Norwegian Cruise Line commemorated a new ship by awarding 100 teachers from the U.S. and Canada with a free voyage that included an exclusive concert by Kelly Clarkson. Norwegian’s Giving Joy awards ceremony also recognized the teachers with $170,000 for the top three Grand Prize winners and their schools. The contest was launched during National Teacher Appreciation Week (May 2–6) to recognize deserving educators.
The top three Grand Prize winners who garnered the most votes were flown to Galveston, Texas, from their homes in New Jersey, Florida, and New York, to embark on the cruise.
• Patricia Hosmer from Bayonne High School in Bayonne, New Jersey Hosmer has been a dedicated teacher and curriculum writer for over 35 years. With her incredible dedication, the widowed breast cancer survivor also teaches at an Alternative High School in the evening and tutors students who are unable to attend school due to illness.
• Theresa Schrager from Falcon Cove Middle School, in Weston, Florida, won second place. Schrager said “Many children have hurdles to overcome, but hard work and creativity is what makes a student strive in my Film and Creative Writing classes. Sometimes, I am the only class that keeps students coming to school, and I have to motivate them to do their best in other classes.”
• Third prize went to Anthony Stirpe from New Rochelle High School in New York called teaching ‘the privilege of a lifetime’. “As teachers, we have superpowers; when we put a grade on an assignment, we have the ability to make a student see themselves in a particular way. We label them a success, mark them as average, or, worst case, we set them up for failure. I like to create a classroom where all kids find something they excel in. When students struggle, I let them know it is okay to fail forward, make mistakes, correct those mistakes and grow” he said.
In addition to their schools getting donations, each of the Grand Prize winners received another surprise—nearly $40,000 each in prize money, thanks to partners of the Giving Joy annual teacher recognition program. To date the Giving Joy program has awarded 230 teachers across the U.S. and Canada with free cruises and donated over $350,000 to schools and educators since 2019.
Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos named Dolly Parton as the latest winner of his Courage and Civility Award. The award recognizes leaders who “aim high, find solutions, and always do it with civility”. Each awardee receives 100 million dollars to invest in the charities of their choice. Bezos said “She embodies these ideals so thoroughly, she gives with her heart. What she’s done for kids and literacy, and so many other things, is just incredible.”
In her acceptance remarks, Dolly said, “When people are in the position to help, you should help.” She thanked Bezos and said she believes he gives from the heart too. The large donation could be invested in her Imagination Library, which two months ago hit the milestone of 190 million free books gifted to children.
Bezos stepped down from CEO of his company last year to focus on philanthropy. The 58-year-old tech billionaire is the world’s fourth richest person. He recently said that he was setting up the foundations for the ability to give away the vast majority of his $124 billion fortune during his lifetime. A year ago, Bezos pledged $10 billion over 10 years to the Bezos Earth Fund, to be spent on expanding and monitoring protected areas and conservation. That was on top of the ten-thousand millions he’d already devoted towards combating climate change.
In 2021, he awarded the first two Courage and Civility Awards, accompanied by the same amount of money. The first winner was José Andrés, who feeds masses of people after humanitarian disasters with his nonprofit World Central Kitchen—with some of those millions going to help war-torn Ukrainians.
The second winner was Van Jones, whose work in the nonprofit world mainly in the sphere of criminal justice reform. He co-founded Dream Corps, which supports reducing the U.S. prison population, and the racial justice organization Color of Change. He was also the founding CEO of Reform Alliance, a nonprofit focused on similar issues that launched following the incarceration of the rapper Meek Mill.
On one of the busiest travel days of the year, the evening before Thanksgiving, with so many people flying home this holiday season, flight delays and cancellations are inevitable, leaving travelers looking for hotels in unfamiliar cities. Wyndham Hotels & Resorts has teamed up with Lowes to set-aside 50 free stays for travelers in need, hoping to evoke “home for the holidays” for stranded passengers in five of the biggest airports in the U.S.
