Posts Tagged ‘generosity’

By Emma Reynolds, CNN

Amateur photographer Anil Prabhakar captured the fleeting moment in Borneo, in which one of the Indonesian island’s critically endangered apes stretched out its hand to help a man out of snake-infested water.

Prabhakar was on a safari with friends at a conservation forest run by the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOS) when he witnessed the scene.

He told CNN: “There was a report of snakes in that area so the warden came over and he’s clearing snakes.

“I saw an orangutan come very close to him and just offer him his hand.”

Prabhakar said it was difficult for the guard to move in the muddy, flowing water. It seemed as if the orangutan was saying “May I help you”? to the man, he said.

“I really wasn’t able to click,” he said. “I never expected something like that.

“I just grabbed that moment. It was really emotional.”

Venomous snakes are predators of Borneo’s orangutans, which are under threat from forest fires, habitat loss and hunting.

“You could say snakes are their biggest enemy,” said Prabhakar, a geologist from Kerala in India.

The guard then moved away from the ape and climbed out of the water. When Prabhakar asked why he moved away, “He said, ‘they’re completely wild, we don’t know how they’ll react.'”

Prabhakar said the entire encounter lasted just three or four minutes. “I’m so happy that moment happened to me,” he said.

The orangutan is Asia’s only great ape and is found mostly in Borneo and Sumatra in Indonesia, with the remaining 10% found in Sabah and Sarawak in Malaysia, according to the BOS foundation. It is estimated that the Bornean orangutan population has decreased by more than 80% within the past three generations.

The apes are brought to the conservation forest if they are injured, at risk from hunters or facing destruction of their habitats. Once they are healthy, they are returned to the wild.

They also reproduce very slowly, according to BOS. A female will only give birth every six to eight years in the wild.

https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/07/asia/orangutan-borneo-intl-scli/index.html


Katelynn Hardee, a 5-year-old kindergartner at Breeze Hill Elementary School, paid off the negative lunch balances of over 100 students at her school.

A 5-year-old student at an elementary school in Vista, California, collected enough money to pay off the negative lunch balances of 123 students at her school.

Katelynn Hardee, a kindergartner at Breeze Hill Elementary School, overheard a parent say she was having difficulty paying for an after school program.

“She started asking me a lot of questions and I just tried to explain to her that sometimes people aren’t as fortunate and that we need to try to be kind and give when we can,” Karina Hardee, Katelynn’s mom, told CNN.

So Katelynn decided to set up a stand on December 8, spending her Sunday selling hot cocoa, cider, and cookies. Katelynn and her mom donated the $80 collected, which went towards paying off the negative lunch balances of over 100 students at her elementary school.

By doing this, the youngster hopes that other students “can have a snack and lunch. If they don’t, their tummies grumble,” Katelynn said, according to her mom.

“Everybody is just so proud and happy and other students are already talking about ways they can also make a difference,” said Breeze Hill Principal Lori Higley. “It goes to show that even one small, kind act from a 5-year-old can mean the difference for someone in their life.”

Katelynn’s next goal is to raise enough money to pay off not only all the negative lunch balances at Breeze Hill, but the “thousands of negative accounts” at schools in the Vista Unified School District, Hardee said.

To help in her new mission, which she calls #KikisKindnessProject, other students and staff at Breeze Hill will host a hot cocoa and baked goods stand on Saturday to raise more money to pay off negative school lunch accounts at the school.

After all the accounts in the entire district have been paid off, Katelynn will then use the money raised to help support school programs which will be removed due to budget cuts.

“It’s all about kindness. Especially this holiday season, and with everything that’s going on in the world, we just need a little bit more kindness out there,” Hardee said.

https://www.cnn.com/2019/12/17/us/5-year-old-negative-lunch-balances-trnd/index.html

When Michael Esmond got his utility bills — due December 26 — his mind went straight to the 1980s, when he had trouble making ends meet.

So the Florida business owner found out who in his Gulf Breeze community was at risk of having their utilities disconnected. Then, he paid 36 families’ bills ahead of Christmas.

Esmond, who owns Gulf Breeze Pools & Spa near Pensacola, told CNN he spent $4,600 to give his neighbors “a happier Christmas and take a little bit of stress out.”

“I actually lived that back in the 1980s,” he said. “I experienced the same thing, having trouble paying bills. My gas was shut off, and we had no heating for the whole winter.”

“It was one of the coldest winters in Florida; temperature got down to the single digits,” Esmond continued. “That was definitely in my mind when I received the bill this year.”

Esmond has close ties with his community of 6,000 people and wanted to give back, he said.

“I got a great feedback on my Facebook page and business phone. People were texting me and calling me to thank me for what I had done,” he said.

