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8 months ago · by · Comments Off on Veterans United Gives Homes To Veterans

Veterans United Gives Homes To Veterans

The nation’s top Veterans Administration-affiliated home lender launched a national campaign to highlight vets and their service. With the help of actor, comedian and retired U.S. Marine Rob Riggle, Veterans United Home Loans has been giving thanks to veterans across the country by surprising them with new houses—completely paid off.

As the initiative’s first expression of gratitude, the Missouri-based lending company and its charitable foundation surprised 10 deserving Veterans with a new house each. Veterans United teamed up with Marine veteran and comedian Rob Riggle to select 10 veterans making a difference in their communities for 10 home giveaways and is donating one more to any veteran who enters for a chance to win at ThanksToVeterans.com.

Pam Swan, vice president of military relations for Veterans United Home Loans and a military spouse, got involved in efforts to support service members after getting married in 1987 and becoming aware of what “military families are lacking” and joined Veterans United in 2011. “We as a company work on improving the lives of service members, their families and their communities, and that is the core of every decision we make,” Swan said. “…Last year, we made a big statement in trying to say thank you on Veterans Day in a more spectacular way.”

The donations were a complete surprise to those selected, who were all in the process of applying for home loans and were just recently approved. Winning recipients were Army Veteran Jonathon Brown, eight-year U.S. Navy veteran and single dad Andre H. from North Carolina; Vietnam Army vet Jim L. from New Mexico, who needed a wheelchair-accessible home; U.S. Army veteran and father of three Daniel G. from New York; U.S. Navy veteran, widow and mother of three Regina L. from Georgia; and Marine Corps veteran Iraq vet Samuel T. from California, who teaches local self-defense classes.

“Our #ThanksToVeterans campaign underscores the daily commitment of veterans as local leaders, dedicated volunteers, and exemplary neighbors. And what better way to thank these deserving individuals than by giving them houses of their very own in the communities they call home?” said Swan

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8 months ago · by · Comments Off on Dads Join Forces to Quell School Violence

Dads Join Forces to Quell School Violence

When a troubled Louisiana high school needed help, a group of dads answered the call. When tensions flared among students attending Southwood High School in Shreveport, Louisiana, a series of disturbing fights broke out over the course of a week. Twenty-three arrests were made in just 24 hours. Southwood’s campus security and officials say they tried everything to help tame the sudden uptick of violent confrontations, but to no avail.

A coalition of concerned fathers stepped up to help stop the violence. About 40 fathers came together and formed a support group called “Dads on Duty”. Together, they take turns spending time at the school greeting students in the morning and giving them words of encouragement. They also walk the halls and make sure students are getting to class on time. They say they are not a security force, but just fathers hoping to maintain a positive environment for learning, rather than fighting on campus. So far, the effort is working and there hasn’t been a single incident on campus since the dads showed up.

Michael R. La’Fitte II formed the Dads on Duty coalition to keep the halls of Southwood High safe. “We’re dads. We decided the best people who can take care of our kids are who? Are us,” La’Fitte said of the group’s mission. Another member of the group said not everybody has a father figure at home – or a male, period, in their life so just to be here makes a big difference. When La’Fitte isn’t patrolling the halls of Southwood High, he extends his passion for community service to the city’s NAACP chapter, where he serves as president.

Students say they feel much safer now that the Dads on Duty have been deployed throughout the campus. They may show a bit of tough love to students, but the group of fathers have also provided a little source of entertainment. One student said they tell alot of “Dad Jokes” and the atmosphere feels more positive. The group started with five men and has now grown to a group of 40 fathers wanting to make an impact. The Dads on Duty hope to continue spreading positivity at Southwood and said they would eventually like to expand the initiative with other chapters across the state and maybe nationwide someday.

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9 months ago · by · Comments Off on New Jersey Brothers Raise $70K for Restaurant Workers

New Jersey Brothers Raise $70K for Restaurant Workers

Two New Jersey brothers, Aiden and Louis Ardine set out to walk 3,200 miles across America to raise money for restaurant workers stuck at home during COVID. The two, who are former bartenders, hoped to raise $30,000 for some charities that were helping restaurant workers waiting for restrictions to end, but ended up making $70,000—which they distributed to the COCO Fund and the Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation.

