Good People Doing Good Things — In The Wake Of A Storm

On Sunday, exactly sixteen years after the infamous Hurricane Katrina swept up through the Gulf of Mexico along almost the same path, Hurricane Ida made landfall in Louisiana.  At least seven are dead and more than one million without electricity.  Sounds like a perfect place for a few good people to step in, doesn’t it?


Back in February when an unexpected snowstorm hit Texas I wrote about Jim McIngvale, owner of Gallery Furniture in Houston, Texas, who opened the doors of his showroom to anyone in need of warmth and shelter.  McIngvale’s generosity and kindness dates back 16 years to the time of Hurricane Katrina when he opened his doors to those in need of shelter.  And today, in the wake of Hurricane Ida, McIngvale, age 70, is once again heeding the call of those in need.

But this time, McIngvale is sending dozens of trucks loaded to the brim with the most essential things.  Says McIngvale …

“Our hearts go out for the residents of Louisiana, especially in New Orleans residents are getting hit by this terrible hurricane.  So on Monday at Gallery Furniture from eight to five in the afternoon, we’re gonna have a giant drive. Looking for people to bring non-perishable foods, diapers, all the normal things for hurricanes and we’re gonna get about 30 trucks and take them to Louisiana to help the people out and be doing that as long as the need’s there. And we’re also having Louisiana residents that evacuated to Houston sleep here free.”


And as Hurricane Ida swept through New Orleans causing massive evacuations, the nursing staff at the NICU at Ochsner Health Hospital in New Orleans volunteered to stay through the night with the babies who desperately needed them.  Says Nurse Paula Jean Simon …

“I am so proud. My team pulls together, doesn’t matter what’s happening, they’re going to make sure the babies are taken care of.”


And lastly, wherever there is a disaster, you won’t likely have to look far to find Chef José Andrés and his World Central Kitchen staff setting up shop and providing food and more to the people in need.  This week is no exception … Andrés came to New Orleans straight from Haiti where they have been providing food and assistance to the people displaced by first by an earthquake that killed over 2,000, followed by Hurricane Grace.

Andrés tweeted on August 29th

Hello friends of @WCKitchen! I’m on the ground in New Orleans with @natemook & WCK’s Relief team…Winds are getting bad as Hurricane #Ida makes landfall…We have 3 kitchens ready with supplies already for 100,000+ meals! Now we will shelter until Ida passes…


My apologies for both the lateness and the brevity of this good people post, but I hope to get back up to speed soon!

Good People Doing Good Things — Random Acts of Kindness Day … And More!

Do you know what today is?  It’s February 17th!  And do you know what February 17th is?  It’s National Random Acts of Kindness Day!  Now, we should all be kind to everyone we encounter every day, but National Random Acts of Kindness Day is intended to make us more aware of the little things we can do to help someone out, or maybe just bring a smile to their face.  In this, the era of the pandemic, many more people are struggling than ever before, financially, emotionally, and in other ways.

National-Random-Acts-of-Kindness-DayIn the U.S., Random Acts of Kindness day is celebrated on this day, but in other countries, such as New Zealand, the date is different, but the meaning is still the same. The goal, according to the National Kindness website, is to help make kindness the norm by spreading it in the simplest ways.  So, what are some simple ways we can do a random act of kindness?  You tell me.  My favourite is usually to help someone I see struggling, perhaps to reach an item on a high grocery shelf, or a person in a wheelchair trying to get their groceries onto the conveyor belt, then out to their vehicle.  Or, paying it ahead at the drive through line is always a good one, one that tends to spread.

kindness-1As I always tell you guys at the end of each week’s Jolly Monday post, share those smiles.  Sometimes, just a kind smile can bring joy to someone who’s a bit down.  Thank someone … the mail carrier or trash man.  Help a neighbor carry their parcels in.  Or, if you’re feeling really energetic, get out that shovel and shovel a neighbor’s driveway and sidewalk!  It’ll help them, and you’ll get some much-needed exercise, too!

Anyway, let’s all try to do one random act of kindness today …

kindness-2


I usually get some flak when I highlight professional athletes or other celebrities who are making a difference, being good people, but when I think it’s deserved, I will shine a light on them. Not all of them are selfish jerks. This week, I have several that I think deserving of kudos.


