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4 weeks ago · by · Comments Off on Food Donations Pour In For Rescue Crew of Florida Building Collapse

Food Donations Pour In For Rescue Crew of Florida Building Collapse

As crews continue to search through the rubble of the building collapse in Surfside Florida for those still missing, a growing army of volunteers has been offering everything from water and energy drinks to pizza and deep-fried Oreos to firefighters, police officers and other rescue workers working 12-hour shifts at the site. The crews have been searching since the huge section of the Champlain Towers South building fell to the ground at around 2am on June 24th.

The community has been dropping off cases of water and food to nearby churches for distribution to the hundreds of search-and-rescue workers since the day of the collapse. At Casa Church near the disaster site, Pastor Ezequiel Fattore began with handing out a few bottles of water. His congregation pitched in and within hours he was at Costco buying $600 worth of water and food with the first donations. The donations have been flowing in ever since and the church has a side room now packed with cases of water along with a large assortment of energy drinks, bottled iced coffees and bags of chips and other snacks. As volunteers pack coolers to distribute among police and emergency crews in the area, more donations keep coming in. Fattore said he’s had heartbreaking conversations with loved ones of those dead and missing. Some members of his church have friends still unaccounted for but the outpouring of donations reaffirms his faith.

Members of the community and businesses have been steadily dropping off large orders of food to crews and some line the nearby streets handing out water and snacks to police, fire and rescue crews as they pass by. Nicolette and Patrick Daniel and her husband traveled from Texas to Florida to offer whatever assistance they could to victims’ families and emergency workers. They hired a food truck to cook 350 meals that were distributed in a parking lot of another nearby church. Daniel said she felt compelled to give back after the outpouring of support she received when her mother died suddenly a year ago. “It was the doorbell that kept ringing and the people who kept calling that kept me going,” she said.

The outpouring from the community has also been for families and victims affected by the collapse. The Shul, a community center located blocks from the scene, created a central fund to disperse money to families and victims affected by the collapse. The organization said they are overwhelmed with emergency supplies for families and has asked those who would like to support survivors to make a monetary donation. The American Red Cross is helping displaced residents find shelter and is providing them with food. The Miami Heat and several local organizations have launched a hardship fund for the victims: https://supportsurfside.org/ Neighbors 4 Neighbors along with the City of Surfside and F.R.I.E.N.D. Miami-Dade’s Long Term Disaster Recovery Group has set up a fund to assist the victims in the long term with unforeseen costs and things not covered by insurance. https://neighbors4neighbors.org/surfsidefund

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4 weeks ago · by · Comments Off on GoFundMe Raises $53K for Oklahoma Man Walking 17 Miles to Work

GoFundMe Raises $53K for Oklahoma Man Walking 17 Miles to Work

Many people believe that being just one person, they can’t possibly change someone’s life but sometimes all it takes is one person’s kindness to spark the efforts of many. Michael Lynn of Moore, Oklahoma certainly didn’t expect to ignite a spark when he offered Donte Franklin a ride on a hot day but their paths crossing has resulted in an outpouring of donations including a new bike and $53,000 raised through a GoFundMe campaign.

Lynn was out running errands on a sweltering hot day when noticed a young man walking. On his way back, he noticed the same young man—still walking—and decided to offer him a ride. Lynn was so moved when he learned more about Franklin’s 17-mile work pilgrimage to his job as a cook at Buffalo Wild Wings, he couldn’t help but share the details of Franklin’s story on Facebook—where it was quickly shared more than 1,000 times.

To make it to his shift as a cook, Donte Franklin was leaving for work three hours early each day and trekking more than eight miles on foot to arrive on time. At the end of a full shift, , the 20-year-old walked the 8 miles home. Franklin credits his amazing work ethic to his late mom, who passed away four years ago. Franklin said life hasn’t always been a clear path for him after his mom died and his siblings raised him. “I had to be positive,” he said. “I had to grind to make a better me, to make my momma happy. I really don’t care if it gets tiring. I just have to keep pushing, I walk just to make my family proud.” Franklin is studying to become a welder and just needs more money to continue to help his family, even if it means hiking to work in scorching temperatures. “I’ve just gotta keep going. It’s all going to pay off in the end,” Franklin said.

