being entrepreneurial by nature, Lydia is using the grand prize cash to get her device into production and the marketplace.

Each safety seat will likely cost $50. The Beat The Heat Car Seat is a family project – Lydia’s siblings worked with her on it — her brother did some coding, while her sister helped with the design — all with the help of their mom, science teacher Covey Denton.

The proud mom points out that “Kids don’t know what impossible is … They dream so big.”

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Making clothes out of duct tape went from a fun trend a decade ago to prestigious haute couture in 2020.

The Duck Brand now hosts an annual Prom Gown and Tuxedo competition where students design and build their formal wear out of nothing but Duct Tape! This year’s $10,000 scholarship winner in the dress category was high schooler Peyton Manker who not only created a beautiful gown – but offered it up as a tribute to frontline workers fighting COVID-19.

The blue duct tape gown features beautiful images of frontline workers. Peyton also designed a COVID virus handbag and matching facemask to go with her ensemble. What a great example of taking the mixed bag of last Spring and turning into art – fashion – and inspiration!

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

One family in Encinitas, CA missed their church so much, they rebuilt it out of Lego. The LaClair family created a large, incredibly detailed replica of Bethlehem Lutheran Church. The Lego Church has Pastors Laura and Sam at the pulpit – a Lego pipe organ and even stained glass windows!

The Lego Bethlehem Lutheran Church went viral, so the family started doing stop motion videos to portions of the church’s online worship services! So how badly do you miss being together with your church? Bad enough to build them out of Lego?  Don’t miss a single time of worship with MANY LOCAL CHURCHES offering online services during the coronavirus.

Monday, August 10, 2020

Drew and Brittany Brees have donated $5 million to build healthcare centers in underserved communities around the state through a partnership with Ochsner – the state’s biggest healthcare provider. The couple says the first of these healthcare centers will open in New Orleans East before the end of the year.

This isn’t the first time the Brees have made a generous contribution to the people of Louisiana this year. At the start of the pandemic the power couple dropped $5 million to provide delivered meals for the elderly and others most impacted by COVID-19.

 

Friday, August 7, 2020

Six year-old Bridger ended up with 90 stitches after getting between his 4 year-old sister and an attacking German Shepherd. Bridger spent 2 hours in surgery to repair his face and body. After the accident the young man told his dad, he would never hesitate to protect his baby sister.

Cue the waterworks.

Bridger’s story quickly went viral and attracted some super-fans from Bridger’s favorite superheroes. Chris Evans, who played Captain America in the Avengers films, reached out to the boy in his family after sharing the story on social media. Chris even sent Bridger his very own Captain America shield prop – from the Avengers! Bridger has received well wishes from Spiderman (Tom Holland), Star Lord (Chris Pratt), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and Queen of Genovia, Anne Hathaway.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Nikki Walker (@nicolenoelwalker) on

Thursday, August 6, 2020

There’s an unassuming mediterranean spot called Shawarma On-The-Go, which is inside a gas station on Magazine Street, where neighbors are treating folks to free, delicious food.

Shawarma On-The-Go owner Abbas Alsherees makes a habit of offering food to anyone in need. His customers wanted to join in on the blessing by paying for folks who can’t afford a meal. Many customers will buy an extra meal when ordering – to help the neighborhood favorite survive the coronavirus – and to give food to neighbors who are hungry.

Most customers paying it forward leave a note to encourage whomever receives the blessing of free food. The extra meal tickets are taped up by the ordering counter – where anyone can claim free food, no questions asked.

What a beautiful way to both preserve a local restaurant AND take care of struggling neighbors.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

One New Orleans jazz musician is fighting gun violence with the power of music. Shamarr Allen has issued a call to his community after a violent weekend in the 7th Ward – if you bring him a gun – no questions asked – he’ll give you a trumpet.

Shamarr says that music was his way out of a world of violence – growing up in the Lower 9th Ward – and wants to extend the opportunity to his children’s generation. Shamarr got his start at 13 years old with just a trumpet and a tip box at his feet in the French Quarter. Now he travels the world playing music for a living.

The trumpeter is working with New Orleans police Superintendent Shaun Ferguson to safely collect the guns and hand them over to NOPD. He’s already exchanged four trumpets for guns and he’ll purchase dozens more thanks to overwhelming support on a Go Fund Me account and sales from new ‘Trumpet is my weapon’ shirts.

Plus several of his musician friends are offering free virtual music lessons to the kids who participate in the program!

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Cam Jordan is a team leader – an all-pro defensive end – and awesome mustache* grower. He sees the challenges faced by low income families this school year in New Orleans and is doing more than his fair share to help. Cam gave $25,000 to buy laptops for students who will need computers for distance learning this semester.

United Healthcare has matched Cam Jordan’s gift – for a total of $50,000 to help families in New Orleans get the laptops and school supplies they will need!

Monday, August 3, 2020

Times of struggle – like the ongoing pandemic – are also times of opportunity. When New Orleans native Kathryn Conyers kept finding empty bread shelves at her grocery store – she decided to learn how to make bread herself. And it turns out homemade bread is way more delicious!

Kathryn teamed up with her friend Carla Briggs, who is a real baker and they started a bread company called Viola’s Heritage Breads. They make more than just sandwich bread – with brioche, sweet potato rosemary bread, cornbread and more. They churn out about 200 loaves a week. But Viola’s Heritage Breads is more than just a burgeoning example of American ingenuity.

The company is proudly founded by two African American women who want to reclaim a proud heritage in food art – teaching other minority women the skills to both bake bread and run a business.

Friday, July 31, 2020

Over the last several months, half a dozen fully stocked refrigerators have been set up around Los Angeles, frequently restocked and the food inside is free for whoever needs it. Local businesses supply the electricity and local restaurants supply the food. Volunteers keep the refrigerators clean.

The LA Community Fridge Project is just one way Los Angeles is tackling the growing problem of food insecurity in their sprawling metropolis.

One of the smartest things about the Fridge Project is that it removes the humiliation of asking for help – it just gives help.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Soon school will be back in session. What that will look like is anybody’s guess, but learning will commence. And teachers will inspire students and students will change the world. Of course we’ll be praying for our local schools with the LifeSongs Prayer School of the Day – coming back soon!

Clayton Ward was a high school bus driver who loved talking to the students all about History. They had lively discussions to and from school every day. Many of the kids encouraged him to go back to school so he could be their History teacher.

So he did.

Clayton kept driving his bus, but also enrolled at his local Community College. He got his Associates degree in Liberal Arts with a 4.0 GPA. Now he’s working on a Bachelor’s in History with a minor in secondary education.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

High speed internet has become even more essential to life during the coronavirus. Many people are working from home – telecommuting is the new normal. Schools utilized online-distance learning to end last school year and are preparing to start this school year with more internet based learning. Imagine how much more challenging this is for the developing world?

That’s a problem that Google set out to solve with balloons. They call it Project Loon. The Alphabet company partnered with telecommunications companies in Africa to fly giant balloons – a fleet over 3 dozen of them – up into the stratosphere in order to provide 4G LTE internet to the African nation of Kenya.

Each internet balloon is made up of sheets of polyethylene that are about the size of a tennis court. These are like hot air balloon sized weather balloons with cellular transmitters built in. Google launched the balloons from the United states and the wind currents are carrying them into place across the ocean!

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Maggie Sillero is Wonder Woman. Maybe not in the movies – but in real life. Maggie, pregnant with triplets, went for a doctor’s visit that involved a routine coronavirus test. She tested positive and immediately was placed in isolated observation for the rest of her pregnancy. Her husband also tested positive for the virus and wasn’t allowed to be in the same room with his very pregnant wife.

Maggie was only able to talk to her family through Facetime… for a solid month!

Then Maggie had an emergency c-section to deliver her triplets, a girl and two boys, several weeks before her due date. None of the babies had the coronavirus, but all weighed under 3.5 lbs.

Now the babies are thriving and momma has recovered from the virus. Everyone is safe at home.

 

Monday, July 27, 2020

With the ongoing pandemic, the most vulnerable to the virus, the older generations, are living in seclusion. No one can visit for fear of spreading the disease. The Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs has launched Project LOVE!

L-O-V-E stands for Love Our Veterans Every day. The objective is for all of us to write letters and correspond with the over 600 veterans living in Louisiana care homes.

What a sweet idea!  Learn more at vetaffairs.la.gov.

 

Friday, July 24, 2020

10-year-old Chelsea Phaire has done more in a decade than most. She started her own non-profit called Chelsea’s Charity, through which she sends art kits to children who are at homeless shelters or in the foster system. So far Chelsea has distributed art kits to more than 1,500 children. Not bad for a soon to be 6th grader!

Chelsea used her birthday last year to start her charity – asking not for gifts – but art supplies to help kick off the project. Before the pandemic, Chelsea and her mom were able to deliver the art supplies in person, where Chelsea would hang out with the kids and show them her favorite tips for making art.

Chelsea knows well how therapeutic art can be — it became her hobby and release two years ago when she lost someone very close to her. Now, hundreds of children can process their emotions with some markers or watercolors. But Chelsea is a big dreamer. She says she wants to meet every kid in the entire world and give them art! She believes it could be the key to world peace.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

A Georgia 6th grader wanted to find a way to show his appreciation for medical workers amidst the pandemic. So, Jason Zgonc decided to use music to show his appreciation for the health-care workers saving lives at Emory Decatur Hospital in Georgia.

Every night, the 12-year-old trumpet player stands outside the hospital during shift change and puts on a mini-concert, performing songs like “Danny Boy” and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” He was inspired by a New York Philharmonic trumpeter who stands on his balcony and plays in honor of health-care workers.

Danny, who has been performing outside the hospital for more than two months, says he appreciates the doctors, nurses, and other staffers for “working so hard every day trying to save people’s lives,” and they can count on him to “be out here playing for them.”

The first time nurse Natalie Schmidts heard the sounds of Zgonc’s trumpet, she was coming off a rough shift, and he helped change her perspective. “It gives you a sense of community,” she said. With a hectic work schedule, workers are happy Jason is now a positive part of their routine.

Jason agrees, saying, “It’s really fun, makes people happy and if you like doing it, it makes you happy too.”

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

This Spring Minneapolis, MN became the epicenter of a national movement towards racial justice and equity. Imagine growing up in a community that feels like a powder keg ready to explode – watching protestors in the streets – businesses looted and burned in riots.

How do you process those emotions?

9 year old Kamryn made friendship bracelets.

Kamryn and her friends decided to sell friendship bracelets for Unity and Justice to inspire conversations and peace in their home near Minneapolis. Her dad, former NFL player Ron Johnson, said the girls thought they could maybe raise $50. Since the end of May when they started braiding their bracelets, Kamryn and Friends have raised about $100,000 for local businesses and food banks.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Ever since Pastor Bill Losasso was a child, he had dreamt of becoming an ice cream truck driver. In fact, back when he was 17 he got to spend a day behind the wheel of an ice cream truck. It’s a story he’s shared with his family countless times – and it always makes him smile.

So for Pastor Bill’s 73rd birthday, his daughter got together with the family to rent an ice cream truck for the day. The 73 year old pastor wore gloves and a mask, while driving around his hometown handing out hundreds of pre-packaged ice cream treats to children and adults alike!

The only problem with this incredibly thoughtful birthday gift is that no one will ever be able to top it. At 73, Bill will never have a better birthday present!

Monday, July 20, 2020

Jim Bachor has proven that anything can be turned into art — even potholes. Since 2013, Bachor has filled almost 90 potholes in Chicago, then topped them off with mosaic art. Using glass and marble, he has crafted mosaics depicting everything from roses to ice cream sandwiches, but his focus now is on items that are more topical…

Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, he has made mosaics showing toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Bachor says the mosaics can be considered “a souvenir of these times to look back on,” and he is “trying to pull out the positive out of a negative.”

He knows his mosaics won’t last forever, but Bachor still keeps going. “You know, when you love what you do and a lot of people like what you do,” he said, “how could you not continue to do that as long as possible as an artist?”

Friday, July 17, 2020

This upcoming school year is going to be a challenge. It will take every part of the educational team – parents, students, teachers, administrators and staff working together to provide a safe and wonderful environment for students to learn in. One key component – is keeping schools clean. Cleaner than ever! And that’s where the janitorial staff steps up to bat.

The cleaning hero at Farmington Elementary is 60 year old Robert Reed. He began his job last year and quickly became a friend to every student and teacher. His hard work and winning smile added “a little sunshine” to the school each day. That cheery attitude is made all the more impressive when his coworkers learned that Mr. Robert didn’t own a car and was taking 3 buses and walking 2 miles to get to school every day. A nearly 4 hour commute.

The school wanted to bless Reed, so in just a couple of days, they raised $10,000 so he could buy a new truck. When they broke the news to Mr. Reed he fell to his knees in tears of gratitude.

This year our schools are going to face unprecedented challenges – and it will be people just like Robert Reed who make it a safe space for our kids. Together, let’s pray for our schools as they prepare for the coming school year.

CLICK HERE to nominate your school to be the LifeSongs Prayer School of the Day!

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Mary W. Jackson was the first Black female engineer to be hired by NASA in 1958, and one of the historical characters the film Hidden Figures featured to bring attention to the work Black women did in the U.S. “Space Race.” Jackson first started working at NASA in the segregated West Area Computing Unit as a research mathematician – known as a “human computer.”

Ms. Jackson was part of a group of very important women who helped get the first American astronauts into space. Mary never accepted the status quo, she helped break barriers and open opportunities for African Americans and women in the field of engineering and technology. And now her legacy grows because NASA is renaming their headquarters after the legend.

The Mary W. Jackson NASA Headquarters building means that Mary Jackson is no longer a “hidden figure!” NASA says they will continue to recognize the contributions of women, African Americans, and people of all backgrounds who have made NASA’s successful history of exploration possible.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

COVID has changed so much for us, including summer vacations. Maybe you’re reminiscing about a past trip. One Scottish woman re-lived a previous trip in her own home – and helped others in the process.

A 90-year-old Scottish woman just finished climbing the equivalent of 2,398 feet, scaling her staircase daily to raise money for the National Health Service (NHS).  Seeking to entertain herself and stay healthy while in quarantine at home in Sutherland, Scotland, Margaret Payne set out to relive her experience as a 15-year-old girl climbing Scotland’s Suilven mountain. She calculated that the peak of Suilven is equivalent to 282 trips up the stairs in her home.

Margaret was inspired to climb for a cause after seeing Captain Tom Moore on TV. The WWII vet circled his garden with his walker and ended up raising tens of millions of pounds for the healthcare system in Great Britain. Margaret’s daughter, Nicky, told her, “Look at what Tom is doing. We should turn your stair climbing into something.”

The epic stair climb has been met with widespread praise. Fans kept her telephone line busy, calling to cheer her on! Even Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla wrote a letter to praise her efforts.

“There could hardly be a better example of this indomitable spirit than your own magnificent efforts in raising money for vital charities,” Charles wrote her a letter. “It is people like yourself who show that, for every hardship there has been a hero – or, of course, a heroine.’’

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Lemonade is a classic summertime staple. Plus, it’s a booming business (and summertime rite of passage) for kiddos across the country.

A five-year-old Missouri boy wanted to raise money for a local firefighter who was injured in a shooting, so he started a lemonade stand—and the industrious kiddo ended up raising over $1,300.

Initially, Cooper and his big sister Olivia were selling lemonade to get money for new shoes, but they opted instead to donate the money to Fireman Bufford’s family.

They intended to sell lemonade for two hours, but the demand was so high that they ended up staying for six hours.

Monday, July 13, 2020

What started out as a grand gesture has turned into a labor of love.

The house of J and Sonja Jackson is a burst of color in the middle of a residential neighborhood, a homage to what Pacific Grove, CA is most famous for — the monarch butterfly. Painted in a variety of bright colors, the home at 309 Ninth St. is covered in the winged creatures — each one meticulously painted, constructed or customized by J Jackson for his wife, Sonja.

Living with a degenerative eye disease that has slowly impaired her sight, she is now legally blind. As her sight degenerated in the early ’90s, Sonja and J learned she could still see bright colors. So J created his first butterfly, brought it to his wife and discovered that she could indeed see it.

And so began a 20 year labor of love.

Now the Butterfly House has become a local landmark – and a place where many loving couples go to see another marriage exemplified by the romantic gesture of painted butterflies.

Fridays, July 10, 2020

There is very little that a good lasagna can’t fix. That’s what Michelle Brenner lives out as she preps another pan of delicious cheese, sauce and noodles. Since the pandemic began, Michelle has fixed over 1,300 pans of her famous lasagna for friends in the community who need food – for first responders – and for complete strangers that others have requested on their behalf.

Michelle got the idea while working for the food delivery app Instacart. She noticed so many people ordering frozen lasagna and that did not sit well for this Italian cook! Now she spends up to 14 hours a day in her kitchen making sure anyone who is hungry gets something worth eating.

While Michelle has been furloughed from her job, she’s still never charged for her lasagna – however her friends and the community have raised over $23,000 to keep her elbows deep in lasagna until the pandemic ends.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Jason Denney was prepared to die. He said goodbye to his family. A priest administered last rites. He accepted his fate from his hospital room where COVID-19 was going to take his life.

Only one person remained at Jason’s side. Rosaura Quinteros. Rosaura had only just met Jason. Her job was to clean his hospital room. The pair became friends and talked about the families and their faith – which was a little bit of a challenge because English is not Rosaura’s first language.

Rosaura told Jason that God was not done with him. And that little bit of hope inspired Jason to fight harder. And with great medical treatment and hours of prayer – Jason started to get better. Eventually he was able to leave the hospital with a new lease on life – and a great new lifelong friend in Rosaura, who Jason says saved his life with her faith.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Innovators. That is how the class of 2020 will be remembered. When faced with a world of trouble – they figured out a way to thrive. Schools have been tasked with finding ways to show the graduating class of 2020 appreciation with unique graduation ceremonies – but none are quite as rad as what went down at Somerset Island Prep.

Somerset Island Prep in Key West, FL had their graduating class ride jet skis in their caps, gowns and face masks to snag their diploma from their principal, using an extender to maintain social distancing. This is like the best Mountain Dew commercial never made.

The students all received jet ski lessons prior to graduation day. Which again – has got to look great on a college application, right? Honors Math, Dean’s list AND they can work a Sea-Doo? Give them a scholarship right now!

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

If you grew up in the 80s, finding treasure seemed like it was going to be a way bigger deal in adulthood, right? From The Goonies to Indiana Jones, we were convinced that there was buried treasure in our backyards. But most of those holes we dug just ended up in twisted ankles – never gold doubloons.

Back in 2010 a dying millionaire filled a chest with gold coins, rubies and other precious jewels – about $1 million worth of treasure. And then he hid it in the Rocky Mountains and published a poem with clues on how to find it. This is not a movie – it’s not National Treasure 3. It was real life. In fact, a lot of people quit their jobs to become treasure hunters out West.

Forrest Fenn was nearing 80 and battling cancer. The millionaire wanted his legacy to be one of adventure. Flash forward 10 years – Forrest is still alive, having survived his cancer – And someone finally cracked his riddles and found the treasure! So maybe we gave up too soon. Anybody got a metal detector I could borrow?

Monday, July 6, 2020

A mom and her daughter both just graduated from medical school – and now they will become the first mother/daughter doctor duo to do their residency training at the same hospital – right here in New Orleans! Cynthia and Jasmine Kudji will do their residencies at LSU Health in New Orleans. Mom-Cynthia is focusing on internal medicine while her hot-shot daughter Jasmine is a surgeon.

Their journey is one of sacrifice and hard work – in fact they both went to medical school in different countries, but somehow, miraculously scored LSU Health to do their residencies.

They started their own blog to share their stories.  Seriously – this HAS to become a TV show!

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Paige Layle, a 19 year old eyelash technician is using TikTok to educate!

You see, Paige is on the autism spectrum, but many of her friends had no idea what she was living with. To spread more awareness about autism, Paige started posting educational videos on TikTok after observing hurtful videos making fun of people on the spectrum. Instead of lashing out at the hate, she decided to teach the unknowing public more about life with autism.  Paige posted a four-part series explaining how autism works and how the condition presents differently in women than in men. She also went into the broad spectrum of autism traits in girls.

Paige was diagnosed with autism at 15 years old. She says, “The diagnosis has changed my life for the better. I can understand myself so much better, which is so beneficial for social situations, school/work life, and most importantly being alone. I can now function alone and understand my emotions better.”

At just 19, this young woman has more wisdom than most. Great job taking lemons and making a social media empire, Paige!

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Crayola created the beautiful “Colors of the World” collection, which features crayon shades that more accurately reflect the diversity of young doodlers across the country. Before now, most basic crayon packs didn’t include more than one beige and one brown crayon. But the new colors range from very light rose to deepest almond, with 22 shades in between.

Better save a spot on the fridge when they debut — these self-portraits are going to be good.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Officer Michael Rivers listened to a still small voice to show some kindness. And because he did, he was treated to an eye-opening meal on a roadside in North Carolina. Officer Rivers was patrolling his route when he noticed a homeless woman he had never seen before. She was wearing a shirt that read: “Homeless. The fastest way of becoming a nobody.”

