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5 months ago · by · Comments Off on Tik Toker Raises $20,000 for Christmas Gifts

Tik Toker Raises $20,000 for Christmas Gifts

Thanks to the kindness and determination of one woman, Christmas came early at Happy Valley Elementary School in Johnson City, Tn. Mariah Walker moved to Tennessee three months ago and jumped headfirst into helping the community. Walker, who moved from California, had asked her Tik Tok followers last year to help sponsor foster kids for Christmas. “We came from California and last year, we helped some kids in foster care, like 10 of them at a local foster agency,” said Walker. “When I came here, I knew I wanted to do the same thing.”

She was already working with The Rise Up program when a chance conversation with their Amazon driver, Donnie, led her to Happy Valley Elementary. Walker’s husband told Donnie they were looking for more children to sponsor. Donnie suggested there was some need at Happy Valley Elementary, where his wife Becky works as a secretary. She once again turned to her 144,000 Tik Tok followers for help and raised $20,000 for Christmas gifts.

“I put videos out on TikTok and all my followers just bought gifts for all the kids or donated money,” said Walker. “They donated like $20,000.” Local businesses also pitched in. Walker said she got 400 gift cards from Owl’s Nest, and they donated another 50 for free and that Open Doors gave her a discount on the gift card. Walker raised enough not only to give each Happy Valley Elementary schooler a toy, book or coloring book, and candy. She also gave each and every Happy Valley Middle and High schooler a gift card. Almost 700 gift cards in total. Walker incorporated the help of a local youth group to wrap the hundreds of presents before the big day.

The gifts weren’t Walker’s only gift to the school. According to Greer, Walker and her followers bought $2,000 in books for the Happy Valley Elementary School library during their book fair earlier this fall. Happy Valley Elementary School Principal Mandy Greer said they managed to keep this a secret from the students. Greer said they are thankful for not only the gifts, but the outpouring of love from Walker, her followers, and the local community.

Before Walker “went viral,” last year she had around 8,000 followers, accrued through content meant to uplift and connect those in relatable situations. Walker said she enjoys watching and creating content related to parenting because it provides opportunities for human connection as well as escape from chaotic reality. Walker said when she asked for help sponsoring foster kids last year she realized the community building potential of Tik Tok.

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7 months ago · by · Comments Off on 13-year-old Uses His Make-A-Wish To Feed Homeless

13-year-old Uses His Make-A-Wish To Feed Homeless

A 13-year-old boy in Jackson, Mississippi used his Make-A-Wish to feed homeless people.
Abraham Olagbegi was born with a rare blood disorder and needed a bone marrow transplant.
His transplant was successful and he was later contacted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which gifts children with life-threatening illnesses a granted wish. Despite the allure of getting something epic for himself, he thought the money and opportunity would be better spent on other people.

Abraham decided he wanted a long-lasting wish. “I remember we were coming home from one of his doctor appointments and he said, ‘Mom, I thought about it, and I really want to feed the homeless,” Abraham’s mom, Miriam Olagbegi said. The Foundation was more than happy to oblige Abraham in his wish and they set up a stall in Jackson, Mississippi to hand out free food to homeless people as well as supplies donated from local businesses.

In September, Make-A-Wish helped Abraham organize a day to hand out free food in Jackson, Mississippi. Abraham’s wish is still not fulfilled. Make-A-Wish will help Abraham feed the homeless once a month for one year. Abraham and his family are scheduled to host the event every third Saturday of each month. The Mississippi chapter has pledged to help Abraham by seeking out local businesses that can offer assistance and food to serve up to 80 people.

After Make-A-Wish finishes his wish in August 2022, Abraham plans to continue helping the homeless. He already has a name for the nonprofit, “Abraham’s Table.” “We’re just very excited to be able to continue on this endeavor. It’s just so rewarding,” his mom said. “If I was out there on the streets, homeless, I would want somebody at some point to think of me and to do something special for me. So, that’s what I try to instill in my kids and we just try to pay it forward, by doing what we were raised to do.”