“It made me cry. It made me cry,” Joanne Oliver, Gulf Breeze’s utility billing supervisor, told CNN affiliate WEAR. “For someone like him, a veteran to come in and do some grand gesture. It was heartfelt for me.”

To their relief, the families received from the city holiday cards — not warnings. They read:

“It is our honor and privilege to inform you that your past due utility bill has been paid by Gulf Breeze Pools & Spas. You can rest easier this holiday season knowing you have one less bill to pay. On behalf of Gulf Breeze Pools & Spas we here at the City of Gulf Breeze would like to wish you and your family a happy holiday season.”

https://www.cnn.com/2019/12/18/us/florida-christmas-electricity-bill-trnd/index.html

On a single summer day in 1990, Mahmoud Ghannoum’s life changed completely.

The research scientist was speaking at a conference in Washington, D.C., while his wife and children continued their family vacation in England.

But then, on Aug. 2, Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi forces invaded Kuwait. And Ghannoum, a professor at Kuwait University, suddenly lost his job, his home, and any way to access his bank accounts.

The conference was not the kind where he might land a job in the U.S. Another meeting, the following week, would be full of interview opportunities.

Problem was, Ghannoum had no money to stay—much less to pay to change his flight.

But then he met Jimmy Dorsey, a travel agent based in a local hotel. Dorsey not only changed his flight, but also arranged for a side trip to Milwaukee, where Ghannoum had a friend who could host him for a few days. Deeply grateful, Ghannoum began to leave. The agent stopped him, pulling $80 out of his wallet to give Ghannoum some spending money.

This past Sunday, Ghannoum was back in the greater D.C. area. Nearly 30 years later, he is globally recognized as the scientist who named the mycobiome—perhaps best known today in connection with gut health. He’s published hundreds of journal articles, been cited by other scientists thousands of times and, this summer, won a $3 million federal grant to build on earlier breakthroughs that hold promise for helping people with Crohn’s disease.

Ghannoum often told the story of his gratitude to the stranger whose kindness so profoundly affected his life—and, by extension, so many others. Because the travel agency had closed the following year, he’d never had the chance to thank him in person. It wasn’t until this fall, when Ghannoum’s son, Afif, put the story on Facebook, that the mystery was finally solved.

The Washington Post published a follow-up on Afif’s social media post, and soon after a reader wrote that the stranger sounded a lot like her boss at the time—Jimmy Dorsey, a Cleveland native, Vietnam veteran and volunteer firefighter. Sadly, cancer had taken his life the previous February, but Afif and the Post reporter eventually connected with his widow, Elaine.

Sure enough, she remembered Jimmy telling the very same story. The final proof came when she sent a photo of Dorsey as a young man. Ghannoum immediately recognized his rescuer, and the two families made plans to meet.

“He [gave] me the passion and the optimism that the world is good,” the elder Ghannoum said, “because people like him are out there.”

This weekend, the families came together for the first time. Ghannoum and his son decided they needed to do more than simply thank Elaine and her son Aaron. They came bearing gifts, specifically a plaque in Jimmy’s honor—and news that they had committed $25,000 to a scholarship fund at Case Western Reserve in his name.

“He was an outstanding man,” Elaine said of her late husband. “He was my knight in shining armor.”

On Monday, the Post recounted Sunday’s gathering, including mention of the new scholarship fund. People quickly began inquiring about how they too could give. Here’s the answer:

Visit the online giving site (https://tinyurl.com/z6xooba), choose “other area,” and in the “Special Instructions” box, write “Jimmy Dorsey Scholarship Fund.”
Mail: Checks should be made payable to “Case Western Reserve University” with a note “Jimmy Dorsey Scholarship Fund.” They should be sent to Case Western Reserve University, 11000 Cedar Avenue, #300, Cleveland, OH 44106-7035. Case Western Reserve University, Advancement Services

A single act of kindness affects millions

By Allie Torgan

At one point, Zach Wigal had 5,000 video games in his parents’ basement.

Yes, 5,000. But it’s not what you might think.

Wigal is the founder of Gamers Outreach, a nonprofit that makes sure that kids who can’t leave their hospital rooms during long-term medical treatment can play video games while they recuperate.

“We noticed that a lot of the video games (at the hospitals) were getting stuck in playrooms,” said Wigal, 29. “And because of that, there was a whole segment of the hospital population that was, sort of, limited to whatever it was they had access to their bedside environment.”

Those 5,000 games eventually made their way out of his parents’ basement and some were featured on simple, portable video game carts that Wigal’s foundation helped design and provide to more than a million kids a year.

These “GOKarts” — equipped with a gaming console and an array of video games — are rolled into a patient’s room and allow kids “a source of fun and relief during … stressful and difficult times,” Wigal said.