The officer drove on, but Holy Spirit moved him to turn around, drive back and ask if the woman had eaten yet. She said no, so he grabbed a few pizzas, came back again and took a seat next to her to break bread and share some conversation. They talked for 45 minutes straight.

The woman said her name was Michelle, and the pair talked about her family and her 12-year-old daughter, who is battling liver disease. Someone took a photo of the moment and shared it on social media, where thousands of people offered support and well-wishes to Officer Rivers for his kindness, and Michelle for her powerful message about the realities of homelessness.

Monday, June 29, 2020

For the past decade, Sheldon Smith has been dedicated to helping young African American fathers live their best lives, for themselves and their children. Through his non-profit in Chicago, the Dovetail Project, he has taught hundreds of young fathers like himself parenting and life skills to become positive, responsible role models.

When Covid-19 hit, and then was complicated even more by painful race-related police events, it became clear Black fathers would need a different kind of help. Smith and his team started what they call the Fatherhood Relief Fund, which provides necessities like diapers, baby formula, wipes and boxes of food.

Since April, Sheldon says they’ve helped more than 2,500 dads and their families. “Black fathers are important,” he says. “We have to continue to believe and work together.”

But this sort of community service is to be expected from Sheldon Smith. Afterall he was a 2016 CNN Hero!

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Acia Williams has known her friend and mentor Chet Bennett for 20 years. He owns the Washington, D.C. beauty shop where she started her career and worked as a manager. Well, at least, he used to own it.

Back in 2018, Chet Bennett found out he needed a kidney, and Acia was moved to apply as a donor. When she came back as a match, she didn’t hesitate, and the pair went through a successful transplant procedure the following April.

That’s the kind of gift that’s hard to top, but Chet managed: He gave Williams the salon, which she had always dreamed of owning. “I can’t begin to thank you enough for you giving me life,” Chet said in a message to his friend. “But we can start with you making your dream a reality by having your own salon.”

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

A little girl named Ryleigh noticed abandoned shopping carts piling up outside her Walmart and it totally irked her. There was only one employee out on the hot asphalt collecting the buggies. His name was CJ. So Ryleigh asked if she could help – and the pair worked side by side for about 30 minutes, clearing up the entire parking lot and finishing the job with a high five!

When CJ asked why she wanted to help, Ryleigh replied “We are supposed to be kind!”

A few days later Ryleigh and her mom were back at Walmart when CJ spotted her and gave her a thank you card and $20 for her hard work! That of course earned CJ squeals of joy and a big hug.

 

Monday, June 22, 2020

Like many Americans, Greg Dailey lost his main source of income in the recent wave of coronavirus restrictions. But he has turned his second job delivering the paper, which he’s held for 25 years, into a bustling lifeline for senior citizens.

Greg realized that if some of his elderly customers had trouble getting the paper in the morning, they most likely were having even more trouble getting groceries. He sent a note to more than 450 of them offering his help in picking up supplies.

Since then, Greg Dailey, with the help of his family, has made more than 500 trips to the grocery store. The family hopes they can open up their frame shop again now that restrictions are being lifted, but he knows there will still be a need for his services. To make sure his older friends stay fed and connected, Greg is working with the organization Love-A-Senior to establish a local chapter of the group.

Friday, June 19, 2020

A 9 year-old Kenyan boy named Stephen Wamukota earned a presidential award for inventing a hands-free hand-washing station!  Stephen was watching the news on TV and learned about how the coronavirus spreads. The clever, science-minded builder got some wood from his dad, a water cooler and whipped up a custom hand washing station.

The foot pedal lets you control water flow so you don’t have to touch anything but soap and water with your hands.  This kid is NINE!  In fact he is the youngest recipient of the Kenyan Presidential Order of Service Patriotic Award.  Stephen hopes to become an engineer when he grows up. (Sounds like he already is an engineer!) 

Thursday, June 18, 2020

During quarantine, the opportunity to put on anything other than sweatpants didn’t present itself very often. So, one dad and his daughter took things into their own hands.

Three-year-old Mara and her father Jaime live in Spain, and they have taken dress-up to a whole new level while staying home. Since the father-daughter duo’s only daily outing is to take their trash bags and bin to the curb, they’ve begin making the most of their driveway trek by wearing different costumes every day.

So far, they’ve taken the trash out dressed as everyone from Disney characters to Marvel Superheroes; bugs, robots, dinosaurs and more. Dad Jaime has been sharing photos and videos of their costumed adventures on his Instagram page, and neighbors and fans around the globe are loving it – and wondering how big their costume closet must be?!

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Terrance Newton believes that 90 percent of what he knows in life, he learned in the barbershop. Growing up, it’s where he learned how to listen to others and respect his elders. “Of course we would have barbershop talk like sports and politics, but as far as life-wise, when I would go to the barbershop, the conversations with me and my barber were about me staying out of trouble, my grades, and what’s happening in the community,” he says. 

When Mr. Newton became principal of Warner Elementary School in Delaware last year and saw the high rate of suspensions and behavioral problems, he decided to bring the barbershop to the school. 

Literally. He set up an area with clippers, combs, and grooming capes, and sees kids throughout the day, doling out haircuts along with advice. 

He wanted to do something that wouldn’t only change students’ behavior, but that would also create a bond between him and them. “This is not just a barbershop for me,” he said. “This is my mentoring sanctuary.”

And it’s working. Progress is seen not only in the behavioral department, but the students are also progressing with their classmates, talking and connecting with one another for the first time. Parents have noticed, too, saying they’re seeing their kids motivated to make positive changes. Noticing a need and stepping in with love in action. That’s what leads the charge for real change.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

The G.I. Joes always told kids that “Knowing is half the battle.” The more we educate ourselves on any topic, the better chance we have to invoke change. Whether that is social justice issues, racism, inequality or even drug abuse.

The battle against opioid addiction in SELA got international attention thanks to a documentary on Netflix called The Pharmacist. With all eyes on The Parish – the St. Bernard Sheriff’s office announced a partnership in the fight against drug abuse. They’ve teamed up with New Orleans Mission for “Operation Angel ” – which takes addicts to the Giving Hope Retreat Center in Lacombe to get clean through a faith based program.

At Giving Hope Retreat Center, small groups of 20 go through a year long process of getting clean and focusing their lives around God. Dan Schneider, who produced The Pharmacist for Netflix praises this program as a “huge step for his home parish.” The St. Bernard Parish Sheriff’s office says they want to see more people in recovery instead of behind bars.

Monday, June 15, 2020

As graduation day came for Nathaniel Moore, a physician’s assistant at the University of Vermont, Burlington, he wondered why his graduation gown couldn’t be repurposed as a piece of personal protective equipment for his colleagues at the hospital where he worked. Attempting to help other frontline health workers, Moore started Gowns 4 Good, a charity which has been donating gowns to hospital facilities that lack the necessary PPE to safely operate during the coronavirus outbreaks.

Graduation gowns seem more effective than other PPE alternatives given their length, sleeves, and easy zippered access, So class of 2020 – wear the cap then donate the gown.

Friday, June 12, 2020

A big question that has been frequently asked ever since the tragic killing of George Floyd is “What can I do?” Not everyone can or would march in a protest against racial injustice – but everyone CAN make a difference in their community.

18-year-old Antonio took to the streets of Buffalo at 2 in the morning – not with a bull horn or picket sign, but with a broom in hand to clean up the trash left from the protests. And after 10 straight hours of sweeping up the debris, Antonio’s neighborhood was back to tip top shape.

And this kind gesture was noticed! Other members of the community have rallied to reward Antonio with a new car, a year’s worth of auto insurance and full scholarship to a Buffalo-area college!

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Well-known local jeweler Jose Balli creates sterling silver jewelry showcasing Louisiana’s beauty. Now Balli is commemorating the pandemic by launching the “Quarantine Kit” bracelet It includes charms like the “stay at home house, the mask…and the toilet paper.”

Fifty percent of the proceeds go to Hands on New Orleans, which brings meals to the homebound, low-income seniors and the chronically ill. Balli also created an “Angel of Hope” charm. 50 percent of those proceeds will go to the Northshore Food Bank in Covington. That charm has already sold enough to feed 2,700 families.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Many landlords around the country have been doing everything they can to help their tenants out during this season, but one landlord in Michigan named Alan took that one step further. One occupant in his building, Christina, is a mom of four who hasn’t been able to work during the pandemic. She was struggling bad so Alan took the liberty to not only suspend her rent payment for April, he surprised his tenant with bags and bags of groceries.

Christina said, “I get a text saying go to your front porch please. And I see this I couldn’t tell you how I feel right now. Milk, potatoes, fresh and dry goods and diapers: He covered it all. GOD BLESS YOU.”

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Loneliness was already a national pandemic before the Coronavirus pandemic hit, but now loneliness is running rampant and a group of Canadian high schoolers are hoping to break this trend of loneliness amongst older adults by forming a hotline that anyone can call into.

They’re calling it the, “Joy4All Project.” Anyone can call the number at 1-877-JOY-4ALL to play pre-recorded jokes, stories, guided meditation and educational messages. Young people are encouraged to submit their own messages and recordings at joy4all.ca!

Monday, June 8, 2020

Protests erupted around the world after the brutal killing of George Floyd in the suburbs of Minneapolis two weeks ago. Anger boiled over into riots and looting, which caused a lot of damage. Some of the damage happened at grocery stores – essential to providing food to the communities still battling the coronavirus.

To help feed the community, Sanford Middle School hosted a food drive, hoping for 100 grocery bags to feed 100 families. But love poured out and the entire parking lot was piled high with donated food. The line of cars to drop off food stretched for blocks in every direction!

They were able to collect literal TONS of food, sort and distribute to the community and then donate even more to a local food-support nonprofit to meet even more needs. This gift of love happened exactly where hurt and violence had broken out only days before.

Love conquers Hate. Love conquers Hurt.

Friday, June 5, 2020

Our world is broken and in desperate need of healing. This is so evident through the many demonstrations happening across our nation. A video of one such event in Shreveport has gone viral.

One of the protesters, feeling the emotional weight of it all, was approached by a police officer, who told him, “I feel your pain. We’re here with you, and we’re here to help you. We’re all here together.”

The young protester broke down in tears and the two hugged, sharing a powerful, emotional moment. Love is the only thing that can drive out hate. Let our love for one another be evident for all, as we share the hope we have in Jesus with our hurting community.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

The people of New Orleans remained peaceful over the weekend as they came together in getting out their message against the unnecessary death of George Floyd. In Jackson Square on Sunday afternoon, several New Orleans pastors led members of their congregations and others in worship after coming together in prayer as they kneeled for half an hour.

“We want to show unity by falling on our knees. We pray and call out to God, asking him for his spirit of unity, spirit of love, the opposite of the spirit that’s infecting our nation.”

It’s about showing love over hate while taking a stand against prejudice, violence, and abuse of power. Only light can make the darkness leave. Only love can drive out hate.

Let’s always look for ways to show God’s love to others, and share the hope we have in Him.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Burnell Colton was born and raised in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans. His community was wiped out by Katrina 15 years ago. But Burnell was determined to help bring his home back to life. He devoted his life and savings to helping.

With his wife’s help, the power-couple opened up Burnell’s Lower Ninth Ward Market – a grocery store with an attached laundromat. When the coronavirus deeply impacted the jobs of people in his community, Burnell has continued to provide food and help for them. He’s been accepting IOU’s and running tabs for folks who couldn’t pay.

When he caught a woman trying to steal food, he didn’t call the police – he gave her a broom and the chance to earn her keep. Reports of the Colton family’s generosity have been reported in national news and financial help has poured in so that he can continue his good work. And while humbled, Burnell and his wife Keasha are honored to have the chance to serve their community.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Social distancing rules have prevented those cookie peddling girl scouts from cornering us the exit of the grocery store – but you can still get your fix, now more easily than ever, thanks to online sales!

You can purchase cookies for yourself – or buy them and ship them to loved ones in quarantine all from girlscouts.org. I honestly can’t think of a more loving gesture than someone sending me boxes of Samoas and Thin Mints in the mail!

Cookie sales are one of the major ways the Girl Scouts fund their investment in the young women of America. During this time of social distancing the organization has created Girl Scouts at Home to offer self-guided activities for girls stuck at home. Girls can search by age group or topic to keep themselves engaged and growing instead of melting away in front of the TV.

Monday, June 1, 2020

This wedding season has not at all been what brides and wedding planners have meticulously calculated for. The world shut down in a global pandemic. But some still chose to walk down the aisle, even if loved ones could not gather to celebrate the moment.

Clare walked down the empty aisle, her father wearing a face mask as he handed her to fiancee Mel. It was a quiet ceremony – pictures of loved ones taped to their spots in the pews of the little chapel. The entire event was live streamed so their friends and family could be there, without being there. But Clare and Mel’s friends had a secret.

When the newly married couple exited the chapel, they found a PACKED parking lot of cars honking and cheering – filled with the online attendees, who had secretly arrived during the ceremony. The couple was able to have their first dance as their parked friends snapped pictures from their cars.

This power couple didn’t leave for their honeymoon – that’s on hold. Instead they both went back to work as nurses on the frontline, battling COVID-19 in Louisiana hospitals.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Katie Ricca teaches at North Bay Haven Charter Academy. She had been holding lessons online with Zoom, in addition to an evening storytime for her students. During one of the storytime sessions, she noticed one of her students, 7-year-old Hannah, was down and depressed.

Wanting to check on he student, Mrs. Ricca paid a visit to Hannah’s home and sat in her driveway while reading and talking with the seven year old. They obeyed social distancing guidelines and stayed six feet apart the entire time. But still, the pair chatted, read books and just talked. Just that little bit of normal meant the world to Hannah.

Mrs. Ricca has FIVE kids at home and still managed to make time and sit in a driveway for an hour to make sure Hannah was okay. Thank you to every teacher who has gone above and beyond this pandemic, showing care and love to our children!

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Jasmine Oliver is a domestic violence survivor. She grew up in foster homes and has lost two relatives to substance abuse. Now a social work student and entrepreneur, Jasmine used her personal savings and her life experiences to open a transitional home for women. Her experience inspired her to buy a house at an auction and has been raising money for renovations.

But why stop there? After opening her transitional home, Jasmine used her $1200 coronavirus stimulus check to help feed Louisville’s homeless population. Her community couldn’t believe Jasmine was using her stimulus check for others, but her philosophy is: always be willing to help others.

Jasmine Oliver handed out food to people near Wayside Mission last Friday afternoon, using her food truck to find new and creative ways to feed more homeless people in her community throughout the pandemic.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Cavanaugh Bell of Gaithersburg, Maryland is one busy 7 year old. He spent $600 of his own money, saved up from past birthdays and Christmases, to buy and put together 65 COVID-19 Carepacks. He was also able to provide 31 hot meals from a local restaurant to serve the seniors in his community, as well as help local businesses impacted by shutdowns.

The 7 year old says he was inspired by his grandmother, who is his best friend. Cavanaugh’s grandmother had been walking to the grocery store every day, and he thought she shouldn’t be doing that during the coronavirus pandemic. So the young man decided to make care packages for the senior citizens that live in his community, to make them feel safe. Cavanaugh says he likes seeing the reactions of his grandmother’s friends, because it makes him feel beautiful inside.

The packages include toiletries and other household essentials for the pandemic, including cleaning supplies. This is not the first time Bell has taken the initiative to help others. In addition to aiding his local seniors, he helped feed 90 students in need through his nonprofit Cool and Dope, which focuses on eradicating bullying around the world and providing for senior citizens in need.

Friday, May 22, 2020

A little longer than a month ago, Tonie Williams thought she had a sinus or upper respiratory infection. Then her doctor told her she needed to be admitted to Tulane Medical Center, suspecting she may have had COVID-19.

Tonie tested positive, and she got sicker. Her breathing got tougher. Williams feared the worst. One of the toughest parts for her was the isolation. She lost hope – but then in walks this little nurse named Stephanie. Nurse Stephanie showed compassion in big and small ways – whether it was positive words or a touch on Toni’s forehead – it meant everything.

After 11 days in the hospital, Tonie was able to go home. But she didn’t forget the kindness of her Nurse Stephanie. Thanks to a local TV station and Zoom, the two have managed to stay connected. And most importantly Tonie was able to share with her nurse that she knew she was alive because of the Hope that her nurse had given her.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Captain Tom Moore is 99 years old and a veteran of WWII. His daughter was concerned that he wouldn’t get needed exercise during the pandemic lockdown, so she developed a fundraiser for the British healthcare system to inspire her very patriotic father to work out. She told Captain Moore that for every lap along his garden track he completed, she would donate a pound (about $1.50) to the National Healthcare Service. His goal was to do 100 laps before his 100th birthday.

Each day, aided by his walker, Captain Moore hit the track. His daughter was so impressed she created a JustGiving fundraiser page so that others could root for her dad as well, while making a difference for the British healthcare system.

Flash forward a few weeks – the fundraiser spread by word of mouth – got picked up by local news and trended online. Now over 1 million people have donated, raising over 40 MILLION POUNDS!  Captain Moore even caught the eye of Prince William, who called him a “one-man fundraising machine.” And after a huge push by the very proud British public, Captain Moore is to be knighted by the Queen of England!

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

The Greater New Orleans Science and Engineering Fair Grand Sweepstakes recipient and Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair 2020 (ISEF) competitor, Grayson Barron, should be getting ready for ISEF. Sadly, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the event was cancelled. Grayson, along with two other John Curtis Christian students, Rachel Pizzolato and Collin Guggenheim, will not get to attend – and it was a phenomenal year for JCCS who received three of the four slots to attend ISEF!

Is Grayson staying home and doing nothing? Absolutely not! Instead, Grayson and Trey Curtis, members of the John Curtis Christian STEM club, are busy printing 3-D face mask fasteners for healthcare workers. His high school adviser posted what the boys were doing on FACEBOOK and they were overwhelmed with the requests.

Almost 400 fasteners have been printed and delivered to Ochsner Respiratory department, Children’s Hospital NO, Fresenius Kidney Care Center NO, Poydras Home NO, Hammond First Responder’s volunteer group, Ochsner ER Marrero, Lakeview Regional Medical Center Covington, 9th Ward Baptist Health Clinic, EMT’s from New Orleans, Ochsner Hospital Baton Rouge, Ochsner Baptist ER NO, ICU at Lake Charles Memorial Lake Charles, Our Lady of the Lake Baton Rouge, OB/GYN clinic in Slidell, New Orleans morgue, Touro Hospital, Fresenius Kidney Care Center NO, and also former John Curtis Christian students in nursing schools from LSU, Southeastern, and Holy Cross. Orders are still coming in!

Georgana Salas at Children’s Hospital said, “We received [the mask fasteners] and they were much appreciated and a huge hit. They are a lifesaver!” The gratitude is pouring in from hospitals faster than the boys can deliver the next batch!

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Tennessee Williams wrote that “time is the longest distance between two places.”

That’s a thought that students are too familiar with now, weeks after they have been removed from their daily routines. Gov. John Bel Edwards has said all schools will remain closed the rest of the academic year and large gatherings are forbidden as the state tries to get the outbreak of COVID-19 under control.

That means the class of 2020 won’t get to celebrate milestones such as senior prom or graduation ceremonies — at least for now.

Then one day Sophie B. Wright Principal Sharon Clark, surrounded by a handful of teachers on a school bus decorated with blue and gold balloons floating above it, decided to zig-zag their way to the 112 homes of every Wright senior in the class of 2020. And each visit was a surprise as the bus barnstormed its way around New Orleans

“We want to say congratulations to you,” Clark told the graduating seniors who stood behind a yard sign planted firmly in the lawn, customized with her name on it. “Be bold, be courageous and be your best,” the sign read.

Principal Clark says, “When your students can’t come to you, you go to them.”

Seniors were able to receive their diplomas, their cap and gowns and special gifts from the principal in a drive-thru ceremony. The goal, though, is a traditional graduation ceremony in the school’s auditorium in July or August.

Monday, May 18, 2020

A 15-year-old High School student is doing all she can to help senior citizens during the coronavirus pandemic. Hita Gupta started brightening days at nursing homes, one coloring book and puzzle at a time – using her own money!

Nursing homes throughout the United States are limiting seniors’ interaction within the building and visitors are also prohibited, which is causing feelings of loneliness and isolation for many residents. So Hita decided to cheer seniors up and let them know that the community cares about them during this difficult time. She started sending uplifting handwritten notes and packs containing a puzzle book, a coloring book, and colored pencils.

Hita puts all of the packages together along with her 9 year old brother. She got the idea for the project because she has volunteered at a nursing home since her freshman year. Her care packages have reached a total of 14 nursing homes so far. Her nonprofit, “Brighten A Day,” has been raising money to send “love, hope and joy through cards and gifts” to more than 50 places in her home state, as well as West Virginia, Delaware, Ohio, New York, New Jersey and Maryland. So far, Brighten A Day has reached 2,300 kids and seniors in children’s hospitals and retirement homes.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Health care workers and other essential personnel on the front lines during the coronavirus pandemic are considered heroes. Now Mattel is making it official with a new line of action figures and toys.

