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4 weeks ago · by · Comments Off on Brother of Boston Bombing’s Youngest Victim Runs Marathon

Brother of Boston Bombing’s Youngest Victim Runs Marathon

Henry Richard, the brother of the youngest victim in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, has completed the Boston Marathon in honor of his brother. He was emotional as he completed his first Boston Marathon. As he neared the end of the race, an emotional Richard stopped at the Boston Marathon memorial on Boylston Street for several moments. He then turned and ran to the finish, pumping both fists in the air as he crossed the line.

Henry ran with Team MR8, to raise money for the Martin Richard Foundation, which promotes inclusion, kindness, and peace in Martin’s legacy. The foundation invests in community programs that broaden horizons for young people and encourage them to celebrate diversity and engage in positive civic action.

Henry was 10 years old when his 8-year-old brother Martin was one of three people killed that day. Hundreds of people were injured that day including his 6 year old sister Jane who lost her left leg in the bombing. Jane survived that day after Matthew Patterson, from Lynn Fire Department, grabbed a stranger’s belt and made a tourniquet for her. Patterson then lifted her into his arms and raced through the devastation carrying her with her father, Bill Richard, by his side.

His sister, Jane, his parents and other family members were there at the finish line. “It’s great to get here finally. It’s been years in the making for me so I’m just so happy I could finally be here. I know Martin would have been doing it with me — so happy to finish it, that’s all I can think about. So many people were out there for me, all my friends, my family. Motivation was the least of my worries. There were so many people there to support me. It was wonderful and I couldn’t believe it. It meant the world to me that they were here waiting.” Henry said.

Finishing the Boston Marathon is an incredible achievement by itself, but crossing the finish line meant even more to Henry Richard. It also brought back a lot of emotions for the entire Richard family. Henry plans on running the marathon again in the future. “I love this city and I couldn’t be more grateful to them and everything they’ve done for me,” he said.

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2 months ago · by · Comments Off on Chicago Millionaire Giving Away $1 Million in Free Gas

Chicago Millionaire Giving Away $1 Million in Free Gas

Former mayoral candidate and Chicago businessman Willie Wilson donated $200,000 in free gas across the city, causing a massive gridlock in the city. Every vehicle at participating gas stations received $50 until all the money was exhausted. Wilson is donating another $1 million in free gas this week.

Fifty gas stations across the city will participate in the free gas giveaway. Each station is also agreeing to lower their gasoline prices during the event to allow more families to benefit from Wilson’s generosity. The gas will be given out on a first-come, first-served basis starting at 7am Thursday

Wilson said “The need among the community is so great, soaring gas prices have caused a hardship for too many of our citizens. I am confident that with God’s help and wisdom we will get through these tough times together. This is our second gas giveaway in one week. The need is great, I want to help. If I can help somebody as I pass along this way, then my living is not in vain.”

Wilson, was one of the first African Americans to own McDonald’s franchises in Chicago back in the 1970s. He sold all of his restaurants in the 1980s and is president and CEO of Omar Medical Supplies, one of America’s largest distributors of disposable products for use in medical, industrial and foodservice areas.

He is no stranger to making headlines for his philanthropy. In 2018, he handed out checks for $100,000 to homeowners in danger of losing their homes. People lined up at the Cook County Building for checks from the Dr. Willie Wilson Foundation, a nonprofit organization. He also handed out envelopes of cash at a Southside church totaling $200,000.

In 2020, he donated 1 million face masks to hospitals across all 50 wards of Chicago and another 1000 masks to Chicago fire and police departments. Through his foundation, he also sent $100 to 10,000 people through Venmo and Paypal. Homeless people, senior citizens, and those who lost their job due to the pandemic just had to apply for the support.

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4 months ago · by · Comments Off on WWII POW Presented With High School Diploma

WWII POW Presented With High School Diploma

A WWII POW was presented with a high school diploma, fulfilling a wish 80 years in the making. Kevin Litterer, principal of East Sac High School in Lake View, Iowa said it all started when he received a phone call on November 18, 2021. He recalls his assistant answering it and jumping up. “Kevin, you need to speak to this person right now,” she told him.

Tess Gooding, a medical social worker at the San Angelo Veterans Affairs Clinicin in Texas was on the line. Gooding explained that during her initial assessment, a new patient of hers, Donald J. Huisenga. The 98-year-old WWII veteran had said that he hadn’t graduated high school. He was supposed to receive a diploma from Auburn High School (now East Sac High School) in 1943. Three months before he was set to walk across the stage, however, he was drafted into the Army.