Lowe’s will decorate the rooms to be winter wonderlands “to channel the magic of the holiday season”. If you find yourself stranded on the night of Wednesday, Nov. 23rd in one of these five airports: La Guardia in New York, LAX in Los Angeles, O’Hare in Chicago, DFW in Dallas, and Miami Int’l Airport. Ten rooms will be available at each of these 5 major airports.
Lowe’s marketing exec Jen Wilson said “We know that there are few things more frustrating than being stuck in an unfamiliar city during the holidays, away from the creature comforts of home, family and friends,” said. “We’re thrilled to have the chance to provide select travelers with a memorable holiday experience.”
Here’s what to do if you need a room:
Visit the Holiday Home Layover website.
The webpage will show the list of 5 participating hotels.
Each of the five hotels will have a total of 10 rooms available.
If there are no more rooms available at a specific location, that hotel location will be grayed out—and the user will be unable to select it from the list.
If rooms are available at a location the user will select the location, complete the registration form, and land on the Thank-You page, which will confirm their booking.
User will receive a confirmation email that will include the location of the hotel, hotel phone number, and unique booking code provided by Wyndham.
Winner will need to present travel documents while checking-in at the hotel.
When all 50 rooms have been reserved, users will no longer be able to select a location.
A South Carolina community came together to make 10,000 sandwiches in one day to give away to local food banks, schools, soup kitchens, and shelters. The 200 volunteers in Greenville were honoring the legacy of Eugenia Duke, a local woman who bucked every norm 100 years ago to start a business on her own—and support soldiers in World War I.
In 1917, Eugenia Duke and her daughter Martha began selling homemade sandwiches for 10 cents each at Army canteens to make extra money for their family in Greenville during the war.
Her pimento cheese, bacon, and mayonnaise sandwiches were quite popular and she got so many requests from soldiers at nearby Camp Sevier that she started bottling her homemade mayo four years later. Duke’s Mayonnaise became a beloved condiment that is still sold on grocery shelves in much of the United States
The volunteers followed in Duke’s footsteps when she famously made 10,000 sandwiches in 1 day to support soldiers during World War 1. They used around one ton of homemade pimento and cheddar cheese salad to assemble 10,000 sandwiches inside the historic pavilion downtown which is the same location of the original Duke’s Mayonnaise factory.
The whole community helped out forming assembly lines and working tirelessly for six straight hours to hit the 10,000-sandwich goal. Meals on Wheels delivered the sandwiches, Loaves & Fishes distributed the food, and Duke’s provided 100 gallons of its famous sauce. Other local hospitality companies contributed equipment and manpower to VisitGreenvilleSC, which organized the entire operation. Together, they fed thousands with the gourmet sandwiches during this season of giving—all while honoring one of America’s earliest female entrepreneurs, Eugenia Duke.
A 14-year-old in San Diego, California, was the grand prize winner of this year’s 3M Young Scientist Challenge. Leanne Fan won the nation’s premier middle school science competition for developing Finsen Headphones. Named after Niels Finsen, the scientist who discovered that ultraviolet light can be used to treat bacterial infections, the low-cost headphone device uses machine learning and blue light therapy to detect and treat mid-ear infections in children.
The treatment could potentially prevent up to 60% of hearing loss in children. There are 700 million cases of mid-ear infections and nearly 21,000 deaths annually. Many of those impacted are children in underprivileged populations. Without medical access and or healthcare, diagnosis and treatment are often difficult. Leanne’s invention aims to provide an antibiotic free, low-cost option to detect—and treat—any mid-ear infection.
While its infection treating capabilities are impressive, Fan says her headphones are equally impressive at playing music. Leanne worked with her assigned mentor—Dr. Ross Behling, a research specialist in 3M’s material laboratory—to transform her idea from concept to prototype.
The teen won a $25,000 cash prize, a special destination trip, and the prestigious title of “America’s Top Young Scientist”. She is planning to use some of the prize money to start the patent process for the headphones.