The Barbie and Hot Wheels toy maker has a new roster of #ThankYouHeroes Fisher-Price action figures and Little People figurines starring doctors, nurses, emergency medical technicians, grocery workers and delivery drivers. The toys, available for preorder now through May 31 on Mattel’s website, are expected to ship to consumers by year’s end.

The net proceeds ($15) from each sale will go to #FirstRespondersFirst, an effort to support health care first responders that started last month.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

A Facebook group called RVs for MDs s was created on March 24. As of April 2, the group already has nearly 12,000 members, and it doesn’t take much scrolling to see the generosity coming through in waves. There are posts from literally all corners of the U.S for everything from trailers to large RVs, and in some cases, offers to transport them wherever they’re needed. As of this article going live, the most recent post isn’t for a trailer or motorhome at all – it’s for a fully furnished one-bedroom apartment not far from Buffalo, New York, ready to go for any healthcare worker needing to quarantine from others. Amazing, just amazing

While Facebook might not be known for doing much good in this world, this group of RV owners are helping to make a difference in the lives of those on the frontlines of the coronavirus outbreak. There’s no place like a motorhome, when you can’t be in your home ..Thanks to these generous owners many front line friends get to rest close to home!

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Whether it was the end of a long day or the start of a longer one, thousands of shoppers during a designated hour for first responders at Southeastern Grocers stores left the store with one less thing to worry about one night recently. Their groceries were paid for by the company.

Southeastern Grocers, the parent company of Winn-Dixie, and it happened in all 7 states where the company has stores.

Anthony Hucker, the President and CEO, said in part, “Our heroic health care professionals and first responders are on the front line every day as they work tirelessly to make our communities safer, and we want to do our part to thank them. We were inspired to pay it forward and hope to inspire others so we can continue to lift spirits during this difficult time.” The inspiration for this came from filmmaker and actor Tyler Perry, who paid for groceries at 29 Louisiana Winn-Dixie stores last week. The company hopes this inspired act will allow others to consider paying it forward.

First responders have a dedicated shopping hour from 8 pm – 9 pm at all Southeastern Grocers stores Monday and Tuesday

As a community, we are stronger together and will win together with kindness.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

In a brilliant act of generosity, an anonymous donor was able to stimulate the economy and inspire hope by providing each Earlham Iowa household with three gift cards to local businesses, totaling $150 in food; totalling about $82,000 in donations.

Amidst the COVID-19 shutdowns, the residents of Earlham—a city 30 miles west of downtown Des Moines with a population of 1,450 people—have been struggling to cope with shuttered businesses and social restrictions.

That’s why Earlham Mayor Jeff Lillie was astonished to receive a call from a friend in late March saying that an unidentified benefactor wanted to pump some money into the local economy by giving away gift cards to local businesses. At first, the donor wanted to give away 100 gift cards to West Side Bar and Grille, local grocery store Hometown Market, and the newly-opened Trostel’s Broken Branch restaurant. An hour after discussing his plans with the mayor, the donor upped his offer to 250; another hour later, he said he wanted to donate 500 gift cards. When Mayor Lillie mentioned that there were 549 households in town, the donor agreed to give gift cards to every single Earlham family.

To the Mayor’s astonishment, however, the donor did not just end up giving a single gift card to every household—he ended up giving away $50 gift cards for each local business to every Earlham residence.

The gift cards have already begun to make an impact around the town.

Monday, May 11, 2020

A truck driver in Hartwell, Georgia, is making sure his neighbors do not go hungry during the coronavirus pandemic.

On his way home last week, Lentravius Geer began thinking  about how the ongoing health crisis  was affecting families in his area.

I was riding and a thought hit my mind like, ‘These kids are out of school, and parents don’t have jobs.’ What could I do?” he said.

The following day, Geer, whose truck has been supplying Sam’s Clubs during the pandemic, went to a Little Caesar’s restaurant and paid for 100 pizzas that he handed out in the drive-thru while doing a Facebook live video

Geer said because of his own background, he knew some of the difficulty those who came to the restaurant were experiencing.

“I’ve been through things a lot of people come back from and if you Google my name and Clemson, South Carolina, you’ll be able to see a lot about that,” he noted.

Geer adds , “When you’re moving fast, you don’t know how to find your way. So God had to sit me down and get my attention. And he started speaking. And I started speaking back,” he recalled.

Now, Geer owns his own trucking company and has raised enough money to buy nearly 500 pizzas for families in need since going live on Facebook in the restaurant’s drive-thru window.

“I had a lot of room in my life for God to work, and he made it happen,” he concluded

Friday, May 8, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the way Americans celebrate holidays, with many missed moments of togetherness as a result.

In an effort to show appreciation to the moms who can’t be together with their families this Mother’s Day, Lowe’s is showing its appreciation for moms who live at care centers by donating $1 million worth of flower baskets this Mother’s Day nationwide. In total, Lowe’s is donating more than 100,000 baskets of flowers from its network of small business growers and nurseries and providing them to more than 500 senior living facilities across the country to make sure our most vulnerable moms feel loved, while also supporting our network of small business growers and helping support earnings for Uber drivers.

Officials with Lowe’s said they hope the bursts of color in the unexpected gifts deliver a little spark of joy to some of those hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

The people most vulnerable during the coronavirus pandemic got an amazing surprise one morning recently when they found entertainment mogul Tyler Perry had paid for their groceries.

Perry footed the bill for elderly shoppers at 73 grocery stores in Louisiana and Georgia: 29 Winn-Dixie locations in Louisiana and 44 Kroger grocery stores around the Atlanta area.

Winn-Dixie customers shopping during the store’s designated  senior hour were reportedly shocked when they went to check out and were given a note that their purchases had been completely covered by Perry, the New Orleans-born writer, actor, producer and comedian behind the “Madea” series.

This isn’t Perry’s first act of generosity.

Earlier this week, Perry gave $21,000 in tips to 42 out-of-work servers at Houston’s West Paces location in Atlanta.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

It’s not unusual for teachers to go above and beyond to help the students in their classes. That has been made all the more challenging during the COVID-19 pandemic. Chris Waba teaches sixth grade math in Madison, SD and he loves his kids. Mr. Waba had gone back and forth via email and zoom with one of his students – 12 year old Rylee. There was one particular problem that was just not clicking, no matter what she tried.

So Mr. Waba loaded his white board into his truck, drove to Rylee’s house and set up class in her front yard.

Mr. Waba spent about 15 minutes helping Rylee through her homework problems from the porch. Even with schools shut down and online learning curriculums being implemented across the country, teachers are always the first people to walk the extra mile — or even just down the street — for their students.

There are teachers all around the country going above and beyond for their students in this unprecedented time. If your children are learning at their feet – be sure to let them know just how much you appreciate them.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Here in Louisiana, we’ve always known that singing can spread a whole lot of joy. And now, it can help feed our neighbors, too. So Louisiana Fish Fry is asking all of us to send in a video of you and yours singing the Louisiana State Anthem, “You Are My Sunshine.”

For each video submission received, Louisiana Fish Fry will donate 100 meals to our community through local food banks.

Recently some Lusher High School’s musical theater students are giving it to us with their version of Louisiana’s State Anthem. The Lusher students recorded “You Are My Sunshine” for Louisiana Fish Fry’s “Let’s Sing, Louisiana” project.
Eventually, Louisiana Fish Fry plans to combine all of the videos into one

This project is all about singing with love, spreading joy and helping feed Louisiana

Here’s how it works. Upload your video to their website or post it on social media using the hashtag #LetsSingLouisiana and they’ll do the rest!

Monday, May 4, 2020

Millions have been laid off in the last few weeks due to quarantine and stay at home orders, and that has made it impossible for many to pay their bills – including rent.

New York City has become the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States, and accordingly, one man is making a huge difference to relieve the stress for many residents in Brooklyn.

Some landlords have been more compassionate than others, especially this one Brooklyn landlord who has majorly stepped up to the plate. Mario Salerno, who owns a neighborhood garage in Williamsburg Brooklyn and 80 apartments which house over 200 tenants, just became a local legend.

The man, now dubbed ‘Super Mario’ has announced that he will be waving the rent for all of the people living in his properties this April.

Mario Salerno wrote on signs, which he posted at all of his 18 residential buildings:
For All 200 Of His Tenants Across 80 Apartments in Brooklyn
“STAY SAFE, HELP YOUR NEIGHBORS & WASH YOUR HANDS!!!”

Super Mario Salerno, who also owns a gas station, which he inherited from his father, has long been known for his acts of kindness within the New York community.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Parents are working hard to support teachers across the nation, who are doing their best to meet the needs of their students remotely. That means lesson plans, laptops, schedules, lessons, and hopefully some smiles, too.

There are so many different nuances that go into educating, feeding and nurturing a young person. And educators are trying to support keeping students academically strong as well as socially and emotionally resilient.

Coach Lang of Audubon Gentilly said that was his mission, too. His new routine? Putting on a banana costume and a smile, greeting his students online.

“Every day I put the banana suit and turn the screen on I have to remind myself: My French isn’t perfect and my fitness is not perfect,” he said. “But there’s still an opportunity to do good.”

Thank you to our teachers for the work you put in all year long to educate and support our kids.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

With Jazz Fest canceled this year, New Orleans is still finding plenty of ways to mark the days when it would have reigned. One is like a supergroup of New Orleans food, formed in the name of generosity and solidarity for people who lost their jobs to the coronavirus fight.

Each Saturday since the local shutdowns began, the founders of Blue Oak BBQ and a changing cast of businesses have dished out free drive thru lunches to anyone in need.

That community effort has now morphed into a Jazz Fest tribute to uplift spirits while handing out hearty lunches. They’ve dubbed it Faux Fest, and it’s been running each of the eight days that were originally scheduled for Jazz Fest this year (April 23-26 April 30-May 3). They’ll prepare their own spin on a dish normally served at Jazz Fest, while local bands perform by the drive-thru exit to add a dose of music on the way out.

On different days, visitors will find crawfish enchiladas, yakamein, cochon de lait po-boys, hot sausage po-boys, a jama jama jambalaya, pork chop sandwiches with red beans and jambalaya with green beans.

It’s all free for those in need, thanks to contributions from the public, from suppliers and from some unexpected donations. The Kingsford charcoal brand called up with a contribution to the Saturday lunch events, for instance. ResQue, a spinoff from the Hogs for the Cause team Fleur de Que, is also supporting Faux Fest.

Along with participating in Faux Fest Blue Oak BBQ still remains open for takeout at their mid -city location .

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Fried chicken chain Popeyes often touts its New Orleans roots in its marketing and promotions. Popeye’s brand recently announced a new charitable campaign to send some love back to its hometown and help feed families in need during the Corona virus.

Popeyes has committed to fund one million meals through Second Harvest Food Bank, the region’s largest hunger relief agency.
To support that effort, Popeyes has created a meal pack dubbed NOLA Strong. It sells for $28 and includes 12 pieces of chicken, two sides and six biscuits and a NOLA Strong-branded T-shirt and hat.

NOLA Strong packs will be sold nationwide for a limited time through the Popeyes app, which allows customers to order for pickup or delivery. The apparel is also being sold separately online at nola-strong.com.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

As a tourism-based economy, New Orleans’ workforce has been hit especially hard by the shutdown of business to stop the spread of the coronavirus, a move health officials say has been yielding results.

It’s been a rough few weeks for everyone, especially those who are out of work because of the coronavirus. That has drawn more people to local food pantries, who have been working around the clock to support families in need.

Second Harvest Food Bank, in partnership with Evacuteer, Culture Aid NOLA and New Orleans Councilmember Kristin Gisleson Palmer, has set up two food pantries specifically for hospitality/gig workers to get free meals through the month of April.  There are two drive-up locations to pick up food, one in Algiers and one in the St. Claude neighborhood. Thousands of meals and non-perishable foods have already been supplied by volunteers.

“There is nothing more important at this time than helping our neighbors. The food pantry is really a testament of collaboration and partnership, and what we can accomplish if we work together during a crisis,” said Palmer.

The drive-up food pantries will be available every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday during the month of April, while Governor John Bel Edwards’ stay-at-home order remains in place.

Second Harvest says the way to find the best location for you and your family is to call 211 and ask for “emergency food assistance.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Going stir-crazy from being stuck inside social distancing? Well in Kenner you can join in on a socially-distant bear hunt! Teddy bears that is. Mayor Ben Zahn is promoting the family friendly concept. What you do is put Teddy Bears and rainbow signs in windows on the front of your home – then go on a walk or bike ride and see how many teddy bears and rainbows you can spot with your family.

“It’s kind of like a little bit of hope when things are kind of down right now,” said Mayor Zahn.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Because of the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, many people have been practicing social distancing and are taking the necessary safety precautions. However, this means kids celebrating their birthdays in the month of March and April had to cancel their party plans.

Despite this little hiccup, some families have found a creative and wonderful work-around: kids are having birthday parades.

The practice of putting together neighborhood parades on wheels to celebrate birthday parties or other occasions has become a trend in these days of closures and stay-at-home orders. From drive-by churches and visits with grandparents, people are getting creative with ways to stay in touch yet keep their distance.

Recently in Mandeville Tuesday, a caravan of cars rolled slowly down Rachel Janney’s street in the Quail Creek subdivision near Mandeville.

They were decorated with streamers and signs. One even had a cake with a single candle on top, which had been fashioned out of a plastic bucket. The drivers tapped their horns and waved at her son in the driveway. Benjamin Janney, who is autistic and was turning 20, waved back at the cars passing by with a huge grin on his face.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Social distancing makes volunteering and helping our community even more challenging, but we are still seeing businesses, organizations and churches taking care of one another

Creole Cuisine had to shut down most of their restaurants. That puts 1,300 employees temporarily out of work. To help, they’re serving these workers in their families everyday as long as they can. They are preparing 3,000 curbside meals that can be picked up at Broussard’s or Boulevard American Bistro.

Churches are also still finding ways to feed those in need. They are creating ministries specific to the Coronavirus .. St . Timothy’s church recently packed and delivered lunches to the homeless in New Orleans. Victory Fellowship on Airline is also packaging and giving away assorted grocery items..

Many workers in this position are also looking to Second Harvest Food Bank for help for the first time. “People from all walks of life who have suddenly lost their jobs and know they’re going to need extra food in their house,” Jay Vise with Second Harvest Food Bank said.

Second Harvest has seen overwhelming support. The response from the community has been tremendous. If you need food from Second Harvest Food Bank call 211. If you can donate or volunteer, go to no-hunger.org.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Few things will lift your spirits quite like a parade.

There’s just something about the honking, the waving, the sense of community and the fresh air that combine into a beautiful recipe for happiness.

 

That’s exactly why school districts across North Texas are participating in “Teacher Parades” while schools are closed for the COVID-19 crisis.

Teacher Parades are an idea born from social media in which teachers drive in a parade of cars, sometimes with their names or messages of hope written on the sides, and drive through the neighborhoods where their students live. It can all be done at a safe social distance, with families in their driveways, on porches or watching through windows and the teachers in vehicles.

Mom Kristen Williams says , “I am not an overly emotional person, but it was impossible to hold back tears seeing the camaraderie and love that was overflowing throughout the parade,

What a simple fun way for students and teachers to connect despite the school closure and for educators to continue to show students how much they care during this difficult time.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Jayde Powell is a pre-med honors student the University of Nevada, Reno. She’s also a shopping angel, and she and her growing army of volunteers are providing free grocery delivery to the sick and elderly.

Powell knows older people are more susceptible to the coronavirus, so she asked about 20 members of her medical fraternity to join her in reaching out to elderly neighbors to see what they may need. With the magic of social media, requests for their services — and offers from volunteers — grew and grew.

Powell now connects volunteers to older adults around the country and has launched a GoFundMe page to help low-income shoppers get all the food and toilet paper they need.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Going stir-crazy from being stuck inside social distancing? Well in Kenner you can join in on a socially-distant bear hunt! Teddy bears that is. Mayor Ben Zahn is promoting the family friendly concept. What you do is put Teddy Bears and rainbow signs in windows on the front of your home – then go on a walk or bike ride and see how many teddy bears and rainbows you can spot with your family.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Teachers get a lot of attention for their dedication to our little ones, but there are some people at school who might be overlooked but definitely important inside the school. Their role is even more critical these days, as parents worry about the flu — and even worse, the Coronavirus.

After the students and their teachers go home, the school custodians stay late to scrub down the floors and bleach anything that has come in contact with the kids. Considering the fact that kids are basically giant cesspools, who can’t be trusted to keep their illnesses to themselves, the janitor’s job is even more important during the days of the novel Coronavirus

In a Vermont town, the spread of the Coronavirus has parents and teachers on edge, but they were able to go home when an employee tested positive for the disease. Instead, it was the custodians who stayed to clean the school and help make it safe for their kids to return again.

Mom, Brooke Thomas, decided it was time to do something to really thank the custodians for the yucky but crucial job they perform– now and always. She started a fundraiser through a Facebook group, hoping to raise $2,000 for the team.

Instead, the parents in the community really rallied. Surprisingly, the last count had the fundraiser topping $7,000. That’s a pretty big payday to split between the janitorial staff. It means that they might finally get the money that they deserve.
Brooke, mom-of-three, said that she couldn’t believe how quickly the community pitched in to support their unsung heroes..

All the moms agree that the real reward has been seeing the school spirit in everyone coming together to help the kids and the staff at the school.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

The operatic voices and accordions played from the balconies of quarantined Italians into the otherwise silent neighborhoods reverberated recently in Columbus, Ohio, where Rebecca Tien and her two young children were among the millions listening.

In a family of musicians, both kids were cello players. They didn’t have a balcony but they and their neighbors had a porch. And Tien, inspired by the Italian serenades, had an idea.

She called her next-door neighbor, Helena Schlam. The 78-year-old lived alone, who was self-quarantining amid the coronavirus pandemic and had not left her home in five days. So, one afternoon, Tien’s children, 9-year-old Taran and 6-year-old Calliope, became the latest musicians to bring a little joy to those who might be needing some in this troubled time. They set up their music stands on the far end of the porch, playing songs from Suzuki Book One for cello in unison..

She looped in her grandchildren in Israel, who were self-quarantining, too, and told Taran and Calliope they just gave “their first international concert,” .
Mrs helena says “Music is how we’re going to get through this.”

That much has proved true for everyone from professional musicians to casual listeners — even as the coronavirus pandemic is changing the way we consume music.

Thankfully, LifeSongs has many ways you can listen outside of your car’s radio! And you don’t have to dust off the old transistor radio, either.

Click here to see how you can be encouraged and uplifted every day!

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

TV medical dramas tend to have some pretty far fetched plotlines (remember that insane Demi Lovato episode of Grey’s Anatomy?), but there’s nothing fictional about the threat of the new coronavirus.

In response, Fox’s The Resident and ABC’s The Good Doctor and Grey’s Anatomy spin-off Station 19 are donating masks, gloves, gowns, and other badly-needed medical items from their sets to nearby hospitals.

“Yesterday, I had a serious discussion with the residents about how … a magical shipment of masks is unlikely to arrive,” wrote rheumatologist Dr. Karen Law, who works at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta. “And yet, a magical shipment of masks DID arrive, in the form of this very generous gesture [from The Resident] … We needed this kind of good news today.”

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

The Krewe of Red Beans is an eclectic, fun marching group that wants to help out during the CVOID-19 pandemic. Founder of the Krewe of Red Beans, Devin DeWulf has thought of a way to bring some joy to one of the city’s emergency rooms while supporting area restaurants and giving krewe members a way to make an impact.

DeWulf’s wife Annelies is an ER doctor at University Medical Center. When Annelies told Dewulf about a day in which someone brought cookies to the ER and cheered everyone up with delicious delight, it sparked an idea.

DeWulf’s plan was simple. Volunteers from the krewe would pick up food from local restaurants and deliver it to emergency rooms twice each day to cover both the day and night shifts. DeWulf established an online crowd-sourced funding campaign to cover the cost of the food.

From bon-bons, to eventually fried chicken, the gifts have made a tremendous impact on staff, with Annelies texting and saying “one of the residents (with tears in her eyes) talked about how thankful they were for the treats.”

Monday, April 13, 2020

The coronavirus is causing nursing homes across the country to lock down to protect the most vulnerable. For Tess Wilson, who moved into a South Carolina facility last month, it has been especially hard.

The 88-year old got a happy boost, however, when her great-grandkids appeared at her window, holding handmade signs that spelled out “We love you, Nanny.”

They blew kisses to one another through the window, and, even though it was an atypical visit, it’s one Nanny Tess won’t forget. Finding ways to connect with others may take a bit more creativity these days, but it’s so important.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Due to social distancing, people are really coming up with creative ways to celebrate special events. When it came time to celebrate their little boy’s 4 year old birthday, one Michigan family decided to play it safe this year and stay inside. They are all healthy and wanted to keep it that way.

Word got out that Aiden couldn’t have a birthday party, so his neighbors put up a sign asking drivers to “honk for the birthday boy.” Aiden stood at the window and waved as many of the neighbors celebrated his birthday in a very different way!  Little Aiden will remember his big 4 birthday 4-Ever!

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Jillian Carruth of Jillian Marie Photography has launched the Front Porch Project NOLA. The local photographer is using pictures to paint thousands of words about life in New Orleans during the COVID-19 pandemic.