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8 months ago · by · Comments Off on Denver Father Delivers RVs to Wildfire Victims

Denver Father Delivers RVs to Wildfire Victims

A Denver father of four has given 95 families who have lost everything in California wildfires a place to call home. Woody Faircloth started the nonprofit EmergencyRV.org which pairs folks who are willing to donate their campers to a worthy cause with those in need. Faircloth first got the idea for the charity in 2018 while watching news coverage of California’s deadly Camp Fire that incinerated 153,336 acres and destroyed hundreds of homes during Thanksgiving week.

Inspired by how blessed he felt just to have a place to spend the holiday, he asked his 9 year old daughter Luna what she thought about finding an RV and delivering it to a family so they could have a place to call home for Christmas. She was 100 percent on board so Fairchild launched a GoFundMe campaign to finance the first RV that he and Luna delivered.

Within three days, with Luna riding shotgun, Faircloth steered west from Denver in a $2,500 motorhome he found on Craigslist. They celebrated Thanksgiving on the road and delivered the vehicle the next day to a victim of the CampFire, which nearly destroyed the town of Paradise and killed 85 people.

As word of their journey spread, people started reaching out to him via social media, offering to donate their motorhomes—and from there, EmergencyRV soon took shape. Some offered to deliver the vehicles themselves, but Faircloth makes many of the drops personally. Many of the mobile home recipients are firefighters and other first responders whose tireless efforts battling the blazes did not prevent their own homes from going up in flames.

To date, Faircloth—often with Luna along for the ride—has delivered 95 motorhomes to California area wildfire victims who otherwise might wait months for emergency housing. He tries to schedule the trips on weekends but often dips into vacation time from his full-time job at telecom company Comcast. Faircloth has traversed thousands of miles over the past three years, often with Luna at his side. Last year, she joined him more often as COVID-19 precautions had her going to school remotely.

While those who are given RVs own them outright, Faircloth estimates 5% to 10% return them once they’re on their feet so they can be donated to other fire victims. The organization currently has 100 families on its waiting list. Although Faircloth said it’s challenging to balance work, family and his nonprofit, he hopes to expand the volunteer effort. He envisions staging RVs in hurricane and fire zones in the future to respond even faster during disasters. The organization continues to grow and evolve but the original sentiments behind Faircloth’s humanitarian efforts remain constant. He’s grateful for the many blessings he has—and blessed to be in a position to help others.

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8 months ago · by · Comments Off on New Orleans Music Venue Feeding Thousands After Hurricane Ida

New Orleans Music Venue Feeding Thousands After Hurricane Ida

The New Orleans music venue that fed thousands in the pandemic served free meals to residents who have been without power since Hurricane Ida swept through the city. The Howlin’ Wolf partnered with local restaurants and markets that were unable to keep their food cold and got cooking. Volunteers and paid workers were producing thousands of meals, using food donated by different local restaurants, bound to be distributed for free across the city or dished out right there on the sidewalk.

Restaurants all over gave away fresh ingredients from their kitchens, eager to see people put them to use before they spoil. The Howlin’ Wolf rapidly emerged as a central collection point for many with the same instinct. Truckloads of food were donated to the cause and cooked on the sidewalk just outside the music club. Using wood-fired barbecue smokers and propane-fueled seafood boiling rigs, thousands of families were fed. While a majority of the city was without power in the aftermath of the hurricane, music played on a portable speaker that doubled as a phone charging station. Local families, National Guard troops, police officers, utility workers and people from elder care facilities filled the food lines.

Club owner Howie Kaplan had led a similar effort in the early phases of the coronavirus crisis to feed people in need, working with a broad network of other organizations and volunteers. Kaplan said “This is literally putting the pieces together. We are so tight-knit in this city. This was just people talking with each other, and the support started up.”

This network snapped back into action after Ida. Donations ranged from 700 pounds of shrimp, cases of chicken for the smoker, cold cuts for sandwiches, gumbo in five-gallon buckets and bushels of fresh bread. Supplies soon lined the surface of the bar and were packed into the corners of the club. On the second day after the storm, the effort produced some 2,000 meals. The following day it hit 3,000 and kept growing.

