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3 weeks ago · by · Comments Off on Graduating Class Donates Funds Raised For Class Trip to Island Community

Graduating Class Donates Funds Raised For Class Trip to Island Community

The island of Islesboro lies three miles off the mainland with 700 full-time residents. Graduating classes at Islesboro’s Central School consist of 13-15 students who traditionally fundraise to finance a once-in-a-lifetime class trip at the end of their final semester. Former student destinations include Paris, Iceland, Norway, and Panama.

The Class of 2021 had already garnered close to $8,000 in donations through fundraising efforts from working at concession stands, holding harvest and winter festivals and hosting community suppers before pandemic lockdowns prevented further fundraising. Like classes before them, they envisioned a journey to Greece, Japan, or South Korea before their hopes were quashed by COVID-19 travel restrictions. With their plans curtailed, the group decided to spend the money they’d earned a whole lot closer to home by reinvesting it in their community.

The bulk of their earnings was donated to the Island Community Fund in aid of residents whose livelihoods were broadsided by the COVID-19 pandemic. Another portion was put to good use funding coronavirus vaccination clinics. The rest will go to philanthropic causes as yet to be determined.

The pandemic hasn’t been easy for many and the tight-knit island community has felt the effects keenly. Five of the Islesboro Central School seniors take the ferry from the mainland, while the rest live on the island but the group was accustomed to doing things together. They were also split apart, unable to gather for months, with a three-mile gulf between the island and the mainland.

The seniors kicked off an email chain to discuss what to do about the trip. International travel was a no-go, so Greece, South Korea and Japan were no longer options. They thought about scaling it back to do a regional trip but the world’s struggles weighed on them as they tried to justify salvaging an exotic outing against a backdrop of deaths and economic pain.

One graduate, Olivia Britton said “It felt sort of obvious that it needed to go back to the island community.” Another, Liefe Temple,explained that the group said it would have felt strange to indulge in the luxury of foreign travel when they knew their neighbors were suffering such extreme day-to-day duress. “We could really see how the whole world and the island, too, was struggling. So it felt really good to do that with our money—to give it back to the people who gave it to us.”

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3 weeks ago · by · Comments Off on Therapy Dogs Offer Support Rescue Workers of FL Building Collapse

Therapy Dogs Offer Support Rescue Workers of FL Building Collapse

As rescue efforts turned to recovery in the aftermath of the Surfside Building Collapse, the scope of the loss of life is clearer as search teams work into lower levels of a debris pile that is growing smaller each day.  Rescue crews have been working tirelessly during the search despite the emotional toll but therapy and comfort canines are on the scene to provide support for the rescue crews.

Therapy dogs from Miami Dade County Fire Departments are on the job, which represent a variety of large and small dog breeds. Bonnie Fear, of the Lutheran Church Charities K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry brought nine golden retrievers from out-of-state to the site of the collapse to help first responders cope.  The retrievers are staying at the Holy Cross Lutheran Church while they wait to be called into action.

“These dogs are here for you,” said Bonnie Fear.  “A lot of times the first responders come up, they’ll fall to their knees, they’ll start crying or they’ll smile. We try not to say anything, we let the dog be the bridge for those people to grieve the loss, whatever they’re feeling.”  Comfort canines work similarly to therapy dogs—their job right now is to help rescuers cope with the emotional toil of the collapse.  Comfort dogs are a strong and well-proven therapy for depression, anxiety, and other forms of distress.  

Capt. Shawn Campana, a veteran of the Miami Dade Fire Dept, said “We are now very well aware that we can potentially be impacted by stress like PTSD, like suicide ideation, and that is what this team was designed to prevent. When a human does what we call friendly petting, which means we get our fingertips into their skin, our bodies release oxytocin.”  Oxytocin is a hormone that creates feelings of comfort and happiness, and as much as these dogs can give to the first responders the better.

The dogs are near the site of the collapse to provide support for rescue crews and family members of those still missing.  As recovery work continues, the therapy dogs have spent time near a memorial site by the fallen tower, as well as at a Red Cross family assistance center donning blue vests that read “Please Pet Me,” and have been met by thankful individuals sporting both smiles and tears.  Fear said  “We’re very concerned about their mental health.  Our prayer is that they make it through, they find what they need to mentally process and to know, in their minds, that they found someone’s loved one, they made a difference for the families. And I hope they hang on to that.”