She captures moments of family life and even offers free family portraits when clients agree to support local businesses by ordering take-out or purchasing gift cards to help other entrepreneurs survive the crisis. About 500 families are already on her waiting list.

This is the type of picture collection that will be in history books looking back at how our community not only survived, but THRIVED when faced with this virus pandemic.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Celebrity chef José Andrés mobilized his charity World Central Kitchen and fed passengers quarantined on a Grand Princess cruise ship docked near San Francisco during the early days of the coronavirus outbreak in the US.

World Central Kitchen also fed those aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan. The nonprofit is known for being on the front lines of all sorts of emergency scenarios. The team has served meals to people affected by hurricanes, wildfires and even furloughed workers during a government shutdown.

In these tense times filled with uncertainty, it brings joy to hear of those stepping up where they can to help those in need. THANK YOU!

Monday, April 6, 2020

FedEx driver Tadashi Andrews of Buckeye, Arizona was delivering packages on his route, he was surprised to a find a package that was actually for him!

The cardboard package left for UPS, FedEx, USPS and Amazon drivers was filled with water bottles, Gatorade, cans of soup and rolls of toilet paper. Another note confirmed that the gift-givers were “all sanitized.”

“Thank you for being committed to the human race, we are depending on you! Take anything you want! Spread love! Stronger TOGETHER,” a third message on the box read.

In a post on his Instagram, Tadashi said;

I deliver to so many types of places everyday. Businesses, houses, apartments, hospitals, you name it, I’ll deliver. This house I just left had this box on the porch. So thoughtful. So caring. In a time when people are panicking an hoarding everything for no really good reason, these people are willingly giving it away. We need waaaaay more of this. Please, if you see this, share it. Everyone needs to see this.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Remember sports? Don’t worry, they’ll be back. And in the meantime, those involved are stepping up to ensure it.

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred announced that all 30 major league teams have committed $1 million each to help assist thousands of ballpark employees affected by the coronavirus-caused indefinite delay in start of the baseball season. “I am proud that our clubs came together so quickly and uniformly to support these individuals who provide so much to the game we love,” he said.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

A simple act of kindness can make a huge impact .A couple decided to leave a $9,400 tip for employees at a restaurant in Houston, Texas as a way of helping to support the staff.

The couple, who wished to remain anonymous, were dining at Irma’s Southwest Grill recently when they decided to leave about a 10,400 percent tip on their bill, The couple’s actual bill had only come out to $90.12,, but instead of leaving a customary 20 percent tip (which would have been about $18), the couple left $1,900 in cash and another $7,500 on a credit card, adding up to a whopping $9,400.

They also left a note on their bill that simply read, “hold tip to pay your guys over the next few weeks.”

The Restaurant owner split the tip amongst the restaurant’s 30 employees, excluding management. Each employee got just over $300.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Social distancing measures meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus have taken an emotional toll on family relationships, particularly for older Americans like 87-year old Shelton, who is one of many who are especially isolated inside nursing homes and senior living communities.

That didn’t stop his granddaughter from sharing her joyous news with him. Carly Boyd stood outside of the nursing home window as she pressed her hand to the glass, her new engagement ring sparkling on her other hand.

From inside the building, her grandfather mirrored the gesture, saying he wants to be at her future wedding. Carly shared photos of the moment, saying she hopes the photos encourage people to find creative ways to stay in touch with elderly relatives. “Find ways to reach out, when there’s a will there’s a way.”

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Disney announced last week that it would be temporarily closing all of its theme parks around the world in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. Now, Disneyland and Disney World are sharing a bit of good news that’s come out of it: The resorts will be donating all of their excess food to local food banks.

Both Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort have an ongoing commitment of reducing food waste, and unserved food from select locations is regularly donated to support those in need within the local community. Each year, the resorts donate over 1.2M meals to their local Second Harvest Food Bank as part of the ongoing food donation programs.

Disney’s support of Second Harvest Food Bank doesn’t stop there – their longstanding support includes monetary donations and Disney VoluntEARS efforts, where cast members donate their time to collect, sort and distribute food donations.

The parks are scheduled to be closed through the end of March, and though it’s sad to see them temporarily shuttered, at least fans can rest easy that all of that delicious food isn’t going to waste. Keep checking the Disney Parks Blog for future updates.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Drew Brees is hoping to give the state of Louisiana and the city of New Orleans some much-needed hope during a dark time.
The New Orleans Saints quarterback and his wife, Brittany, announced that they are donating $5 million to a host of charities that will prepare and deliver 10,000 meals per day throughout Louisiana to help those in need during the coronavirus pandemic.

Brees notes that this money will “be mobilizing our partnerships with Second Harvest Food Bank, Ochsner Health Systems, Walk-Ons, Jimmy Johns, Smalls Sliders and Waitr to prepare and deliver over 10,000 meals per day throughout Louisiana.”

Specifically, they will be looking to feed children in meal programs, seniors and families in need. Brees also said they will continue to do this”for as long as it takes.”

Brees said “We’ve been through a lot of tough times together, whether it’s hurricanes, oil spills, floods, and this is just another one of those bits of adversity that we’re gonna come out better on the other side.”

Friday, March 27, 2020

While some folks stockpiled important pandemic supplies, others are giving health and safety supplies for free. Asiyah and Jawad Javed, who run a market in Scotland, are giving anyone over the age of 65 free face masks, antibacterial hand gel, and cleaning wipes to help slow the spread of coronavirus. And if you can’t make it to the shop, they will deliver the items free of charge.

So far, the couple have delivered 500 kits. No doubt the elderly in their community are feeling cared for and grateful for the Javed’s help.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

U-Haul is stepping up to help students who suddenly had to move out of their dorms due to suspended classes/campus closings over the Coronavirus pandemic by offering 30-day free self-storage at U-Haul owned and operated facilities.

U-Haul President John Taylor said, “Students and their parents are in need of moving and storage solutions. We have the expertise and network to help, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do.”

Colleges have asked students to vacate the campus for the rest of the semester, leaving some students, especially international students, in a bind.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Amazon is donating $25 million toward its network of independent delivery drivers, Amazon Flex workers, and seasonal employees who are dealing with disruptions caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Workers diagnosed with COVID-19 or placed under quarantine will be able to apply for grants from the Amazon Relief Fund. The fund will also provide grants for employees and contractors around the world who “face financial hardships from other qualifying events, such as a natural disaster, federally declared emergency, or unforeseen personal hardship.”

Amazon is also pledging $5 million fund to help Seattle based small businesses. (Seattle is one of the hardest hit areas in the U.S. by this outbreak so far.)

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

In a memo to employees just over a week ago, Delta Air Lines chief executive officer Ed Bastian said for now, he will forgo his salary for six months in an effort to avoid having to lay off his employees. His announcement comes three days after Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly revealed plans to reduce his salary by 10%. So many businesses and people are being affected financially by this right now; it’s so encouraging to see people care for others. We hope many more follow suit during this dire time for many employees and their families, too!

Monday, March 23, 2020

It’s easy to become more inwardly-focused when times feel uncertain. Which is why it makes headlines when people look outward at how they can help others. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban thought of the hourly workers who are going to be massively hurt by the NBA season’s shutdown. He’s announced plans to start a program to financially help the American Airlines Center employees who can’t work because of the coronavirus.

With the possibility of many long term effects due to the pandemic, it’s encouraging to see people decide to start taking care of each other right now.

Friday, March 20, 2020

NBA star Kevin Love is donating $100,000 to help Cleveland Cavaliers arena workers after the growing coronavirus outbreak led the NBA to suspend games indefinitely.

“Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations,” he said. “And the fear and anxiety resulting from the recent outbreak of COVID-19 can be extremely overwhelming. I’m concerned about the level of anxiety that everyone is feeling and that is why I’m committing $100,000 in support of the Cavs arena and support staff that had a sudden life shift due to the suspension of the NBA season. I hope that during this time of crisis, others will join me in supporting our communities.”

He also made a plea for more kindness and understanding during the panic around the pandemic. (He’s been vocal about his own struggles with anxiety in the past.) He says, “Be kind to one another. Be understanding of their fears, regardless if you don’t feel the same. Be safe and make informed decisions during this time.”

Extend some kindness and grace today, and share with someone the peace and hope we have in Christ!

Thursday, March 19, 2020

As the coronavirus pandemic continues, it’s impacting the physical and financial well-being of people around the world. In the midst of that, many are stepping up to help those in need, including New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson. The 19-year-old has announced that he will pay the salaries of all of the employees of Smoothie King Center, for at least 30 days.

As if we couldn’t love him more! Zion said, “some of the most special people I have met are those who work at Smoothie King Center.” They have been “incredibly welcoming and supportive” since he was drafted.

“These are the folks who make our games possible, creating the perfect environment for our fans and everyone involved in the organization. Unfortunately, many of them now face the economic impact of the postponement of games because of the virus. My mother has always set an example for me about being respectful for others and being grateful for what we have, and so I am pledging to cover the salaries for all of those Smoothie King Center workers for the next 30 days.”

“This is an incredibly resilient city full of some of the most resilient people,” he wrote, “but sometimes providing a little extra assistance can make things a little easier for the community.”

 


Wednesday, March 18, 2020

When fears of coronavirus outbreaks prevented an Ohio sports event from accommodating its typical crowd of 200,000 people, the stadium sent their surplus of event food to first responders and tornado victims in Nashville. Since the stadium knew that other local restaurants prepared for the festival would be donating their own surplus of food to community charities, they loaded up a refrigerated truck with more than a ton of sandwiches, mixed green salads, fresh fruit, yogurt, vegetables, brown rice, potato chips, and bottled water. The Greater Columbus Convention Center truck then brought all the food to Nashville and used it to feed several thousand first responders and tornado-affected families.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Italy is in the midst of a lockdown after the government implemented strict isolation measures to contain the spread of coronavirus, which is one of the worst affected countries in the world with over 17,000 confirmed cases and 1,266 deaths, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University. That’s the largest outbreak outside of China.

Even in the most desperate times, music can lift the spirits — as some Italian neighbors have proven by singing together in harmony. Residents in Siena, a city in Tuscany, leaned out of their windows and broke into song recently and in Sicily, neighbors are seen accompanied by a man playing the accordion.. In Naples people were heard singing a song reportedly called “Abbracciame,” which translates as “hug me.”…

Lifesongs knows that music soothes the soul. Lifesongs gives us the ability to go beyond the balconies and touch people’s lives with songs of truth and encouragement. Lifesongs is instant, it’s personal, it’s portable, and it speaks to our Southeast Louisiana Heart by reminding you God is Good all the Time!


 

Friday, March 13, 2020

After getting off work for the day as a school resource officer at Richmond Alternative School, Mervin Mayo goes straight to church. He needs some “praise and worship” time for himself, saying, “I have to minister to myself before I can minister to someone else.”

Officer Mayo serves as the minister of music at his church, and works in the community, youth and intervention services unit of his local police force, participating as a mentor and singing at department events.

His hope is to provide inspiration to those who might need it, saying, “Know that, no matter what you are going through, there is a higher power that looks beyond your faults and sees your needs.”

Amen to that! You may not serve as a youth mentor or police officer, but you CAN make a difference by encouraging others. In fact, you DO that already through your support for LifeSongs! Thank you for keeping this ministry going through your giving so that those who need to be ministered to through music and uplifting words can be every time they listen.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

School resource officers have a lot on their plates while on duty, but one Arkansas officer stays busy during his time off duty, too, by stopping at the school flagpole to pray.

Officer DeAndra Warren has been an officer for the Wynne Police Department for the last seven years. For five of those, he’s protected the halls of Wynne Public Schools as a school resource officer. Every day, he stops at the school’s flagpole to say a prayer for the school systems, children and community.

Officer Warren says being able to interact with the students from Kindergarten through 12th grade is something he enjoys most about being a police officer. “I enjoy showing them the positive side of law enforcement, from giving them high-fives or just a simple word of encouragement.”

He says he does whatever his heart and hands find to do for God. “I feel led by the Spirit of God to pray for our students and all staff in our school district. I’ve been praying for the students ever since I started being a school resource officer, but I started standing at the flagpole just last year. I don’t do it to be seen but I do it to glorify my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To God be the Glory!”

You may not patrol the hallways of OUR local schools, but you do have an impact there, just like Officer Warren, by praying with us for our LifeSongs Prayer Schools each day. THANK YOU for making a difference with us in our community every day!

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Lamar Harris is the kind of neighbor you want to have. His tight-knit New Jersey community of Cherry Hill knows this: he picks up his neighbors’ trash, delivers their mail and treats many of them like family, calling them daily and accompanying them for breakfast and haircuts.

Lamar has developmental delays and disabilities, and has lived alone for five years since his father passed. He’s handled it well – until he received a notice of possible foreclosure of his childhood home due to unpaid taxes and interest payments.

His neighbors scrambled to help, setting up a Go Fund Me page that raised over $50,000 in just ONE WEEK. (Talk about amazing neighbors!)

Lamar was so thrilled when he heard he’d be able to stay in Cherry Circle, he called everyone on his street and met them in their yards to celebrate with those he calls his “family.”  That community is also helping him handle his finances for the future to ensure he’s taken care of. Without him, they say, Cherry Hill wouldn’t be the same.

(LifeSongs wouldn’t be the same without YOU, either. We are so grateful YOU are a part of this family community, and that you give to ensure this ministry stays right here, providing hope and encouragement everyday. THANK YOU for your support!)

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Home security doorbell cameras capture everything from package deliveries to garbage pickup to car break-ins. One Rhode Island family’s doorbell camera captured the moment their pizza was delivered.

What was so special about that moment, was that their toddler went to the porch to greet the pizza delivery driver with a hug. What they didn’t know was how much the sweet gesture meant to the driver.

Lindsey Sheely shared the video on Facebook showing her 2-year old son Cohen running out to give the man a hug. Only after her video spread online did she hear from the driver, Ryan Catterson, whose 16-year-old daughter had recently passed away unexpectedly.

Lindsey called her son’s hug for Catterson a little blessing from God, saying, “I believe in divine appointments and know that Ryan was the one to deliver our pizza for a reason. I couldn’t believe that this guy was going through the most devastating thing, but his life had to go forward, and he still had to work and to do his job. You never know what people are going through. This is such a good example of that.”

Ryan agreed, saying little Cohen’s hug couldn’t have come at a better time for him.

You never know what someone may be going through, and what can speak to them. God uses this ministry for divine appointments all the time, and that is possible because of YOU. Thank you for giving, and being part of delivering encouragement and hope everyday.

Monday, March 9, 2020

Four years ago on Valentine’s Day, Arizona native Natalie Reilly started “Nothing but Love Notes” with her mom, who was battling cancer. The goal? To show first responders how much they are appreciated.

Her mom has since passed away, but Natalie still makes it a priority to continue writing the notes and finding first responders to give them to—and not just on Valentine’s Day. Reilly keeps the cards in her purse always and hands them out whenever she sees a person in uniform.

Over the last four years she has given out more than 20,000 love notes. Each time she gives one out, she thinks of her mother. A two-fold way to share the love! She makes a difference in the lives of those who protect and serve in her community, and fills her mind with sweet memories of her mom.

I may have to take a page from Natalie’s book and start carrying around thank you cards with me, although I don’t think I could find a purse big enough to carry all the cards I’d need to say thank you to YOU. LifeSongs is listener-supported and would not be here without you. I hope you know just how grateful we are for YOU!

Friday, March 6, 2020

Former President Jimmy Carter has written many books since his time in the White House – but he has LIVED OUT the way to be a former President like no one else in American History. The faith fueled former President has devoted his post-politics life to helping people in every way he can. And his family has just added one more good deed to the mountain of kindness.

The Carter farm in Plains, GA has its own private solar panel field – well over 3800 solar panels covering 10 acres of land. Former President Carter is a huge proponent of clean energy. His farm now generates so much power that they provide clean free electricity to over half the population of his town – or about 400 homes.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Ronnie Backenstoe is a proud member of the Girl Scouts and loves the annual cookie sale. At age 10 she began racking up sales in her Wernersville, PA neighborhood. She’ll knock on the door, wearing her proud uniform and convince her neighbors to get that extra box of Thin Mints … after all they are just 15 cents a box.

Ronnie began her Girl Scout journey in 1932! Now at age 98, she still is selling the cookies as a proud member of the Girl Scouts. Of course there are many more flavors to choose from now (there were only 3 options in the 1930s) and the cookies cost a LOT more than 15 cents a box.

Ronnie loves to see each new generation come up through the ranks of the Girls Scouts – bringing joy to each life that gets impacted.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Remember last Summer when the beaches from Louisiana to Alabama were closed due to bacteria and water quality? What a bummer! This is a problem on beaches around the world. Sasha Olsen of Bal Harbour, FL is a 10 year girl on a mission to save the beach.

Sasha and her cousin Narmina have formed a non-profit called IWANTMYOCEANBACK. They lead and organize beach clean-up projects, create art out of plastics picked up from waterways and host YouTube seminars to teach other young people how to stop pollution.

While hosting their YouTube shows, the kids will paint together and then auction the art off to help pay for their causes.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

There is a small island between Norway and the North Pole that houses the Doomsday Vault – also known as the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. Safely preserved there are back-up seeds of critical crops and flora that could theoretically be reintroduced to Earth after a cataclysmic event. There are close to 1 million samples in the Doomsday Vault.

Recently some more special seeds were added courtesy of the Cherokee nation. Nine different heirloom seeds, including Cherokee White Eagle Corn, candy roaster squash, amongst other indigenous native species of plants. Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said the tribe was honored by the invitation saying, “Generations from now, these seeds will still hold our history and there will always be a part of the Cherokee Nation in the world.”

Monday, March 2, 2020

Michael Platt was a fun-loving kid. At age 11 he was doing great in school, on the swim team and constantly outside playing with his friends. But then Michael was diagnosed with epilepsy. The seizures meant he had to scale back many of his activities – he even left his school to be homeschooled. But instead of letting that wreck his life, Michael found a new outlet to express his zest for life.

Michael, his mom Danita and his grandmother have enjoyed baking together for his entire life – now that time in the kitchen has become Michael’s playground. Together as a family they founded Michaels Desserts. Inspired by TOMS Shoes, Michael wanted his baked goods to be about more than just making money – so he gives away a dessert for every single one that he sells.

Now, three years in, Michaels Desserts takes online orders every day and donates baked goods to nearby soup kitchens and other service nonprofits that help people in need. Doing good, and delicious treats has not only kept this family going – Michael has been seizure free since 2017!

*Bonus Black History Month Good News Story*

First grade teacher LaToya McGriff decided to take an untraditional approach to teaching her students in Suffolk, Virginia about Black History. LaToya decided to dress up like a famous African-American trailblazer and taught her students about their contributions to the United States and Black History.

She started their creative lessons by dressing up as Virginia native Mary Jackson. “She was a mathematician who worked as an aeronautical engineer whom people referred to as a human computer,” McGriff wrote on Facebook. She shared a photo of herself in 1960s attire, like Jackson would’ve worn when she worked for NASA.

And thus began many days of dressing up as prominent black history figures, such as Ella Fitzgerald, Booker T. Washington, Misty Copeland, and many more.

“My students will want to know who I will be tomorrow. Today, they just said ‘Are you going to be Barack Obama? Are you going to be so-and-so?’ Because they want to know and kind of prepare themselves for it so they can tell me something they know about that person,” she said.

McGriff said bringing history alive kept her students curious and asking questions, and she’s hoping the overall project will give them the confidence to know that, like these historic figures, they can be great, too.

Today I was Ella Fitzgerald! She was born in Newport News, VA. She was a jazz singer. She was sometimes referred to as the First Lady of Song, Queen of Jazz, and Lady Ella!

Posted by LaToya Smith McGriff on Monday, February 10, 2020

Friday, February 28, 2020

While other interns were fetching coffee, Wolf Cukier was discovering a brand new planet. Cukier, 17, is a high school senior from Scarsdale, New York. Last summer, he interned at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, and one of his first assignments was to help with the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite mission.

On his third day, while looking through a telescope at TOI 1338, a solar system 1,300 light years from Earth, Wolf saw there was something in the orbit of two stars that was blocking the light. He made notes, and after further study with his bosses, they determined that 17 year old Wolf Cukier had discovered a planet 6.9 times larger than Earth!

It is a circumbinary planet, which are hard to spot; this is just the 13th planet of its kind ever discovered. Cukier hopes this is just the beginning of his career studying the stars, and plans on majoring in physics or astrophysics in college.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Jamie Willis served in the Army for 8 years, until a back injury he sustained left him disabled. During his physical therapy he was introduced to an organization called Free Canes for Veterans. The head of the organization actually took the time to teach woodwork to Jamie, showing him how to craft his own cane. This brought a lot of joy to the former soldier – a chance to work with his hands. And he didn’t want to stop at just one cane.

Jamie Willis started the Texas Chapter of Free Canes for Veterans and continued to use donated wood to make canes for other injured GI’s. Here is where the story takes a very Christmassy turn: much of the scrap wood comes in the form of donated Christmas trees!