One of the people who saw Lynn’s Facebook post was Kerri Collins. She and her husband are the driving forces behind a biker charity group called My Riding Buddies Oklahoma and Bikers for Elves (MRBO). “Anytime I see something posted concerning anybody anywhere in Oklahoma, I immediately jump in and we do whatever we can as a group,” said Collins. “It just touched me that this man is only 20 years old and is walking to two different jobs with nothing in the heat. It opened my heart because kids his age don’t do that.”

In appreciation of his extraordinary efforts, MRBO gifted Franklin with a brand-new bike prior to his next shift. While Donte’s commute got easier, the blessings didn’t end there. Inspired by the young man’s determination, a GoFundMe page was set up in his name with the goal of $2,000 to help him buy a car. The GoFundMe raised $15,000 in one day and by the end of the campaign had raised a total of over $53,000

Donte Franklin says he considers everything that’s happened to him to be a blessing and believes that he and Lynn were fated to become friends. Lynn shares that sentiment “As long as he wants to, I want to keep him in my life and I want to be in his life. I told him, if the Lord opens the door for you, walk through it… I think it’s open for him and the rest is up to him.”

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1 month ago · by · Comments Off on Wisconsin Man Hopes To Raise Awareness For Living Organ Donation

Wisconsin Man Hopes To Raise Awareness For Living Organ Donation

Wisconsin man, Mark Scotch, is biking cross-country to raise awareness for living organ donation. He and his crew are making the 1,500-mile trip down to Louisiana to meet up with the man who inspired him to donate a kidney last year. They are starting with some 100+ mile days to get themselves south to warmer weather and spread the message of the importance of living organ donation.

Scotch, of Plover, Wisconsin met Hugh Smith at a brewery in Louisiana in early 2020 during a vacation. The two men struck up a conversation at Cane River Brewing Company in Natchitoches. Smith mentioned he needed a kidney transplant. “He said he was on dialysis and in stage five kidney failure. I just said hey, if you need one, I’ll give you one of mine. And one thing led to another, and here I am!” Scotch said. Scotch didn’t end up being a match for Smith but could donate a kidney in Smith’s honor, through the National Kidney Registry.

“So I went online, got registered. They found a match for my kidney, the best match for my kidney was in New York and that was last September 30,” Scotch said. That donation by Scotch bumped Smith to the front of the transplant waiting list and he was able to receive a new kidney from another donor in February 2021. Smith was a professional jockey for 17 years and battled with pain but didn’t know that the pain medicine he was taking would lead to kidney failure.

For a year, both men went through constant medical appointments to make sure they were okay after their surgeries. Then Scotch decided to show the world that even without a kidney, you can still live a full life. On April 24th, 2021, Scotch started The Organ Trail bike ride from Madison, WI to Natchitoches, LA. The ride ended at the same bar both men met in 2020. “This is absolutely amazing what he did, and he saved my life,” Smith says.

Scotch said “Hey if I can do it on one kidney, an old kinda fat guy, why can’t anybody consider it at least?” He said he hopes the trek generates interest so people learn more about living organ donation. He knows not everybody can be a living donor like he was but everybody can be an advocate and educate themselves. Then if the opportunity ever presents itself, maybe they can help somebody else with some good information or lead them somewhere to the National Kidney Registry or National Kidney Donation Organization.

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1 month ago · by · Comments Off on Michigan Community Saves Couple’s Wedding Day

Michigan Community Saves Couple’s Wedding Day

A couple’s wedding was like a fairytale until tragedy struck. Elizabeth and Jake Landuyt’s reception was interrupted just minutes after Elizabeth’s father began giving his speech because the cottage next to their wedding venue caught fire on Mackinac Island, Michigan. The newlyweds had to abandon their reception and without a plan of where to go, headed back toward the church they had just married in.

