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2 months ago · by · Comments Off on Surprise Adoption Request Goes Viral

Surprise Adoption Request Goes Viral

Daniel Donaldson and his family had always left the decision up to their foster daughter if she would like to become legally adopted. Donaldson, who has been a youth sports coach in Haleyville, Alabama, for many years, became a mentor and friend to 14-year-old Alecia after coaching her in 2019. After he became aware of Alecia’s foster care experience, the family said they didn’t hesitate to take her in.

A few months before Donaldson’s birthday, Alecia asked his wife Tiffany Donaldson to make it official. Together they planned a birthday surprise to make it official. On Donaldson’s birthday, Tiffany Donaldson, their three other children and Alecia, blindfolded him and lined up with a series of signs to share the good news.

They recorded the special moment where they blindfolded Daniel and asked him to help hold signs. The signs said: This man here started out as just my coach. But he stepped up when he didn’t have to. He is now not only my coach. My encourager, my protector, my provider, but now the man I call daddy. I have been part of this family for 524 days, but today for his birthday, I want to ask if we can make it official. He has no clue that I’m about to ask him to adopt me!

His family then lined up behind him and asked Daniel to take off the blind fold to read the final note. “ Let’s Make It Official. Will You Adopt Me? When Donaldson took off the blindfold and read the signs he was overcome with emotion and gave his new daughter a hug.

Daniel said when he learned of Alecia’s foster care experience it just felt natural to help her and she’s bonded with his three sons over the years. He said they have always left it up to her if she wanted to make it official so he was taken by surprise when he took off his blindfold. “They always crack on me about my age so I just thought it was a prank about me being old or something.” Alecia said of the happy moment that went viral “I will always remember that day and the hug he gave me. When he hugged me I felt so happy and safe.”

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5 months ago · by · Comments Off on Jaden Smith to Expand on Initiative to Feed Homeless

Jaden Smith to Expand on Initiative to Feed Homeless

Two years ago, to commemorate his 21st birthday, actor Jaden Smith launched the I Love You Restaurant, a vegan food truck initiative to combat food insecurity for Los Angeles’ homeless. Smith’s vegan meals found their way to 8,000 of L.A. ‘s Skid Row residents. Eventually, I Love You’s efforts were expanded to serve at-risk residents in Harlem, New York City.

“Our mission is to spread love to communities experiencing food and/or housing insecurity by offering water along with fresh, high-quality, and delicious sustainable meal options,” his food website explains. When the pandemic hit Smith’s organization continued to donate vegan food but also distributed masks, clothes, hand sanitizer, and other essential items.

Smith is now pivoting his I Love You concept yet again with plans for a more permanent version of his restaurant on the table, bringing the success of his past efforts into the next phase. The “pay as you can” philosophy welcomes anyone to partake of the yet-to-be-announced location’s fare. Those who can afford the suggested menu prices will be in effect subsidizing meals for those who can’t.

The I Love You Restaurant is just one of Smith’s philanthropic projects. In 2019, through his company JUST Goods Inc., he led an initiative centered on bringing a water filtration system to Flint, Michigan. The company joined forces with Flint’s First Trinity Missionary Baptist Church to implement a system called “The Water Box” which helped reduce lead and other toxic chemicals in contaminated water.

In 2018, he also led an effort to donate water each month to the city’s schools until the water was safe to drink which led to thousands of bottles being donated to Flint schools. “I want to have something I can feel good about that I can feel like it’s changing the world. I’m not only being neutral with the world, I’m actually making the world a better place. I’ve just always wanted to be an advocate of humanity” Smith said.

Initiatives like Smith’s are instrumental in evoking change. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, there are over 500,000 people in the United States experiencing homelessness on a given night. Feeding America reported that in 2017 nearly 40 million Americans—including over 12 million youngsters—lacked access to food.