Now with a team of 60 volunteers, the veterans will churn out close to 1,000 canes for injured vets this year. These canes brought joy as Christmas trees and will live on aiding the great servants of our country, out veterans.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

If you have boys in your house, you know they are FULL of energy! Sometimes they need an outlet to get it out! 2 companies geared towards helping students release frustration and energy, are changing the stigma about boxing! Title Boxing Company in Nebraska (Led by Head trainer Milton Lopez) helps kids with disabilities learn how to float like a butterfly and sting like a bee!!

In Forest Hills, New York, Jessica Margulies started The Spectrum Bout Boxing Club to help young people with autism (between the ages of 7 to 22) have the confidence they need to overcome life’s challenges that they encounter on a daily basis! Boxing helps them to develop focus, control, structure, discipline, & release! (Things that we could ALL use more of!) Two amazing companies making a difference in their communities!

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

23-year-old Sarah Yob of Florida had a really horrible day while on a trip to New Orleans to celebrate the College Football National Championship to be played there.

Her day started with a car wreck. Later that day, after hanging out with friends in the French Quarter she discovered someone had stolen her purse from her rental car. They didn’t get her wallet or cellphone since she’d carried those with her. But the Michael Kors purse adorned with a purple feather charm, her GoPro camera, some money and a necklace were gone.

Later that day, James Elmes, 21, was leaving the French Quarter and spied the now-abandoned purse sitting on the curb with the camera still inside. With no identification inside the purse to help him track down the owner, he turned to the camera. He posted a photo Sarah had taken of her and some friends on a beach onto Twitter on the remote chance someone would see the photo and put him in touch with the owner of the purse.

The tweet read: “I found a stolen purse in the French Quarter, New Orleans. Wallet was missing, so I have no identification. This girl has traveled all over the world … with a GoPro I found. Looking for her to return her lost memories. Help me find her.”

Within 16 hours and 800 retweets later, he’d found Miss Yob and was able to return the purse.

As if returning the purse wasn’t enough, James wanted to make sure Sarah had good memories of her time in New Orleans. He realized as he was scrolling through her camera that she hadn’t been able to take any photos of New Orleans before her purse and camera were stolen. So Mr. Elmes, who is a produce deliveryman, took some photos of the sites along his delivery route such as Cafe du Monde in the French Quarter before returning the items to Sara!

Monday, February 24, 2020

An 88-year-old Virgin Atlantic passenger named Violet was on her way back to London after a stateside visit with her daughter. As luck would have it, the retired nurse struck up a conversation before boarding with Jack, a fellow traveller. You know how sometimes you just click with a person? That was the instant friendship between Violet and Jack.

What happened when they boarded the plane surprised Violet and warmed the hearts of the entire Virgin Airlines flight crew. Violet was sitting in the back of the plane – next to the lavatory. I’m sure her seat was comfortable, but a transatlantic flight next to the bathrooms? Hardly the choice seat.

Flight attendant Leah Amy shared the incredible story on Facebook, alongside a few photos of her “two favourite passengers ever.”

Jack had a seat in first class, but went and found Violet and swapped seats with her! No fuss, no attention, literally, Jack just wanted to give Violet the chance to fly up front.

Chivalry is not dead!

Friday, February 21, 2020

A sandwich, a soda or maybe even a chocolate bar to satisfy a midnight craving: These are some of the many things you’d expect to find at a New York deli and convenience store.

But customers at Lucky Candy in the Bronx get an entirely different experience, and it’s all thanks to cashier Ahmed Alwan.

To his customers, the 20-year-old college student is easily recognizable, and it’s not just because of his bright smile and cheerful energy. Two weeks ago, Alwan decided to start playing a game with shoppers — and it’s since gone viral.

The rules are simple: If you can solve a math equation, you get five seconds to grab anything you want off store shelves and have it for free.

The one thing you’re not allowed to grab? His cat. (Yes, someone tried.) 

Alwan, who’s studying at Bronx Community College to become a pharmacist, has a history of being charitable.

He often gives customers food and household supplies on credit, his father said. And on cold mornings when he spots people sleeping at the nearby train station or by the tracks, he offers them free coffee, bananas and muffins

He even started a GoFundMe to support the game and enable him to help more people.

“The money will be going towards products and food that would be used for the challenges and even simple donations for customers in need,” he said.

The goal, he explained on the GoFundMe, is “to inspire others to always be kindhearted.”

Thursday, February 20, 2020

When Dwight the cat first arrived at an animal shelter in Kennebunk, Maine, Megan Marsh immediately fell in love. She’d been thinking about adopting a cat for a few years, and as soon as she saw Dwight, she knew he was the one she’d been waiting for. Dwight came with some baggage though, having travelled much of the country through foster care – a past that would make for a Disney film.

While Dwight was in kitty-foster care, he’d met another foster cat named Conan, and the pair instantly became the best of friends. They spent over a year doing everything together, until Dwight was transferred from MS to Maine. Conan stayed behind for seven long months before being sent to the same animal shelter. The story of the best buds was passed on to Megan, who knew Dwight needed his brother Conan.

Conan and Dwight were apart for seven months, but as soon as they were reunited, it was as if nothing had changed. They instantly fell back into being best friends and brothers, and they’re clearly thrilled that it’ll be that way for the rest of their lives

Although Dwight and Conan found their forever home, many foster cats are still waiting to find their forever homes. LifeSongs has partnered with the LASPCA and every week we feature an adoptable pet that is looking for a forever family.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Ever wonder what happens to all of the leftover food from the Super Bowl? In past years almost all of the food was just disposed of, but this year Food Rescue US, Centerplate Hospitality and the NFL Green Initiative collected and distributed over 30,000 pounds of food to local Miami shelters with the help of countless volunteers.

The effort started Monday morning following the Kansas City Chiefs’ victory over the San Francisco 49ers. Volunteers took to Hard Rock Stadium in Miami to collect, pack and ship massive amounts of food that remained from concession stands, VIP catered sections, suites and other areas.
Beef tenderloins, barbecue chicken, wings, ribs and charcuterie plates are just some of the food that were rescued.

The rescued food is being donated to the Broward Outreach Center, Broward Partnership for the Homeless, Camillus House, Lotus House Shelter and the Miami Rescue Mission. Bowen said that enough food was collected to feed around 20,000 people in need.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

When a little boy accidentally left his stuffed bear named Teddy on a flight from Dallas to New Orleans over the Thanksgiving holiday, he was crushed. Grayson and his teddy bear did everything together. His mom, Christina did what any mom would do. She tried to get Teddy back.

She was in contact with all of the baggage claim, TSA, she even called the lost and found repeatedly. Christina even posted on the Southwest Airlines Facebook page asking for help. Maybe a flight attendant had seen him or another passenger on the plane had picked him up. What she didn’t know at the time was that the New Orleans airport was overwhelmed with calls from employees and strangers. Everyone is just trying to find Teddy.

A month went by and still — nothing.

That’s until the end of December when Christina received a call from a corporate employee at Southwest Airlines, who told her that her post caught a lot of attention on private Southwest pages and even made its way to some executives.  The Execs at Southwest wanted to give Grayson a new bear with a story all it’s own, so the airline sent Grayson a new bear, along with a picture book about his travels.

“It’s been a busy holiday season here at Southwest Airlines, and I’m almost all done with my work here. Guess what!? I get to come live with you!” the book reads. “I’m so excited about meeting my new best friend. I wanted to share some pictures of what I do at Southwest and my trip to meet you!”
The bear can be seen doing everything from working on the tarmac, inspecting the cockpit and getting the plane ready for passengers.

Grayson named his new bear Jack. Grayson also said there is a reason that a heart is part of their logo and displayed everywhere, because they care about people.  Southwest Airlines says “We love connecting people to what’s important in their lives, and our employees put their servant’s heart on display to help make Grayson’s day. We are proud to have played a small role in bringing Grayson and Jack together,”

Grayson and his new friend ‘Jack’ have been inseparable ever since.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Dustin and Caren Moore wanted to be parents. They tried for 9 years before being blessed with their first child, an adopted baby girl. The pair flew from California to Colorado to pick up their newly adopted 8-day old daughter. As they boarded the flight home with their new infant, they apologized to his fellow passengers – as many parents with babies feel pressured to do while flying.

Mid flight, Dustin asked about a changing table to take care of his daughter’s diaper. The flight attendant cleared a space in the back of the plane and gave them privacy.

The act of kindness was just the first of several on this flight home. Next, another flight attendant and fellow passengers complimented the couple on their new baby girl. The Moores shared their adoption story, and not long after, they heard the intercom come on. 

The attendant told the other passengers about Caren and Dustin’s new bundle of joy, and the entire cabin erupted in cheers and applause. 

This act of kindness didn’t end there. The crew then passed out pens and napkins and asked other passengers to write down advice for the new parents. They received over 60 notes of encouragement.

The flight attendants also gave the Moores a set of pilot wings for their baby girl – who, as an infant, had already experienced flying.

“The outpouring of love from that flight, brought on by the actions of two thoughtfully observant flight attendants… it exceeds my ability to describe what it meant to us,” Dustin says. “How much those wings and written notes uplifted two new parents determined to love their new daughter. The fact that that entire flight, everybody cheered, everybody took the time to share those notes with our daughter, it was just everything we needed in that moment just to feel secure. And to feel, ‘Okay, this is going to be great.'”

Friday, February 14, 2020

You may have heard of celebrities or multi billion-dollar companies donating money to cover students’ lunch debt. But Keoni Ching from Vancouver, Washington, is just your normal 8-year-old who wanted to help his schoolmates.

With his handmade key chains that go for $5 each, Keoni raised $4,015 to erase the lunch debt of students from his school and six others.
It all started because Keoni wanted to do something special for “Kindness Week” at his school, Benjamin Franklin Elementary. With his mother, April, and father, Barry, by his side, Keoni thought about projects that would truly reflect kindness.

Keoni was ultimately inspired by San Francisco 49ers player Richard Sherman. The cornerback, who previously played for the Seattle Seahawks, donated more than $27,000 to cover students’ lunch debt. Keoni, for the record, is a Miami Dolphins fan, he said. Once word of Keoni’s key chains and his heartwarming cause got out, people from all over the country started sending in their requests for one of the custom key chains.

“We have sent keychains to Alaska, Rhode Island, Minnesota, Arizona, all over the country,”

Keoni delivered the $4,015 check to Franklin Elementary last week. Of that amount, $1,000 will go to the school to pay off the $500 lunch debt and for any future debt incurred. The rest will go to six other nearby schools, which will get $500 each to clear their own lunch debts.

Helping others is important because “it just makes the world a better place,” Keoni said

Thursday, February 13, 2020

10-year-old Logan Fraychineaud was born deaf. He now hears with the help of a cochlear implant, but also signs. He’s a boy of two worlds – bridging the deaf and hearing communities. Recently this brave young man had the chance to take center stage … or center field … well kind of both.

While Lauren Daigle was singing the National Anthem at the College National Championship game (Geaux Tigers!) – just off camera, 10 year old Logan was SIGNING the song for the deaf attendees of the game, performing in front of the 75,000 fans at the game … and also the President and First Lady!

While Logan was nervous, he had been practicing non-stop and completely nailed his performance. He had so much fun, he’s decided that 75,000 college football fans just aren’t enough – he’s now applying to do a repeat performance at a future Super Bowl! Logan, at just 10 years old, wants to use his platform to educate about American Sign Language (ASL) and show people that not only is it a unique language, it can be a lot of fun!

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

The story of the University of Wisconsin saving a very special pup and being shared as an ad during the Superbowl has gone viral, stealing the hearts of many across the country.

Our pets are members of our families. We love them and we will go to the ends of the earth for them. When David MacNeil found out his treasured Golden Retriever Scout was sick, he put all his hope in the team at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine. Scout also happens to be the unofficial mascot of WeatherTech, a company that makes anything from floor mats to pet care products.

Scout had a tumor on his heart and was given less than a 1% chance of survival. But he beat the odds with the care of his veterinary team! Scout’s owner, WeatherTech CEO David MacNeil, was so moved by his pup’s progress that he wanted to celebrate him and the UW’s veterinary work in an ad that would run in, of all places, the Superbowl. To say thanks, David MacNeil has purchased a $6 million thank you – a Super Bowl commercial to honor the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine.

University of Wisconsin vets and their spotlight in the Superbowl ad, the story has gone viral. National outlets across the nation have reported his heartwarming story. The coverage has brought an extra benefit: much-needed donations to the School of Veterinary Medicine. According to the University of Wisconsin, the school has received thousands of dollars in gifts.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

There’s a dog in Cumberland County that’s making history. Hansel is a rescued pit bull who is about to become the first of his breed to take on the role of an arson-detection K9 officer in the Garden State.

“When I put on his harness and I tell him, ‘Do you want to go to work?’ he literally does laps in his crate,” says Millville firefighter Tyler Van Leer.

Hansel and Van Leer are inseparable, and as of now they get to work together as a team at the Millville Fire Department. Hansel was rescued from a dog-fighting ring in Canada when he was just 7 weeks old.

He eventually made his way to the Throw Away Dogs Project – a group that takes rescued dogs and turns them into working dogs. That agency says they spotted qualities in him that reminded them of K-9 officers.

The duo has been training for 15 weeks.

“Hansel has been through so much and this absolutely is needed to find his niche, his person, and Fireman Van Leer is that person and his job, now he’s going to have a purpose,” says Carol Skaziak, the founder of Throw Away Dogs.

They say they hope Hansel’s new job is a win for pit bulls as a breed.

Monday, February 10, 2020

The LSU Tigers football team will live on in History as the best of all time. And the very field they played on will live on … at a local school. Since the Superdome is getting a 3 year makeover, the first step this year was pulling up the turf right after the College Football Championship game. But it was still nice turf … so the city found a way to recycle and reuse it!

The faux-grass has been installed at the Brees Family Field on the Uptown Lusher High campus. The new, slightly used turf is the centerpiece to Lusher’s $3.5 million athletic complex. Future Lusher athletes will play on the literal same field that the Tigers won the championship on!

While there was an upfront investment for the field, the school says it will pay for itself since they won’t have to water, mow and keep it up in the frequently soggy ground of New Orleans. Knowing Lusher’s football program, I imagine some kids who play on this field will go on to win a college football championship someday.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Maj. Bill White served in World War II, survived the Battle of Iwo Jima and went on to have a long career in the U.S. Marine Corps. Among his many medals is the one he’s most proud of – his Purple Heart. It is a badge of honor for surviving the Battle of Iwo Jima. His injuries may have taken him off the battlefield but his fighting spirit carried on in life.  Maj. White keeps his proudest memories tucked away on his bookshelf and the 104-year-old veteran said he’s hoping his collection grows a little bigger this Valentine’s Day.

The California-native spends his days dining with his friends, staying active and scrapbooking, which is one of his favorite hobbies. He keeps a lifetime full of memories carefully preserved on the bookshelves of his room, each scrapbook organized by year.

For Valentine’s Day, Bill said he wants to add to his collection with cards from people near and far. Bill says he’ll save every one of them “..and they’ll be a personal part of [his] history.”

It’s a life story that is still being written. If you would like to send Maj. Bill White a Valentine’s Day card, you can address it to:

Operation Valentine
ATTN: Hold for Maj Bill White, USMC (Ret)
The Oaks at Inglewood
6725 Inglewood Ave.
Stockton, CA 95207

Thursday, February 6, 2020

We’ve heard of lemonade stands for fundraising, well in the winter, why not have a hot cocoa stand!? The efforts of some hardworking preschoolers are warming people’s hearts, and it’s not just because of all the hot cocoa.

Jasper Mazzocco, age 4, was diagnosed with a rare type of brain cancer late last year. He was taken out of school and hospitalized, but his classmates never stopped thinking about him. They decided to have a hot cocoa fundraiser to raise money for Jasper’s family. With help from their parents, local stores and the community, the hot chocolate stand was a massive success: altogether they raised more than $10,000.

The local Trader Joe’s provided space and supplied water bottles, a Dick’s Sporting Goods offered to set up tables and chairs, and both the Costco and Starbucks donated baked goods. Three Starbucks employees even made back and forth runs to supply hot water to make the cocoa.

Jasper’s preschool teacher, Jessica Stephens, said some of the people who stopped by the sale were cancer survivors themselves, and many shared stories of their own battles with cancer, or the ones they lost along the way. In addition to the hot cocoa stand, more than 350 donors have raised over $30,000 on GoFundMe for Jasper’s family.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

In 2016, brothers Mike and Nick Fiorito quit their 9-5 jobs in search of more meaningful work. Unsure where to start, the first 6 months weren’t easy for the brothers. They went from one idea to the next, failing miserably. But on one cold and sleepless night in November, everything changed.

It was 2 A.M. and Nick couldn’t sleep.  While tossing and turning, the image of a homeless man he used to see on his daily commute wouldn’t leave the screen of his mind. While working, Nick would often tell himself he was going to help this man – but he never did.

That night, a gentle voice whispered to him and said, “If not now, when?”

Nick finally listened to the call. He crawled out of bed, opened his laptop and wrote a GoFundme campaign to raise money to give blankets to the homeless of NYC. Needless to say, he slept like a baby that night. After some thoughtful consideration, Mike decided to join the cause the very next day.

They called their new family project, Blankets of Hope.  They went on to hand out 100 blankets and handwritten notes that Winter – each including a simple message: WE BELIEVE IN YOU!”

Their efforts caught the attention of a venture capitalist, and Blankets of Hope became a global movement. Now, the organization has worked with more than 150 schools across the US, Mexico and Canada to deliver over 25,000 Blankets of Hope — and each one is still delivered with a thoughtful, handwritten note.

Mike and Nick say if they’ve learned anything from their journey, it’s that the secret to living is giving.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

After an armored car guard accidentally left a cash box outside a credit union, George Condash picked it up and found $27,000 inside. Did he immediately go buy a new car? Or stick in a savings account and wait for the heat to die down? No – he did the good and Godly thing, Mr. Condash immediately turned it into the bank.

What would you do if you found $27,000 cash in a box on the ground? The credit union was so thankful they made sure George Condash got an undisclosed token of appreciation – a cash reward.

George said humbly, “It’s not mine and any honest person, I hope, would take it back in.”

Monday, February 3, 2020

In this life, you will at times, have to walk through the fire. Adversity comes in all different shapes and sizes. But if you are willing, God can use these events in life to mold you into the person He longs for you to be. Ilene Lainer fully embraced her life challenges and now gets to inspire others as they face the same walk.

Seventeen years ago Ilene’s young son Ari (Arr Ree) was diagnosed with autism. Ilene was a powerful attorney, but was struggling to find a preschool that would accept her son. So she walked away from her job to care for her son.

She and a friend who also has an autistic child formed a non-profit called NEXT to focus on resources for families dealing with autism, specifically to provide training for young people on the spectrum so that they can get jobs as adults.

Thanks to NEXT, autistic students have accepted jobs in all walks of life.

Friday, January 31, 2020

A stunning new set of portraits are hanging in the halls of Princeton University. Mario Moore, a painting fellow at the university, wanted to pay homage to the institution’s unseen heroes: The janitors, dining hall workers and other blue-collar employees who help keep everything humming. He focused on African-American workers and tried to include personal stories in the sweeping, colorful scenes.

The result was 10 huge oil portraits that “put them in positions of power,” as the artist, Moore said, and offer a fresh perspective on the medium. Moore’s exhibit was supposed to be temporary, but the people at Princeton liked the energy of his works so much they have decided to make some of them permanent.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Imagine the smell of freshly baked breads and cakes filling the air. The walls are lined with confections and sprinkles, jars of cookies and all the carbs you can possibly imagine? That’s the scene at Sweet Generation – a little bakery in Manhattan’s East Village. But what is more exceptional than the sweet treats on display is the collection of stories behind the young people who did the baking.

Owner and founder Amy Chasan combined her passion for teaching and love of baking to create RISE, an internship program that teaches young people, ages 16 and 24, about life skills and professional development. These youngsters mostly come from low-income families of all shapes, colors and creeds. They get trained in the art of baking and the mathematics of running a business.

RISE stands for Reach, Inspire, Shape & Elevate – the program lasts for 8-weeks and so far has changed the lives of 130 families. Amy says it is a great way to find future employees too – over 75% of Sweet Generation’s staff came straight from the internship program.

But we don’t have to own and operate a bakery to Reach, Inspire, Shape and Elevate the next generation – what are some things we could be doing right where we are today?

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

NBA star Trae Young partnered with the nonprofit RIP Medical Debt to wipe out the debt of 570 families in the Atlanta area. Young’s $10,000 donation ended up erasing more than $1 million in medical bills. The nonprofit was started by two former debt collection executives, and they focus on underprivileged families and families with disproportionately huge debts.

The NBA player said “Giving back to this community is extremely important to me. I hope these families can find a bit of relief knowing that their bills have been taken care of as we enter the New Year.”

RIP Medical Debt works with debt collections by paying off a settlement instead of the entire bill. Collection agencies often settle for less than 10% of what is owed – opting for something instead of nothing. Right now RIP Medical Debt is fundraising to cancel out millions of dollars of medical debt right here in SELA!

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

How’s that side hustle going? Lots of folks drive for Uber and Lyft to help pay the bills – and we all have bills. Latonya Young was pulling triple duty, working as a hairstylist, taking college classes and driving Uber at night. But the bills kept mounting – her kids needed clothes and food too, which ultimately led the 43 year old single mother to drop out of college.