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2 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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4 months ago · by · Comments Off on NJ Moving Company Sparked Initiative to Help End Hunger

NJ Moving Company Sparked Initiative to Help End Hunger

A simple question asked by a New Jersey moving company in 2009 has sparked an initiative capitalizing on the amount of food left behind in clients’ fridges in order to help increase supply to local food banks. Over 1,050 moving companies and 22 million pounds of food later, Adam Lowy—founder of Move for Hunger—has turned unwanted food items into enterprise-level charity.


Lowy said “When people move, they throw away a whole bunch of stuff: food, clothing, furniture, you name it. And what bothered us was the perfectly good, nonperishable food that was getting left behind in the pantry, or simply thrown in the trash. So we started by asking a very simple question: ‘Do you want to donate your food when you move?’” In the first month of Lowy’s idea, he managed to collect 300 pounds of food. He wondered if one moving company could make this kind of impact in their local community, what an entire network of moving companies could do.


That question, led to the creation of Move for Hunger, which links moving companies with food banks in their area, and these pairings with apartment offices, corporate housing, relocation management companies, real estate agents, and other entities to reach as many tenants and homeowners as possible about the impact they can make by donating their food before they change addresses.


Once one of these partners gets word that someone wants to move, Move for Hunger provides a pamphlet about local hunger problems, a large plastic bag, and a cardboard box—all to help people donate any food they don’t feel like bringing along with them. Then a local moving company will bring those packed-up pantry staples to a local food bank, helping ensure nothing gets wasted.


Hunger affects one in six American children, and it’s only gotten worse during the pandemic as government-mandated business closures have ravaged the economy, destroyed jobs, and disrupted supply chains. Move for Hunger operates across the USA and Canada. They try to hold special events—such as food drives and holiday-themed collections as well. Their February 2021 Spread the Love event received 16,000 meals donated across 300 separate food drives, and 20,000 pounds of peanut butter and jelly being used.


Rental property owners or managers, moving companies and real estate agents can help by signing up on the moveforhunger.org website and encouraging others to do so too. Anyone with an upcoming move can also find moving companies in their area on the website who will deliver their donated food. Move For Hunger’s mission is to mobilize the relocation industry to reduce food waste and fight hunger. Rescuing and donating meals for communities in need is so important because millions of people need help today.

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4 months ago · by · Comments Off on Go Fund Me for Atlanta Shooting Victim’s Children Raises Millions

Go Fund Me for Atlanta Shooting Victim’s Children Raises Millions

A GoFundMe page established by the son of one of the victims of the Atlanta spa shootings has garnered millions of dollars in donations from tens of thousands of people in just days. Hyun Jung Grant, 51, was one of the eight people killed when a gunman opened fire inside three Asian spas in the Atlanta area. Following the deadly incident, the victim’s son launched a crowdfunding page asking for $20,000 to pay for funeral costs and other expenses.


On the page he wrote “My mother, Hyun Jung Grant( maiden name Kim), was one of the victims of the shootings in Atlanta, Georgia at Gold Spa. This is something that should never happen to anyone. She was a single mother who dedicated her whole life to providing for my brother and I. It is only my brother and I in the United States. The rest of my family is in South Korea and are unable to come. She was one of my best friends and the strongest influence on who we are today. Losing her has put a new lens on my eyes on the amount of hate that exists in our world.


As much as I want to grieve and process the reality that she is gone, I have a younger brother to take care of and matters to resolve as a result of this tragedy. Frankly, I have no time to grieve for long. I will need to figure out the living situation for my brother and I for the next few months, possibly year. As of now I have been advised to move out of my current home within the end of March to save money and find a new place to live. My biggest priority right now is to put my mother to rest and plan out the funeral but due to some legal complications, I am unable to obtain my mother’s body. I don’t think I’ll be able to figure out this whole situation along with legal matters if given 2 weeks to move out. Any donation will be used as funds for basic living necessities for my brother and I such as food, bills, and other expenses. I wish to stay in my current home for at least one more month to sort everything out. Any amount would be forever appreciated. Please everyone just stay safe and check up on your friends and loved ones that may feel endangered”


The GoFundMe has received over $2.8 million dollars in donations from people around the world. Hyan has posted updates expressing how grateful he is for the support and acknowledged he has never had a good understanding of money but will only use the funds for pure necessity. He also said he can’t help but feel selfish for all the attention this has garnered and encouraged people to share the same care and kindness people have shown him to anyone that feels scared or unsure about the world we live in.

