38 Reasons To Smile
Posted by Michaele Premet-Rosen on Nov 9, 2018
After Hurricane Florence caused devastating flooding in North Carolina this fall, kindhearted citizens like Amber Hersel jumped into action. The volunteer from the Civilian Crisis Response Team helped rescue 7-year-old Keiyana Cromartie and her family from their flooded home on September 14, 2018 in James City.
Anthony Ledesma, Victor Erwin, and Aaron Flowers (from left) volunteered their talents at the sixth annual Kutz4Kids event this August in San Jose, California. Fifteen barbers gave out hundreds of free haircuts for students returning to school.
Charles "Chucky" Williams lost his father to colon cancer when he was just 8-years-old. Since then, the Evansville, Indiana, resident has honored his memory through charitable acts, including filling a semi-trailer with thousands of toys for a local nonprofit back in 2016.
The decision made by Patricia Almonte (right) to donate the organs of her late 3-year-old daughter Veronica Garcia helped save three lives: Essence Walls (left), an 8-month-old baby, received her heart; a 2-year-old received her liver; and a 68-year-old woman received her kidneys.
"Mr. and Mrs. Claus" spread a little holiday cheer at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children in Denver last year. The volunteers took pictures with the babies and families spending the holidays in the NICU, including preemie Kayden Reid Odey.
Frida the rescue dog and her trainer Israel Arauz Salinas went viral for their life-saving efforts during the 7.1 magnitude earthquake that shook Mexico City last year. The 9-year-old Labrador has detected the bodies of 52 people during her career, and the duo recently received their own statue for their service to the Mexican navy.
Members of the Aurora Police Strategic Response Team came up with a clever way to surprise patients at Children's Hospital Colorado in 2017. Four officers dressed up in superhero costumes before rappelling down the side of the building, greeting children along the way.
American Abbey D'Agostino and New Zealander Nikki Hamblin won a special Olympic commendation for their sportsmanship at the 2016 Rio Games. After Hamblin tripped in a 5,000-meter heat, and brought D'Agostino down with her, the American helped her competitor to her feet. Later on in the race, D'Agostino fell again as a result of her twisted leg, but Hamblin stayed by her side until the finish line.
A lucky dog got a ride from some unnamed helpers in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew two years ago. Photographer Sean Rayford caught these two men pushing a makeshift boat through the floodwaters in Lumberton, North Carolina.
College athlete Cameron Lyle registered as a bone marrow donor in high school and promptly forgot about it - until he received a call just a month before the final track and field championships of his career. The shot-put star gave up his medal chances and underwent the surgery, helping an unknown man suffering from leukemia.
Every year, the Fred Jordan Mission of Los Angeles recruits volunteer hairstylists, manicurists, and estheticians to pamper homeless women and underprivileged children with makeovers, lunch, and personal care supplies. Amber Paul (right) applies makeup to Joann Simpson at an event in 2002.
Long-finned pilot whales can weigh as much as 5,000 pounds, but that didn't stop 58 volunteers from saving 17 of them during a 2009 mass stranding at Hamelin Bay in Australia. The animals lovers raced against the clock, keeping the gentle giants comfortable until they could guide them back out to sea.
While Good Samaritans will return wallets to their owners, these do-gooders really took it up a notch. Constructor workers in Downey, California, came across a likely stolen pocketbook from 1957 when remodeling an office in 2000 and turned it over to their bosses. Then law enforcement released the info to the media to track down the owner, Alma Scott Grieshaber. She had unfortunately passed away the year before, but internet genealogists then connected her with descendent John Grieshaber. When the family came to collect the wallet, her two great-grandchildren got to see a snapshot of their ancestor's life.
College student Angy Rivera didn't qualify for federal aid or loans, so she started selling $5 "education bracelets" to fund her tuition at John Jay College back in 2012. When Good Samaritan Luis Hernandez heard her story, the retired MTA worker paid her entire $2,500 bill.
Wrapping your own Christmas presents can get tedious, but Denver volunteers prepare gifts for more than 3,500 people in need as part of an annual tradition. The prep culminates in the Father Woody Party, named after a Colorado priest who opened his church doors to the homeless during the bitter winter of 1982.
An abandoned chihuahua born without front legs got a new lease on life thanks to some kind-hearted humans. A San Francisco shelter first rescued the dog named Daffodil off the street. Olivia Kong, who works for the prosthetics company OrthoPets, then adopted her and set the pup up with special wheels.
Denver Public Library hired community resource specialists like Kristi Schaefer (left) to help the city's homeless population stay warm and find the help they need. Here, Schaefer's assists Richard Ortega with charging his wheelchair at the Denver Central Library on January 26, 2017.
Random residents of Krakow, Poland, embraced on "Free Hugs Day" this year. If you'd like to get in on the action in 2019, mark your calendars. Besides National Hugging Day on January 21, you can also celebrate International Free Hugs Month in July.
Anthony DeGuilio's decision to give his kidney to a stranger back in 2008 led to not one but four donation surgeries in a single day. The young man went through with the surgery after seeing a 60 Minutes program on live organ donors. His kidney saved Barbara Asofsky (pictured), whose husband donated one in return to Alina Binder, whose father then gave a kidney to Andrew Novak, whose sister then gave a kidney to Luther Johnson. While not a match for their own loved ones, the chain of donations saved multiple lives.