Huisenga was injured in artillery fire during the Normandy Invasion and two weeks later, he found himself in a German prisoner of war camp where he was held for six months. Huisenga left the Army in 1945, got married, had children and eventually moved to Texas. He had told Gooding that he was always haunted by the high school diploma he never got. Gooding said “He was telling me about his time as a prisoner of war, at which point he mentioned that he had never graduated high school. I thought, ‘You know, I’ll just reach out to the high school back in Iowa.’ I’m originally from the area. Worst case scenario, they’ll say no.”

Litterer immediately reached out to the company that provides East Sac High School with yearbooks, diplomas, class rings, and other memorabilia. With help from school officials, he was able to locate old copies of Auburn High School graduation materials to help them replicate a Class of 1943 diploma. In two hours, he had everything he needed and four days later, trustees with the East Sac County School Board of Education voted unanimously to name Huisenga a graduate of Auburn High School.

Litterer and his wife drove from Iowa to San Angelo so he could award Huisenga the diploma himself during a special ceremony at the San Angelo Veterans Affairs Clinic on January 5. After the ceremony, Huisenga said “I made it. I always hoped that I would get a diploma. I am pleased as punch. I’m so pleased, I couldn’t be any more pleased.” Huisenga invited Litterer to his home to show him where he planned to display the diploma: in a bookcase right next to the television.

Huisenga even invited Litterer and his wife to celebrate his 100th birthday on September 20, 2023. Litterer says of his new friend “He is just so amazing to me. His outlook on life is incredible. And for me, as a high school principal, next time a kid says they’re thinking about dropping out of high school I will show them a picture of Donald so they can see how much it means.”

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4 months ago · by · Comments Off on New Hampshire Pup Leads Police To Crash Scene

New Hampshire Pup Leads Police To Crash Scene

A New Hampshire pup is a real life hero after leading help to the crash site of her owner on a snowy stretch of I-89. On Jan. 3, 2022, highway drivers spotted a young Shiloh shepherd — thought at first to be a German shepherd — running loose on Veterans Memorial Bridge on I-89 near the New Hampshire-Vermont border. New Hampshire State Police responded to reports of a wandering dog on the highway at around 10 p.m.

Trooper Sandberg and other officers of the Lebanon Police Department made attempts to corral her and get close, but she kept running away. Tinsley, a 1-year-old Shiloh Shepherd, eventually led them to a damaged section of guardrail. Police saw a badly damaged overturned F350 pickup truck with two injured occupants nearby who had been ejected from the vehicle.

The officers called for medical assistance and found the two injured men to be suffering from hypothermia. It was then that they learned that the shepherd pup belonged to one of the injured occupants of the truck, Cameron Landry. Tinsley stood by her owner as officers assisted him and the passenger.

Public relations and community outreach officer Amber Lagace said the dog never tried to run away from the officers on scene but instead led them further up the road and over the bridge.
Laundry suffered minor injuries and was later released from the hospital. The other passenger, identified as Justin Connors, suffered more serious injuries and is still in the hospital. He has undergone two surgeries but is expected to recover. Unfortunately, Connors’ dog, a bulldog, was also riding in the truck with the two men and Tinsley. Sadly, the bulldog was struck on the interstate after the crash; its body was discovered the next morning.

Lt. Dan Baldassarre, commander of Troop D of the New Hampshire State Police said the incident is a real-life Lassie story. Baldassarre said. “It’s really quite remarkable. This dog definitely saved their lives. I don’t think they would have survived the night given the temperatures.” The New Hampshire State Police posted a long message on Facebook about the incident which included pictures from the scene of Tinsley and the totaled Ford F350 truck after the rollover crash. Laundry said after the crash, “She’s my little guardian angel. It’s a miracle how she has that kind of intelligence to do what she did.” For all her bravery, Tinsley was rewarded with a lot of back scratches and goodies including a venison dinner.

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5 months ago · by · Comments Off on Schmidt Baking Company Hands Out Bread to Drivers Stranded Over 24 Hours In Gridlock

Schmidt Baking Company Hands Out Bread to Drivers Stranded Over 24 Hours In Gridlock

The CEO of Schmidt Baking Company came to the rescue for drivers struck in the I95 backup. Thousands of drivers were gridlocked on a 50-mile stretch of road running through Virginia for over 24 hours after a winter storm dropped around a foot of snow on Virginia and other eastern states. The CEO ordered one of his drivers also stuck to pass bread and rolls out to the stranded cars.

