Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Three days, almost a million dollars donated to rebuild the burned mosque

On Saturday, fire destroyed the Victoria Islamic Center in Victoria Texas. The cause has not yet been determined. Given the current political climate, some people suspect arson targeting the mosque and its Muslim worshipers. 

In front of TV cameras and yellow police tape surrounding the ruined mosque, hundreds of people came together Sunday for a interdenominational prayer serviceShahid Hashmi, the Islamic Center's president and a founding member of the congregation, expressed appreciation for the support given around the region and throughout the state. 

The congregation hopes to rebuild the mosque and its community center, church home for 40 Muslim families in the Victoria area, so Hashmi set up a gofundme page to collect donations. Since then, almost $1,000,000 has been pledged

Kindness and generosity win again. 

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Waitress gets $450 tip for treating her customers decently

Even in our adversarial political climate, decency and generosity live on.

During the Trump inauguration, Rosalind Harris was working her part-time waitress job at Busboys and Poets, a DC cafe known for attracting political activists. Jason White, a Trump supporter from Lubbock Texas, attended the inauguration and stopped in the cafe with some friends for lunch before their flights home.

The friends looked around them - the cafe's walls decorated with pictures of famous black leaders, fellow patrons in Women's March T-shirts. One of White's friends was wearing a 'Make America Great Again' hat, and they started 'getting looks' from the other patrons. The hat was tucked away.

That's when a smiling Harris came up to their table. She chatted with the men, talking about Southern food and favorite menu items. White, a dentist, complimented Harris' lovely smile. The men relaxed and enjoyed their lunch.

After the men left the cafe, Harris looked at the receipt. White had left her a $450 tip and a note: "We may come from different cultures and may disagree on certain issues, but if everyone would share their smile and kindness like you, beautiful smile, our country will come together as one people. Not race, not gender, just American. God bless!"

Kudos to both Harris and White for the ability to look past their differences and see commonalities. That's where decency begins.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Couple takes in a dying woman's children, then gets a surprise of their own

Tisha and Todd Beauchmin of Las Vegas got a request from their neighbor Audrey. Could they watch her three kids for a couple days while she went in the hospital for tests? With five kids of their own, the Beauchmins didn't know where they'd put everyone, but they said yes. The kids were already friendly, so they'd muddle through for a few days.

Then Audrey got bad news. Her cancer had metastasized. Her condition worsened quickly and she needed to make decisions for her children's welfare. Within a few short months, she asked the Beauchmins to raise her children. They agreed and quickly applied to become official foster care parents. Tisha had herself been a child in the foster care system and she didn't want Audrey's kids to deal with that instability. She and Todd were determined to make it work. Their 17-year-old daughter set up a bed in a corner of the kitchen, and their 18-year-old son took to sleeping on the recliner.

Audrey died in November.

Now faced with the enormous emotional and financial responsibility of raising three more children in a home that was already cramped, Tisha started a GoFundMe page. The local Fox 5 TV news learned of the Beauchmin's generous hearts and their needs and sent their Fox 5 Surprise Squad to work.

The family of 10 was put up in a local hotel for a week so renovations could be done to the Beauchmin's home. They expected a wall to be constructed in one of the bedrooms to give the boys privacy - one of the regulations of the foster care system. While the family was out of the house, the Surprise Squad went to work.

The landscaping around the home was cleaned up, and the whole interior repainted and carpeted. All new furniture was delivered and set up. The wall was indeed built in the boys bedroom, and the kitchen was remodeled to create a private sleeping space for the 17-year-old. The 18-year-old, who had been saving for an apartment of his own, was given $1500 toward his own place. A local grocery store donated a year's worth of food for the family.

Then, to top it all, a local Nissan dealer donated the family of 10 a van. Watch the video to see the family's reaction to this radical generosity.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Garbage men bond with waving kids, donate to help one battling cancer

Like many kids, Angie Everson's daughters ages 2,3, and 5, love to watch the garbage men. Every week, Brandon Olsen and Taylor Fritz watch along their pick-up route for these three smiling, waving girls in the Minnesota family's window.