To date, no central fund had been created to aid families of the victims — a contrast with some other mass shootings where groups were set up to collect and distribute money to those directly affected. Several individual GoFundMe accounts have been set up for other victims of the shooting, all surpassing their goals but none to the extent of Hyun Jung Grant’s. Perhaps it’s because her young sons are now alone in the US amid the pandemic.

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5 months ago · by · Comments Off on Mercy Chefs Serves 10 Millionth Meal

Mercy Chefs Serves 10 Millionth Meal

In February, the Virginia-based disaster relief and humanitarian aid group, Mercy Chefs, reached the milestone of serving its 10 millionth meal. Founded after Hurricane Katrina, the nonprofit organization has served professionally prepared restaurant-quality meals to victims and first responders in 27 states and 10 countries, responding to more than 134 disasters.


Since the start of the Covid 19 pandemic in March 2020, they have distributed 7 million meals with the help of 10,000 community volunteers. The group uses coronavirus response distribution locations it has established across the US, where Mercy Chefs works with food distributors and volunteers to supplement the USDA Family Farmers Food Box Program with more meals.


Mercy Chefs has also deployed to locations in 2020 following natural disasters, including Hurricanes Hanna and Laura; and the recent tornado in Alabama. They have repeatedly returned to Panama City to serve those still affected by Hurricane Michael. Just after reaching their milestone, they headed to Dallas Texas when the call for help came as severe cold weather left millions without electricity, water or food.


They served thousands of hot meals to Texans during the unprecedented storms from a large mobile kitchen at Gateway Church North Fort Worth Campus. The team served both lunch and dinner to the community, distributing food from multiple locations. Mercy Chefs utilized several kitchens in order to prepare meals to distribute to citizens and also. They also have been working to provide clean drinking water to those who need it throughout Texas.


Founder Gary LeBlanc said he was driven to help with disaster relief on a broader scale when he volunteered in his hometown of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. “The devastation was so intense and widespread. I saw firsthand the incredible difference a hot meal could make. I was inspired to the point of distraction by the idea of serving high-quality food in a disaster area. Little did I know how far that distraction would lead and Mercy Chefs now has three mobile kitchens and two refrigerated trailers. “


LeBlanc founded the non-profit in 2006 to help with disaster relief and they are often one of the first organizations to arrive following a major weather event. His teams are capable of providing 15,000 meals daily to meet the needs of devastated communities. When the pandemic started Mercy Chefs delivered millions of meals through grocery box distribution in places like Texas, Florida, Virginia, Puerto Rico, Oklahoma and others. They are also working toward ways to support people in food insecure communities with job skills training, single mothers cooking classes, and budget recipe creation.

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5 months ago · by · Comments Off on Canada Father Accepts Lowest Offer On Condo Amid Market Boom As A Way Of Paying It Forward

Canada Father Accepts Lowest Offer On Condo Amid Market Boom As A Way Of Paying It Forward

Sometimes paths cross in life for the sole purpose of changing the lives of those involved.  It’s no secret the housing market has changed during the pandemic.  Sellers used to hope to get close to their asking price but today are receiving multiple offers well above their asking price.  One Ontario father of three decided to sell his condo to the lowest bidder as a way of paying it forward.  When he listed his condo in London, Ontario for $20,000 less than others in the area, he, of course, received multiple offers above the asking price. 

Juliana Aguero was having a tough time buying a house after she separated from her husband.  “Every time, I lost the offer for $100,000 or something like that. It was crazy,” said Aguero, who made about 10 offers on homes within a span of three months.  When Aguero found a three-bedroom condo listed for $330,000, far less than other units in the same building, she offered $375,000.  Unbeknownst to her, Aguero’s realtor had included a letter with her offer, detailing her client’s backstory.  Aguero, who moved to Canada from Colombia 11 years ago, has two children with her ex-husband. The couple decided they wanted to live in the same neighborhood and raise their children together.

“When my realtor came, she actually started with Juliana’s offer,” said Damian Devonish, a London-based therapist with three children. “She said, ‘This is a really touching story. I know your heart and I know that you will want to give it to her.”  Devonish, also an immigrant, arrived in Canada eight years ago from Barbados and believes strongly in paying it forward.