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5 months ago · by · Comments Off on Teacher Who Disarmed Idaho Shooter Praised For Her Compassion

Teacher Who Disarmed Idaho Shooter Praised For Her Compassion

When a student opened fire at an Idaho middle school, teacher Krista Gneiting directed children to safety, rushed to help a wounded victim, and then disarmed the shooter, hugging and consoling the girl until police arrived. The community crediting Gneiting’s display of compassion with saving lives. Police said a sixth-grade girl brought the handgun in her backpack and shot two people inside the school and one outside. All three were wounded in their limbs and released from the hospital within a few days.

Gneiting, a math teacher at Rigby Middle School was preparing her students for their final exams on the morning of May 6 when she said she heard a gunshot from down the hall. She said she looked outside her classroom and saw the school’s janitor lying on the floor at the end of the hallway. She said she shut the door as she heard two more gunshots.

“So I just told my students, ‘We are going to leave, we’re going to run to the high school, you’re going to run hard, you’re not going to look back, and now is the time to get up and go'” Gneiting said. Gneiting said she was trying to help one of the students who had been shot when she saw the girl holding the gun. She told the wounded student to stay still and approached the sixth-grader.

“It was a little girl, and my brain couldn’t quite grasp that. I just knew when I saw that gun, I had to get the gun” Gneiting said. She asked the girl, “Are you the shooter?” and then walked closer, putting her hand on the child’s arm and sliding it down to the gun. “I just slowly pulled the gun out of her hand, and she allowed me to. She didn’t give it to me, but she didn’t fight. After I got the gun, I just pulled her into a hug because I thought, this little girl has a mom somewhere that doesn’t realize she’s having a breakdown and she’s hurting people.”

Gneiting held the girl, consoling her until police arrived. The girl has been charged in the shooting, but because juvenile court proceedings are kept sealed in Idaho, neither her name nor the nature of the charges has been released. Meanwhile, Krista Gneiting hopes people can forgive the girl and help her get the support she needs. “She is just barely starting in life and she just needs some help. Everybody makes mistakes,” she said. “I think we need to make sure we get her help and get her back into where she loves herself so that she can function in society.”

Krista’s brother in law Layne Gneiting posted on his facebook “My sister-in-law, Krista, who took the gun from the little girl who fired it, is more of a hero than I thought. The tender tale is hers to tell but I’ll say this: it’ll break your heart. Krista is a born mother. Mess with her kids she’ll rip you apart. Need a hug she’ll hold you for hours, mingling her tears with yours.
I naively believed the mother bear had raged into action. Not so. Determination pushed her to act, but tenderness and motherly love-not force-lifted the gun from the girl’s hand to hers. I’ve called Krista a hero but the word pales. She’s a guardian angel.”

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5 months ago · by · Comments Off on Humble Hero Who Saved Maryland Toddler Identified

Humble Hero Who Saved Maryland Toddler Identified

Maryland father Jonathan Bauer is being hailed a hero for his heroic rescue of a toddler from Assawoman Bay in Ocean City, Maryland. Bauer was driving home from running errands on the Ocean City bridge with his 13 year old daughter when he was involved in a multi-car pileup on an overpass. He checked on his daughter and got out of his vehicle to help someone trying to get out of the trunk that was hanging over the side of bridge.

That’s when he heard people yelling for help and saw the 2 year old girl who had been ejected from another car involved in the pileup. Bauer said the girl was in the water about six feet away from her car seat floating perfectly on her back, head completely out of the water, arms moving and legs kicking, in a little pink dress. In a matter of seconds the little girl flipped over on her stomach with her face in the water so Bauer jumped 25 feet into the water.

Bauer said he reached her just as she was starting to sink and he lifted her out of the water. Her mouth was open, her eyes were semi-open so he put her against his shoulder and aggressively patted her on the back. Within seconds she spit up a bunch of water, started coughing and took a deep breath. Bauer said “I just kept patting her and she would cough and then spit up a little bit more water.”