Guests piled back into the church and began to pray for everyone’s health and safety. While they were in the church praying, unbeknownst to them, angels were at work trying to save the day. Mission Point Resort and other nearby businesses saw everything unfold and immediately sprang into action to save the wedding. The resort staff immediately started getting tables and chairs set up to host the reception.

The chef at the venue took all 120 meals — which were only partially prepared — and instructed the staff to bring them to safety at the restaurant next door. What they didn’t have, another restaurant provided. Other obstacles that were overcome were that Mackinac Island doesn’t have cars, so the migration of the wedding had to be done manually. From catering and supplies by the Island House Hotel kitchen and the Pink Pony, bartending led by Mission Point’s head bellman, late evening ferry services by Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry to entourage assistance, it was all taken care of.

Word spread of the effort to save the wedding and powered by the kindness of strangers, they achieved their goal. . A bellhop volunteered to bartend and a stranger on the street carried the flowers to the new location. In under an hour, the community had banded together and relocated the reception, all while the newly married couple and guests prayed.

“As if this island was not already special enough to us to want to have our wedding there. After what we saw, the ‘Magic of Mackinac’ and its people are so real and we are forever grateful,” Mrs. Landuyt said. To top off their special day, their prayers for those involved in the fire were answered. In the end, no one was hurt and even the building was saved.

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1 month ago · by · Comments Off on Rhode Island Teen Reunites Owners With Repossessed Storage Units

Rhode Island Teen Reunites Owners With Repossessed Storage Units

A Rhode Island teen is being praised for his good deeds after he started buying repossessed storage units to help previous owners recover their belongings. Initially, Shane Jones, 16, started out bidding on the contents of the units as a way for him to make some extra cash over the summer. But it wasn’t long before the Wakefield teen felt that he shouldn’t profit from the items in the units. “I started out thinking that bidding at a storage auction was kind of like a yard sale, but now I know that’s not true. These people didn’t choose to give me this stuff. They didn’t have a choice. It’s almost like a duty to give it back” Shane said.

In August of last year, Shane found a storage unit auction in Providence near his home and decided to put in a bid of $100. He won the auction but when he went to visit the unit he began to feel sad as he sifted through the household goods, stuffed animals, personal mementos and other documents. “I realized then that this wasn’t the same as getting stuff at a yard sale. This guy was in prison, and his storage unit was auctioned off because he couldn’t afford to pay for it. This was probably everything he had left.”

Shane asked his parents Patrick Jones and Sarah Markey, to help him find the original owner’s mother. They eventually located the woman at a retirement home in Providence and then took a trip to return the storage unit’s contents. The woman was thrilled to be reunited with her son’s belongings. Her reaction was enough to spark Shane’s interest and inspire him to keep going.

Since embarking on the project last summer, Shane has helped reunite three families with the contents inside their former storage units. His next storage unit auctions came in October 2020 and January 2021. The October unit contained an address book, which Shane said he used to help him find the original owners’ family. “The couple who rented the locker had passed away, but there was a phone number for their brother-in-law, and he was happy to come out and get everything. He said there were a lot of family heirlooms that could have been lost” Shane said.

Shane easily found the owner of the January unit because her name was on several items. When he connected with the woman he learned she was unable to pay for the unit after losing her job and that she also lost a child to sudden infant death syndrome three years earlier. “All of her baby items and all of her childhood photos were in the storage locker” Shane said. When the woman picked up the items she started to cry saying everything she had to remind her of her baby was in the locker.