Community volunteer group Culture Aid NOLA coordinated volunteers and donations through its website. Culture Aid NOLA founder Erica Chomsky-Adelson said she put out an urgent call for some essential supplies, including propane, ice, outdoor grills and also people who can come help cook. Kaplan said “We take care of each other, I think, in a way nobody else does. Right now, it’s not about the money. It’s about making sure folks are taken care of and making sure that we can get the word out … and make sure that people recognize how important New Orleans really is.”

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9 months ago · by · Comments Off on North Carolina Man Opens Home to Foster Kids During Pandemic

North Carolina Man Opens Home to Foster Kids During Pandemic

A North Carolina dad, Peter Mutabazi understands what it means to be given a second chance.
Born in Uganda to an abusive father, Mutabazi ran away at 10 years old until a Good Samaritan took him in. Mutabazi says his difficult childhood gave him empathy and he wanted to help those that have been forgotten. Since 2017, he has fostered more than a dozen children.

After attending college in the U.K. he moved to the United States to work for World Vision, a nonprofit that helps children. Mutabazi knew he wanted to create a safe home for children, something he didn’t have when he was a child, so he began serving as a foster parent. Soon after, he fostered his now adopted son, Anthony, who was placed with him in 2018 after being abandoned by his adoptive parents at age 11.

Upon placement, Anthony asked whether he could call Mutabazi dad. “I just wanted somewhere that I could feel safe and secure and I knew that I could stay there without worrying about moving somewhere else” Anthony said. More than anything, Mutabazi wanted to make Anthony his son. “Anthony would always ask me, ‘Hey Dad, when will I be officially adopted? And of course, with foster care you never know when” Mutabazi said.

On Nov. 12, 2019, Anthony’s adoption was made official. As the coronavirus began to spread rapidly around the world, Mutabazi knew he needed to help. He said “Most homes have been closed, so I knew there were not many places to go.” In March 2020, the father-son duo welcomed another foster child, Kai, into their home. “With foster care, they are overloaded with kids and I could not imagine a kid wanting a safe place to be loved in the midst of this. … I could not say no. I had to find a way to give him a safe place, a safe home” Mutabazi said.

Mutabazi said helping children is his calling and has since welcomed two more children into his home, for a total of four kids at the Mutabazi house. My goal is to lift up those who have been forgotten and to say you’re special, you matter,” he said. Mutabazi said he knows how it feels to be a child who is facing abandonment and fear. He said the man who took him in years ago had been a complete stranger who became a mentor and changed his life.

Peter said he knew that teens had lower adoption rates than younger children, and they often wait longer to be adopted, if ever, putting them at much greater risk for a troubled future—so he became a licensed foster dad and hosted 12 different placements over the years. While many people focus on what can go wrong, Peter focuses on the benefits and rewards of giving a teen a chance, just like the chance he was given. “Most of all, I can give them the love and attention they deserve. To let them know they belong. I couldn’t ignore my history or the opportunities that had been given to me by strangers…and I know just how many kids out there have no one. I know what it feels like to have no dreams, no hope.”

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10 months ago · by · Comments Off on Retail Giants Offering Debt Free Degrees to Employees

Retail Giants Offering Debt Free Degrees to Employees

Starting this fall, Target has made it easier for U.S.-based team members to get their degrees with a new debt-free education assistance benefit. More than 340,000 full-time and part-time employees at stores, distribution centers, and headquarters locations will have access to free undergraduate and associates degrees, certificates, bootcamp programs, textbooks, and fees with no out-of-pocket costs required.


Target’s partnership with Guild Education will provide easy access to more than 250 business-aligned programs from over 40 schools, colleges, and universities. The benefit means Target will provide direct payments to their employees academic institution of up to $5,250 for non-master’s degrees. It will also fund advanced degrees within the network of schools, paying up to $10,000 annually for master’s programs.