Two good samaritan boaters, Joe and Alayna Oertel, had seen the accident and headed to Bauer when they saw him jump into the water. When the Oertel’s reached Bauer he handed the toddler to the boaters and she was airlifted to a local hospital for treatment. The Oertel’s recalled pulling Bauer and the girl to safety during a Today show appearance. “He didn’t say anything. He was just so shocked of what happened.” said Alayna. Joe added that Bauer “was in some tremendous shock himself. It says a lot about some people’s demeanor, just doing the right thing when you got to do it.”

Police say the girl is expected to make a full recovery. Seven others in the crash have since been treated at hospitals and released. Initially after the accident, Bauer did not want to be identified. Ocean City emergency responders met with Jonathan Bauer, who shared his story publicly for the first time since the crash May 2.

Ocean City Mayor Richard W. Meehan and Ocean City Fire Chief Richard Bowers called Bauer a “humble hero” for putting his own life on the line by plunging into the shallow water from that high up. “What he did was without question a heroic thing, and very courageous thing to jump over the railing, down 25 to 30 feet into open water,” Bowers said.

Bauer’s wife said “I can’t say how proud I am of him. It doesn’t surprise me. If you know him, that is something he would do.”

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6 months ago · by · Comments Off on California Woman Has Fostered Over 80 Babies

California Woman Has Fostered Over 80 Babies

A Hayward, California woman has been a mother to more than 80 babies over the years through foster care.  Linda Owens has cared for 81 infants in the 34 years she has been a resource parent.  The 78-year-old retired grocery department manager fosters the babies as a single parent and she remembers them all.  She keeps a supply of baby gear and clothes on hand; some, bought with her own money. 

Owens said “It’s a challenging job, but very rewarding.  This is what God’s handed me a gift to do,” said Owens, who has loved taking care of babies since childhood.  Sometimes she fosters two infants at a time.  A number of the newborns come to her exposed to drugs in the womb. Some have developmental delays and many don’t sleep through the night.

Among the county’s 500 resource parents, Owens is one of the longest-serving.  Mia Buckner-Preston is the Placement Division Director of the Alameda County Department of Children & Family Services, which places children in foster homes.  “Her experience, the care, the love she provides to the babies, it’s immeasurable.  She’s in a category almost all by herself.” said Buckner-Preston.  That experience shows according to pediatrician Mika Hiramatsu. Owens has brought many babies to her over the years.  “She’s always been very optimistic, always determined to give these babies the best possible start in their lives,” said Dr. Hiramatsu. 

According to the U.S. Administration for Children and Families, 7% of all children in the system are under the age of one and the average age of children in foster care is about 8 years old.  From October 2018 to September 2019, there were 672,594 children served by the U.S. foster care system.  During that time, 254,359 entered the system and 248,669 have exited the system. The Statistics from Adoption Network show 140,000 children are adopted in the U.S. every year and 59% come from the foster care system, 26% from foreign countries and 15% are voluntarily relinquished. 

When Owens job is done and it’s time to turn the babies over to their birth or adoptive families, letting go can be heartbreaking but she’s giving them and their parents the best possible start.  The oldest of the babies she’s fostered is now 37.  Owens has loved taking care of children since she was a child herself and it shows through her over three decades of work with the foster care system.

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6 months ago · by · Comments Off on Edmunton Restaurant Has Served 32000 Free Meals During Pandemic

Edmunton Restaurant Has Served 32000 Free Meals During Pandemic

When the pandemic caused businesses across the globe to shut their doors, it thrusted millions into food insecurity but many people of all walks of life did not hesitate to help in any way they could.  Canada Restaurant owner ​​​​​Imran Javaid sprang into action within weeks, offering meals to anyone who was hungry.  He began with about 35 free meals a day and now hands out 100 meals daily.  Over the last year he has provided over 32,000 meals with the only request that people wanting a free meal let the restaurant know in advance.