I’m sure you all remember last May, when a Black man, George Floyd, was brutally murdered by a white police officer – an event that triggered many of the Black Lives Matter protests during the summer.  The most important thing Mr. Floyd left behind was his 7-year-old daughter, Gianna.  The Floyd family, like so many of us, lived payday to payday, and without his income, times were harder than ever.  Enter a bunch of good people …

Kyrie-IrvingNBA professional basketball star Kyrie Irving learned what the family needed most and stepped up to provide it. Kyrie Irving, the point guard for the Brooklyn Nets, bought them a house.  Irving, who felt he was just doing the right thing, tried to downplay his generosity.

“I just want to keep continuing to fulfill our purpose in serving a lot of the underserved communities. Those don’t necessarily get the same attention. So just trying to do my part with service, that’s all.”

Irving is not the only celebrity to reach out to Gianna and her family. Lil Wayne’s manager bought them a Mercedes-Benz. Barbra Streisand gave them stock in Disney.

In addition, Kanye West (whom I cannot stand personally, but I give credit where credit is due) donated $2 million to help Gianna and the families of Ahmaud Arbery, the 25-year-old victim of a racially motivated murder in Georgia, and 26-year-old Breonna Taylor, who was killed during a botched drug raid by police who showed up at the wrong apartment.

And ordinary citizens are reaching out, as well.  A GoFundMe campaign has raised more than $2.3 million, providing a fund when she’s ready to attend college—if she doesn’t want to take advantage of a full scholarship already offered by Texas Southern University.


Then there’s Stephen Curry, considered by some to be the greatest shooter in NBA history and treated as basketball royalty.  But there’s another side to this man.  Last summer, as the COVID-19 pandemic stalled the economy leaving many out of work, he and his wife Ayesha launched Eat. Learn. Play., a foundation that helps families struggling to put food on the table, through donations to the Alameda County Community Food Bank and the Oakland, California school system.

“We know the world is changing before our eyes in terms of dealing with the spread of coronavirus and we just found out that the Oakland Unified School District is closing the doors for the foreseeable future, so we want to intercede on behalf of the kids that rely on the daily services and try to help any way we can.”

stephen-currySince then, the initiative has expanded exponentially. After joining forces with the world-renowned, Chef José Andrés, founder of the nonprofit disaster-relief group World Central Kitchen, Stephen and Ayesha’s foundation has gone from serving 4,000 meals a week to 300,000.

In total, more than 15 million meals—and counting—have found their way to those in need.

But more than just serving up meals, Eat. Learn. Play. is also giving the local economy a much-needed financial shot in the arm—about $20 million that has “led to the rehiring of more than 900 Oakland restaurant workers.”

“It’s all about impact. The things my wife and I try to do, separately and together, are to raise awareness, to find impactful partnerships, to be human and understand the urgency of the moment.”


My thanks to all the good people who are doing what they can to help people, and let’s see if we can do just a little something today to bring a smile to someone’s face, okay?

Good People Doing Good Things — Short Snippets

I must admit to cheating just a bit on today’s ‘good people’ post, as my time was short tonight.  Every week, I get a CNN newsletter about good things happening, people helping others, etc.  Today’s good people post is a compilation of good people from the last few of those newsletters.  I may be a bit lazy,  but these are still good people!


Looking out for each other

Lemon-IwanskiTrust your gut. How many times have we all heard that advice? When Shonda Lemon, a mail carrier in Chicago, noticed a senior citizen on her route hadn’t picked up her mail in a few days, her gut told her something was wrong. Lemon has a soft spot for the elderly, and she often greeted Helen Iwanski, 89, during her day. Iwanski would even sometimes attach candy to outgoing mail to thank Lemon for her work. After she noticed Iwanski’s absence, Lemon called the police to ask for a well-being check. When police entered the house, they found Iwanski on the floor, where she had fallen and been unable to move for several days. Luckily, after a hospital stay, Iwanski is on the mend, and her family says she calls the postal worker her angel. Lemon says she’s relieved the older woman is going to be OK. “Each person has an intricate part of your life, and you never know how important they may be.”  Words of wisdom, my friends.


Brilliant idea

teeter-totter-wallThis is the “Teeter-Totter Wall,” a set of three seesaws slotted in between the gaps of the steel border wall that separates El Paso, Texas, and the Anapra community in Juárez, Mexico. The bright playground staples allowed children from both communities to play together despite the 20-foot wall between them. The temporary installation just won the 2020 Beazley Design of the Year, an annual award and exhibition run by London’s Design Museum. Ronald Rael, one of the California-based architects behind the project, said the seesaws were almost like the wall itself: “What you do on one side has an impact on the other.”  Truer words were never spoken.