Both experienced the stresses of working in a bar during the pandemic firsthand. While they had the privilege of being able to provide for themselves after being laid off, many of their friends and family did not find themselves in the same situation. They decided to give back to the industry that they loved being a part of by shining a light on an issue important to them by sharing stories of individuals they meet along the road to raise awareness and funds for restaurant workers across the country.

They have now completed their five-month walkabout which started on the Asbury Park boardwalk in New Jersey on May 1st. “It’s been an extremely difficult year and a half, and you don’t know the obstacles people have faced and the challenges they’re still dealing with,” Aiden says. “We realized that we could walk across America and sort of pursue this challenge for ourselves, learning about America and helping people in the service industry. It was super important for us.”

At every step of the journey, they were meeting the people they’re helping and hearing their stories of strength and resilience. Verizon heard about the endeavor and launched a donation drive in support of the Ardines, who passed through 11 states over the course of 162 days, 12,000 feet in various elevation changes, and about 80 degrees in temperature variation before the job was done.

“This would not have been possible without the help of a huge community of people, whether people were donating or helping us navigate our way across the United States.” Aiden Ardine said. “This was definitely an adventure founded in a very hopeful notion about America, and it confirmed our suspicion that people are inherently good and want to help their neighbors.”

Their trip, which was documented on social media, was filled with stunning scenery, long roads, and helpful strangers. From the man who passed them in the searing heat of summer in Iowa, before doubling back and giving them a cold Gatorade to a Nevada campground manager who let them stay for free. When they reached San Francisco, their supporters were waiting for them on the beach. Afterwards they flew home along with their mom who had been in San Francisco to meet them at the end of their trek.

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9 months ago · by · Comments Off on Dunkin Donuts Surprises Officers with Patriots-Buccaneers Tickets After Their Act of Kindness

Dunkin Donuts Surprises Officers with Patriots-Buccaneers Tickets After Their Act of Kindness

Two Massachusetts police officers who surprised a little boy with a brand new bicycle last month
received a surprise of their own from Dunkin’ in recognition of their random act of kindness. Dunkin’ gifted Officers Michael Flynn and Michael Hughes tickets to the highly-anticipated Patriots-Buccaneers game.

Last month, Taunton police officers Michael Flynn and Michael Hughes surprised six-year-old Bryan King with a new bicycle after his was stolen, twice. King told the officers it was the second time in a week his bike had been stolen, the first being a gift for his sixth birthday.
Officer Hughes said “We’re getting ready to leave and I said to Officer Flynn…I think I want to buy him a bike. He’s like, let’s split it.”

Officer Flynn contacted Dawn King the following day to say that they had additional questions and wanted to meet them at their home. The officers brought the bike and also gave Bryan King Jr. two bike locks and some helpful tips to prevent theft. “It just blew my day out of the water. I cried. It was heartfelt. It was truly heartfelt,” Bryan’s mom said.

The ordeal led Taunton Police Chief Edward J. Walsh to issue a statement, praising the officers for bringing joy to the little boy. “This is a fantastic example of community policing and I want to commend officers Flynn and Hughes for their selflessness and caring,” Chief Walsh said in the press release. “This boy had his bike stolen twice in a short period of time and that can be devastating for a child. I’m glad our officers were able to put a smile on his face and brighten his day.”

When Dunkin’ Donuts heard about the officers’ act of kindness, they surprised Officers Flynn and Hughes with tickets to Sunday’s Patriots-Buccaneers game. “It’s just crazy. I mean it’s one thing to go to a game…to think we are actually going to the game that Tom Brady is coming back to New England for,” Hughes said. “It’s astounding,” added Flynn. When given the tickets, Flynn and Hughes said they were honored to be recognized this way.

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9 months ago · by · Comments Off on Parents Magazine Names America’s Kindest Family

Parents Magazine Names America’s Kindest Family

Parents magazine held a contest that began last April looking for the kindest family in America as a way to inspire “families to continue to do good and to share their stories.” The winners of the America’s Kindest Families contest are the Barrons’ family. Luke and Holly Barrón, who live in Oklahoma, lost their 8-year-old son, Keaton, to acute lymphoblastic leukemia in 2018. Ever since, the couple and their children, Reid, 7, Holden, 5, and Conley, 2, have worked tirelessly to continue Keaton’s legacy by helping others through their foundation, the K Club.