Javaid partnered with local businessman Varinder Bhullar, whom he met through mutual friends and his Edmonton restaurant, Dil-E-Punjab, had catered some of his business events.  Bhullar is president of Green Scholars of Alberta, an Edmonton non-profit organization that runs summer camps for kids to learn more about their Punjabi and Gujarati cultural roots.  He reached out to Javaid when he saw people struggling with the COVID-19 lockdown early in April 2020, especially people who didn’t have enough money for food while they waited for financial help from the government.

“It’s heartbreaking when someone says, ‘I just could not afford to eat.  We all have to hang in there together and make sure we stick together and help each other” Bhullar said.  Javaid’s restaurant was initially closed during the lockdown for renovations but after hearing Bhullar’s idea, he finished the work and served the first free meals on April 10. 

Now, the cost of the meals are partially covered by community donations and provincial government assistance.  The giving goes beyond the restaurant as many who were helped have found jobs and make donations to help.  Bhullar said other organizations, restaurants and community members have reached out to help. 

Christina Usborne met Bhullar while volunteering at the Old Strathcona Peace Camp last summer. After it was closed, she wanted to continue to help, so the two partnered together.  Through donations from residents and other restaurants, she now delivers over 100 meals a week to people who are experiencing homelessness.

The hope is one day there will no longer be a need, but as long as people are hungry, Bhullar wants to help.  “It tells me there is a lot of poverty out there, a lot of hunger. A lot of people working that are on benefits but not enough to survive,” he said.

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8 months ago · by · Comments Off on Toyota Replaces TX EMT’s Truck After Heroic Actions During Pile Up

Toyota Replaces TX EMT’s Truck After Heroic Actions During Pile Up

The Texas pile up on February 11th took the lives of 6 people as Winter storm Shirley bared down on many states across the country. Rare wintery conditions had iced over highways all across Texas, including Interstate 35 in Fort Worth. In the early morning hours, 133 vehicles, including dozens of semis, some of them loaded with cars, were involved in the mass accident.


A video of the pileup as it happened is included below. At one point, a white truck is seen crashing into the ever-growing mass of vehicles. Moments later, a semi comes barreling down, smashes into it and the force of the impact sends the now-crumpled vehicle into the opposite lane, over the barrier. The man in the truck, MedStar paramedic, Trey McDaniel, survived. McDaniel said he saw the semi barreling at him at full speed and there was nothing he could do.


But he not only survived both crashes, once he got out of his now crumpled 2011 Toyota FJ Cruiser, as he puts it himself, he went into “emergency mode” and started helping out other victims. McDaniel said he started helping other victims as soon as he got his bearings. He was dizzy and in pain but he was able to help out. In fact, he was already in his uniform, since he was driving to work when the accident happened so he was assisting crash victims for quite some time before other medics on the scene realized he was a victim himself.


McDaniel posted about his experience on Reddit, leaving out the details of his heroic behavior afterwards and explaining how his off road tires, as well as the car itself saved his life. “I was launched over the center barrier into the Northbound lanes while still inside. If you slow the video down, I made a full rotation, my roof rack came off, and the FJ landed on top of it, fortunately wheels down. Every airbag deployed, and the cab was a safe cocoon,” he writes. “I was alive. I oriented myself and crawled out of my driver window.”


A friend launched a GoFundMe in his name, in the hope that he might be able to replace the vehicle – an essential item for him, since he needs it for his daily work commute. Toyotausa caught wind of his posting and commented “We’re just glad you’re safe and inspired that you chose to help others in need. We’re happy you’re part of the Toyota family. So, don’t worry about replacing your vehicle – it would be an honor for us to get you a new one!” Toyota doesn’t offer the FJ Cruisers in the US anymore so they offered McDaniel a vehicle of his choice and he opted for a brand new 4Runner TRD Pro.