One night while driving Kevin Esch home from the Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Latonya shared her story as she chatted with her Uber fare. The next day she got an email from Georgia State University letting her know that she was now eligible to register for classes.

That very night after he got home, Kevin Esch had called and paid off Latonya’s balance. The two have kept in touch and Kevin was there at Latonya’s graduation, celebrating with her family. Latonya kept her grades up and plans to continue her education and become a lawyer – all because of a generous and kind Uber rider!

Monday, January 27, 2020

It’s every performer’s nightmare: You get up in front of a big crowd, and all of a sudden…something goes wrong.

Before a recent game between the Detroit Red Wings and the Montreal Canadiens, singer Karen Newman got a taste of that panic when her microphone failed during the Canadian national anthem. No amount of lung power is going to help in a giant hockey arena, but the fans in attendance gave Newman a big assist in belting it out.

Using the lyrics projected on the in-game monitors, Americans and Canadians alike joined together in a rousing rendition of “O Canada.” People on social media reflected that the moment represented sports at its very best. “I KNOW it’s just a hockey game. I KNOW it’s just a song. But there is something about people coming together in times of need that gets me every time,” one Twitter user wrote.

 

Friday, January 24, 2020

For many, medical procedures are so costly they are simply unaffordable. According to Doctor Demetrio Aguila III with Healing Hands of Nebraska, about two-thirds of those who went bankrupt last year did so because of medical debt. He is hoping to help solve that issue by allowing people to pay for medical procedures with volunteer work. He calls it the M25 program. Its named for the 25th chapter of the book of Matthew in the Bible.

For years Dr. Aguila had been doing surgery for patients and taking care of their health problems, taking care of their medical problems, and then he would find out months later, sometimes years later, in fixing their medical problem, he had caused, or contributed to, their financial ruin. Aguila said. “I need to be able to look myself in the mirror at night and know that I’m taking good care of my patients..

The process is simple. If someone elects to pay for surgery through the M25 Program, Aguila gives them the list of non-profit partners working with Healing Hands of Nebraska and tells them to simply tell the non-profit they are there for the M25 program. TSome added benefits of the program are they have eliminated a lot of the administrative hassle that’s associated with healthcare,as well as lowering the cost of healthcare. We’ve made it fair for everybody involved. Nobody loses. That is the core of the M25 Program.”

Aguila hopes programs like M25 work to inspire others to do good in their communities and to create a situation in which everyone wins.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Self- cleaning clothes sounds like a miracle, right? The shirts are made from nanoscopic polyester fibers that repel liquid – fluids simply bounce off the surface of the clothing without staining it. In addition to repelling liquids and spills, the shirts can also go without being washed for up to a month—and once they are cleaned, the fabric dries 40% faster than regular clothing.

This futuristic sweatshirt is being hailed as the world’s first ever “self-cleaning” article of clothing—and for every one sold, one is donated to the homeless. Varun Bhanot and his wife Anisha Seth developed the hoodies as a means of helping homeless people in Britain. The 29-year-old entrepreneurs from London are the co-founders of Unhoused: a charity dedicated to helping homeless people throughout the city.

Since launching the charity, they have donated more than 100,000 articles of clothing to London’s homeless. This could be a game-changer for sustainable clothing all over the world, and an absolute lifesaver for the homeless, who may not have access to washing facilities and need to be kept warm and clean all year round. Check it out HERE!

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

This US Army veteran is a perfect example of how anyone can achieve their dreams—regardless of their experiences.

Joshua Carroll had only been in high school when an airplane crashed into the World Trade Center back in 2001. Rather than pursue a college education, Carroll got his GED so he could enlist in the military.

After spending three deployments in Iraq, Carroll returned to his home in Virginia and found himself suffering from PTSD—and a general lack of purpose.

Carroll had begun working as a janitor at a local school when he caught sight of a Stephen Hawking book sitting on a library shelf. As he flipped through the pages, Carroll suddenly decided to pursue his childhood dream of being a physicist.
With just a 10th grade education in geometry, Carroll managed to persuade the admissions staffers at Radford University to let him skip the prerequisites for the physics program provided he could teach himself trigonometry.

Armed with nothing but the internet, Carroll prepared for his entrance exam by watching dozens of YouTube videos to learn advanced mathematics in just three weeks.

Not only did he pass with flying colors, he graduated as one of the top students in his class—and he has been working as a physicist ever since.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

An elderly woman’s telephone misdial turned into a heartwarming surprise after she left a voicemail with the local attorney’s office instead of a medical supply store.

Bernice, who is from Albuquerque, New Mexico, tried several times to call the store so she could order a new walker—but since she kept typing the wrong last digit, she kept telephoning the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s office instead.

“I put it on speaker and played it for everybody because it was a different kind of missed call, and it was kind of cute and humorous at the same time,” said office agent Kyle Hartstock.

When someone at the office called her back to set the record straight, the senior simply said she was trying to get in contact with someone with a walker.

Rather than giving up on the woman, the office staffers pitched in their money so they could buy Bernice a new walker and bring it to her house for a surprise.

Though the employees refused to accept any of Bernice’s money for the walker, the senior said she was most excited for all the hugs she got from the young staffers during their visit.

Monday, January 20, 2020

When you think “Skateboarder” do you also think “Straight A Student?” There’s a stigma attached to skateboarding that just isn’t true. A French Quarter skate shop aims to highlight the great students who frequent the store. Humidity Skate Shop started the Good Grades Movement which rewards straight A report cards with a free complete skateboard. A’s & B’s will score a kid a free deck. And word has gotten out!

The best part is for most of these straight A students, it’s their first board. Which grows the sport and the community of skaters in New Orleans. Of course that is a big financial investment for a small local business – a skateboard runs between $50-$150. As word spread about the cause, skateboard maker DGK got involved and donated some boards.

Humidity is also designing t-shirts as a fundraiser for locals to be a part of the Good Grades Movement.

Friday, January 17, 2020

For two years, Colleen Powell has been teaching special needs students Dominic, Jay and Korde. She immediately bonded with them, even though the three do not speak much. Colleen decided that Korde would push Jay, who has cerebral palsy and is in a wheelchair, down the aisle as the ring bearers and Dominic would give her away along with her father.

Colleen smiles when remembering the service saying “They were laughing and giggling. It is so important for our society to see children with special needs included because … they are children, just like other children.” Colleen’s wedding planner wasn’t so sure it would all work out, but it turned out to be the perfect ceremony for the teacher, her family and her students and their families.

In fact, it was the three children’s moms who shared this story with the TODAY show just to spotlight what a special teacher Colleen is – and how much their kids enjoyed shaking their groove things on the wedding dance floor!

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Three years ago, Massachusetts resident Peter Kelleher had to live through unthinkable tragedy. His 33 year old son died from a drug overdose while living on the street. Through the grief, Peter vowed to make sure everyone had something warm to eat during the cold Massachusetts Winter – no matter what. And that is how Peter became Soup-erman. (It’s spelled soup)

Peter renovated an old school bus to be a mobile soup kitchen – also passing out warm clothes to people on the street. Support has poured in (pun intended) to fund the venture. Al Roker even featured it on the TODAY show!

Peter says he’s given out more than 3,000 cups of soup, and has donated tens of thousands of winter clothes. He even travels with a portable shower, allowing people without homes to enjoy a hot shower.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

It could’ve been a dreary Christmas for a pair of rogue pups if it weren’t for one watchful bus driver. A pit bull and Doberman pinscher were wandering the freezing streets of Milwaukee one night when bus driver Danielle Grabowski spotted them on her route.

Danielle immediately pulled over, popped the door and guided the dogs on her bus. She played with the pups before police picked them up to reunite them with their family. Danielle believes it was simply meant to be that she would find the dogs.

If you are looking to grow your family with a four-legged friend, check out the LifeSongs Pets of the Week – each week we spotlight adoptable animals from the Louisiana SPCA. You can find your next fur-baby right here on lifesongs.com!

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

It’s hard being a waiter or waitress. Largely a thankless job filled with complaints – no matter how perfectly you remember the order and the 12 refills of sweet tea you provide. This year there is a sweet new trend going around called the 2020 Tipping Challenge. The idea is to leave a nice tip for a service person that includes the year in the total.

For example: A $20.20 tip, a tip that rounds the whole bill to some 2020-like number or, in the case of one waitress, a whopping $2,020!

Danielle Franzoni, a server in Alpena, Michigan, was shocked when a customer left the four-figure tip on a $23 bill. To Danielle, it was more than just a joyful way to start the new year. She recently moved to the city of Alpena as a recovering addict in a homeless shelter to find a fresh start. The special 2020 tip helped her move into her own place.

And yes, she’s paid it forward (isn’t that the idea?) with a 2020-themed tip of her own.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Running a small business is hard enough, but when the unthinkable happens, it can become nearly impossible to do it alone.

Dave McAdams and his wife Tina own The Local Coffee Company in Oak Grove, Oregon. Sadly, Dave has terminal cancer, and recently entered hospice care. Obviously, the last thing anyone wanted to think about was coffee, so the owner of a nearby coffee shop decided to step in and support the family. Tina says Pixie Adams, the owner of Moonlight Coffee, closed her shop for a day and ran the McAdams’ shop, free of charge.

It turned out to be a record day: Coffee lovers lined up for their usual lattes, cappuccinos and treats, and ended up raising $3,000 in sales and donations. Adams says she’ll keep raising money for the McAdams’ at her own shop. As a breast cancer survivor, she understands what it’s like to just need some help.

“I fought hard for more birthdays, and I want to do the very best I can for my community with as many years as I can,” she said.

Friday, January 10, 2020

It’s tradition for New Yorkers of varying athletic abilities to conquer the beast that is the New York City Marathon. Hannah Gavios wanted in, too — and she did the whole thing on crutches. The 26-year-old just completed her second 26.2-mile trek across New York’s boroughs, three years after a spinal cord injury left her without full mobility of her lower body.

The injury has hardly slowed her down: She goes on challenging hikes, excels at yoga and can defend herself with Krav Maga. And if that weren’t enough, she’s raised almost $30,000 for the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, dedicated to spinal cord injury research. “I always knew I was a strong person,” says Hannah. “But I didn’t know I was that strong.”

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Kerry Pakucko works at Animal Rescue New Orleans, or ARNO for short. Recently, her friends and family helped her throw what must be one of the cutest events ever conceived: A kitten shower!

Just like at a baby shower, they asked for items that will help neonatal foster babies and kittens under one month old, any supplies they would need in a foster home to give them the best chance of life.

Animal Rescue New Orleans came through, and Kerry was able to assemble three “go” kits for foster homes, complete with baby bottles, formula, scales, thermometers and other gear.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

When Bill Giguere lost his gold wedding band while hiking on a trail near Mt. Hancock, he knew finding it was probably a lost cause. Imagine the emotions? Sadness, shame, frustration… But Bill is a can-do kind of guy, so he posted about the lost wedding ring online, asking anyone who was hiking the trail to keep an eye out.

Tom Gately and another hiker named Brendan Cheever decided to go on a treasure hunt – so they hit the trail and brought along a metal detector. Sure enough – on the trail they heard a telltale beep! JACKPOT!

Man and ring were reunited, and all involved should be very proud of themselves.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

She gave them extra ice cream – they gifted her a new car!

Adrianna Edwards definitely got the sweeter end of this deal after two customers at a Texas Denny’s, where she works as a waitress, gave her a much-needed tip: a 2011 Nissan Sentra!

While dining at the Galveston restaurant recently, a couple found out that Adrianna has to walk to work, a 14-mile round trip that takes her more than four hours. The couple paid their bill, left the restaurant and headed to a local car dealership, where they purchased the Nissan. A few hours later, they went back to the Denny’s and presented their gift to their kind waitress, who was ecstatic and in tears!

The gift givers said”[It] made [us]happy that she was so moved!”

Adrianna said “I still feel like I’m dreaming! Every two hours, I come look out my window and see if there’s still a car there.”

The couple, who chose to remain anonymous, simply want Edwards to do something generous for someone else in the future; she says she’ll honor that wish.

Monday, January 6, 2020

Earlier in the season, the unranked Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks beat the top-ranked Duke Blue Devils in a shocking NCAA basketball upset, but the victory ended up being way more than your typical underdog story.

The hero of the night was 24-year-old Nathan Bain, who sank the game-winning layup. Bain’s family is from Freeport, Bahamas, and they lost almost everything when Hurricane Dorian battered the multi-island nation earlier this year. His father is a minister whose church was severely damaged in the storm.

After the big win, Bain dedicated his heroic moment to his family and thanked his teammates for being there for him when disaster struck.

Here’s the best part: After people learned about his dramatic story, a GofundMe the university set up for him in September was flooded with donations. So far, it’s raised more than $137,000 for his parents – and the many people in the Bahamas they care for – to rebuild.

Friday, January 3, 2020

Jim Harris is a minister and artist from Staunton, Virginia. After retiring from full-time pastoral work in 2004, he focused on creating a new style of art he calls “stained glass canvas.” His works have been sold in several galleries in North Carolina’s Outer Banks, but he decided to focus on creating art for charitable efforts instead.

Last year, The Society of Saint Andrew asked him to donate original art for a few years for Christmas cards sold to raise funds for feeding the hungry. This year, he created a card titled “The Witnesses,” which has been so popular SoSA is offering prints of the work.

“To be able to help feed hungry people while doing something I enjoy is a win-win,” Harris says. “I am truly blessed to — in some small way — make a difference in the world.” He says he’s also thankful for the Society of Saint Andrew, which focuses on providing fresh fruits and vegetables to people in need.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

When a party of 11 people came into Dublin’s Cracker Barrel and asked manager Tabitha Coley for her best waitress, she obliged and sent her longtime employee of 12 years, Janet Ballard, to the table.

Janet had no idea that by the end of the meal she would receive the largest tip she’s ever gotten at $1,100! Each person in the party tipped $100.

What a wonderful idea and great way to spread the Christmas spirit!

Friday, December 20, 2019

A boy with a big heart is looking to help others — through snow globes.

Making a difference through kindness and creativity …

Cooper Patera, 5, makes the novelties as a way to raise money for the homeless.

“So we can raise money and give it to persons that are in need,” he said.

His Facebook page, Cooper’s Christmas Snow Globes, has described how even in November, he had already raised more than $1,000.

Cooper proposed buying a homeless person a house, his mother, Katie Patera, said.

His dad, Ryan Patera, said alternatively, the money could go to an organization or help others in need.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

It’s not too soon to start contemplating your New Years’ Resolutions. Want to get healthier? Make some small decisions and move forward. Need some motivation to lace up those running shoes?

Mena Hawkins is a 17 year old junior at Liberty High in Las Vegas, NV. Mena has Cerebral Palsy and uses a walker to get around. Last week she walked across the finish line of the Las Vegas Great Santa Run.

Mena decked out in her Santa Hat and walker did the one mile race all on her own – with fans and friends cheering her on, holding signs at the finish line. Mena has been training for years to complete this race. A few years back she attempted the Santa Run, but was so far behind that police opened up traffic after the race was officially over and she was nowhere near the end.

So Mena worked with physical therapists and hit the gym. She refused to let her disability define her. And that’s a lesson that we can all learn – no matter what it is holding you back – God made you special and you can do more than you think.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

When Mom or Dad are serving in the military, the holidays can be a really rough time. Traditions get postponed – important milestones get missed. So anytime we can do something to bring Christmas joy to military families – it is all hands on deck!

A group of nine friends are actively working to bring the holidays to military families through Trees for Troops. The group will deliver a total of 16,000 free Christmas trees across the country and abroad.

Since 2005 they have given away almost a quarter of a million Christmas trees to military families.

The impact has been felt – in fact Marvin Hill retired from the US Army after 35 years and went to work for Trees for Troops because of the impact it had on his family. Trees for Troops will deliver thousands of trees to more than 74 US bases in all branches of the military and over 200 trees overseas!

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

83 year old Johnny Gondensen wrote a Christmas song for his children back in 1965. He called it “Christmas is Here.” The former country musician had a lot of fun crafting the song, writing “Ho, ho, ho. He, he, he. Comin’ down the chim-uh-knee!”

Last week Johnny got a special surprise. His grandkids recorded him singing the song and got a local country station to play it on the radio in Houston.

Now the old country crooner is bent on spreading his knee slapper around the world – with local fans posting it to iTunes and spreading a music video on YouTube and other social media platforms.

Monday, December 16, 2019

What if Nicholas Sparks actually wrote a happy ending? It might sound a little bit like the Summers’ story. Dan and Lisa met, fell in love, got married and had a son, Jasper.

But when Dan Summers was in his 20s he was diagnosed with a rare kidney disease. He knew that at some point he would need a kidney transplant, but didn’t expect to face the struggle until much later in life. But last year things took a turn.

Then a miracle happened. It was a 1 in 100,000 chance – but his wife Lisa was a perfect match for a kidney transplant. Flash forward and now the couple is closer than ever… literally. Dan’s body has fully accepted Lisa’s kidney and they are both all healed up, back to normal life playing with Jasper.

Now Dan and Lisa advocate for kidney transplant donations – using their story as a talking point for the value of life – especially life lived together.

Friday, December 13, 2019

When Crystal Wang was 3 years old, she was photographed with Officer Charles Marren on Harvard’s campus. When she moved in with the Class of 2023, the pair met again.

Crystal didn’t even know the picture existed until her father Jin showed her after she was accepted into Harvard’s dual degree program with Berklee College of Music.

When she announced her college decision with the original picture on Instagram, a reporter working for the Harvard Gazette saw it and recognized Officer Marren. She got in touch and set a date for the two to meet again.

When the two reunited, Wang said the connection was genuine. Marren even gave her his personal cell phone number and told her to call if she ever needed anything.

“It was just a really, really good time,” she said. “I really connected with him.”

https://www.instagram.com/p/B29k7KmBxF2/?utm_source=ig_embed

Thursday, December 12, 2019

A late-night Waffle House run turned into a chance to do some good for a group of customers who got to work upon realizing that the restaurant’s lone employee needed the help.

Ethan Crispo was headed home from a friend’s party recently when he stopped at a Waffle House in Birmingham, Alabama for a midnight snack.

Upon arrival, he noticed that one worker, a man whose name tag indicated his name was Ben, was doing it all, from taking orders and cleaning dishes to busing tables and making food.
“From out of the blue, a man from the bar stands up. Asks Ben for an apron, and begins to work behind the counter. It was a transition so smooth I initially assumed it was a staff member returning to their shift.”

It wasn’t, but that didn’t stop the mystery man from helping out to the best of his ability, stepping in to help do dishes while Ben handled the rest.

Eventually, other customers did the same, including Alison Stanley, who volunteered her services brewing coffee even though she was wearing a dress and stiletto heels.

Waffle House reps thanked Ben for keeping the restaurant open and pointed out that He is a testament to our Waffle House culture by always putting the customer first.” “

This is just one of the most wild instances of really, really cool people just coming together.”

By the way Waffle house reps also mention that if the mystery customer doing dishes was “looking for a side hustle, I hope he comes in and fills out an application.”

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

No person should be left out of the thrill of yelling, fighting and laughing over a game of UNO! And now the Mattel game is more inclusive than ever with UNO Braille. Mattel worked with the National Federation of the Blind to develop the game, and with more than 7 million blind and low-vision people in the US, that’s a big market to tap into.

The cards are made so that the blind community can play along with their see-ing friends. Mark Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind says “The fact that a blind person is now able to play a classic game of UNO straight out of the box with both blind and sighted friends or family members is a truly meaningful moment for our community.”

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

God sent His son, Emmanuelle, Jesus, so that we too could become sons and daughters of God – through adoption. It’s one thing to be born to parents – but there is something exceptional about being chosen by parents. One little boy in Grand Rapids, Michigan was so excited to be officially adopted by his parents that he wanted all of his friends there to celebrate.

Five year old Michael Orlando Clark Jr. invited his entire kindergarten class to attend his adoption hearing last Thursday – and they ALL SHOWED UP! This story is spreading like wildfire around the world.

Each of Clark’s classmates introduced themselves and told the Judge why they were there – because they love Michael. Then, with a bang of a gavel it was official, Michael was adopted and the room erupted into a standing ovation.

Monday, December 9, 2019

It started out as just another Tuesday for students at the Rooted School, an Uptown New Orleans charter high school focused on teaching the latest skills needed in tech industry jobs. But students working in computer labs and other classrooms got more than they bargained for when three high-profile New Orleans Saints popped into their classrooms to see what they were up to.

Demario Davis, Cam Jordan and Thomas Morstead didn’t come empty-handed: They were there to announce a $50,000 grant from the Players Coalition, a charitable organization that partners with professional athletes and coaches across leagues in an effort to improve social justice and racial equity.

“It’s for technology and more resources for all that you guys are doing,” Davis told a group of shocked ninth graders, who in turn showed off their work involving 3D printing and other design projects.