“We don’t know how life will treat us 10, 15, 20 years from now. So the best thing to do is to live it well today.”  “I really didn’t have a lot of money when I came to Canada,” He said. “I was having difficulty getting a job because I needed a vehicle.” Devonish finally found a car and remembers how the seller agreed to take $500 less for it, and he also threw in a set of winter tires.  And that’s why when Devonish reviewed all of the offers on his condo, and Aguero’s was the lowest by about $50,000, he still accepted it.

Aguero takes possession of the home in May in a market where homes are now listing at $600,000.  “I just feel so blessed, I’ve cried. I cannot believe there are people like Damian.”  During an interview with news outlets, Aguero spoke directly to Devonish: “I’m absolutely sure you will receive many, many blessings in different ways. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.”

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6 months ago · by · Comments Off on Former Addict Shares Hope In Philadelphia

Former Addict Shares Hope In Philadelphia

A former opioid addict is giving back through random acts of kindness.  Megan Cohen had been in over 70 treatment centers and found herself homeless in different states.  Cohen also spent time in prison before going clean in 2019.  In August 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, Megan started The Grace Project, non-profit that gives back to struggling addicts in the Philadelphia area.

“It was actually complete strangers that showed me kindness when I was out there and it, like, planted a seed of hope,” Cohen said. “I wish that the kindness my family showed me would have done that but it didn’t. It didn’t because I expected it.”  For years, Cohen lived in a perpetual state of hunger, trauma and pain. Eventually, she landed on the streets of Kensington, PA -the largest open-air drug market on the East Coast.  Joshua Santiago, an Uber driver coming off his shift spotted Cohen walking along the interstate in the rain.

“Something in my heart told me to stop, I was about to go home and lay in a warm bed” said Santiago.  When he pulled over, Cohen was skeptical about his intentions but being so cold, she said she didn’t care what happened.  Cohen said “I had no hope or will to live at that point.  I asked him why he would let me in his car when it’s obvious what I am.”  “You are still a person,” Santiago told her.  Not long after Santiago offered her a ride, two other “angels” stepped into her path — one gave her a hot meal and a place to shower; another offered her cold water and encouraging words.

The power of those moments fuels Cohen’s faith in humankind and strengthens her resolve to save others who feel trapped, as she once did, in the throes of addiction.  Every Thursday night, friends and family join Megan to distribute food, jackets, and toiletries in addition to cleaning up the littered streets.  Shane Williams, who became a volunteer following his own recovery said “There’s people openly using drugs. There’s people with serious medical issues being unattended to.” 

Weekly visits will continue as long as the community continues to support The Grace Project with funds and donations. Cohen hopes that the non-profit will evolve into a resource to support entire families who struggle with similar circumstances.  The GRACE Project’s GoFundMe page expands on their vision: “As we continue to grow, we hope to be able to start helping more people in need. This goes beyond those that are homeless. We would like to be able to start offering assistance and organizing events for children out there and in similar areas. We also hope to be able to start assisting anyone else who is in need of a little grace and a little hope. This could look like the person who is just turning their life around and needs some help getting on their feet or the parents who have a sick child and may not be able to work anymore and in turn are facing financial struggles.”

They also take in-kind donations and have a list on their Facebook page of some of the items they are currently taking. Locals who want to donate can message them on Facebook to set up a pick up or drop off.  In-kind donations can also be sent in the mail to 701 Philadelphia Ave Warrington PA 18976.  “We would not be able to do what we do each week if it weren’t for the support of others and we want to thank anyone who has contributed from the bottom of our hearts.

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7 months ago · by · Comments Off on Six Year Old Leukemia Survivor Delivers Gifts To Kids Fighting Cancer

Six Year Old Leukemia Survivor Delivers Gifts To Kids Fighting Cancer

A young leukemia survivor spread holiday cheer to kids battling cancer by delivering toys throughout the D.C. area. Six-year-old Summer Grace Cernoch and her family drove around the region with the gifts. Summer Grace battled leukemia for two years, spending holidays in the hospital, had several surgeries and countless painful treatments. She finished her last treatment in February.

Two Christmases, 79 port chemos, 10 blood transfusions, and a countless number of pills later, Summer Grace beat cancer. Per her request, the night she took her last chemotherapy pill the Cernoch family set off fireworks in celebration. The fireworks, however, were just the beginning of their celebration of Summer Grace’s hard-fought battle – in September they started the Summer Grace Foundation in her honor.