This isn’t the first time Toyota has offered to reward heroes for their heroic actions. In 2018, the automaker provided a new Tundra to Allyn Pierce, a nurse who burnt his old truck to a crisp helping to evacuate patients and staff in the Paradise, California wildfires before attempting to leave the area himself.

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8 months ago · by · Comments Off on Stephen King’s Donation Allows Elementary Students to Publish Their Books

Stephen King’s Donation Allows Elementary Students to Publish Their Books

Acclaimed author Stephen King is giving back to his home state. King is donating $6,500 to Farwell Elementary School, located in Lewiston, Maine, so that a group of students can publish their own books. King’s donation to the students in its Author Studies Program mean the students can publish the two books they’ve written.


As a group, the students — some of whom have graduated and are now in middle school — have been working on the books over the course of four years – working on the character development, plot, and overall storyline with the help of another Maine author, Gary Savage. The end result of their hard work is two books — an original and a sequel — and a 290-page manuscript. The books are ready for publication and with the help of King’s donation, they’ll be sent to a publishing company and available for purchase.


The books are about a boy’s adventures during the pandemic. Although the Author Study program has been in existence for several years, its focus shifted when the COVID-19 pandemic first reached Maine in March 2020. Savage and Martin moved the program online and tasked the students with taking Savage’s existing novel Fletcher McKenzie and the Passage to Whole and reworking it into an entirely new tale that incorporates their personal experiences in the coronavirus pandemic.

Principal Amanda Winslow said she’s proud of the students and what they’ve accomplished and praised the dedication of librarian Kathy Martin and author Gary Savage — who advised the students — towards making this happen. “I think it’s hard for kids to really understand the lesson of perseverance and patience, but they’ve been working on this book … and they’re definitely starting to reap the rewards of their hard work,” she said.
“Really incorporating their own experiences into the book, really that extra kind of feeling of this is a real book that you can really get your hands around, and once you start to read it you can’t put it down,” said Savage.

The books are expected to be printed and published in April of this year with the students in the program credited as contributing authors. “This student inspired book, ‘Fletcher McKenzie and the Passage to Whole,’ is a journey through Maine history and the wildly fantastic and healthy world of Whole. The major edits, written by elementary students, give the readers exactly what they crave at a time of Covid-19 fatigue and exhaustion — excitement, suspense, vividly funny characters, healthy eating, and subtle nutrition lessons, history lessons, respect for Native American history, and traditions, confusing and strange ventures, magical journeys, deadly danger, and closure.”


King’s donation is helping dozens of aspiring writers get one step closer to realizing their dreams. The $6,500 donation came through the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation, a private nonprofit King and his wife launched in 1986 to help give back to local Maine communities. The foundation provides grants for projects in Maine that address the underlying causes and consequences of social and environmental problems. Giving priorities include health and human services, literacy, arts, and projects that will affect the most members of a community.

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9 months ago · by · Comments Off on San Antonio Community Rallies To Repair WWII Veteran’s Home

San Antonio Community Rallies To Repair WWII Veteran’s Home

A San Antonio TX community has rallied behind a 94 year old veteran, Alfred Guerra, after his home fell into disrepair.  Guerra’s son and daughter had been able to keep up with home repairs but it became uninhabitable after his son, who had torn out much of the interior during the remodel, suddenly passed away from cancer last summer.  Hoping to harness the power of social media, his daughter, Maria, reached out via Facebook to ask for help. It wasn’t long before a variety of veterans groups heard about the man who had earned a Bronze Star and Purple Heart for acts of bravery in World War II. 

First to answer the call was the Military Order of the Purple Heart, followed soon after by Broken Warriors’ Angels, a local nonprofit serving San Antonio veterans and their families, along with the VFW Post 76, and the city’s Department of Human Services and Department of Military Affairs.  “As combat warriors, we leave nobody behind. And as veterans, we leave no veteran behind,” Tony Roman, of the Military Order of the Purple Heart.