Giving what you have

giving-what-you-haveIt’s a special kind of selfless when someone chooses to help others even when they’re struggling, too. Take Carolyn Alonzo, who owns a Fetch! Pet Care franchise in Chicago. She’s seen her business take a huge hit during the pandemic, and to make matters worse, two of her dogs died. But out of her grief, she created the non-profit Obi’s Pet Pantry to help people who are having a hard time financially providing for their pets. She used some of her stimulus money and some donations to keep it stocked with food, blankets, collars, shampoo and other pet supplies. Others are using their stimulus money to pay it forward, too. Jeff Suchon of Highland Park, New Jersey, has purchased more than 30,000 masks with his economic relief payments, even though he lives on a fixed income and can’t work due to health concerns. Matthew Pierce, a teacher at Milton Hershey School in Hershey, Pennsylvania, has used his stimulus payments to buy Uber Eats gift cards for many students and their families. “We have to model good civics. It’s not something we’re born with. We need to give back in times of need.”  👍👍


Getting an early start on being a good people

AryanaFive-year-old Aryana Chopra rang in the new year in the most productive, positive way possible: She designed and handmade 200 cards to send to every resident at a senior living home in Vestal, New York. Aryana’s father is a doctor on the front lines of the pandemic, so she knows how serious coronavirus is. “I got an idea of making cards for the people in the nursing home who cannot go out and meet their friends and family,” she says. When her mother noticed Aryana hard at work making the cards, she called the local nursing home and asked how many residents were there. Two hundred is a tall order, but Aryana worked for almost two weeks to make them all, decorating each one with a unique combination of rainbows, snowmen, kids holding gifts and special New Year’s messages. Even then, that wasn’t enough for the little girl. She broke open her piggybank and bought the resident a few more gifts, including a very cute Santa Claus statue.  This kid has been taught well.  Thumbs up to Aryana and her parents!


Feeding the soul

Chef-AndresWhat’s one of the most reliable ways of providing help and support to people during a crisis? Food. And few people do it better than star chef José Andrés. I’ve written about Chef Andrés before — he’s fed survivors and first responders during natural disasters, he’s fed pandemic heroes, and last month he helped feed National Guard members and law enforcement responding to the deadly attack on the Capitol. Since a curfew was imposed to increase security, Andrés said he knew these hard-working men and women wouldn’t have a lot of options to eat, so he drove around the area and collected about 120 pizzas. Later, in the wee hours of Thursday morning, he opened his own kitchen at his area restaurant Jaleo, and was seen making eggs, sandwiches and pasta. World Kitchen, Andres’ non-profit organization, said the team was able to feed about 700 people.

Good People Doing Good Things — Helpers In These Trying Times

We’ve heard a lot in the past few weeks about human swine who are hoarding large amounts of commodities such as toilet paper, disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer, and even foodstuffs such as chicken, fresh fruits & veggies, etc.  And then there are the scammers … people who are finding unique ways to profit from other people’s troubles.  But today I want to focus on people who are finding ways to be good people in the midst of the pandemic crisis.


A tip that will be remembered …

On Sunday afternoon, the governor of Ohio announced that all restaurants and bars would close at 9:00 p.m. and remain closed indefinitely … another casualty of the pandemic coronavirus.  We were eating at TGI Fridays when the announcement was made, and our server broke into tears.  I was chuffed to see that a few minutes later, the family dining across the aisle from us gave her a $100 tip … she broke into tears again.  We gave her a $50 tip … and she broke into tears yet again!  But none of that compares to what a diner in Columbus, Ohio, did.

An anonymous man dining at The Coaches Bar and Grill in Columbus, received his bill shortly after the governor’s announcement … the bill totaled $29.75.  To that check, he added a gratuity of … $2,500!  On the check, he wrote a note requesting that the tip be split equally among the five servers who were working that night. tipNeedless to say, the tears were flowing in The Coaches on Sunday night.  Thumbs up to that anonymous man!


Helping the neighbors …

Becky Hoeffler lives in Durham, North Carolina and works for Duke University.  These days, she’s working from home, and when she spoke by phone with her grandfather in New Jersey, she was concerned when he mentioned that he was going out grocery shopping.  She wished she could do it for him to lessen his risk, but obviously she couldn’t.  However, it gave her the idea to make grocery runs for her senior neighbors, in lieu of helping her grandpa.

She started with her next-door neighbor, an elderly lady who only asked her to pick up paper towels, fresh fruit, and flour.  The neighbor then returned the favour in the form of fresh-baked banana bread!