Since taking on the storage unit project, word has spread about Shane’s acts of kindness. His mother said that her son has been caught off guard by the attention of his kind acts but hopes that his story will inspire others to do good in their communities. “I couldn’t be more proud of this kid, for going the extra step, for people he doesn’t know. It is actually a lot of work that he puts into this effort. And I think that part of what he has learned by meeting people who he gifted with this kindness is that putting good into the world is one of the most gratifying things that he can do.” she continued.

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1 month ago · by · Comments Off on Wisconsin Father Breaks Push Up Record for Charity

Wisconsin Father Breaks Push Up Record for Charity

A Wisconsin father of three, broke the Guinness Book of World Record for most pushups in a year. Nate Carroll launched his mission on June 14, 2020 with two goals in mind, to teach his children a lesson in the power of perseverance by offering them an example in real-time and to raise money for the families of fallen first responders.

In order to claim a new Guinness World Record—ousting the current titleholder after an almost 32-year run—Carroll has been diligently documenting his accomplishments both in a logbook and with time-lapse video throughout his year-long odyssey. On June 6th, Carroll completed the countdown to his record-breaking goal with a special 50-yard line halftime ceremony during the 48th annual Fun City Bowl at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

When he completed his 1,500,231st pushup, he broke the previous record set by Paddy Doyle in 1989. After the record was broken Caroll said he wanted to finish his year in a number that included 9-11. He finished his 365-day period with a total of 1,500,911 pushups. It seems fitting since he was raising money for the Stephen Siller Tunnels to Towers Foundation.

The foundation’s Fallen First Responder Home Program pays off the mortgages for families of fallen first responders, so they don’t have to worry about losing their homes. The program, which has paid for 250 mortgages since 2014, is named for a New York City firefighter who died on Sept. 11, 2001.

Carroll has a full time job as a social worker and shared parental custody so finding the time during his busy schedule to clock thousands of push-ups per day was one of Carroll’s biggest challenges. “To set aside time to do 4,000 push-ups is impossible,” he told the Wisconsin State Journal. “You have to really make it a priority and be willing to commit to it and embrace the fact that you have to weave that into your day.”

Carroll said he wanted to show his children that it’s possible to achieve their goals if they’re willing to put in the work. He also wanted to show his children the importance of first responders in the community. “I wanted to demonstrate to my kids what goals that seem impossible look like when they are broken down into daily manageable chunks.”

During an interview Carroll said “Set a goal, and get after it. Make it who you are, not something you do. That way, when it gets hard and life throws obstacles in your way and offers you convenient excuses to stop or says it’s too difficult, you find a way to endure and persevere and keep after it. Winning those mini-battles each day builds strength and shapes one’s perspective of what is possible.”

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1 month ago · by · Comments Off on MacKenzie Scott Donates Another $2.7 Billion

MacKenzie Scott Donates Another $2.7 Billion

MacKenzie Scott says she is giving away another $2.7 billion of her fortune to 286 nonprofit organizations. Scott, who divorced from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in 2019, made the announcement in a blog post. Scott said her organization spent the first quarter of 2021 researching equity-oriented nonprofit organizations working in neglected and underfunded areas. The recipients span from institutions of higher education and arts and culture, to organizations fighting poverty, working on interfaith issues and building community engagement.

Scott signed the Giving Pledge, a commitment by wealthy individuals to give away a majority of their money. So far Scott has given away more than $8 billion in three rounds of funding to various organizations. Her net worth is estimated to be nearly $60 billion and she received a 4% stake in Amazon during her divorce. Shares of Amazon’s stock rose sharply during the pandemic. Despite still giving away billions, Scott’s wealth keeps growing.

Like the $4 billion Scott gave to 384 organizations in the last four months of 2020, the donations are unrestricted, so recipients can use the money as they see fit. “Many reported that this trust significantly increased the impact of the gift” Scott wrote. Calling the donations to individual organizations “relatively large,” Scott described the new cash as a means to do more good work with less financial stress.