Some kids have seen health benefits as a result, and doctors are prescribing “video game time” for certain patients, according to Andrew Gabanyicz, patient technologist at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

“We’ve seen anxiety go down, prescription pain killers are being used less,” Gabanyicz said.

Wigal’s inspiration for his charity came from his love of gaming as a teen — which took an interesting turn during his junior year of high school.

He registered more than 300 fellow students to participate in a Halo 2 tournament in his high school cafeteria. He rented the space with permission from the school. He spent months organizing it.

Then BAM.

“This event got shut down a couple days before it was supposed to happen by a police officer who believed that games like Halo were, in his words, corrupting the minds of America’s youth,” Wigal said. “Everyone who had signed up for our video game tournament was a little upset.”

The cancellation sparked an idea: Wigal wanted to show authorities that gamers weren’t all bad or lazy kids — and they could do something good with their gaming skills.

So he decided to throw a new tournament. The twist: He would donate the proceeds to charity. In 2008, Wigal and his friends held an event called Gamers for Giving and raised money for the Autism Society of America.

“I thought, ‘Let’s illustrate the positive things that can happen when gamers get together around what they’re passionate about,'” said Wigal, once named to Forbes Magazine’s 30 under 30.

The event continued year after year, and as it grew in popularity, Wigal’s team branched out and started working with local hospitals. In 2009, Wigal began working with the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and his team designed his portable GOKarts.

“We work with kids that can’t go on the soccer field. They physically cannot participate. But I don’t feel like they should be missing out on the values that are communicated through traditional activities,” Wigal said.

CNN’s Allie Torgan spoke with Wigal about his work. Below is an edited version of their conversation.

CNN: As a teenager, your parents’ house was ground zero for charitable operations. What was the straw that broke the camel’s back, so to speak?

Zach Wigal: We had taken over my parents’ basement raising money for Gamers Outreach. It had become this holding area for gaming equipment that was being donated to our organization for use in the hospital environment. There was a period of time we had, I kid you not, more than 5,000 video games in my parents’ basement.

We actually had someone donate, like, 900 Xboxes that had just been sitting in a warehouse. Thankfully my parents just had the patience to be okay with all of this up until that semi-truck wanted to show up, and that was the day it was like, “It’s not going to go in the basement. You need to find a place for all this equipment.” That was the day we got kicked out of my parents’ house! Now we have a warehouse here in Michigan.

CNN: Your signature GOKarts are now serving more than a million kids a year at 50 hospitals. Why that model?

Wigal: By volunteering and visiting hospitals, we were noticing that it was difficult to bring technology into these environments. We noticed that a lot of the video games were getting stuck in playrooms. And because of that, there was a whole segment of the hospital population that was, sort of, limited to whatever it was they had access to their bedside environment if they couldn’t leave their rooms.

Sometimes you have families that can’t afford technology or they don’t have things that they can bring from home for their kids. It becomes important for technology and hardware to exist in the hospital environment to help provide some access to entertainment to patients who maybe can’t do things outside of their room.

CNN: What advice do you have for parents of patients who may be struggling with how much screen time is appropriate?

Wigal: Even if you’re not a fan of gaming or screen time or you feel it might be excessive, technology is a prevalent part of all our lives. I mean, even my mom has Angry Birds installed on her cell phone at this point.

What’s important is that we communicate the right values of how this technology plays a role in our life, how we balance technology with being healthy as an individual and taking care of your mental health, keeping up with schoolwork, finding a career. These are all things that can exist cohesively.

We think of the work we’re doing as an opportunity to improve a patient’s quality of life. We’re coming to provide entertainment into hospital environments. We’re helping kids to find a source of fun and relief during times where being in the hospital can be really stressful and difficult otherwise.

Want to get involved? Check out the Gamers Outreach website and see how to help.

Home

To donate to Gamers Outreach via CrowdRise, click here.
https://charity.gofundme.com/donate/project/zach-wigal-gamers-outreach/GamersOutreach

https://www.cnn.com/2019/03/08/us/cnnheroes-zach-wigal-gamers-outreach/index.html?utm_source=The+Good+Stuff&utm_campaign=2aa589d67e-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2019_11_14_08_33&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_4cbecb3309-2aa589d67e-103653961

By Lauren M. Johnson

One man in Jupiter, Florida, decided that he could make a difference in his town by paying off the lunch debt for every child in the system. It all started with a Facebook post.

Angie Vyas-Knight, administrator of the “Jupiter Mamas” Facebook group, told CNN she was disgusted by national news stories about children who couldn’t afford to buy lunch at school. She asked the Palm Beach county school board for her district’s stats.

To spread awareness, she shared the list of nine schools’ outstanding lunch debt of $944.34. Weeks later, the list made its way to Jupiter real estate agent Andrew Levy.