Davis, Jordan and Morstead were joined by fellow Saints Craig Robertson, Justin Hardee, Vonn Bell and Johnson Bademosi as they moved around the classes and chatted with the enthralled students. The grant will be used to support the school’s program of offering industry-based credentials and technology certifications. Funds will also go toward the creation of a technology lab and a robotics class and club, officials said. During the presentation, Davis said he was inspired to donate to Rooted after learning about the school’s mission of helping to close the city’s wealth gap.

“I get excited with things like this because you really get to effect change,” he said. “It’s just kind of ahead of its time.”

Friday, December 6, 2019

JA house is Covington is falling apart, but to the man who lives inside, the home is actually a huge blessing. Albert McKastkill says, “I prayed for a house, clothes. God does everything. I prayed for this- I’m in a better place now than I was.”

One look and you know, his home clearly needs work, but for Albert it is a major step up from no roof, no utilities – the state of his last home. A family member offered to let him live in his current house, but warned it would need a lot of work.

But Albert and his friends are taking the gift and working hard to repair it. Albert worked in construction and trash pick-up his entire life, but now at 73, he needs a helping hand. The tin roof and outside walls need replaced, the home needs leveled, plus new kitchen cabinets and sink. It also needs insulation.

His friends contacted the non-profit organization St. Tammany Parish Helps (STP Helps) about how to move forward with repair work. STP Helps contacted the Lowes in Covington about trying to fix up this man’s home. What they didn’t expect was Lowes to agree to donate $3,000 worth of materials and supplies.

Now with friends on hand and supplies in hand, it is going to be a very special Christmas for Albert McLaskill.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Alex Fischer is just 9 years old but already has a giving heart.

When Alex was 7, her mom suggested they help make a difference in their community. So, the family chose to support the Charlotte Rescue Mission, a Christian recovery program in North Carolina that provides free assistance for men and women battling addiction and homelessness.

They planned to pack a food box as part of the group’s Thanksgiving drive, but Alex said one box wasn’t enough. So, she started her own fundraiser (bake sales, lemonade stands, etc.) and, fast forward, 1 box quickly turned into over 100 boxes. It’s years later, and Alex is still fundraising for the mission center.

She says, “I think everybody should have a Thanksgiving meal with their families. A lot of people in Charlotte don’t have Thanksgiving meals.”

Her mom, Lisa, said she never expected the family service project to grow the way it did. Every year it continues to grow, and as her daughters grow older, she hopes their appetite for serving never fades.

Friday, November 29, 2019

You don’t have to be an elf to help Santa during this year’s holiday season.

As the US Postal Service prepares to start mailing letters to the North Pole, they have launched their online service that allows users to “adopt” children’s letters to Santa in order to help deliver gifts for low-income families.

The USPS Operation Santa website has been publishing photos of Christmas wishes from children in 15 US cities whose parents may not be able to afford many gifts. Users can then volunteer to anonymously fulfill the Christmas wish on behalf of Santa.

This is the 107th year that Operation Santa has been running—except USPS expanded the service this year to include letters from 8 more cities.

All participants have to do is create an account on the Operation Santa website, select a letter that plucks at their heartstrings, fulfill the Christmas wish as desired, and ship it from a participating post office before December 21st.

Children from any of the cities listed on the USPS site who may want to send a letter to Santa can address their letters to:

Santa Claus
123 Elf Road
North Pole
88888

Thursday, November 28, 2019

One of the most popular dishes on the Parkway Bakery and Tavern menu happens for only 5 days a year.

Every Wednesday in the month of November the offering is the delicious turkey stuffing, cranberry and gravy all on one sandwich.

Justin Kennedy from Parkway says, “We’ve been doing this po-boy since 2009, and an old-schooler that used to work here named Randy. This was right after the storm. This was FEMA trailer days. He was living outside, and he told me one day during Thanksgiving he said, ‘You need to do a Thanksgiving po-boy.’ He was 9th Ward, and he said it’d be off the chain!”

Kennedy continued, “We partnered with the Copeland Foundation and as you can see you have this line, and I said what’s something I can do to raise money with and it’s festive. The sandwich is so festive, it’s novelty. There’s people out in lawn chairs waiting for it at 6 in the morning, and I said donate $50 skip the line all your money goes to the Al Copeland foundation to fight cancer. They’re saving lives here in Louisiana left and right. Big Al was stricken with merkel cell carcinoma. He had more money than anybody but couldn’t pay for a cure. Since his death his son vowed to fight this and cure this cancer. Guess what? A man stricken with the same cancer only had a few months to live, he might be here in line today getting a turkey cancer-free.”

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Alex Trebek is perhaps the most famous know-it-all in the world. The host of Jeopardy has been a part of generations growing up watching and learning and making Final Jeopardy wages that usually don’t pay off. Last year when Trebek shared his pancreatic cancer diagnosis, the world was shook. His battle continues, all the while the host has continued to lead Jeopardy.

The best episodes of Jeopardy are always the special tournaments – especially the Teen Jeopardy tournaments. In June Avi Gupta took the crown, winning $100,000. The Columbia University freshman has grown up watching Jeopardy and loves Alex Trebek, so the first thing he did with his winnings was donate $10,314 (10% of his winnings, along with an homage to the number pi) to pancreatic cancer research.

The month of November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month. This disease is beatable when caught early, but is rarely diagnosed early because men ignore the symptoms.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

14 year old Alaina Gassler or West Grove, PA is a problem solver – and $25,000 richer. The teenager created a prototype solution to blindspots in most cars. She 3D printed a highly reflective material and used a webcam and micro projector to turn the A-pillar in her mom’s Jeep Grand Cherokee invisible. The projector lets the driver see THROUGH the A-pillar which is needed for crash protection and stability.

In typical little sister fashion, the budding scientist through her big brother under the bus saying she knew there was a need for this sort of life saving technology once her brother started driving her to school. But she was right. Research says over 800,000 accidents each year in the United States are from not seeing another car in the blindspot.

Alaina won the $25,000 Samueli Foundation Prize for her design. Now the eighth grader is hoping she can sell her design to Tesla and maybe turn this big win into a big career in Science and Engineering.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Twin sisters Hermon and Heroda Berhane love dancing but can’t hear the music because they’re both deaf, so the invention of a jacket with sensors that enables them to feel the different sounds has transformed their nights out in London clubs.

The “Sound Shirt,” created by London-based fashion company CuteCircuit, has 16 sensors embedded in its fabric, so wearers can feel violins on their arms, for example, while drums beat on their backs. Sound Shirts don’t come cheap, as they are expected to go on sale at more than 3,000 pounds, but Heroda believes it’s a price worth paying for deaf people who enjoy music as much as she and her sister do.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Boun Thorne grew up in a boat village in the Southeast Asian nation of Cambodia. In the aftermath of a terrible situation, she moved at age 10 to a safe house where she received Bible teaching and an Operation Christmas Child shoebox—her first gift ever!

When she asked why anyone would send her a gift, Boun’s teacher said “because they love you.” She had never before been told that she was loved. That, more than the flip flops and yo yo in her gift box, the simple idea that somebody loved her was a game changer.

Boun is one of 1.2 million children who have been blessed with an Operation Christmas Child shoebox gift in Cambodia. Of this group, 84,000 boys and girls have also participated in The Greatest Journey, a discipleship program designed especially for shoebox recipients.

From a child receiving a gift, to a young woman alive with Christ, Boun Thorne now shares her story with communities around the world as a spokesperson for Operation Christmas Child.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Kululu Atsiaya often felt forgotten, especially at Christmas. He knew his family loved him, but life was hard for a boy growing up in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya. Kululu and his six siblings lived in a shack with several other family members and slept on the bare floor. For Kululu, Christmas was a reminder of what he and his family didn’t have—enough food, new clothes, or sometimes even the acceptance of those around them.

Kululu could have become a thief – stealing to survive is normal in Nairobi. But a flashlight included in his Operation Christmas Child shoebox changed his life – and life for his entire family. Now they had light in the darkest of nights. Kululu would use his flashlight to help children and families get around in the dark.

Kululu says that light changed his course in life and set him on a path to follow Jesus. Today he serves as an Operation Christmas Child spokesperson, sharing his testimony with churches and other groups to encourage them to get involved in the Samaritan’s Purse project.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

As part of the 2019 Shoebox Roadshow, a dozen children raised enough money through a bake sale to send their shoebox gifts—packed full of toys, school supplies, and hygiene items—to boys and girls around the world in Jesus’ Name!

Grace Presbyterian Church has about 60 members, but don’t let their small size fool you – they dream BIG. The Franklin, NC church partnered with Operation Christmas Child to host a baking workshop for kids and turned their treats into cash with a bake sale and are making a difference around the world.

Patti Huettig volunteers as the local OCC director – and she was inspired by her favorite baking shows on TV to work with local kids in the kitchen – and then turn that around to benefit Operation Christmas Child. Proceeds from the cook-off helped send 60 shoebox gifts around the world.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Ava and Sam are two friends from Oklahoma and they have a healthy sense of competition. Each year the kids compete to see who can pack the most shoebox gifts for Operation Christmas Child!

Last year there was no winner … or loser. They tied, packing 126 gifts each. This year they are shooting for between 150 and 200 gifts EACH!

These gifts of toys, clothes and basic necessities get shipped around the world, along with a Bible and other ministry services through Operation Christmas Child. Ava and Sam don’t just think about bulk gifts when they pack them up – they think about the quality of life for the children who receive the gifts will experience.

Ava includes sewing kits in her gifts. Sam makes sure the kids get a cool t-shirt and some socks. This week is collection week – so you have time to be inspired just like Ava and Sam, to make a difference with Operation Christmas Child! Visit Lifesongs.com/occ and you can even pack a digital box by making a donation, without ever having to wait in line at the store!

Monday, November 18, 2019

Jesús was sentenced to seven years in jail in Mazatlan, Mexico. He was lost and defeated. But in prison he met Pastor Carlos. Jesus gave his life to Christ through the ministry and witness of Pastor Carlos and his wife Marilu.

This changed man was such a model prisoner that his sentence was reduced to just 2 years and when he walked free, Jesus immediately joined his pastors in their work outside of the prison – serving in Operation Christmas Child feeding centers throughout Mexico. The feeding centers were created out of the Operation Christmas Child distribution points, to meet needs year round!

Children who received shoebox gifts at these centers are invited to participate in The Greatest Journey discipleship program. Jesús teaches The Greatest Journey at the feeding center where he serves and about 100 children attended the last round!

Friday, November 15, 2019

When Abby Fink accidentally texted a stranger instead of her church friend, she put in motion an unexpected flow of kindness. Abby meant to text Alex Jakeman about bringing over dinner, since Jakeman’s son 4-year-old son Noah is currently battling a severe type of epilepsy and cerebral palsy at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. However, she ended up reaching Bill Clayten, a complete stranger.

At first, Bill made a joke — wrong texts are usually pretty amusing, after all. But when Fink apologized and explained the situation, Bill Clayten immediately asked what he could do. After some coordination, Bill started raising money on Facebook and asking friends for cards for Noah and donations to help the family with medical expenses.
Bill tells friends, “All we have is each other, so it’s our job to look out for each other.”

Abby says she knows the Jakeman family appreciates the kind gesture, and little Noah is making baby steps in his recovery. Adding, “I told [Bill Clayten] he was an angel sent to help this sweet family.”

Thursday, November 14, 2019

We all know many stories of a boy and his dog. They are endearing and heartfelt and it’s a relationship bond like no other.

Ian Unger, 6, wanted to be able to ride the school bus with his friends, but to do so, he either needed an adult assistant or a service dog that could alert him if his blood sugar dropped. The first-grader has Type 1 diabetes, and his family decided it would be best to get him an alert dog. Because of the high price tag — $25,000 after training and fees — they knew it would take a few years to save up, but Unger announced he was going to start earning money himself.

In the summer he sold lemonade, then for the Fall he switched to pumpkins, which his family grows on their farm. “He’s quite the little salesman,” says Ian’s mom, “We had hundreds of people in the driveway.” Word spread online, and strangers ultimately raised $24,890 for Unger.

Ian will get to meet his dog when training is over in 10 months.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Sometimes a little encouragement makes a huge difference and no one knows that better than moms. That’s why one mother from Astoria, New York who travels for work started leaving inspirational messages on Post-It notes in a Mamava lactation pod at New York City’s LaGuardia Airport for other moms to read.

Grace Stevens says she got the ball rolling when she returned to work at LaGuardia Airport in August by leaving words of support on Post-Its on the walls of the pods for breastfeeding and pumping moms. She also left pens and pads behind for other moms to do the same and it’s really taken off. Notes reading: “You’re doing a great job!” or “Just Breathe!”

As a working mom who travels some for her job, Stevens understands the demands mothers like her face and her goal is to inspire and support other working/traveling moms with the messages. When we can share words of encouragement, it makes it a little easier.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

No one can stop a wildfire alone, and when the blazes come as often and as rapidly as they are in California right now, it’s easy to feel helpless. However, some A-list celebrities are proving that help comes in all forms, whether it involves your talent, your time, or just some tacos.

NBA star LeBron James, who was forced to evacuate Los Angeles with his family earlier this week, sent a taco truck to feed firefighters battling the area’s Getty Fire. Wrestling star and actor John Cena announced plans to donate $500,000 to first responders across the state. (Coincidentally, Cena is playing a firefighter in an upcoming film.)

Meanwhile, a bevy of star chefs, including José Andrés and Guy Fieri, teamed up to feed evacuees and first responders affected by the Kincade Fire. See? When it comes to pitching in during a disaster, no one can do everything. But everyone can do something.

Monday, November 11, 2019

When Andrella “Lashae” Jackson was pulled over recently by a Milwaukee police officer he noticed her two young daughters were not in car seats, the single mom of five expected to leave with a hefty ticket.
Instead, Officer Kevin purchased and installed two car seats for the girls, Niyah and Sky, and issued Jackson a simple verbal warning.

Ms. Jackson said she couldn’t afford car seats at the time.”With bills coming up and winter coming up, I have to get coats and boots and shoes for my kids. Hearing that , Officer Zimmerman, decided to visit Walmart to buy two car seats RIGHT THEN AND THERE!

The 12-year veteran also stopped by the police department to pick up stickers and children’s books for the girls. He visited Jackson’s home and installed the car seats himself. After years of witnessing serious accidents where children went through windshields because they weren’t properly secured, the officer’s main priority was not recognition, but keeping the girls safe.

“I am a dad of three kids and can’t imagine anything happening to them or not being able to have them secured in their car seats,” Zimmerman said.
The Milwaukee Police Department thanked Zimmerman on Facebook “for going the extra mile and going above and beyond your call of duty”.

Andrella JACKSON was recently pulled over by MPD District 5 Officer Zimmerman, and received much more than a traffic…

Posted by Milwaukee Police Department on Monday, October 14, 2019

Friday, November 8, 2019

A group of Florida nurses are using their stitching skills in a whole new way to help the homeless.

Nurse Nicole Hubbard got the idea when she realized how many sterile wrappers, which are used to protect surgical instruments at Tampa General Hospital, get thrown away. She says, “I thought, what a cool recycling initiative to help the homeless. The beauty about it is they conserve heat and they’re waterproof.”

Instead of tossing the wraps, the nurses decided to stitch them together. In came Nicole’s fellow nurses (and sewing pros!) Lucy and Claudia. They sat down together and figured out how to execute their plan. Now, they’ve made 100 sterile wrap sleeping bags (that vary in sizes) to be handed out to the homeless community across Tampa Bay.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

In the hectic world we live in, little moments of kindness can often go unnoticed. But thanks to modern technology, the efforts of one sanitation worker won’t be overlooked.

88-year old Opal Zucca lives in Missouri, and has a Ring doorbell. The surveillance video captured Bill Shelby, a sanitation worker, link arms with Ms. Opal and help her wheel in her trash bin.

In the video, he also compliments her hair. Obviously, the two are friendly pals. And that’s because Bill has been helping Ms. Open with her trash bins all year, ever since he first saw her fall when trying to bring the bins back up her driveway. Since then, he’s taken time out of his schedule to lend a helping hand.

Opal’s daughter saw the video and uploaded it to Facebook with a note of gratitude: “Such a small kind gesture, but it’s an enormous relief for us. Thank you, kind sir.”

Acts of kindness, no matter how small they may seem, can make a big impact.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Chloe Newman lost her right leg when she was a baby, and now she’s helping kids like her see themselves in a new way.

When Mattel recently released a line of diverse Barbie dolls, including one with a stylish prosthetic leg, Chloe, now 18, had an idea. She wanted to buy 100 of the dolls so her doctor at Shriners Hospital for Children in Springfield, Massachusetts, could give them to young patients when he made them a new leg.

At first, the dolls were hard to find in large numbers, but after a few posts on Facebook, friends started sending them to her by the dozen. Chloe and her family wrote to Mattel to see if they could purchase the dolls in bulk, and the company donated 200 of them to her cause.

Chloe ended up with about 430 Barbies to share, and Shriners is making sure everyone gets to enjoy the doll haul. The hospital is giving them to orthotic and prosthetic patients in Springfield, and also plans to share them with patients at other Shriners’ facilities.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

No one likes to pay parking tickets. Well, statistically someone must, but that person is deeply disturbed and probably needs a hug. However, ponying up might not be so bad for Las Vegas residents this month: The city is accepting food donations in lieu of cash for citations issued between October 16 and November 16. The Las Vegas city council says the donations will be given to Helping Hands of Vegas Valley, a nonprofit that assists low income and disabled senior citizens, to bolster their efforts around the upcoming holidays.

This isn’t the first time Las Vegas has offered a helpful payment alternative for naughty parkers. In July, the city accepted donations of school supplies instead.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Dana Perella isn’t your average 9-year-old. Despite her age, she has already helped bake more than 10,000 cookies and raised over $86,000 towards treatment and research of rare diseases.

The Boulder, Colorado girl started raising money after her grandma gave her $100 for her 7th birthday to donate to a cause of her choice. She used the cash to raise money in honor of her friend Mila, who lives with a condition.
Dana raised an additional $1000 for Mila, and founded Cookies4Cures – And the success of Cookies4Cures spread to nearly 50 other families who wanted to help raise money for rare diseases.

This led to Cookies4PANS, a second fundraising initiative looking to raise money for a friend named Ollie who suffers from Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome (PANS), After more baking and more GoFundMe donations, Dana and her friends raised $30,000. Dana understands the large time commitment for family members caring for a sick child and feels as though her baking skills can help find a cure.

While Dana’s goal is to find a cure for every rare disease, the Parella’s want to create spreadable information that can help other kids start their own Cookies4Cures for their friends suffering from rare diseases.

Friday, November 1, 2019

It wasn’t all that long ago that Dillon Danis was considered by some to be one of the biggest trolls in MMA. But recently the jiu-jitsu ace, Bellator athlete and Conor McGregor training partner has totally ruined his online persona by exposing his true colors – as a generous man with a heart of gold.

Danis took time out from training and tweeting to take a stand when he saw something that appalled him and every other fair-minded person who saw it.

It was a video of a Baltimore schoolboy who, after being cornered in a school bathroom, was made to remove his glasses before being set upon by a gang of bullies, who battered the youngster with punches, kicks and slaps while someone recorded the incident on a mobile phone.

As is the norm in today’s society, people around were more interested in filming the beatdown “For The Gram” instead of lending a helping hand. Danis, though, decided to leap into action and arranged for him to begin training as soon as possible.

Danis says “It’s important to me because being bullied is a terrible feeling and the discipline and confidence that comes from martial arts is compared to nothing else. So…jiu jitsu changed my life and I owe it everything, so I want others to have the same opportunity that I was given. These videos break my heart. Nobody should have to go through this. If anyone knows how to contact him I wanna get him into martial arts immediately.”

As a result of these instances, and the seemingly never-ending cases of bullying in schools, Danis is looking to start a non-profit organization to help victims to train in self-defense.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Crossing guards are often unsung heroes. In many communities, the bright reflective vest wearing, stop sign waving traffic assistant not only keeps the carpool lane moving, but can be the last smile and encouragement a student hears as they brace themselves for the challenges of school.

One such encourager is Alec Childress. the 80 year old crossing guard is always ready with a welcome smile or fistbump for the kids headed into school in Wilmette, IL. He dutifully calls out to the students “Peace! I gotcha!” A few weeks ago Alex reported for duty, only to find a mass of people blocking his assigned street crossing. But it didn’t take long to figure out this was no ordinary traffic problem.

Over 100 students, parents and teachers had gathered before school to celebrate Alex’s 80th birthday, carrying signs that said “Peace, We Gotcha!” Students who had long ago moved on to middle and high school showed up to thank Mr. Childress.

Is there an unsung hero in your school district that you need to thank? It is Thankful Thursday!

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Tulane’s football team has had an incredible season – and there is one player on the team who really scored a big win – but this victory goes way beyond a touchdown. Christian Montano, who plays Center for the Green Wave, is a graduate student at Tulane. And he saved the life of a complete stranger by donating bone marrow.

When Christian was a freshman, he participated in a campus-wide, routine mouth-swab drive for the national bone marrow registry run by the Be The Match organization. He was told there was less than a 2 percent chance of anything coming of it, but three years later, right before Thanksgiving in 2017, the Rhode Island blood bank reached out to the college student, asking him to return for secondary testing to confirm he was the best available match for someone. That someone was a 44 year old man in Saratoga, NY, named Jim Calhoun.