Fan said it’s a convenient way to treat children. Headphones are familiar, easy-to-wear devices, so children are less likely to feel scared or anxious. In addition, they can even listen to music during the treatment. The 9th grader says phototherapy is her favorite invention and she hopes the invention will help children in poverty stricken areas receive treatment they otherwise would not have access to.
A heartwarming reunion between Senior Airman Jenna Canada and her military working dog, Akim was shared on social media. The sweet story started when they were deployed together in South Korea. Jenna admits she wasn’t open to him at first because her first assigned working dog did not work out. But after a traumatic moment, they were bonded forever.
They were still finding their groove when Akim was stung by a bee he’d accidentally swallowed. His severe allergic reaction was life-threatening. “Within five minutes, he started vomiting, and then he became unresponsive,” Jenna said. “In that moment, I didn’t think, I just swooped him up and started running with him and rushed into our vet.”
She made it to the vet just in time with the 70-pound dog in her arms. Akim twice became unresponsive, but fought hard to come back each time. For days during his recovery, Akim could not go home and Jenna did not leave his side. She slept in the kennel with him, just to make sure he was OK. After that experience the two were inseparable.
Jenna said “After that whole medical ordeal, everything just, it seemed right. Like he wasn’t ready to go, and you could see that, and he was a fighter, and I wasn’t ready for him to go either. In that moment, I was like, you’re not going anywhere. You’re mine, you’re going to stay with me. I love you. That’s when I realized I really love this dog. I’m like, he’s amazing.”
The experience caused Akim to lose his sight, though he eventually gained part of it back. Then, as her deployment was ending, Jenna learned that Akim was retiring. She immediately started the process of bringing her best friend home to her. It was an eight-month process to get approval to transport Akim more than 6,000 miles to his forever home in Kirtland, New Mexico, with his loving handler.
With the help of the American Humane Society, the two were finally reunited and the sweet moment was shared. Jenna said “No one is going to care as much about him as me. I just want him to have the best life and, you know, get to see things that he never really got to see because he was out in Korea for so long. He makes me so happy. I love coming home to him every day.”
Girl Scouts of the USA announced that MacKenzie Scott donated $84.5 million—their largest gift ever from one person. The generous grant will help make up for the absence of funds raised from cookie sales and membership during the pandemic. The donation, awarded to GSUSA and 29 local councils including $4.2 million to the Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin River Valleys and $4.9 million to Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles.
The donation will accelerate GSUSA’s initiatives that give girls the tools to become the next generation of powerful women leaders. The group says the grant will also foster an expanded focus on career readiness and mental wellness. The money will also bolster staff and volunteer training and future-proof its facilities, including the iconic Girl Scout camp properties, including expanding both accessibility and high adventure elements at camp.
“We are so appreciative of MacKenzie Scott’s gift to Girl Scouts. This is a great accelerator for our ongoing efforts to help girls cultivate the skills and connections needed to lead in their own communities and globally,” said Girl Scouts of the USA CEO Sofia Chang. “The support from all our donors, including this generous donation from Ms. Scott, is critical in delivering on our work of reimagination and transformation. We’re excited to prove how Ms. Scott’s investment in girls will change the world—because when one girl succeeds, we all succeed.”
Since the pandemic began, the youth organization’s membership has dropped by 30%: It was a little more than 1 million in 2021-2022, down from roughly 1.4 million in 2019-2020, according to figures the group released last year. Philanthropic contributions are increasingly important, as many people incorrectly assume the Girl Scouts raise enough money to fund itself from cookie sales alone but the organization says the majority of those proceeds stays with local councils and troops.
Honda designed a tiny electric car to ease the stress and anxiety of hospitalized children. The Shogo was specifically designed to navigate hospital hallways and transport all the IV drips and monitoring machines a child might require. It allows them to drive themselves down the hallways to their treatments; turning what could be a stressful journey into a fun joy ride.