“These are people who have spent years successfully advancing humanitarian aims, often without knowing whether there will be any money in their bank accounts in two months. What do we think they might do with more cash on hand than they expected? Buy needed supplies. Find new creative ways to help. Hire a few extra team members they know they can pay for the next five years. Buy chairs for them. Stop having to work every weekend. Get some sleep,” Scott suggested.

Scott’s approach to philanthropy is unique as she doesn’t have a website for an organization to apply for donations. She prefers to research an array of organizations to narrow down the list of recipients for each round of donations. She then announces the chosen organizations in blog posts in a list format but doesn’t state the amount of money they’ve been granted. Some organizations have revealed how much money they’ll receive.

The president of the University of Central Florida said his institution will receive $40 million – the largest donation in the university’s history. Florida International University is receiving the same amount. Long Beach City College, in California, thanked Scott for the $30 million donation they will receive — also the single largest donation in its history. The University of Texas at San Antonio is also receiving $40 million, which its president called “completely transformational.” The university said Scott was drawn to UTSA because of the university’s strong commitment to create pathways to success for students from communities with significant educational attainment and income disparities.

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1 month ago · by · Comments Off on Florida Bride Donated Kidney 2 Days After Wedding

Florida Bride Donated Kidney 2 Days After Wedding

Just two days after her wedding, a Florida bride donated a kidney to her new husband’s former wife. Debby and Jim Strickland have been a devoted couple for a decade. Jim maintained a cordial relationship with his ex, Mylaen Merthe for the last two decades since their divorce. Around the same time their daughter announced she was expecting their first grandchild, Mylaen, who has long suffered from kidney disease, received some devastating news.

Her kidneys were functioning at just 8% of normal capacity and without a transplant, her odds of survival decreased every day. The hunt for a donor match was on. Mylaen’s brother wasn’t a viable candidate—but miraculously, Debby was. Debby said that she imagined Merthe’s daughter giving birth and her mother not being there to greet her granddaughter and that thought is what made her decide to volunteer. “I just couldn’t not try to change that. God told me, ‘You’re a match and you need to do this. When somebody needs an organ, if they don’t get it, they’re probably not going to make it. I know it’s something that you do quickly” Debby said.

Having lost a brother to cystic fibrosis while waiting for a lung transplant, she knew time was of the essence. With a green light on the tissue sample and blood tests, Debby willingly scheduled the life-saving surgery for just 48 hours after her previously planned nuptials. “It was the most amazing day of my life, until two days later. That was also the most amazing day of my life” she said. Mylaen and Debby have bonded and now refer to one another as “kidney sisters.”

Debby said that she asked to see Merthe straight away after she regained consciousness. She said she could immediately see Merthe was healthier already: the dark circles under her eyes had gone and she had regained a little color. “We had our masks on, too, so we’re crying, and of course, our stomachs were hurting because of the incisions,” Merthe said. “We kinda laughed and cried.”

Since the successful procedure, Merthe moved in with her daughter and son-in-law and her new grandchild to recuperate. Debby recuperated at home with Jim and their family of six foster children. The family has grown to include grandkids and Merthe and her family into their brood. The entire family has a summer trip together planned to celebrate. “This is what the world is about. Family. We need to stick together,” Merthe said. “She saved my life.”

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2 months ago · by · Comments Off on Pregnant Mother of Two Hailed Hero For Saving Girls From Drowning

Pregnant Mother of Two Hailed Hero For Saving Girls From Drowning

A pregnant mother of two is being hailed a hero after saving four kids from drowning during a family outing. As fate had it, Alyssa DeWitt, 27, decided to take her kids to First Street Beach Pier at Lake Michigan despite thinking the winds may be too strong. She soon noticed a group of girls under 15 on the beach who were going into the water.

Alyssa and her two children were the only other people on the beach at the time when the young girls ran into trouble. “I happened to look up and saw one of the girls waving her arms towards me and immediately knew something was wrong,” she said. Rip currents had pulled the girls out deeper and deeper into Lake Michigan, and they couldn’t get out.