Before contacting Christian Montano for the first time, Jim Calhoun spent about two hours figuring out what he was going to say to the total stranger who saved his life. When he finally punched in the phone number and Montano answered, it took only a few seconds for him to feel as if they had been longtime friends.

Recently Christian and Jim got to hang out when Tulane flew up to New York to play Army. Jim will be considered cured if he has no setback for two years after the operation, and he is more than halfway there. Without Montano’s bone marrow, his chances would have been slim to none.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

After making a perfect 30-yard field goal and winning a year’s worth of free food, a California teenager instantly donated the prize to her rival high school’s football coach, who was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

John Langilotti is the coach at Bonita High School in La Verne, while Tiffany Gomez is a junior at Glendora High School in Glendora. On Friday, the schools met for their annual football game, and during halftime, Gomez participated in a field goal contest. She won free food for a year from a local Chick-fil-A, but since her grandmother has cancer, she knows how hard it can hit a family, and chose to give Langilotti her prize.

The coach was overwhelmed, saying, “For a young lady like her to come out and want to provide this generosity for a family in need just brought tears to my eyes and I was ever so grateful.”

Monday, October 28, 2019

Jupiter, FL realtor Andrew Levy found out there were local kids who couldn’t afford their school lunches, so Levy met with the school district and paid off their outstanding student lunch debt for over 400 kids. His plan is to pay off the debt every quarter throughout the year.

But wait, there’s more! Realtor Andrew Levy has also started an online fundraiser to help cover the future costs for even more students, letting the entire community get involved. The hope is to make sure hot lunch is provided for every student in Palm Beach County.

Friday, October 25, 2019

A Michigan high school marching band had no football team to play for, but not too far away, a football team needed a band. Luckily, they found each other and completed the perfect pair. Nope, this isn’t a Hallmark movie, it’s real life.

The Glen Lake Lakers football team heard that their neighboring Forest Area Marching Band had no one to play for after their football team’s season was canceled, so the Lakers invited the band to come play at their games.

Thrilled at the opportunity to perform for a crowd, the band quickly learned the Lakers’ fight song. Meanwhile, an hour away, Glen Lake was adding extra seating and erecting tents to ward off the impending rain. The night ended in a victory for Glen Lake, played out against the backdrop of the music they’ve been lacking all season long.

The Glen Lake athletic director said that the band undoubtedly made an impact on the atmosphere of the night.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Target just rolled out a pair of costumes for kids in wheelchairs and they’re genius! Kids and adults alike have been dreaming up crazy cool wheelchair getups forever and to have a major chain stock them is a great move. In addition to the pirate and princess on wheels costumes, Target is also stocking two costumes for children with sensory issues: a shark and a unicorn. The sensory adapted costumes don’t have tags or other additions that kids with sensory processing disorders might find bothersome.

How about a spaceship or a dragon? Very trendy. Every child (and child at heart) should get the chance to be a Halloween show-stopper.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Had Sylvie Beckers not overwatered her family’s backyard flower bed in Kentucky, she never would have helped her mother discover a new insect species.

In the summer of 2016, Beckers, then 2, got a little too enthusiastic with the hose, and flooded the flower bed. Her mom, biology professor Laura Sullivan-Beckers, soon could see “these bright green bugs float up to the top of the soil,” she told Good Morning America. With her daughter by her side, she spent the rest of the summer taking photos and collecting species, eventually sending the specimens to the Department of Agriculture.

Three years later, Sullivan-Beckers got the call: This was a new species, and an especially rare find as its “closest relatives are all in South America,” research entomologist Stuart H. McKamey said.

Without Beckers, the bugs likely would have stayed deep underground, and her mother named the species Hebetica sylviae in her honor.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Have you ever dropped your phone in a crazy place? Perhaps the toilet? What about a storm drain? Shauna Hall thought for sure that was the last she would see of her precious iPhone.  Shauna rushed into a nearby ChickFilA in a panic after dropping her phone down a storm drain while taking her son out of the van.  CFA employee Seth Ratliff said, “Compassion just took over and I just wanted to help.”

Seth got on the ground by the grate and used a grab-stick mirror to look for the phone. He quickly realized the phone had gone through the drainage gate and down into the “dark abyss” under the street. As Seth got down and dirty, Shauna and her son went to eat in the restaurant (they were hungry!). 

Seth saw the manhole wasn’t bolted down so he grabbed a flashlight and entered the sewers.  After braving the underworld beneath the streets, Seth Ratliff emerged victorious, returning Ms. Hall’s phone to her unharmed.

“I wasn’t going to stop until I got her phone back. She was so upset seeing as her whole life was on that phone,” adding, “I’m a follower of Christ and I just wanted to do the right thing.”

Now that’s some next-level customer service.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Dr. Olawale Sulaiman is a 49-year-old neurosurgeon who was born in Lagos, Nigeria, but lives in New Orleans, where he practices at the Ochsner Neuroscience Institute. However, for about 12 days a month, Sulaiman returns to his birth country to perform operations and share his expertise with local medical professionals.

To maintain such a schedule, he took a 25% pay cut at his job in the US, so he could have more time off for medical missions to Nigeria. Sulaiman also started RNZ Global, a healthcare development company with his wife, Patricia, in 2010 (power couple, much?). The company provides medical services including neuro and spinal surgery and offers health courses like first aid CPR in Nigeria and the US.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Cheerleader Tyra Winters is Rockwall High School’s homecoming hero and it wasn’t for anything that happened on the field. The 17-year-old senior was riding on a float in the homecoming parade when she saw a desperate mother and a little boy who needed help.

The teen hero said, “I see the kid. I see a little bright red face and his mom’s holding him up, begging for help, screaming, asking ‘someone help me someone help me.’” Winters immediately jumped off the float and I ran down and took over . She held the little boy and gave him three strong back thrusts that made him spit up the candy he was choking on.

Fortunately, Winters had gotten CPR training in eighth grade because her mom is in the medical field. Winters plans to be a pediatric surgeon.

“I commend her for being a teenager and being trained,” says Nicole Hornback the little boys mom. The Hornback family is going to get CPR and first aid training right away.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

An optimistic outlook is also good for your health! According to a new study involving 300,000 people, those who look at life from a positive perspective have a much stronger shot at avoiding death from heart attacks, stroke and other major medical events.

Dr. Alan Rozanski, the author of the study, says optimists tend to have better health habits, like exercising and eating well. They also tend to have better coping and problem-solving skills when things get hairy. However, remember not to confuse optimism with happiness, Rozanski says. “Happiness is an emotion. It’s transient,” he says. “[Optimism is] how you look at the world.”

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

For almost 30 years, Forgotten Harvest has fought two problems: hunger and waste.

This year Forgotten Harvest will deliver 138,000 pounds of surplus food per day to local charities six days a week, providing families in need with fresh and nutritious food free of charge..

According to FDA estimates, the United States wastes 30 to 40% of its food. That’s hard to swallow when you consider that one in 10 US households faced food insecurity in 2018.

That means roughly 14 million families are struggling to put meals on the table while approximately 30 million tons of food are trashed.

Sending food to the dump carries a steep environmental cost as well. Landfills, filled more with discarded food than any other single item, account for one-third of all US methane gas emissions.

The Forgotten Harvest operation is set up so that a fleet of about 27 trucks and drivers leave the warehouse in the morning and go to about 12 to 14 different stops for the donations of food. From local bakers and butchers to national chains, then these drivers redistribute the food to three to four community partners on a daily basis.”

A rotating army of 16,000 volunteers makes this daily event happen.  Volunteers donated 54,000 hours of service to Forgotten Harvest in 2018.

Last year Forgotten Harvest redistributed 41 million pounds of food, That’s 41 million pounds that filled stomachs instead of landfills.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

7-year old Jermaine Bell did it. He finally made it to Disney World.

You may remember our Good News Story on September 6, 2019 about Jermaine. The Jacksonville, FL native had been saving for a trip to the happiest place on earth to celebrate his 7th birthday, but instead, he used his savings to help those affected by Hurricane Dorian. (He bought hot dogs, chips and water for about 100 evacuees while he was visiting his grandmother in South Carolina.)

His good deed didn’t go unnoticed. Mickey Mouse himself surprised Jermaine on his seventh birthday at his home, where they announced he’d be visiting all four Disney World theme parks at the end of the month. Disney Parks sent Jermaine and his family on a VIP vacation.

Monday, October 14, 2019

When an East Tennessee third-grader lost his items in a house fire, his classmates stepped up to make a difference in a tough time. According to Philadelphia Elementary School. one of their “Warriors,” Daniel Hunt, lost all of his things in a house fire last week.

His fellow third graders and teachers decided to secretly organize a toy drive for him to replace some of what was lost.
Recently , the school gave Daniel his toys and “he was so surprised and thankful!””My mind is blown,” said Daniel. Daniel’s Mom Kristen said.”I sat and cried at work for a good 45 minutes. I’m just so overwhelmed at all the love and the community coming together for us. It’s just very overwhelming and a blessing,

Kristen and Daniel are staying with family until they get back on their feet

Friday, October 11, 2019

A teacher at an elementary school in Kentucky went above and beyond to ensure that a student didn’t miss out on a fun class field trip.Ryan, 10, has Spina Bifida, a birth defect that occurs when the spine and spinal cord don’t form properly.

The condition has made Ryan rely on a wheelchair to get around — so a hiking field trip was less than ideal for the Tully Elementary School student.

Ryan’s mother, Shelly, was preparing for an alternate field trip day when a teacher reached out to her and offered to carry her daughter on his back all day.

“If I haven’t bragged on my kids school enough – well, listen to this,” Shelly wrote in a Facebook post.

“They are going on a field trip to Falls Of The Ohio today. Obviously, NOT accessible. I was preparing for an ‘alternate field trip day’ when a male teacher reached out and said ‘I’m happy to tote her around on the falls all day!’ She is so excited to do this independent from me. Omg MELT MY HEART.”

Several photos, teacher Jim Freeman – who is not even Ryan’s teacher – was captured carrying the fourth grader on his back in a carrier as they explored the state park.

“We are so blessed to have an ENTIRE school that is so compassionate and empathetic and NEVER make her feel left out,” Shelly said.

Speaking to a local news station, Freeman said the gesture was nothing more than a way to help a student in need.

“This is just one physical act that you can see, but we do this countless times throughout the school day and throughout the year,” he said. “All the teachers here at Tully and JCPS, they work harder than most people realize.”

Thursday, October 10, 2019

An elementary school was having spirit week and a young 4th grade boy, who loves the Tennessee Volunteers, proudly wore an orange shirt with a homemade UT design taped to the front. The boy was mocked by his peers (4th grade is hard), but when his teacher shared a picture of the shirt and told his story – well of course it went viral.

The University of Tennessee was so impressed with the young man’s fandom, that they co-opted his design and printed merchandise in his honor – which promptly crashed their webstore as thousands ordered the shirt. The school says they are giving a portion of the proceeds to the non-profit Stomp Out Bullying. They sent the young student a care package that included his custom logo.

But this story continued to grow when the University of Tennessee then awarded this bullied young fan a 4 year scholarship once he graduates high school! He’ll be in the class of 2028!

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Imagine you are a mom with a teenaged son on the autism spectrum and he comes home from school, confesses to being bullied and talks about suicide. That was reality for Hunter Boudreaux’s mom, but instead of panicking she steered her son to creative self expression to combat the onset of depression, saying “I won’t let him be the victim of a condition.”

With his mom’s help, Hunter started a YouTube channel called Autisti-Chef where he shows off his favorite recipes and engages with his fans. Hunter might be diagnosed with Asperger’s and ADHD, but by putting his energies into his passion for cooking, Hunter is thriving.

Hunter Boudreax says, “Life is full of too many negatives to intentionally have negative stuff in it. Whenever you can, make the positives.”

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Two sisters from Delaware — Zaria, 13, and Hailey, 8 — read bedtime stories five nights a week on Facebook Live because they believe that all kids should have the opportunity to fall asleep to a bedtime story. The girls shared in a Facebook post that since their mom read to them since birth they both consider themselves avid readers, so why not share that literary love with the world?

Zaria says, “We are already reading each night but we thought it may be beneficial for children who don’t get this luxury. Parents sometimes work late or are too tired for stories. We are not only helping children, we are giving parents a nice break after a long day of work.”

The girls make a point to read bedtime books with diverse characters and stories. Zaria and Hailey started the endeavor back in March 2019 and got about 50 views per night. They now get anywhere from 3 to 12 thousand views on their Facebook Live streams each night.

Monday, October 7, 2019

In a tiny room tucked behind the far side of the Port Allen Middle School gym, Chase Nyland-Square spends hours each week sorting crowded racks of clothes, putting the best ones forward for his classmates in need of something to wear. Last year, the eighth-grader started donation drives for gently used clothes when he originated PAMS Pantry, a project that’s set up dozens of students with clean and modern clothes when they can’t always get them.

Chase spends a few hours of the day at the pantry and even worked at the pantry during his summer break for students needing to stop by. The 13 year old says, “A lot of kids don’t have a lot of things. We don’t want kids to be categorized by things they don’t have.”

Other times the pantry has served students during emergencies. In one case, the pantry supplied a student with a new wardrobe after she lost everything in a house fire. Chase was celebrated recently on “Good Morning America” for his work and the show rewarded him with a $10,000 donation to continue his efforts.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Lauren Bergner spent months preparing her 6-year-old son Brody for Disney World.
Brody has autism and communicating with him about change before it happens helps him to adjust more easily – but this mom is well aware that meltdowns are inevitable for her child, who is sensitive to noise and crowds.

She could sense a storm was brewing on Sunday, while Brody was waiting to meet Snow White at Epcot Theme Park. Brody was hot and overwhelmed and couldn’t hold back the tears anymore. But Snow White knew exactly what to do to soothe the boy, who is nonverbal.

“She kissed, hugged and cuddled him,” Lauren wrote in a Facebook post that has gone viral with 69,000 shares. “She then took him for a walk away from the crowd! She was amazing.” Lauren and her husband, Bill, watched in awe. They had never seen Brody connect with a stranger so quickly.

Lauren admits she lost her composure and started openly weeping for joy while watching Snow White hug and love on her son. The family was worried about others waiting in the line, but when they turned around hundreds of Snow White fans gave the Disney Princess and Brody a big round of applause.

Lauren said “It was this magical moment that we will never, ever forget.”

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Eli Apple, Cornerback for the New Orleans Saints, happens to be a son of a Saint! Annie Apple is Eli’s mom.  She is a writer with a background in journalism. One day Annie felt that she heard God say clear as day “You don’t get to dictate how I write your story.” Annie says, “In that moment and time, I felt such a release. All of a sudden, I felt moved to use football as a platform in a way that we all get to win.”

That moment was the birth of the HealHer Network, Annie Apple’s mobile support outreach for women who are victims of domestic violence. Annie is a survivor of domestic violence and now she’s doing her part to make sure more women are survivors.  Every week during the NFL season, HealHer Network will visit designated NFL cities and connect with women who have suffered trauma from physical abuse.

Proud son Eli says, “She has always been caring and always wanting to give back and always wanted to impact lives,” My Mom has a big heart and you can see that now. She just wants to do what she can to spread wisdom and knowledge in helping people.”

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of four women have experienced physical violence by an intimate partner.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

When Satchel Smith’s father dropped him off for his shift at Homewood Suites in Beaumont, Texas, he expected the day to be like any other: He’d start at 3 p.m. and leave around 11 p.m. that night. That was until Tropical Storm Imelda unleashed torrential flooding that trapped him and 90 other guests inside the hotel.

For 32 hours, the 21-year-old was the hotel’s only employee. But to the guests who relied on him for nearly two days, he’s a hero. While flooded roads kept his co-workers from getting to work, Smith served guests alone. Angela Chandler, a hotel guest, praised Smith’s composure in a post on Facebook, where it’s been shared more than 13,000 times.

The viral post said:
“He has manned the phones, answered each of our questions, ensured that we have had a hot cup of coffee or tea, and helped serve us a hot breakfast. He has handled this situation with grace, kindness, and a beautiful smile on his face.”

The Lamar University track and field star confessed that he felt overwhelmed the whole time. Typically positioned behind the front desk, he was now the hotel’s chef, maintenance man, room service attendant and any other vacant position that needed filling, even when his experience was lacking. A guest stepped in to help serve breakfast, and a few others joined them to prepare dinner — a simple chicken pasta with garlic bread. Satchel was pleasantly surprised that it tasted good.

Outside, the highways were closed and drivers were stuck in their cars, so Satchel Smith and the guests braved the flood to distribute food and water to stalled truckers. After spending so much time together, the group was forever bound together.

Meet Satchel. He is the only employee here at Homewood Suites in Beaumont. The access road is underwater and I10 is shut…

Posted by Angela K Chandler on Thursday, September 19, 2019

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

As a two-time breast cancer survivor, Nancy Riviere knows all the ways a cancer battle can wear someone down. She also knows that, in between tests and treatments and side effects, it’s easy for people to lose their sense of self. Her nonprofit organization Wig Out provides high-quality wigs to women (and men) going through cancer treatments so they can reclaim a little bit of what makes them, well, them. But it’s more than just a great hairstyle.

“We’re taking care of the emotional impact of the cancer diagnosis and putting together the tools to restore people’s confidence and give them the dignity they need to make it through,” she says.

Riviere and her team have provided wigs and head coverings to more than 300 patients around the country, as well as moral support and even advice for dealing with the side effects of cancer treatments.

“I love what I do,” she says. “Cancer treatments can leave people feeling so vulnerable, and it’s just an honor to help put these women back together.”

Monday, September 30, 2019

Among the advertisements lining the billboards along a stretch of road in Kansas City, Missouri, is one with a simple yet powerful message:

“You are human. You are loveable. You are strong. You are enough.”

Nicole Leth rented the billboard in honor of her father, Richard, who died by suicide when she was 17 years old.

“I realized over the years I could never save someone’s life for them, but I could create an encouraging and affirmative space to empower them to save their own life.”

In the nine years since she lost her dad, Leth has found comfort in spreading positive messages, but had never done anything this public until now.

“The reaction has been unbelievable and heartfelt and overwhelmingly positive,” Leth said. “I have been receiving lots of emails from people who said it mattered, or they saw it and had a terrible day and didn’t think they could survive, and without knowing the story of the billboard, they said it let them live one more day.”

Other people who have lost someone to suicide told Leth the billboard shares the words they wish they could have said to their loved ones.

While she initially paid for the billboard to run through mid-August, Leth said the owner of the space has been touched by the response and emailed her to say it will run free of charge for the foreseeable future. It’s the perfect way to honor her father and spread a message of hope she said she knows he’d love.

“He truly had the same heart as me and he always felt things so intensely. We’d always go on these cross country road trips and have the deepest conversations about life and people and love,” she said. “He was the first person who taught me how to make beauty out of hard things.”

Friday, September 13, 2019

One 18-year-old’s science fair project has put us all to shame, and may have found a solution to one of the world’s biggest problems: The tiny bits of plastic waste that are choking our oceans.

For his project, Fionn developed a method to extract microplastics from water using magnetic liquids called ferrofluids. Yeah, let that sink in. The experiment was 88% effective at removing the particles, and he won the grand prize of $50,000 at this year’s Google Science Fair.

This fall, Fionn will continue his studies at the University of Groningen’s Stratingh Institute for Chemistry in the Netherlands. Incredible. Way to go, Fionn!

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Jade Stephenson has always loved her grandmother’s wedding dress. It’s not traditional – in fact, it’s bright red with black trim. Colorful and stunning, just like her grandma. Once, Jade asked her grandmother to hang on to it for her so she could wear it for a special occasion.

When Jade learned her 80-year-old grandma couldn’t travel to attend her college in Liverpool, England, she knew that special occasion had arrived.

Under her cap and gown, Jade wore the dress, much to her grandmother’s delight. For Jade, it was more than just a vintage fashion choice: It was to honor two beloved people in her life.

She says, “I originally tried the dress on a few years ago, so I knew what it looked like on and her face then lit up. So I knew that asking her if I could wear it for graduation would make her smile. Also, my grandad died in 2009 and to me, it felt like part of him was there with me on such a special day.”

Several people complimented her on her fashion choice for the ceremony, and Jade’s grandmother says she was overwhelmed and honored she chose that dress for such a big moment.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

A 400-mile Uber drive sounds like a nightmare, for both a passenger and a driver. But there was no other choice for two sisters stuck at the Minneapolis airport who were trying to get to their aunt’s 100th birthday party in Edgerton, Minnesota … 200 miles each away. Their flight had been canceled, so in a desperate last move, they called an Uber and hoped someone would be up to the task. Sure enough, a man arrived a few minutes later and agreed to the unexpected trek (and his name was Jesus, you can’t make this stuff up).

Jesus, the driver said, “I feel that they need to be attending the birthday and I enjoy driving, so yeah, it worked out well – It’s an important occasion, and if I was in their place, I would appreciate very much someone bringing me there when there was no other way.”

Sisters Kerry and Deb said the driver was “so sweet” and the ride was really pleasant. The party was over by the time they arrived, but their family knew what was up, so everyone wait