Category Archives: News

Good Golly Miss Dolly

We love hearing stories about secret admirers and anonymous gifts. Probably it’s because we know that if someone has chosen to keep their identity secret, it’s pretty clear they aren’t seeking acknowledgement – they just want to enjoy the pure pleasure of doing something nice for someone.

Also, packages are fun.

Sheza Hasan certainly seemed to have a good time opening the large present that was left on her doorstep last week. There’s no doubt it was a surprise indeed, given that the repurposed cardboard box once held disposable children’s pull-ups. Yet packed inside were over two dozen carefully hand-sewn cloth dolls. Each doll has her own fabric pattern, her own skin tone – and her own colourful, removable hijab.

That was the point of the gift, according to the accompanying note (stuffed inside a pink envelope with Sheza’s name, a curlicue and a heart). “I noticed that dolls wearing hijabs seem hard to find, so I made 25 simple ones,” the benefactor wrote. She – if indeed she is a she – added that she herself isn’t Muslim. “I’m not sure who to give them to, but I thought you might.”

Sheza, who lives in Milton, Ontario, calls the stealth seamstress a “wonderful soul” for making her feel accepted and welcome, especially since she has been on the receiving end of racist vitriol in the past. “Between being told by [a] stranger to ‘go back to my effing country’… this warmed my heart and reminded me that there are ALWAYS more good people out there than the other kind,” she wrote on social media.

Sheza herself wears hijab, and says she and her sisters never saw dolls that looked like them when they were little girls. “Growing up, we’re seeing images out there in the community, and none of them reflect us,” she told a news reporter. ”The only time we see something in the media, it’s usually negative.”

Thus when Sheza showed the dolls to her kids, she emphasized the kindness and respect behind this stranger’s efforts. Now she plans to distribute the dolls and make sure they’re visible in the community.

“Some gestures touch you deep into your soul. This was one of those for me,” Sheza added.

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We don’t know what the dolls are stuffed with, but we think it’s some proprietary mixture of warmth, compassion and friendship. (Facebook Photo)

It Did Happen to Her

One of my broken-record themes about good deeds is that they rarely cost anything. But here’s a story about one that set a couple of men back a full thousand dollars.

They forked it over willingly, though, after getting to know a waitress at a pub. (Is this sounding a little too It Could Happen to You?) The establishment is not that far from my own neighbourhood. The server’s name is Melissa Lombardo, and when she’s not handing out beer and munchies, she’s an aspiring singer/songwriter.

The two guys at her table the other night (in fact, it was the wee hours of the next morning) seemed friendly. They cracked a few jokes and asked her a few questions, and by the time their bill was ready, they had learned a little bit about Melissa’s goals and dreams.

That thousand dollars? It was the tip they ended up leaving for Melissa. They called it a “surprise bonus,” something they occasionally like to give to servers who seem deserving. The men rate ambition and honesty as top qualities.

Melissa, of course, was floored. “You hear about these kind people, but it’s just so nice to actually see somebody that kind and generous,” she told a reporter. “The fact that that’s real is so amazing to me.” The young woman, who says she’s had misfortune in her past, is determined to use the money to make a proper studio recording of her songs.

She also hopes to perform a similar astonishing good deed for another person one day. I’m sure her two newest customers would approve.

WaitressTip

Melissa Lombardo has a voice that’s ready to be shared with the world. “Just being heard and somebody actually hearing my passion… it was just so nice,” she says in a news story. (YouTube photo)

Rescued in a Jiffy (Lube)

As any driver knows, it can be challenging to find the words to describe that funky noise your car is making. Is it more of a clunk or a click? Low frequency or high? Constant or intermittent? Is it pinging or popping?

Or is it, perhaps, meowing?

When Khrystyna Kova of Wetaskiwin, Alberta, got back in her car last Wednesday morning after driving her daughter to school, she heard the unmistakable sound of a cat. And it seemed to be coming from somewhere inside the vehicle.

On the off chance that her car wasn’t haunted by a feline poltergeist, Khrystyna hastened to a nearby Jiffy Lube. Mechanics there popped the hood and eventually spied the source of the plaintive mewls – a small kitten, trapped, unbelievably, behind the engine. Yes, the very engine that had been powering up a Honda Civic just moments earlier.