Target is investing $200 million into the program over the next four years to help eliminate student debt for its employees. The program is part of the company’s sustainability strategy commitment- Target Forward. They hope to promote access to education to build a team that equitably reflects the communities they serve.


Team members will have a range of options, including courses for high school completion, college prep, and English language learning as well as select certificates, certifications, bootcamps, associate, and undergraduate degrees. A few schools to choose from are University of Arizona, Oregon State University, Morehouse College and Paul Quinn College.
Another retail giant investing in their employees, Walmart will be investing nearly $1 billion over the next five years in career-driven training and development for its workers. The largest U.S. private employer, the company announced last week that it will pay 100% of college tuition and books for its associates through its Live Better U (LBU) education program. The corporation already had a program for continued education in place offered to employees for $1 a day but they are now doing away with the fee making all education programs paid for by Walmart.


The Live Better U Program will now pay for 100% of tuition and books and is available for all of their approximately 1.5 million part-time and full-time Walmart and Sam’s Club associates in the U.S. starting on their first day. Employees can earn college degrees or learn trade skills without the burden of student loans with over 50 schools to choose from. Walmart will add four more academic partners, including Johnson & Wales University, the University of Arizona, the University of Denver, and Pathstream. These complement the existing partners: Brandman University, Penn Foster, Purdue University Global, Southern New Hampshire University, Wilmington University, and Voxy EnGen.


Since launching LBU in 2018, more than 52,000 associates have participated in the program to date, and 8,000 have already graduated. Nearly 28,000 associates have been active in a LBU program this summer. Currently, cost is a leading barrier for earning a degree—with student loan debt in the U.S. topping $1.7 trillion.

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10 months ago · by · Comments Off on Five Women Run Multi-Faith Soup Kitchen To Help Less Fortunate in Montreal

Five Women Run Multi-Faith Soup Kitchen To Help Less Fortunate in Montreal

Five women in Montreal get together once a month to cook for the city’s less fortunate. They call themselves the Shathi Sisters. Shathi is a Bangladeshi word that means togetherness and that is the core of what drives the women to operate their multifaith soup kitchen out of the St. George’s Anglican Church in downtown Montreal. Together, they are helping others and showing that, even in small numbers, you can make the world better.

When COVID-19 hit the world and brought even more struggle to the already difficult lives of those in need, these women gladly ventured on this project. It gave them the opportunity to help others and to see each other. Since December, the Shathi Sisters have spent one Saturday a month cooking 100 meals for those in need and have distributed them around downtown Montreal.

Food costs are kept under $100, but the woman philanthropists have always made sure that the food is “not just scraps of food,” but something they themselves would prepare for their own families: delicious, enjoyable, and healthy, but low cost. They hope to expand their services in the future and eventually do this mission once a week. Besides giving food to the needy, the multifaith soup kitchen project has also brought these women together and they always look forward to it. “We think it’s our duty to do this,” said Irene Mazumder. “Not just because there’s people in need. It’s our duty. If we’re able to help, then why not.”

“The purpose of my engagement, it’s serving the community,” said Sobhan. “When the pandemic was going on, many people lost their homes. They are homeless. So it was great timing for us to start with this. And maybe we started with a soup kitchen, maybe we can do more things. More projects.” Another founder member, Nafissah Rahman, says ““We have a lot of spaces, but it’s not people of colour, there’s no representation. And it mattered to us that the representation of ourselves, so that our future generations can see that we too, we have to do this.”

With the months of public health restrictions, the Shahti Sisters say meeting up every four weeks fulfilled their need to connect in person. The added bonus to their good deed is another great example that anyone of all backgrounds can make a difference in the lives of others and these acts of kindness always inspire others.

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10 months ago · by · Comments Off on Seven Year Old Cancer Survivor Celebrates Last Treatment by Donating Thousands of Toys

Seven Year Old Cancer Survivor Celebrates Last Treatment by Donating Thousands of Toys

A seven-year-old cancer survivor with a big heart wanted to show his gratitude after completing his chemotherapy treatment. Tripp Hughes completed his treatment at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City and his thought was, ‘How can I give back and help other kids that are going through tough things?’ He and his mother, Krista Hughes, started a toy drive that amassed thousands of toys for other kids going through treatment.