Next, she walked down to the housing community for senior living at the end of her cul-de-sac. She talked to people on their porches and introduced herself—and the offer of kindness.

“They told me I could post the sign with my information near the mailbox station, so all members of the community would be able to see it!”

Becky-HoefflerBecky has posted on a local Facebook group to try to get the word out and to see if anyone needs help.

“In these situations, when the community steps up, you really lessen the pressure on first responders and medical personnel,” she said in an email. “If you’re able to decrease, even by a little bit, the number of patients that have to seek care because they’ve been exposed to something, it’s good for the community as a whole.”

Thumbs up to Becky Hoeffler for caring about her senior neighbors!


Chef Andrés is at it again …

I have written before about Chef José Andrés before.  He and his charity have been praised time and again for helping feed those in need during hurricanes, fires and other disasters.  This time, he is turning his 5-star restaurants into food kitchens for families who may be having trouble making ends meet during the coronavirus pandemic.

The makeshift soup kitchens will begin serving takeout meals starting today between noon and 5:00 p.m. Furthermore, all of his employees will be getting paid time off for the first two weeks.

chef-andresAndrés’s charity, World Central Kitchen, has also been serving up meals to people affected by the coronavirus, including the quarantined cruise ship passengers and staffers aboard the Grand Princess.  And from Little Rock, Arkansas to San Francisco, the charity has already served up several thousand meals to students and families amidst school closures.


Caremongering in Canada

The first “caremongering” group was set up by Mita Hans with the help of Valentina Harper and others. Valentina explained the meaning behind the name.

“Scaremongering is a big problem. We wanted to switch that around and get people to connect on a positive level, to connect with each other. It’s spread the opposite of panic in people, brought out community and camaraderie, and allowed us to tackle the needs of those who are at-risk all the time – now more than ever.”

Valentina said the rapid growth of the trend was far beyond her expectations, with the Toronto group itself now having more than 9,000 members.

“We thought we’d have a couple dozen people. It’s grown to thousands. But the most positive thing is the local groups that have started, geared to specific neighbourhoods. It’s really shown us the need that people have to have some level of reassurance and hope.  Anxiety, isolation and lack of hope affects you. In providing this virtual community which allows people to help each other, I think it is really showing people there is still hope for humanity. We haven’t lost our hope.”

But they do more than just offer moral support or a kind voice to break up the loneliness.  These include a single mother in Ottawa receiving food for her baby, a group of people in Toronto offering to cook meals for those who are unable, and a community in Prince Edward Island who gave grocery store gift cards to a woman who was laid off because of closures related to coronavirus.

One of the most popular acts is to go to the supermarket for those who are unable – though depending on luck this can prove to be an act of extreme patience as one Hamilton woman discovered when going to a Walmart at 5:30 am on Saturday – the queue was a long one.

These people aren’t rich, don’t have a lot to give, but they are giving of themselves to help others in small ways.  Thumbs up to them all.


In memory of …

The family of 88-year-old Darrell Blakeley, who died at North Manchester General Hospital on Friday after testing positive for coronavirus, have asked people to carry out acts of kindness in his memory.

Darrell-Blakeley“We invite you to forget flowers and cards. Instead we would like you to give acts of kindness. Help someone who is lonely or struggling during this time, who needs shopping, childcare or a chat. Post tiny acts of kindness given and received and share. Build something beautiful in Darrell’s memory.”


These are just a few examples of the many, many people who, instead of seeing this crisis as an opportunity to make a buck at someone’s expense, are seeing it as an opportunity to do something good for others.  I think we can all find some things to do to help people out in these trying times, don’t you?

On Feeding Our Children …

Imagine you are a child in school.  The lunch bell rings, you head to the cafeteria with your friends, stand in line, select your lunch, and when you get to the cashier, you are told that you cannot have your lunch, for your parents haven’t paid your lunch bill.  You are handed a sandwich … or worse, the cashier throws your lunch in the trash and tells you to move out of the line.  Your friends … they are looking at you … you feel as if every single kid in the cafeteria is looking at you.  You are so embarrassed you wish the ground would open and swallow you.  You run to the bathroom in tears.  This is happening all over the United States.embarrassed-child.jpgSome children are eligible for free lunch, but those who are not must rely on their parents to keep money in their school lunch account.  Sometimes perhaps the parents are a bit short one week, or perhaps they simply forgot.  It happens.  Children should not have to go without a nutritious lunch and be shamed in front of the entire school for something over which they had no control.  And yet, that is exactly what is happening across the nation.