Olsen and Fritz left Halloween candy for the girls, and Angie sent them a note of thanks. Included in that note was an explanation: the girls might be absent from the window for a while. Three-year-old Rose had been diagnosed with stage 4 kidney cancer which had already metastasized. The family would be tied up with frequent treatments and doctor visits.

Olsen and Fritz knew they couldn't do much to help in the heart-breaking situation. So they did what they could. They donated their own 'free garbage pick-up' benefit to the family.

When their supervisor caught wind of it, he applauded the men's generosity. He went one better: he donated free pick-up to the family for the rest of the year.

The upshot is the kind men get to keep their benefit, plus the family gets a little relief from the unbelievable burden they now bear.  Angie was so touched by the hope created from this small act of kindness that she spread the word.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Terminally ill teen's bucket list inspires millions

About a year ago, 17-year-old Becca Schofield was given two years to live. Last month, she shared her bucket list on her Facebook page. Topping the list - encouraging others to be kind. The hashtag #BeccaToldMeTo was born.

Using that hashtag, millions of people around the world have shared their acts of kindness, large and small. From buying a cup of coffee for a stranger to organizing a food drive, folks are joining in and spreading goodness through their corner of the world.
In recognition of Becca's impact, Rotary International recently awarded her the Paul Harris Fellow.

Another item on Becca's bucket list is to meet Ellen Degeners. Who knows? With all the good vibe surrounding this young lady, that may just happen.  

Monday, January 16, 2017

Kind-hearted boy donates his AFV prize to charities

Eleven-year-old Luke Finlan didn't know his mom sent a video of him crying during his fourth grade graduation to America's Funniest Videos. So he was extra surprised when he learned the video had reached the finals. 

Before the Albany New York region family flew to LA for the show's taping, Luke told his mom that he wanted to share his prize money with people who needed it more than him. He especially wanted to help veterans and people who are hungry. His mom contacted two local organizations, Soldiers Heart and Equinox. The folks at Equinox worked with Luke's mom to organize a fund-raiser as part of the 'viewing party' for Luke's AFV episode. That would multiply Luke's donation, funds Equinox could use for their Thanksgiving dinner.

The family sat in the audience as the videos rolled. Luke's video won first prize, $10,000. Now those two charities have benefited from Luke's generous heart.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Homeless man offers his coat and blanket and gets a chance at a new life

Charlotte Ellis and her boyfriend Taylor Waldon, both 22, were out for drinks one night last week in Covent Garden, London. They missed the last train home to Essex, and the next one wasn't due for four hours. They had to tough it out in the freezing night. 

Charlotte heard someone behind her say, "You can borrow my coat and my duvet if you like." The voice belonged to a homeless man known only as Joey. Charlotte accepted his offer and wrapped herself in the duvet. While sitting with Joey and talking with him, Charlotte was struck by both his sincerity and the horror of staying out in the cold overnight. She offered to bring Joey to the home she shares with her mother where he could get a shower and shave and a good hot meal. At first, he refused. Eventually, Taylor convinced him that Charlotte wasn't leaving without him. He went. 

Charlotte's mother was understandably taken aback by the late arrival of her daughter and a homeless man. But they talked and she agreed - Joey could stay with them. After providing him with the basics for hygiene, a warm place to sleep, and some good solid food, Charlotte's friends got into the act. They offered him a haircut, clothes, and a cell phone. He accepted. 

Five days later, Joey had a job offer. 

Joey's life has changed because of his generosity toward people who obviously had more than him. Chances are, the lives of Charlotte and her loved ones have changed too. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The true measure of character

Columnist Ann Landers, novelist Paul Eldridge, entrepreneur Malcolm Forbes and several others are credited with versions of this quote:
"You can easily judge the character of others by how they treat those who can do nothing for them or to them."
 If that's true, then Paul and Shaeleane are both people of high character. In the course of performing their job, they each found a way to show empathy and kindness for someone who can give them nothing in return.