“I got up, pulled my kids out of the water and ran out onto the pier. They couldn’t even keep their heads above water at that point. I called 911 immediately but I didn’t know if they could hear me and I didn’t have time to wait and find out,” she said. Alyssa knew she had to act quickly. “I put my phone down with 911 on and laid down over the side of the pier and told them to reach for my hand” she said.

Despite being five months pregnant she began trying to pull the girls over the rocky and slippery pier. “Every time I’d get one of them halfway up, a big wave would come smashing into us and knock them back down or almost pull me over,” she said. Alyssa recalled a moment she said will stick with her forever and still makes her cry when she thinks about it. “My turning point was when one of the little girls looked at me and said, ‘I’m going to die.’ That was it for me and I was like ‘I’m not going to let you die, I’m going to get you out of this water, I promise.’”

She managed to pull all three girls out of the water and over the pier before the group set off back towards the shore to rescue a fourth girl who had managed to get closer to shore but couldn’t stand because her leg was injured. Alyssa said “I honestly do not know how I did it, it was pure adrenaline at that point. Right after I got everybody onto the beach, the ambulance and the police cars came flying into the parking lot.”

Alyssa sustained a swollen wrist but she and the baby were both fine when she went to the hospital to get checked out. The modest hero praised her six-year-old daughter for managing to keep her two-year-old brother safe during the ordeal. “Between me screaming into the phone that I needed help and me screaming to the kids what I needed them to do to get them out, I was also turning around and screaming to my son not to come because it wasn’t safe. He was very scared and repeatedly tried to run to me on the pier” she said “My daughter would pick him up and take him back to the sand and she was so calm and I’m extremely proud of her, she did a great job.”

Manistee City Police Chief Josh Glass said “Thankfully, all parties involved sustained minor injuries, but without the actions of this heroic young lady could have easily turned out differently. Especially being a father of young children, it’s extremely impressive the way this young lady called to action without hesitation and I think it’s pretty obvious what would have happened if she wasn’t there.”

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2 months ago · by · Comments Off on Waffle House Staff Rally to Get Co Worker to Graduation

Waffle House Staff Rally to Get Co Worker to Graduation

When Timothy Harrison, 18, showed up for a shift at the Waffle House he worked at on the day of his high school graduation, his co-workers were confused. When his manager Cedric Hampton asked why he was there he explained that he couldn’t get a ride across town and he hadn’t been able to secure tickets for his family to attend so he decided to come into work.

Hampton, along with several co-workers, got to work putting together everything Harrison needed to attend the event. The staff made a list of what needed to be done to get Timothy there and divided it all up. Cedric and two others headed to a clothing store to buy Timothy a sharp new outfit, while another coworker, Shantana Blevins, drove Timothy to the high school to collect his cap and gown.

Once they had gathered what they needed, everyone took turns helping Timothy get ready so he could celebrate his accomplishment. Shantana stepped up again to drive Timothy to the ceremony, waiting outside the whole time until he was finished taking pictures and celebrating with his friends. She then drove the teen home and made sure he knew he had the whole night off to enjoy the momentous occasion.

Cedric said he was happy to help Timothy because he’s a good kid — and because it was the right thing to do! “He’s a fine young man,” Cedric added. “He’s a hard worker, very polite. It’s the least we could do for him.” Harrison said “I had people want to see me succeed, so it kind of made me excited. When I put on the clothes, it was a different feeling, I don’t even know the words. A million dollars? It was the best feeling.”

Their wonderful gesture even inspired Lawson State Community College to offer Timothy a full scholarship, even covering books, and he will start taking classes in the fall. “To know that I have a path to go somewhere? That’s something new,” Harrison said. Harrison’s co workers said they are going to continue to lift Harrison up. “Now he can go to college and figure out what to do in his life, and we’re gonna help guide him,” Hampton said.

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