At first, they couldn’t even get him out. Shop manager Blair Backman did his best to reach the tiny animal from beneath the car, but the space where the cat was trapped was too small for his arms.

Another customer, Tanya Marceau, overheard what was happening and came over to help. She had an asset, she assured them: skinny arms. While Blair called out directions from beneath the car, Tanya was able to reach in and nimbly work away at some wiring that had entangled the kitten. After 20 minutes, she finally pulled him out.

Thankfully, the kitten seems fine now, apart from a probably lasting distaste for the Indy 500. Happily, he also has a new home. Khrystyna suggested Tanya keep him, after noticing how effortlessly she comforted him. That suited Tanya just fine. And thanks to her new kitten’s new name, she’ll never forget where he came from.

“We named him Jiffy, because we saved his life at Jiffy Lube,” Khrystyna said in a news story. “That cat has nine lives… It’s a miracle.”

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Photo by Nick Sgambelluri/FreeImages.com

All in the Family

You know that satisfying moment in Clue when you find out it was Colonel Mustard in the billiard room with the candlestick? When the mystery that has been dogging the players throughout the entire board game is finally cleared up? For Florence Heene of Belgium, her whole life has been a sort of game of Clue. And last week she finally solved the mystery.

It was Herbert Hellyer, in Ghent, with Florence’s mother.

Florence knows now that she is the daughter of Herbert Hellyer. But for the first 71 years of her life, she had no idea who her dad was. All she knew was that he was a Canadian soldier who’d been temporarily stationed in Ghent, Belgium, during World War II. She thought his first name was Herbert. Her mother got married to someone else when Florence was a baby, and in fact Florence didn’t even know the man raising her wasn’t her biological father until she found the marriage certificate and did the math.

Her mom was unwilling to tell her much. But Florence always yearned to know the truth about her roots.

This past January, she decided to spread the word as far as she could using social media, posting a couple of photos on Facebook along with what little information she had about her birth father. “It is my greatest wish to find out more about Herbert, my biological father: is he still alive or how and when did he die?” she wrote (in Flemish). “Do I have any other (half) brothers or sisters?”

As she was to discover, she has several.

After media picked up the story and circulated the photos worldwide, Herbert’s great-granddaughter in Canada recognized him. She found the matching photo in her mom’s stash of old pictures, and knew without a doubt it was the one-and-same Herbert.

The two families have now been in touch. Herbert, now deceased, had five other children besides Florence, and three of them are still alive. There are also other descendants, and they’ve been completely thrilled to hear about their newfound relative, and exchange messages with her. “It’s amazing, truly amazing,” a granddaughter told CBC news. “We hope to get to meet Florence some day… and try to give her as much information as we can, and welcome her into our family.”

Florence herself posted a note of thanks of Facebook, indicating that she’d received hundreds of messages from folks trying to help. She calls them all “lovely people.”

“We’re very excited. We’re all very happy,” says the granddaughter.

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Herbert sent this photo to his Canadian kids while serving overseas, writing on it: “Love from Daddy, XXXXXX.” (Facebook Photo)

Help, and Hope

Just when you think humanity is headed down a deep hole in the ground, some anonymous angel comes along, and hands a remote northern community an enormous wad of cash to save the lives of their children.

Earlier this month, media reported that two beautiful 12-year-old girls in Wapekeka First Nation, Ontario, had taken their own lives. The young people here are at extreme risk for suicide, and the community had already submitted a request to Health Canada to fund urgently-needed mental health services. Specifically, they’d asked for 376,706.

At the time, they were told the money wasn’t immediately available – it had all been allocated to other projects. Their file would remain active while the government figured out how to fund it.

While the community waited, these two children died.

Emergency government support is now promised. But in the meantime, an unidentified soul has stepped forward with $30,000 in hand, and an I.O.U. for the rest of the almost $380,000 that’s needed.

The money won’t bring back Jolynn or Chantel, but hopefully it comes in time to save dozens of other young people. Help and healing can start.

Humanity to the rescue.

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End of the Year, Beginning of the Rest of the World

I’ll be on blog-holiday for the next couple of weeks, enjoying time with family, friends and feasts. But I plan to leave you with an abundance of rich, high-calorie stories. We don’t want you starving for good news.