A Maryland couple, Casey Holihan and John Noe, had not moved for more than 20 hours in the southbound lane of I-95 thanks to a combination of jack-knifed tractor trailers, heavy snowfall and four inches of ice that hindered rescue vehicles from clearing the road. Like many others, they had spent the night in their car in temperatures that had dipped into the 20s. After not having eaten in over 30 hours, they noticed the bread truck from Schmidt Baking Company stuck just ahead of them.

Not thinking it would work, they called the company’s customer service line and left a message asking if it was possible for the driver to open the truck and give some loaves of bread to them and others. Holihan received a phone call 20 minutes later from the owner of Baltimore-based H&S Bakery, which owns Schmidt Baking Company. Chuck Paterakis told her he was instructing the truck’s driver, Ron Hill, to open up the back and pass out some food.

The couple said they helped pass out about 300 packages of rolls and loaves of bread to people in surrounding vehicles over the course of an hour. Holihan said “We just kept giving it out until we couldn’t walk anymore because it was so freezing. It felt incredible just hearing people say thank you and hearing people just so relieved to finally have food in their car, food in their system and in their kids’ system. It was a really incredible feeling.”

Chuck Paterakis said “It was an easy decision. I’m so pleased that the people who were hungry, that hadn’t eaten for the past 24 hours, had a chance, even if it was bread, had the chance to fill their stomachs up. It was very gratifying to me. It was something I will always remember. I’m very humbled and grateful that we could help.”

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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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5 months ago · by · Comments Off on Habitat For Humanity Builds Their First 3D Printed Home

Habitat For Humanity Builds Their First 3D Printed Home

History was made when Habitat for Humanity handed over the keys to their first 3D printed home on the East Coast. With lumber prices high, they saved an estimated 15% per square foot compared to their normal building costs. Four days before Christmas, April Stringfield and her 13 year old son cut the ribbon on a three-bedroom, two-bath house she helped build in Williamsburg, Virginia.

The 1,200 square-foot house featuring 2 full bathrooms uses concrete, which retains temperature better than wood, and will save on heating and cooling costs. It’s also more resistant to tornado and hurricane damage. The entire skeleton was built in just 12 hours, shaving off around 4 weeks of building time. Habitat for Humanity Peninsula and Greater Williamsburg teamed up with 3D printing home construction company Alquist in order to complete the project.

There is even a miniature 3D printer that comes with the house that could reprint parts like light switch covers, if she needs a repair. The addition of solar panels and a smart home system based on proprietary technology from Virginia Tech will ensure April and her son enjoy low energy costs while still maintaining comfort.

Habitat for Humanity sells homes to families with low to moderate incomes, issuing a no-interest, 20 or 30-year mortgage that the new home-owners then pay off monthly. The Habitat Homebuyer Program becomes available to people who volunteer more than 300 hours of service, and who make 45-80% of an area’s median income. Stringfield logged her 300 sweat equity hours helping build her home and other homes.

James City County’s Neighborhood Development Administrator Vaughn Poller said “I’m really excited about the opportunity to be a part of this technology in housing and being on the cutting edge there,” Poller said. “But none of this would have happened without partnerships, that’s what’s really vital.” Alquist CEO Zachary Mannheimer said “We saw four years of blood, sweat and tears trying to do this.” The business’s future projects include 3D-printed homes in rural communities in Arkansas, California, Iowa, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and other cities.

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5 months ago · by · Comments Off on App Promotes Small Business Shopping

App Promotes Small Business Shopping

The city of Akron, Ohio, launched a program designed to help support the local businesses. The program rewards shoppers for shopping locally through a city-sponsored app called Akronite, from which shoppers receive reward points for every purchase they make. James Hardy, Akron’s deputy mayor of integrated development, says that the app is “encouraging citizens to spend money locally while putting cash back into their pockets.”

The reward points are called “blimps” after the Goodyear Blimp, which is based in Akron. Blimps can be redeemed at any of the participating stores for discounted or even free services. At the end of the month, the city reimburses the businesses for these redeemed values. The more you shop, the more rewards you earn.

Michael Mazur, vice president of business development at Colu, the entity responsible for building the app used to run Akronite, says that constantly rewarding people for doing something they were going to do anyway makes them want to come back for more. He also says that collecting rewards becomes a conversation point among social circles, and that “it becomes a game, a friendly competition.”

While shoppers enjoy the savings, the main goal is to support local business owners by creating loyalty and giving them a new way of attracting new customers. Business owners get to announce events and promotions in the app as well. Since the launch of the app, businesses are reporting that regular customers are visiting more frequently and spending more money.