In Warwick, Rhode Island earlier this month, the school district implemented a new policy that any child who has unpaid lunch fees or cannot afford to pay for his/her lunch will be denied a hot lunch and given only a “sunflower seed butter and jelly sandwich”.  The district claims to have “tens of thousands of dollars” of unpaid lunch fees and can no longer afford to extend lunch credit to the children.

Enter a good Samaritan, Angelica Penta, owner of a local restaurant, who offered $4,000 to help pay some of that lunch debt, but her offer was firmly rejected … twice! She was told that the school would have to decide which children’s accounts to apply the money toward, and so unless she specified whose accounts she wished to pay, or unless she paid the total they claim is owed, they could not accept her generosity.  Meanwhile, children are being embarrassed and subjected to a sandwich made of … sunflower seeds???

But Warwick is only one such example, as I found out on researching for this post.  This is happening all over the country and has been for some years!  In Phoenix, Arizona, children’s arms are stamped with the words “Lunch Money” if their accounts are empty.  In Santa Fe, New Mexico, lunches are thrown in the trash, rather than given to the children if they cannot pay.  What a waste!!! A few states have recently banned what is called “lunch shaming”, but in others it is standard practice.  In Rhode Island, legislation requiring all students to receive the same hot lunch regardless of their financial circumstances is pending, but meanwhile kids in Warwick schools are eating sunflower seed sandwiches and continuing to be embarrassed.

There are any number of steps the schools could have taken other than hurting the children.  They could have contacted the parents by phone, discreetly sent a note home with the child, or even called the parent in for a consultation.  The children do not have control of the family finances! donation-jar.jpgThere are a few heroes here, though.  Ms. Penta’s assistance was ultimately accepted by a portion of the district, West Warwick, and she has set up donation jars in her restaurants where patrons can add money to help the cause.  The rest of the district, however, continues to insist that she must specify which children she wishes to help.  She has posted on her Facebook account that if anyone needs help paying for their lunch, to contact her and she would help.

Chobani.jpgChobani, the yogurt makers, has given the district $47,650 to apply toward the debt the district claims it is owed.  Now, oddly, the district first claimed the lunch debt was in the $40,000 range, but just a few days later claimed it was $77,000.  Something fishy here … surely they do have an accountant?  Thumbs up and hats off to Chobani for their compassion and humanitarianism, and thumbs down to Warwick, Rhode Island, where officials are putting profit ahead of the nation’s children.

It is wrong to punish the children for their parents’ oversight, and in most cases it is simply oversight.  We’ve all forgotten to pay a bill, or other important tasks.  We send our children to school to learn, and it’s hard to learn much if you are hungry, or if you have been embarrassed so badly in front of your friends that you just want the day to be over so you can go home.  School lunch … such a simple thing … and yet it has become a monumental issue in this nation.  We are so obsessed with money that we are harming our greatest resource, our children.


Along those same lines …

Remember a few days ago when I posted Nicholas Kristof’s piece about Teresa L. Todd, the good Samaritan who stopped to help three immigrant teens and was arrested by Border Patrol agents for her efforts?  Well, here’s another similar story.

Bonnie-KimballBonnie Kimball was a cafeteria worker at Mascoma Valley Regional High School in Canaan, New Hampshire until recently.  Then on March 28th, she was fired by vendor Café Services for letting a student have a lunch even though his account had no money in it.  Turns out that Café Services’ contract with the school was coming up for renewal and the school was considering switching to another company, so Café Services had head honchos in the school keeping an eye on the staff.  Her letter of termination stated …

“On March 28, a District manager was on-site and witnessed a student coming through the line with multiple food items that you did not charge him for. This is a strict violation of our Cash Handling Procedures, the Schools Charge Policy and Federal Regulation governing free meals.”

Once the story was reported nationally by CNN, The Washington Post and others, the company told The Post that they would offer Ms. Kimball her job back, but it was obvious to all that their purpose was to stop the negative publicity that was having a negative effect on their contract negotiations, and Ms. Kimball declined.

The situation came to the attention of chef José Andrés, a humanitarian who has provided thousands of meals to victims of natural disasters and the homeless.  Chef Andrés tweeted …

“New Hampshire school cafeteria worker fired for giving food to student who couldn’t pay … The hero is Bonnie Kimball! If she needs a job we have openings at @thinkfoodgroup if you know her, let her know!”

Is our society becoming so self-focused, so intent on squeezing every last cent out of people that we punish those who try to help others?  It would seem so.