Levy decided he wanted to do something about the list, and paid the balance for all 400 kids in full. He knew that the kids in debt would go without eating or simply get a cheese sandwich.

“I thought that’s crazy. Food is something you shouldn’t have to think about. Children shouldn’t learn hungry,” Levy told CNN affiliate WPEC.

But he isn’t stopping there. “I’m going to do either a GoFundMe page or a fundraising page that can raise money every quarter, so lunch debt never accumulates so that children never have to worry about a hot meal and parents never have to worry about paying the bill,” he said.

Sharing his small spark of kindness started a fire with those who found out about his personal initiative. Over 200 people offered to help on his Facebook alone. With their help, Levy can start to not only tackle the lunch debt of Jupiter but the greater debt of Palm Beach County.

A spokeswoman for the district told CNN that the total school lunch debt was around $50,000 for over 180,000 enrolled students.

https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/14/us/man-pays-off-school-debt-trnd/index.html

pizza

By Christina Maxouris and Saeed Ahmed

When Julie Morgan and her husband, Rich, lived in Battle Creek, Michigan, they would stop by Steve’s Pizza for dinner every payday.

That was 25 years ago. To celebrate her birthday this year, the couple — who now live in Indianapolis — wanted to take a trip to their favorite pizza place.
Instead, they ended up in the ER, where Rich Morgan was told his cancer had worsened and that he had weeks — maybe days — to live. He was placed in hospice care.

Steve’s Pizza doesn’t deliver. But when a manager at the store heard the couple’s story, he decided to take two pies to them himself — even though they were 225 miles away.

During the course of their marriage, the Morgans moved around several times. But for them, Steve’s has always been the benchmark by which all pizzas were measured.

“I can’t possibly describe how delicious this pizza is — but several moves and all these years later, it is still the gold standard and we’ve never found a better pizza yet,” Julie Morgan wrote on Facebook.

When her dad, David Dalke, found out about their birthday plan — and how Rich’s sudden diagnosis dashed it — he called Steve’s Pizza hoping they might send a note to the couple.

“I said ‘I know you’re busy.’ I explained the situation and said, ‘If you ever make it happen, just a text message to Rich and Julie that you’re sorry they couldn’t make the trip,'” Dalke told CNN.

That’s all he was hoping for: a note.

“About five minutes later he called me and he said, ‘I want to know what kind of pizza they like,” Dalke said.

It was an unusual request, but Dalke told him anyway: Pepperoni and mushroom.
On the other end of the line was Dalton Shaffer — the 18-year-old grandson of Steve, original owner of the pizzeria. Shaffer told Dalke it was near the end of the night, and as soon as he closed the store, he’d head to the house with their two favorite pizzas.

“I said, ‘Wait a minute, did you understand that I am in Indianapolis? I’m not next door?'” Dalke said.

It’s about a three-and-a-half-hour drive between the two cities. But Shaffer said he didn’t have to think twice and got on the highway without telling anyone from his family or the store.

“It was kind of a spontaneous reaction,” Shaffer told CNN. “I’m happy I did it, and on the trip down I was happy doing it.”

Dalke kept the lights on and waited until 2 a.m., when Shaffer pulled into their driveway.

Shaffer handed Dalke the two pizzas, and got ready to drive back to Michigan — another three-and-a-half-hour drive.

“I told him to come in, have something to eat, drink. I asked if he wanted me to put him up for the night,” Dalke said. “But he said ‘I’ve got to get up because I’ve got to go to work the next day.'”

Shaffer wouldn’t take any money. He just drove back home, completing a 450-mile, seven-hour journey.

His remarkable act a week ago has inspired people everywhere since Julie Morgan posted about it on Facebook.

Dalke said what the world needs is “more Daltons.”

“There’s so much goodness in people — and there are people in this world that will stretch out, and care and not think twice about it,” he said. “We’re going through grief but, by golly, there’s something good that’s happening.”

And that’s the message Shaffer hopes to spread with his act of kindness.

“I have already gotten a ton of phone calls from people saying they were inspired in the future to help other people and to be able to do things like that. To me, that right there is what I want,” he said.

“I just want people to think about the family and pray for them.”

Update 5:19 pm ET: Since publishing this story CNN learned that Rich Morgan died Saturday after a two-year battle with cancer, according to his wife, Julie Morgan. She wrote, “He fought so hard and dealt with his illness with incredible grace, courage and humor. He was a man of faith and integrity who was always driven to do the right thing. There are no words to express how deeply we loved and admired him, and how much he loved us in return. Thank you so much for the outpouring of prayers and support.”

https://www.cnn.com/2018/10/21/health/iyw-pizza-delivery-hospice-trnd/index.html