Towards the end of his life, Keaton was visited by a volunteer at the hospital named Kay and the two started the K Club. The foundation, which was Keaton’s idea, primarily helps children fighting cancer and their families. It is also committed to doing random acts of kindness. While in the hospital, founding member Keaton wrote that the club’s mission is “to be kind to others, be courageous, compassionate, and caring.”

The club raised money by selling clubhouse dues for just $1 and has grown to have a significant impact on the lives of countless families. The K Club helps kids with cancer and their families by throwing several fundraisers a year, including a golf tournament and a Christmas celebration where they sell baked goods. The club also makes K Packs that allow parents to remember the children they’ve lost to a terminal illness. They include recordings of the child’s voice and artwork.

The K Club also collects diapers, wipes, and clothes for a pregnancy resource center, makes hygiene packs for those experiencing homelessness, and donates funds to build wells in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Holly and Luke have also created “K Cares” to help pay for funerals. The list of good deeds goes on and on.

“Even though he lived a life of suffering, he looked out for other people first, that was Keaton.
It’s an honor to provide a tiny bit of hope or peace in the most unimaginable time in a family’s life. We feel for every parent who may lose a child and will do anything we can to be there for them” Holly said.

Every month, the Barrons host a party at Oklahoma Children’s Hospital, where Keaton was treated. Marie Janne Lopez, who nominated the Barrons for America’s Kindest Family, recalled how Keaton would often choose a toy for his younger sibling instead of himself. “He realized his brother’s life had been turned upside down by his treatment. How many 6-year-olds do that kind of thing?” Lopez asked.

The Barróns think that the K Club is a great way for Keaton’s younger brothers to keep his spirit alive. “I think Keaton would be pleased with it all, but I don’t think he’d be like, ‘Whoa, this is unbelievable!'” Holly said. “I think he’d just say, ‘Yeah, this is what I’d planned. Good job.'”

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10 months ago · by · Comments Off on Moms Write Book About The Loss of a Child To Raise Money For Charity

Moms Write Book About The Loss of a Child To Raise Money For Charity

A group of moms who have experienced the loss of a child came together to write a book about their experiences and raise money for charity. The book is called “The Last Kiss” and is a tough read but they wanted others going through this to feel like they aren’t alone. A nonprofit known as My Friend Linkin published and released the book recently.

My Friend Linkin was founded by Naudia Greenawalt in 2017. The then third-grader wrote a book about her friend Linkin, who was battling cancer. The two sold more than 500 copies of the book to raise money for Linkin’s care and other childhood cancer funds. They’ve since published several books about childhood cancer written by kids.

Each chapter of “The Last Kiss” is written by a mom who lost a child. Through each chapter, they recount their deeply personal experience. All proceeds will be donated to each mom’s charity of choice. Danielle Biddy, an Atlanta-area mom whose is one of the authors, said “I definitely want others going through this to feel like they’re not alone and to have points where they relate or feel like even when they’re in the depths of that grief initially that there is hope. If you have to go through it alone, or you feel like you are the only one feeling that way, then it can be very isolating,” she explained.

Danielle said sharing her story in print was difficult, but something she felt called to do. “I kind of vowed to be that voice that you will survive. Because it doesn’t always feel that way. You don’t feel like you will. And just to look for the good.” Danielle and her husband are donating their portion of the proceeds to the Miracle Babies Foundation to honor their daughter Carolina and by keeping her memory alive for their new baby boy Jace.

Greenawalt says the book is not only for moms who have experienced child loss, but also helpful for those who want to understand grief better and how to help those going through it. “It was important for us to include that because it was a way to bridge those that have experienced loss and those that have not experienced loss and say this is what we can all do,” she said. “Grief is messy, grief can be extremely ugly, but through that every day that you wake up you have a new day to start off fresh.” The book retails for $14 and can be purchased on myfriendlinkin.org along with several other books they have published.

