If the rest of the week has got you down a little, perhaps this list can cheer you up. Here, we only talk about stories that are positive, amusing, or inspirational. Meanwhile, you can also check the Saturday offbeat list for a glimpse at some of the strangest news items that made the headlines.
This week, we look at a few inspirational stories of people helping other people deal with the extremely cold weather that struck parts of the world. There is also a touching reunion from World War II, a kid philanthropist, a new island rich with life, and the recovery of Sweden’s crown jewels.
The famed Jamaica Inn opened its doors to over 100 people who got stranded in the snow.
The traditional inn might be almost 270 years old, but it gained worldwide attention in 1936 following Daphne du Maurier’s novel Jamaica Inn which was turned into a movie of the same name by Alfred Hitchcock a few years later.
Fortunately for travelers, the modern inn underwent a major refurbishment and now has 36 rooms to rent. They came in pretty handy as more and more people trickled into the taproom looking for refuge as a major snowstorm trapped them out on the A30 motorway.
When all was said and done, 140 people, including staff, were crammed into the inn. Strangers were packed five into one bedroom, and 20 makeshift beds were placed in the restaurant and lounge.
Even so, spirits were high and people were cheerful. Assistant manager Charlotte Barron described it as a “lovely atmosphere” as their guests played board games together and took advantage of the kitchen and bar, which were open until the wee hours of the morning.
The inn was subsequently presented with a Customer Award for Services to the Welfare of Motorists by Highways England for going above and beyond to help those in need.
A football steward has earned praise for helping a disabled fan of the opposite team get out of his wheelchair to celebrate alongside the rest of the supporters whenever his team scored.
Loviu Ngozulu works as a steward for Shrewsbury Town FC, an English football team from the League One division. His job primarily involves crowd control—dealing with fans who get a bit rowdy or helping people exit during an evacuation.
Last Saturday, his team played against Luton Town FC and got walloped 3–0. Even so, Ngozulu helped a Luton fan get out of his wheelchair so he could join in on the celebrations every time his team scored. Ngozulu’s actions were lauded by both sides. Luton interim boss Mick Harford called it “a touch of class,” while Shrewsbury named Ngozulu “Man of the Match” instead of any of their players.
Midnight, the four-year-old black Labrador mix, has been spoiled silly with treats after saving her elderly neighbor who fell down in the snow and couldn’t get back up.
A cold snap hit Minnesota last week with temperatures dipping below -17 degrees Celsius (0 °F). When Tim Curfman went to take out the garbage, his dog, Midnight, left the house for a quick frolic in the snow. She made a disturbing discovery in the backyard. The Curfmans’ 87-year-old neighbor, Noreen, was lying in the snow and couldn’t move.
Midnight went up to Tim and got his attention by staring at him and raising her ears. Seeing as how this was abnormal behavior for her, Curfman realized that something might be wrong. The Lab then led him to the other side of the house where he found Noreen.
The elderly neighbor had fallen while trying to fill the bird feeder. She didn’t have the strength to push herself up, and there was nothing for her to grab onto. Curfman took Noreen inside. She had been lying in the snow in subzero temperatures for about half an hour, but she had suffered no serious injuries or frostbite.
In a medical first, researchers from the University of California San Francisco have managed to transform human stem cells into insulin-producing cells. The breakthrough promises to be a major component in future treatments of type 1 diabetes such as islet cell transplantation.
At the moment, this method can help people with the disease achieve insulin independence after several years of therapy. However, they need to be constantly injected with immunosuppressant drugs to protect the cells. This lowers their immune system and leaves them vulnerable to infection. Scientists are hopeful that this new discovery will improve the efficacy of the treatment.
Study senior author Matthias Hebrok said that the insulin-producing cells they generated from stem cells look and act like the pancreatic beta cells we have in our bodies. Previous tests have failed to let the cells reach maturity. But a new strategy that separated the pancreatic stem cells from the rest of the pancreas and re-formed them into clusters yielded success.
Although this technique proved efficient on mice, there is still plenty of work to be done before it is ready for humans.
A real estate broker looked after Chicago’s homeless during the cold weather by renting out dozens of rooms at a hotel.
Temperatures dropped well below freezing in the city last week, leaving numerous homeless people in search of a warm bed to outlast the cold snap. Thirty-four-year-old Candice Payne made a “spur-of-the-moment” decision to help them. After searching local hotels for vacancies, she rented out 30 rooms at the Amber Inn.
Meanwhile, she also reached out on social media for volunteers to help transport the homeless. Soon enough, a convoy of cars and vans was making its way to a tent city where the homeless usually live. Over 100 of them got to enjoy a hot bath and a warm bed for the night.
Better yet, Candice’s act of kindness inspired others to act. She spent around $4,700 of her own money but received over $10,000 more in donations. Also, other people started calling the hotel and paying for more rooms on their own.
The extra funds were used to double the number of booked rooms and to extend the stay from Thursday until Sunday. The manager of the Amber Inn, Robyn Smith, lowered the price to accommodate more people.