December 21st marked three years since she was diagnosed. “I’ve dreaded this day every year as it … just brings back a lot of bad memories for our family,” said Summer Grace’s mother, Jessica Cernoch. The Cernoch family started the foundation to help kids like her and many of the toys delivered Monday were donated by the community.

The foundation’s mission is to raise awareness, raise funds for pediatric cancer research in hopes of finding better and less toxic treatments, and support the childhood cancer community. 1 in 5 kids diagnosed with cancer will not survive. On average, 43 kids are diagnosed with cancer every day, and 7 kids die every day due to cancer or because of the effects of their harsh treatments. “We remember very vividly how awful this journey is, and so we want to do everything we can to give back and support the childhood cancer community,” her mother said.

The world changes in an instant, and things are never quite the same ever again after a cancer diagnosis. Childhood cancer effects every aspect of family life. In addition to the physical aspect of cancer, there’s often a huge financial burden, and an indescribable level of worry and stress. Life becomes physically and emotionally draining, and there’s often little energy left to focus on anything or anyone other than the child. Marriages may become strained and siblings may be left feeling disconnected from the family.

Every year, the foundation also partners with various businesses to offer relaxing, overnight retreats. Donations to the foundation can sponsor a retreat for families battling cancer. Summer Grace and her family also plan to start a music scholarship program for cancer patients.

You can support the Summer Grace Foundation through AmazonSmile. At no cost to you, you can find the same selection of products and low prices! Upon checkout, Amazon will donate a portion of your purchase price to us. Simply go to smile.amazon.com, sign in, and choose the Summer Grace Foundation as your charity. Amazon will donate .05% of all eligible purchases.

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8 months ago · by · Comments Off on College Hunks Moving Company Donates Services to Domestic Violence Survivors

College Hunks Moving Company Donates Services to Domestic Violence Survivors

A moving company announced this month a new commitment to provide free moves to victims of domestic violence and those currently living in abusive situations. Since the recent launch of the program, College HUNKS Hauling Junk & Moving has already completed over 100 free moves for those who are fleeing an unsafe situation in the U.S. and Canada.
This new program was launched after a rise in domestic violence reports across the country during the lockdown. College Hunks co-founder Nick Friedman explained that their company purpose is to make a positive impact on the lives of the people they help. Friedman and his team were motivated to start the domestic violence initiative when they sat down to discuss how the COVID-19 crisis might be affecting those negatively by stay-at-home orders.

They already have a program to help disadvantaged youth in vulnerable situations get access to food. For every completed job they have been donating 2 nutritious meals to Feeding Children Everywhere—with over 1 million meals donated since the program began. They decided they needed to extend their services to domestic violence victims. Friedman said “I definitely think our Free Moves for Survivors of Domestic Violence program sheds light on a really important issue that is not often talked about. As a purpose driven, socially-conscious organization we’re always looking for ways to positively impact our communities—in this case, particularly for those who feel powerless in unhealthy home situations.”

This idea was done 20 years ago, by another moving company, Meathead Movers who began offering free moves to people in abusive homes. Last year, Meathead Movers donated more than $150,000 worth of moving services, partnering with eight domestic violence shelters in Central and Southern California.

Now, College Hunks Hauling is extending the same kind of help across their 131 franchise locations in the U.S. and Canada, offering the use of trucks and labor at no cost. People who need this kind of help should first contact their local domestic violence-prevention shelter to notify them of their situation. A certified domestic violence-prevention shelter will then need to approve and coordinate the no-cost move requests through College HUNKS to ensure that the victim is supported throughout the entire transition.

Once qualifications for the free move are confirmed, the approving shelter works in partnership with College Hunks to execute the move in coordination with their local franchise owner and the local authorities, as needed, for the safety of both the victim and the assisting College HUNKS team. College Hunks has also provided trucks for transporting COVID-19 testing supplies and other medical equipment, for relocating beds and goods from one hospital to another, and delivering water to healthcare workers.

College HUNKS Hauling Junk & Moving was originally founded in 2003 by two college buddies, Omar Soliman and Nick Friedman who began using a beat-up cargo van to haul furniture. H.U.N.K.S. becoming an abbreviation for Honest, Uniformed, Nice, Knowledgeable, Service. Now, it has over 100 franchises supplying full-service, tech-enabled residential and commercial moving, junk removal, donation pickups, and labor services in the United States and Canada.

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