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10 months ago · by · Comments Off on Olympian Auctions Medal To Pay For Toddler’s Life Saving Surgery

Olympian Auctions Medal To Pay For Toddler’s Life Saving Surgery

A Polish javelin thrower, Maria Andrejczyk, who won a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics auctioned off her silver medal to help pay for the surgery for an 8-month-old boy with a heart defect. The 25-year-old athlete won second place during the Olympic women’s javelin throw final in early August. Andrejczyk, a bone cancer survivor, announced on her Facebook page that the winning bid of $125,000 will pay for little Miłoszek Małysa’s operation at Stanford University Medical Center.

The Polish convenience store chain Zabka placed the top bid, paying $125,000 for the silver medal. After the auction closed, Andrejczyk said in a translated Facebook post that the medal was to her a “symbol of struggle, faith and the pursuit of dreams despite many adversities.”
She added: “I hope that for you it will be a symbol of the life we ​​fought for together.”

The toddler’s condition, according to his fund-raising page, is dire and requires an urgent operation in the United States. Małysa, whose heart defect causes his blood pressure to skyrocket and damage the arteries in his lungs and in the heart, is currently at home in southern Poland and receiving hospice care.

In an interview with a Polish sports program, Andrejczyk said winning the medal “brought her enormous happiness and she wanted to pass that happiness on” to a young child who could use some. “The true value of a medal always remains in the heart but a medal is only an object. It can be of great value to others. This silver can save lives, instead of collecting dust in a closet. That is why I decided to auction it to help a sick child.”

In a twist of equally inspiring kindness, instead of collecting its prize, Zabka announced it would let Andrejczyk keep the silver medal. “We were moved by the beautiful and extremely noble gesture of our Olympian,” the company said in a Facebook post translated from Polish. “We also decided that the silver medal from Tokyo will remain with Ms. Maria, who showed how great she is.” Żabka instead made a donation for the boy’s operation in Andrejczyk’s name.

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11 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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11 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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12 months ago · by · Comments Off on California Teen Invents Fire Suppression Device To Help Save Homes From Wildfires

California Teen Invents Fire Suppression Device To Help Save Homes From Wildfires

A California teen, Arul Mathur, invented a solution to help combat California wildfires, allowing regular citizens to take fire protection into their own hands. Inspired by the 2018 Camp Fire, Mathur says he developed FACE, or Fire Activated Canister Extinguisher. FACE is an autonomous fire suppression device that releases retardant when it detects fire. When placed in strategic locations, FACE can prevent homes from burning down, according to the teen.

Mathur launched a Kickstarter campaign https://bit.ly/3jPycyQ on July 1st with a goal of $5000 to make FACE available to the public for the impending fire season. So far it has raised over $13,000 and all the revenue generated will be donated to install FACE devices in fire-prone areas that need them the most. A single device is capable of protecting fire-risk areas in one’s house, while multiple can form a defensive perimeter around one’s entire property against low to moderate intensity fires.

“Over the past three years, there have been almost 7,500,000 acres of wildfire in California alone, destroying nearly 50,000 structures,” describes Arul Mathur. When a sensor on the device heats up to a certain temperature, a glycerin element bursts within, releasing an eco-friendly fire-retardant spray 5-6 feet in all directions with the aid of a sprinkler. The retardant can be re-filled quite easily, and the only other human-controlled aspect is the initial introduction of air-pressure into the canister which can be done manually through a valve at the top. Each unit will retail for $120 after production begins.

Mathur said in the summer of 2019, a wildfire spread so fast, coming from 10 miles away, it threatened to force his family to evacuate their home. “Thankfully, due to the bravery and diligence of my local fire department, the fire was contained and our house was saved but many other people weren’t so lucky.” That’s when he first began designing and engineering FACE. Mathur said he reasoned that by owning self-activating fire suppression, individuals no longer had to be reliant on the fire department to save their homes. “Firefighters could focus on containing the fire, while we, as residents, could control the fate of our property,”

The only existing market alternative for F.A.C.E is a manual extinguisher, or an automatic sprinkler system, which unless it can be installed during construction of the house, will normally cost between $1 to $3 dollars per square foot, amounting to many thousands for a family home. While 5-6 feet of spray isn’t enough to stop large fires, but if enough FACE units are placed in strategic areas, neighborhoods or rural communities can work together to prevent brush fires from becoming wildfires, or living room fires from becoming house fires. Mathur says “The ultimate goal is to bring FACE into the hands of everyone who lives in fire-prone areas so that they can protect themselves and their properties.”

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