Volunteer rescuers descended on Texas following Hurricane Harvey this summer, including the lauded Cajun Navy with their flat-bottomed boats. Here, a group of Good Samaritans help an elderly woman from her flooded home in Corpus Christi.
A British charity called The Kindness Offensive regularly performs good deeds on a giant scale, including food and toy drives. In 2013, the group created a free bookshop in a former pub with 100,000 volumes for the public to take and keep. Continued donations keep the store going today.
Mark "The Dog Guy" Imhof already works full-time as a pet groomer and sitter in New York City, but in his off hours, he's still shearing dogs. He's provided free services to rescue shelters for years, both raising the pups' spirits and improving their chances of getting adopted.
Mohamed Bzeek first started taking in foster children with his wife Dawn in 1989. A few years later, the couple committed to caring for terminally ill boys and girls because no one else would. When Dawn died in 2000, Mohamed kept up with their work, and he looks after a 6-year-old bedridden girl who requires around-the-clock care. "The key is, you have to love them like your own," he told the Los Angeles Times. "I know they are sick. I know they are going to die. I do my best as a human being and leave the rest to God."
After bushfires swept Australia in 2009, Annie Williams stepped up to help the orphaned kangaroos left behind. The wildlife rehabilitator cared for multiple little roos in her own home, giving them the proper food and even pouch-like nooks for sleeping.
With Hurricane Rita set to pound Houston just weeks after Hurricane Katrina, residents evacuated in what became the worst traffic jam in the city's history. Instead of worrying about his own safety, however, generous resident Daniel Flynn actually gave out free gas to a needy motorist before the storm hit.
Sesame Street's Elmo and Grover brightened the days of patients at Joseph M. Sanzari Children's Hospital in Hackensack, New Jersey, on February 22, 2017. The kiddos made crafts, colored, and cuddled with the fluffy characters.
Natalie Hutchison had just finished a double-shift at work when she left her purse on a Toronto bus. She then frantically tried to track down the bag containing her wallet and new iPad in the pouring rain, but ended up returning home without it. When she reached the front steps, the bag was there waiting for her.
The audience at a 2011 thrash metal concert in Yankee Stadium hoisted a Megadeth fan in a wheelchair for a better view. The "Big 4" show also featured Metallica, Anthrax, and Slayer.
Boston Celtic Jayson Tatum surprised kids at Boston Children's Hospital for a Day of Joy Celebration on August 28, 2017. The 6-foot-8 rookie showed off some high-flying movies.
Not only do hundreds of volunteers serve Thanksgiving dinner to more than 5,000 people, but the workers at the the Salvation Army and Safeway's annual Feast of Sharing in Washington D.C. provide a number of other services too. James Shackelford (left) and Gabrielle Smith (center) of the Bennett Career Institute gave out free haircuts.
Former mobster James Guiliani has found a new calling as an animal rescuer, opening his own shelter that's helped dozens of abandoned cats, dogs, lizards, tortoises, birds, squirrels, possums, and even raccoons. He hasn't come completely clean however. Giuliani keeps the location of his rescue a secret since New York City law prevents keeping wildlife as pets.
Steve St. Bernard was returning home from his job as an MTA bus driver on July 17, 2012, when children outside alerted him to an alarming sight: his 7-year-old autistic neighbor had climbed onto her apartment air conditioner three stories above. St. Bernard stood below the unit for an excruciating seven minutes before he caught the girl, tearing a tendon in his hand. "I asked God ... I said, 'Let me catch her, please. Don't let me miss,'" he told CNN. "I don't play baseball. I'm not a sportsman. I don't want to miss."
Inspired by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, the Green Bay Community HouseYarn Group in New Zealand took part in the #KnitForJacinda movement, making baby clothes during the P.M.'s pregnancy. The ladies donated the items to foster children, dementia patients, and earthquake victims.
A Portland, Maine, man made several dozen commuters' holiday wishes come true when he went around the city handing out $100 bills in 2012. The regular anonymous giver told the Portland Press Herald that about half of the recipients informed him via email they gave the money to someone else who needed it more.
A 10-year-old boy from Falmouth, Maine, had his dream come true via the Make-A-Wish Foundation when he became a superhero for the day. The fifth grader Sawyer Fish, who has a rare form of epilepsy, "saved" the mascot of the local Portland Sea Dogs baseball team with the help of his "sidekick," Officer Robert Miller.
The volunteer NICU Cuddler program at CHOC Children's hospital in Orange, California, frees up nurses and helps tired families by providing support to babies in the intensive care unit. The approved cuddlers hold, sing, and console little ones, which research shows shortens hospital stays.
Dave Das (middle, wearing black) handed out 15 sleeping bags to homeless people in Toronto on New Year's Eve, when the windchill outside made it feel like 20 degrees below zero. Das and his family give to those in need every season, but ultimately no one in the city went without a warm bed that night after donors pledged to cover the cost of 165 hotel rooms.
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