During the pandemic, patients are not allowed to share toys, so they go home with the children. Supplies were low and this is typically a slow time for toy donations. “They’d offer anything to make us just feel as at home as possible,” Tripp said. “So, we just wanted them to also feel the way that they made us feel.” Tripp and his mom started the toy drive and it just kept growing. They collected 4,400 toys packed into more than 100 boxes. “We just wanted to make sure that we got everything the hospital needed to be able to give back what they gave us,” Krista Hughes said.


Young Tripp was four years old when he was diagnosed with pre B-cell near-haploid acute lymphoblastic lymphoma. Tripp’s mother said the family was determined to face the challenge head-on and with positivity. She said the first 8 months were the most challenging but they had physical and emotional help from the hospital staff. “His team is just amazing. We’re so happy to have Children’s Mercy here,” she said. “Every single person you come into contact with helps the process feel ok.”


Krista said “He’s really impressed all of his doctors. His energy was always sky high, positive mood, never really let it affect him for the age that he is. He was always very mature for everything he was going through.” Tripp said “It’s just been a rollercoaster, every single pill I’ve been taking, every single day for two-and-a-half years.”


He wanted to celebrate his last treatment by thanking everyone at Children’s Mercy. His Toy Drive began as a few posts on social media, then it grew to involve benefit concerts and viral TikTok videos. “This has just exceeded our expectations. We had no idea it was going to get this big,” Krista Hughes said. Together, they donated a U-Haul packed with toys, blankets and other supplies to the hospital for other kids still in treatment.


Children’s Mercy staff said their supplies are running extra low. Summers are slow for donations and almost every toy is single use now because of COVID-19 safety precautions. They say Tripp’s gift couldn’t have come at a better time. Gregg Rosenboom, In-kind Giving Coordinator for Children’s Mercy described the donation as Christmas in July at the hospital. He said “He just went through a really tough time in his life and his thought was, ‘how can I give back and help other kids going through tough things?’ That’s awesome.”

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11 months 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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12 months ago · by · Comments Off on Seven Year Old Boy Hailed Hero For Swimming 1 Mile To Save Father & Sister

Seven Year Old Boy Hailed Hero For Swimming 1 Mile To Save Father & Sister

A 7 year old boy is being hailed a hero for saving his father and younger sister by swimming a mile to get help over Memorial Day weekend. Chase Poust and his 4-year-old sister, Abigail, were swimming alongside their father’s anchored boat on the St. Johns River in Jacksonville, Florida when Abigail was pulled away from the boat by a strong current. Chase let go of the boat to grab her but then he was stuck in the current too. Their father Steve jumped into the water to save them but little Abigail kept getting pulled further away by the current.

Steve told Chase to swim to shore as he tried to retrieve Abigail, who was being carried along with the current while wearing a floatation device. Fearing the outcome, Chase told them both he loved them and began the 1 mile swim back to land, switching between floating on his back and doggie paddling. “The current was going the opposite way of going to the boat and the shore so it was very hard to swim that way.” Chase said. Once he reached shore, Chase said he ran to the nearest home he could find and knocked on their door.

Florida Fish and Wildlife — who were helped by Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department and the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office — eventually spotted Steven and Abigail after an hour-long search. Rescue crews discovered the father and daughter had drifted a mile from where their boat was anchored. Chase’s father and sister were in the water for about two hours before they were rescued but both are doing well.

Chase and Steven were not required to wear a life vest. Only children ages 6 and under must wear one for a vessel 26 feet long or shorter. Steve knows how fortunate they are to have made it out of the situation. Steve said ‘We’re here. By the grace of God, we’re here. Little man also made it to shore and got help and that’s what saved our lives.”

Eric Prosswimmer, spokesperson for Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department explained that it was his colleagues’ quick response that helped give the story a happy ending. “We had every resource we could have possibly had coming quickly and we’re happy to say all three have been recovered, and all three are doing well. We couldn’t ask for a better outcome.”

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