Mr. Guerra had moved in with Maria and was thrilled that the repairs were underway once again—but then the COVID-19 lockdown put the project on hold.  Thankfully, this month, work on the house has resumed.  Veteran volunteers who had served in three foreign conflicts—Iraq, Afghanistan, and Vietnam—arrived on the scene and worked as a team to gut the home’s interior and prep it for the next phase of the home makeover.

A new roof had been donated by the SRS Raise the Roof Foundation, and the electrical and plumbing systems are on their way to being updated.  They are still in need of an HVAC system and the family is hoping for another guardian angel to come through there as well.  They’ve set up a GoFundMe page with a modest $5,000 goal to help finance the much-needed repairs.

It may take another month or so to complete the project but more than anything else, Guerra yearns to move back into his home. He longs to tend the roses he named in honor of his late wife, Emma, in their garden.  “It’s a wonderful thing,” said Maria Guerra, his daughter. “It’s a mission of mercy.”  She said her father, who has been living with her for the past several months, has missed his home so much that at times, he cries.

Tony Roman said what’s been done has taken the generosity of all those who donated their time and skills to the effort, and he hopes that a company will do the same by donating heating and air conditioning for the small home. 

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9 months ago · by · Comments Off on Atlanta Homeless Man Hailed Hero For Saving Shelter Animals From Fire

Atlanta Homeless Man Hailed Hero For Saving Shelter Animals From Fire

Heroes come in all walks of life and are often created just by being in the right place at the right time. That is the case for Keith Walker, a homeless man in Atlanta who made the split second decision on Dec. 18, 2020 to rush into W-Underdogs Shelter and rescue 16 dogs and cats trapped inside. WWhen Walker saw the flames, he urged another homeless man named Mike to call 911. Then he rushed inside and started pulling out animals as fast as he could.


Walker, 53, has been homeless since he was 13 years old and the nonprofit frequently shelters his dog. One of the nonprofit’s signature programs, The Rescue Team, teaches at-risk kids about compassion and responsibility through rescuing and rehabilitating homeless dogs and cats. Walker has done odd jobs for W-Underdogs for several years and was heading there to walk his pit bull, Bravo.

It’s fortunate the two homeless men arrived at the scene when they did because the organization’s founder happened to be on an outreach mission at the time. Celebrity dog trainer Victoria Stilwell, founder of the Victoria Stilwell Academy for Dog Training & Behavior and member of the advisory board of W-Underdogs said he saved every single one, and they’re all perfectly fine.

“It could have been really bad,” she said. “If they hadn’t done that, the fire could have spread and we would have lost all our animals. The act that he did was incredibly brave and he is a true hero. He is the guardian angel that was watching over W-Underdogs.” Officials deemed the blaze an electrical fire and the shelter was left uninhabitable but all of the animals were taken to a new facility.

Walker told news outlets that he was “nervous” to run into the burning building but that he knew he had to save the trapped animals. “I was really scared to go in there with all that smoke. But God put me there to save those animals,” he said. “If you love a dog, you can love anyone in the world. My dog is my best friend, and I wouldn’t be here without him, so I knew I had to save all those other dogs.”


Walker is now being hailed a hero and a GoFundMe set up to help him with a $5,000 goal has raised almost $85,000. “We received a flood of requests on how people can help Mr. Keith Walker, the hero who saved our animals from the fire. Rest assured we have Mr. Walker’s best interests at heart, and are exploring how to best manage donations that have come in on his behalf,” the facility said on their Facebook page.

In addition to teaching at-risk youth to rescue, care for and train pets for forever homes, W-Underdogs fosters empathy and leadership in young people with programs like planting trees, building dog houses and distributing pet food for those in need. Youth also help with their program to trap, neuter and return of community cats. “We’re not an animal rescue and we are not just a youth program; we’re actually a youth program that empowers you through animal rescue and that’s where the connection lies,” Stilwell explained.

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