In addition to this, the app is designed to accommodate advertising space for nonprofits so that their stories can reach their target audiences. There are plans to add ways to reward front-line workers, disabled merchants, and other underprivileged communities who need the support. The success of the app in Akron inspired the Colu team to expand the initiative to include other cities such as Youngstown, Oh, Boston, MA and several regions in California.

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5 months ago · by · Comments Off on Hot Spot Libraries Aim to Improve Literacy in South Africa

Hot Spot Libraries Aim to Improve Literacy in South Africa

Terence Crowster, a development worker in South Africa, has been helping disadvantaged youth in the crime-ridden Cape Town neighborhood of Scottsville for years. He helped develop anti-bullying and leadership programs at various high schools in the community. In 2017, he solicited donations and second-hand books and created new libraries he built out of repurposed shipping containers. These were dubbed the Hot-Spot Libraries because the location of the first one is at the border of an area fought over by two rival gangs.

It’s aim is to be a helpful resource to youth in the area and it has transformed the neighborhood.
Despite the dangerous postal code, the library has flourished, becoming as much a safe space as an academic one. The neighborhood residents, once torn apart by drug abuse and gang violence, have found an escape from the harsh realities of daily life and now explore different worlds in the pages of thousands of donated second-hand books.

In its first year, its membership grew to 750 young people. Its shelves are now stocked with more than 2,000 books, and educational programming is offered six days a week. Last July, Crowster opened an additional branch in the adjoining Scottsdene neighborhood, with future branches and libraries-on-wheels planned for elsewhere in Cape Town. While the libraries’ presence hasn’t stopped all the violence, it has given many youth, who typically join gangs as young as 12 years old, a source of knowledge about the world outside their neighborhoods.

“The power of reading is that it increases your understanding of who you are and where you come from” says Sabelo Ngxola, a former gangster and Crowster’s partner on the new library project. “It opens up your imagination.” During his gang days, Ngxola was shot on four separate occasions and stabbed twice before turning his life around, largely, he says, thanks to books. Once the library opens, he’ll be responsible for managing the place when Crowster isn’t around.

Crowster said he hopes the libraries will help improve the worrying trend of children with very low reading comprehension. While visiting schools he witnessed a high rate of kids that could recognize words but not effectively understand the meaning. “I have a lot of leadership, soft skills and anti-bullying programs at the schools. So the initiative basically started … when I saw most 7th, 8th, and 9th grade kids are actually illiterate” he said. A requirement of the library is reviewing each book afterwards to show if the kids are actually understanding the books they’ve read. Crowster hopes to continue building the libraries in hard hit low income neighborhoods to give impoverished youth a

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5 months ago · by · Comments Off on Michigan Pastor Wins USA TODAY’s Best of Humankind Award

Michigan Pastor Wins USA TODAY’s Best of Humankind Award

USA TODAY’s Best of Humankind Awards honor everyday people who have showcased the highest level of kindness, compassion, and perseverance in 2021. Each Humankind award celebrates an everyday person who is making a difference in their community. Winner of this award, Pastor Heather Boone, has shown a dedication to helping those who need it most in the Monroe community and her efforts are well-documented.

Boone moved to Monroe from Detroit and immediately went to work. She and her husband decided they wanted to stay in Monroe and start their own church, Oaks of Righteousness.
She made the Miracle on E. Second Street a reality by convincing the Detroit Archdiocese to sell her the historic St. Joseph Catholic Church at far below the asking price. It started as a homeless shelter and learning center known as Oaks Village.

She then further developed Oaks Village and formed a nonprofit grocery store, a clothes closet, soup kitchen, free childcare center and a free medical clinic. Her ministry serves as a village in the community. “I’m an unpaid pastor. We’re not a wealthy church and so we just wanted to change our community,” says Boone.

When the winner was announced, Boone was quick to point out none of it would be possible without the efforts of their volunteers. Boone, who lived in the homeless shelter for 2 years until they could afford to expand, said “There is no one road to homelessness. These are people just like you. We are all just a few paychecks away from being in this same predicament.”

When asked about winning the award Boone said “I mean it’s still surreal. When you think about it, across the whole United States, it’s all over the country. And so to be the person of the year… out of the whole country. It feels amazing.” But she says things are really just getting started. Next, Pastor Boone wants to build a tiny house village for those who are ready for permanent housing. This award puts her on the map, which is what she’s been praying for. “I had a lady call me from Chicago who saw it and she was asking me questions because she wants to do something similar in her community and that’s what we’re here for,” said Boone.

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