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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 Texas Family’s Light Display Raises Money for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Texas Family’s Light Display Raises Money for Make-A-Wish Foundation

A Texas family’s Christmas light display raised just over $80,000 for the Make-A-Wish foundation. Jordan Maywald has been in charge of his family’s Christmas decorations since he was nine. Jordan said the display started very small, just a few things in their front yard but over the years he expanded across much of our property and now it covers about 3.5 acres.

For the past seven years, the Maywalds have used their famous light display to raise money for Make-A-Wish Central and South Texas. The Maywald Christmas Light Display won on ABC’s The Great Christmas Light Fight in 2019. The family won $50,000 and expanded the display to include a snowman made out of truck tires, vintage-glass carolers, a specially-built lighthouse and a whole lot of decorations.

“At the time I was the youngest champion in the show’s history, and currently still am,” Jordan said. Each year, Jordan, now 23, has added more to the light display that has turned their Austin property into a holiday destination. This year, the bigger than ever display had over 200,000 Christmas lights and welcomed more than 15,000 visitors- raising more than $80,000 to fund 10 wishes. To date, the display has raised nearly $200,000 and granted 27 wishes.

Each time a wish is granted, Jordan adds a glass reindeer to the mix, all hovering above a Christmas light-filled “Wish Lake.” He prefers to build most of the displays himself and spends the months leading up to Christmas scouring the country for old décor via Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. The highlight of this past year’s spectacle was a 17-foot-tall fiberglass Santa Claus.

Jordan, a student at Texas A&M University said there was no doubt that Christmas is his favorite holiday. “Helping these children is what Christmas is all about for us. We will continue to put up our display yearly to help grant life changing wishes!” he added. The Maywald Christmas Light Display begins in November and lasts through New Year’s Eve. The entrance is free for the public to walk through the display with donations appreciated to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. This year, the family’s goal was to raise $40,000.

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

New Orleans Music Venue Feeding Thousands After Hurricane Ida

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

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

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

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

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

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9 months ago · by · Comments Off on 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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10 months 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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10 months 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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12 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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