Randall Smock, a senior exterior designer of vehicles for Honda, played a significant role in the design of Shogo and called it a labor of love. “As someone who spent time in the hospital as a young child, I really wanted the number one objective of Shogo to be easing the hardship of a hospital stay by providing kids a lasting positive memory about that experience” Smock said. When talking about the creation of the car, it brought tears to the engineering teams’ eyes.
Shogo, based on a Japanese word intended to mean “soaring into the future,” it was built to focus on young patients, ages 4 through 9, who can easily drive with its power controls, manage the go/stop mechanism on the steering wheel. It has an adjustable speed of 1-5 miles per hour, which is controlled by a handler such as a nurse or caregiver. It includes a toy bucket in the front for items the child would like to bring along with them, cup holders, a horn with different sound options and a customizable license plate slot to display the name of each rider.
At Children’s Health of Orange County, California, you can see tots cruising the halls on their way to treatments. Hundy Liu, manager of national advertising at American Honda Motor Co. said “To see the joy on the faces of these young patients when they get behind the wheel of Shogo is truly rewarding.”
MacKenzie Scott has donated $15 million to provide hundreds of thousands of people with eyeglasses. The donation was made to VisionSpring, a non-profit targeting this economic hindrance for Agricultural Workers and Artisans. It’s believed to be the largest private donation towards assisting uncorrected blurry vision, and will help mainly low-income tea, coffee, cocoa and artisan workers in India, Bangladesh, Ghana, Kenya and Uganda.
VisionSpring routinely finds that 65-85% of workers acquiring eyeglasses through its vision access programs have never had their sight tested before and become first-time wearers of glasses. They gain improved productivity, income and well-being the moment glasses move from case to face. Research also shows that eyeglasses improve quality of life, reducing depression and anxiety, and increasing involvement in religious and family life.
It’s believed these workers could produce $1 billion annually in additional value for themselves and their businesses thanks to the increased productivity from being able to see well. VisionSpring has highlighted that the benefits of a correct pair of eyeglasses are immediate, leading to reduced anxiety and depression and richer family lives from being able to see loved-ones’ faces and expressions more clearly.
VisionSpring’s chief executive Ella Gudwin said “The gift from Ms. Scott is an incredible acknowledgment of the power of a simple pair of eyeglasses to unlock earning, learning, safety and wellbeing for people vulnerable to poverty. And, with this powerful endorsement of our work, we are embarking on a multi-year journey to put Livelihoods in Focus, addressing the massive vision care gap among agricultural and artisan workers in south Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.”
Scott made the declaration in a letter to the Giving Pledge, the philanthropic initiative created by the investor Warren Buffett and Microsoft’s principal founder, Bill Gates, to encourage the world’s richest people to commit to giving away at least half their wealth to charity. MacKenzie Scott, Jeff Bezos’s notoriously press-shy ex-wife, has given away more than $12.8 billion in a little over two years.
A small UK book store, ‘Bookbugs and Dragon Tales’ in Norwich was on the brink of closing its doors. Leanne and Dan Fridd, the couple who run the bookstore posted a crowdfunder link seeking donations for the bookstore, promising to use any additional funds to do further outreach work with children. Their goal was to raise 15,000 euros and just hours after posting the online promotion, they received a donation that left them “squealing” with joy.
Academy Award-winning actor Russell Crowe made a generous donation of 5,000 euros. The actor’s outreach has won hearts online with many users praising him. Leanne said “It’s bonkers,” and the surprise of the donation left them chanting “Russell Crowe, Russell Crowe,” nearly the entirety of the following day. Leanne said she believed the actor had heard of the shop and the appeal on social media via a mutual friend.
The Fridd’s explained that they opened their doors in 2019 and the Covid 19 pandemic along with continued rise in cost of living has set their many goals for outreach programs back 4 years as they struggled to keep their business open. They managed to stay afloat, but feared the cost of living crisis could become “the straw that broke the camel’s back”.
Leanne said “I have heard that this is what he is like – he is really supportive and just wants to make a difference. It’s going to have a huge impact. Every donation makes us really hopeful for the future and the message is really clear – we are valued – and to have a celebrity has added that bit of sparkle.”