First, there’s this tale about the new guy in town, who unexpectedly discovered that the next-door neighbours are alive only because he himself saved them 65 years ago. Ed Malone, known as Kip, ran into a burning house when he was 12 years old and pulled out two little girls. That was in St. John’s, Newfoundland. He never forgot, and always wondered what had happened to them. He had to wait until 2016 to find out. But the sisters living next door to his new house in the community of Conception Bay South were only too happy to fill him in – once they got over the shock of the coincidence – and thank him profusely, as they couldn’t have done when they were three and five years old. (They didn’t recognize each other, but they recognized each other’s life stories – and the rest fell into place.) “I feel so blessed,” said one of the sisters, Barbara Earle, in a news story. “If it wasn’t for Kip, I wouldn’t be here today and have the beautiful, wonderful life and family that I have.”

Next I have the story of a girls’ hockey team in Eabametoong First Nation. The whole team is all smiles because up to now, they hadn’t been able to afford hockey equipment – it’s expensive, isn’t stocked in the local general store, and must be flown in to their remote northern-Ontario community. Thanks to a grade-12 class assignment in Markham, Ontario, they’re now fully outfitted and ready to take to the ice. This happened because Emma Tworzyanski, 17, had to pick a project for her sports management class. A hockey player herself, she chose to collect donated equipment and ship it to the girls in Eabametoong, where her dad often travels to work as an engineer. “I thought it was the perfect opportunity to use my passion [for hockey] to help other people,” she said in a report. As for the excited girls, they can’t wait to take to the ice with their new equipment and show the world what they’re made of.

Got time for one more? Of course you do, it’s the holidays. Marc Carter, a dad in Devon, England, is counting as his hero a particular factory manager in China. Marc’s 14-year-old son, Ben, has autism, and will only drink from a very specific blue sippy cup. In fact, Ben will risk dehydration before he’ll drink from anything else. He’s had the cup since he was two, so naturally it’s falling apart. Problem is, the cup is no longer made. Marc put an appeal out to the cyberuniverse and it reached Li Jieying, an associate of the company that used to make the cup. She took it upon herself to search her factory for molds, materials and supplier information so that the cup could be remade to exact specifications. “We think it is very meaningful for us to help,” she told a reporter. The company manufactured a special run of 500 cups just for Ben. At 12 years per cup – heck, let’s even say 10 years, since he probably has more teeth now than he did when he was two – Ben has enough blue cups to last him to the ripe old age of 5,000. His grateful dad has now created a website, littlebluecup.org, where he hopes to help other families in need.

There’s a whole lot of goodness in a world that sometimes bludgeons us with bad news. We have to remember that. So keep your arms open, your hearts and minds too, and continue spreading the love. Happy New Year.

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See all you sweethearts in 2017. (Photo by graphixchon / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

News Hound

First we were distressed to hear that an elderly Toronto man with dementia had lost his beloved dog, Kimbo, and that the people who had adopted him through the Humane Society had no interest at all in returning the pet to his rightful owner.

Then, we were overjoyed to learn that a local man, after hearing this story on the news, successfully bribed the adoptive family with lots of money – and got the dog back for 80-year-old Karl Daniels, his daughter and his two grandsons. (If you don’t cry when you see this reunion video, you need to get your tear ducts checked by a medical professional.) “There’s not even a word for such a man. I like to call him my angel,” said Daniels’s daughter, Michelle. Their saviour, Lawrence Dalle Vedov, told reporters he had to do it. Even though it meant spending the $5,000 he’d saved for a vacation to Australia. See, Dalle Vedov had firsthand experience with losing a dog, thinking he was gone forever, and miraculously finding him again. He also remembered how much comfort a dog had brought to his father when he was in declining health.

And finally, we were absolutely stoked to find out that Expedia Canada had donated a free airline ticket for Dalle Vedov to reach his dream destination, and that a crowdfunding campaign had raised over $6,000 to pay him back for his generosity.

Such is the roller-coaster ride of real life as it unfolds, toying with our emotions, pulling us down, only to buoy us up to level 11. Speaking of which, it’s election day in the U.S., and my fingernails, despite their Canadian roots, are going to get bitten tonight…

Love your neighbours. Love your dogs.

kimbo

(Gofundme.com photo)