Candice also used the money to buy food, toiletries, prenatal vitamins, and snacks and turned them into care packages for the people. She intends to come up with a more permanent way of helping the homeless of Chicago in the future.
A few weeks ago, we talked about World War II navy veteran Duane Sherman who was feeling lonely. With his birthday approaching, his daughter, Sue, reached out on Facebook and asked friends to send him some well-wishes. Duane received over 50,000 letters. One of them stood out and led to a reunion with a shipmate he had not seen in almost 75 years.
When all was said and done, the number of birthday cards and messages of gratitude sent to Sherman actually passed 100,000. He has vowed to go through all of them. But as he is legally blind, he has to wait for Sue to read them to him. She has received some help from a group of friends dubbed the “card squad” who stop by and read letters to Duane.
One of the messages was from 96-year-old Bob Apple. He served alongside Sherman on the USS Lamson. The two last saw each other in 1944 when they had to abandon ship due to a kamikaze attack.
The letter led to talks of a meeting, and the two former navy buddies saw each other for the first in 74 years. Apple brought along a present for Sherman—a painting of the USS Lamson in flames.
Swedish police believe that they have “most likely” found the crown jewels which were stolen last July and are currently working to confirm that they are the genuine articles.
The jewels were on display at Strangnas Cathedral near Stockholm when a group of thieves snatched them and made their getaway via speedboat. They disappeared using a vast network of lakes. The criminals stole two crowns and an orb made of gold, pearls, and precious stones which came from the 1611 funeral regalia of King Karl IX and Queen Christina.
Officials described the stolen jewels as “invaluable items of national interest” and declared their loss a true “blow” to Sweden. However, one or more of the artifacts have been recovered from a suburb of Stockholm.
Curiously, they were found sitting on top of a rubbish bin, which is why authorities are still working to ensure that they are the real deal. A 22-year-old man is currently facing trial for the theft, but police are still looking for his accomplices.
Have you ever wondered how long it would take for nature to lay claim to a piece of land? Scientists explored a new island in Tonga and discovered that life is already thriving on it after a few years.
In late 2014, a submarine volcano erupted and created an island about 2 kilometers (1.2 mi) long. By itself, this isn’t particularly noteworthy as such tiny strips of land emerge frequently. However, they typically don’t last very long.
This one is still going strong. In 150 years, it is just the third of its kind to last more than a few months. Volcanologist Jess Phoenix believes the island’s resiliency comes from the chemical reaction between the ash and the seawater which hardened it more than usual.
It still doesn’t have an official name. People call it Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai, named after the two preexisting islands between which it is nestled. Researchers have been keeping an eye on it using satellite images. But in October 2018, they decided it was time to take a firsthand look.
NASA scientist Dan Slayback was among the visitors and described everyone there as “giddy schoolchildren.” The ground was covered in a sticky, light-colored clay. There was plenty of vegetation and blooming flowers and hundreds of nests of sooty terns.
Studying the island is a unique opportunity for scientists, but they know they have a limited window. Due to erosion caused by heavy rain, the landmass might be gone in a decade or so.
Eugene the egg used its new platform to reach out to tens of millions of people and promote a mental health campaign.
The story is one that perfectly illustrates the power, the reach, and the apparent randomness of viral media. At the start of the year, a simple picture of an egg appeared on Instagram with the goal of becoming the most liked post in the history of the social media platform. It had to beat a record of 18 million by Kylie Jenner. It gained over 52 million likes.
Since then, the account has posted a few more pictures of Eugene becoming more and more cracked. The last one promised that all would be revealed during Super Bowl weekend.
The reveal came in the form of a video which showed the egg cracking and encouraging people to visit TalkingEgg if they are also feeling the pressure. The site is an aggregator that links to dozens of mental health organizations all over the world.
An 11-year-old “Kid Hero” managed to raise over $70,000 for elderly residents of nursing homes.
Over the summer, fifth-grader Ruby Kate Chitsey spent a lot of time at nursing homes throughout Harrison, Arkansas, because her mother worked there as a nurse. One day, she struck up a conversation with a woman in a wheelchair. The woman was sad because she couldn’t see her dog very often as pet sitter prices were too high.
Since that encounter, Ruby got to thinking about other things that would bring the residents joy. Going from person to person, she asked them for three wishes and wrote down the answers in her notebook. She documented her project on a Facebook page, and her mother, Amanda, started a GoFundMe account in the hopes that they might be able to make a few wishes come true.
What really shocked Amanda was the simplicity of the requests. People didn’t want fast cars or millions of dollars. They wanted snacks, books, haircuts, and more comfortable pillows. One man wanted pants that fit. Another wanted fresh strawberries.
Fortunately, Ruby’s project got a boost when GoFundMe highlighted her as the “Kid Hero” of the month. She raised over $70,000, which she spent on fulfilling the wishes of residents in five different nursing homes.
Now she even has an assistant in the form of 74-year-old Marilyn Spurlock. Marilyn goes around asking others what else would make them happy which, in turn, fulfills her own wish of feeling useful again.