Paul Edden is a Lance Corporal of the Coldstream Guard outside Windsor Castle. During the routine guard change, he noticed something. A small boy in full Coldstream uniform stood near the guardroom, saluting the guardsmen as they marched by. After leading his men past the boy and into the guardroom, Edden stepped back out and posed for pictures with 4-year-old Marshall Scott. He later invited Marshall and his family on a tour of Windsor Castle. A dream come true for Marshall on his birthday.

Shaeleane, no last name found, is a cashier at WinCo in Temecula, California. She must have noticed the contagious smile of 14-year-old Andy who was shopping with his mom, Jeannie Robinson. Andy has cerebral palsy, and loves to push the cart and help at the checkout. Shaeleane let Andy step behind the counter and helped him scan some items while his mom videoed the experience. Andy was thrilled, and Jeannie later reported that he didn't stop smiling all day.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

This 7-year-old works at McDonald's

Trenton Gardner of Bicknell Indiana is not your average 7-year-old. When he saw the Toys for Tots bins before Christmas, he asked his mother what they were for. She explained that not all families have the money for Christmas toys, and that made Trenton upset and sad. He decided to do something about it. He asked his grandfather to take him to McDonald's so he could get a job.

Trenton's parents are proud of his kind heart and his concern for others, but the manager of McDonald's was obviously reluctant to have a 7-year-old employee. When he was told he was too young for a job, Trenton burst into tears. He kept at it, asking repeatedly to meet with the manager and asking for a job. His persistence paid off.

Trenton is now an honorary employee, wiping tables for $1. The money he earns when added to the donations of toys by McDonald's has given many kids in that Indiana town a wonderful holiday season.

Friday, January 6, 2017

This Montreal restaurant gives free food to the hungry

Marché Ferdous is a Montreal restaurant situated beside a church. The restaurant co-owners, Yahya Hashemi and Ala Amiry, noticed a number of homeless people gathering near the church. Their Muslim faith and their middle-eastern upbringing led them to be generous to those folks, so several months ago they posted this sign in their window in English, French, and Arabic.

Their offer went largely unnoticed until a skeptical man who works nearby decided to test it. On January 2nd, Sean Jalbert went into the restaurant. He said he had no money and was indeed given free food, no questions asked. 

Jalbert was delighted with the warm hospitality and good meal he was given. He admitted his ruse, paid for his meal, and then posted his findings on Facebook. His post was shared thousands of times. 

Hashemi says that support for the restaurant's generosity comes back to them, often right from other customers. Many pay their bill and leave extra, saying "The next meal you give away is on me." 


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Bringing a family to safety

Fulbright scholar Rasha Elendari came to the US from Syria seven years ago to study archeology. She planned to return home to Syria to participate in an archeological dig that summer but escalating violence in her homeland made that trip impossible. Missing her family, Elendari stayed in the US to finish her degree, then moved to Toronto for graduate school.

Meanwhile, Syria's war and the Elendari family's situation went from bad to worse. They had stayed in Syria to fight the devastation caused by the Assad regime and provide humanitarian support.

Educated professionals, Elendari's parents, two sisters, and two brothers-in-law volunteered in community programs in their home region in Syria to help war widows and orphans. Two years ago, their own safety and that of their toddler-age children was threatened. They fled to Turkey.

After making contact with the Canadian officials there, the Elendari family was contacted by Jewish Immigration Aid Services (JIAS) of Toronto. JIAS was coordinating the efforts of three Toronto-area sponsors who offered help: Supper with Syria, Temple Har Zion, and Imam Mahdi Islamic Centre. The Temple and the Mosque share a parking lot, and had agreed some time before to sponsor a family's immigration. The Elendari family was the perfect choice for their combined financial and logistical support.

So the plan is in place for the family to arrive from Turkey next week. Details on housing are sketchy, but a job awaits Elendari's pharmacist brother-in-law.

What a great start to the new year - a family reunited in safety.