On the Road: A year to remember with Steve Hartman

A year to remember

"On the Road with Steve Hartman: A Year to Remember" will air on CBSN on January 1 at 8 p.m., 11 p.m. and 2 a.m. ET. It's also available on the free CBS News app. And don't miss On the Road for the holidays with Steve Hartman.

Every week, Steve Hartman travels America, talking to regular people and looking for the extraordinary in the ordinary. They're from all walks of life, but all are inspiring. It's amazing the impact kids have, especially. 

Three Wishes For Ruby's Residents

11-year-old expands her charity granting wishes

At a nursing home in northwest, Arkansas, there's a gem named Ruby. As CBS News first reported in March, 11-year-old Ruby Chitsey likes to go to work with her mom, Amanda, a nurse who travels to several nursing homes in the area. It was on one of those visits that Ruby started going up to residents with her notepad and asking, "If you could have any three things, what would they be?"

Ruby said she was mostly curious about what they'd say. Instead of asking for money or a fancy car, they asked for electric razors, new shoes, Vienna sausage and other basic items. So she started a charity called "Three Wishes for Ruby's Residents." Now, while her mom is caring for patients, Ruby goes room to room, jots down wishes and sets out to grant them.

Since first sharing her story, Ruby has helped start chapters of her charity in other states. She speaks to advocates for the aging, and of course, she is still very much hands-on.

Bus driver gives more than a ride

Texas school bus driver gives more than just a ride

Bus driver Curtis Jenkins loves delivering little ones to Lake Highlands Elementary in Dallas, Texas. To show his love and understanding, Curtis gives presents throughout the year and each one is personally selected with that child in mind. 

Over the year he has bought these kids bikes, backpacks, handed out cards on birthdays and even turkeys at Thanksgiving. He has spent thousands out of his own pocket. And yet, if you ask the kids what they like most about Curtis, the gifts don't even come up.

"He really cares about us," one child said.

Since that story first aired in May, Curtis has gotten a big promotion. He still sees the kids all the time, but he's no longer a bus driver. Instead, he's been granted the title of "Relationship Consultant," teaching staff all across the district how they can form bonds with students like he did. 

A neighborhood learns to sign

Toddler contributes to making a sign language town

At the far end of Islington Road in Newton, Massachusetts, lives a little girl near and dear to the neighborhood. Samantha Savitz, 2, is deaf, but boy does she love to talk to anyone who knows sign language. If someone can't, that makes her just a little sad. 

Her desire for engagement has been painfully obvious to everyone in the neighborhood. Whenever they see her on a walk or in her yard, they find themselves at a frustrating loss for words. So on their own, Sam's neighbors got together, hired an instructor and are now fully immersed in an American Sign Language class. 

Sometimes it feels like America is losing its sense of community. But then you hear about a place like this, where the village it takes to raise a child is alive and well and here to remind us that what makes a "good neighborhood" is nothing more than good neighbors. Since Steve visited Newton in February, Sam celebrated her 3rd birthday, and the class size has doubled to 40 students. 

Student finds a new home

Middle school teacher takes in student battling kidney disease

Good educators can make all the difference. At AXL Academy in Aurora, Colorado, middle school math teacher Finn Lanning has gone above and beyond for one student, 13-year-old Damien.

One day, Damien told Finn he wasn't coming back to school. He learned Damien was in foster care, had kidney disease and because social services couldn't find a foster family willing and able to meet his medical needs, Damien had to leave school and move into a hospital. He also needed a transplant, desperately. A lot of times, you can't get a transplant if you don't have a stable home to return to after surgery.

That's how Finn became a foster parent. He took in Damien, dialysis needs and all, even though prior to that, he'd been a confirmed bachelor who delighted in his childlessness. But he decided to adopt Damien.

Because of Finn, Damien got back on the transplant list and got his new kidney. Today, his kidney is doing well and the adoption is almost complete. 

Benny the bagger

97-year-old veteran still hard at work bagging groceries

When you reach a certain age, just getting down to the driveway can feel like a full day's work.  But for 97-year-old Benny Ficeto of Perth Amboy, New Jersey, overcoming those stairs is just the beginning of his workday. Two days a week, he clocks in for a 4-hour shift as a "bag boy" at the local Stop & Shop.

Benny used to be warehouse supervisor for a cosmetics company. He supposedly retired back in the '80s, but he's been doing odd jobs ever since because he said he loves a hard day's work and always has.

Benny served in the Army Air Force during World War II.  He was a gunner on a B-25 Mitchell bomber, flying mostly over northern Africa and Italy. He still approaches his job with that same tireless, warrior-like determination. For example, Benny said he'd sooner stack a honeydew on white bread than loaf around on the job. 

For Benny, his reason to continue working is to go out and earn, not just a paycheck, but a purpose. And avoid breaks, at all costs.

The car doctor

Cleveland auto mechanic fulfills lifelong dream to become a doctor

If you're having trouble motivating to go back to work or school after the holidays, 48-year-old Carl Allamby might help you with that. He dreamed about becoming a doctor but said growing up, that wasn't always realistic. 

"We were on welfare. I remember the powdered milk, the government powdered milk," he said.

Because they were so poor, young Carl quickly set aside his professional aspirations and focused instead on becoming the best auto mechanic he could be. Eventually he got his own shop and for 15 years, he did OK. Until one day, he decided to step it up a notch. 

In 2006, Carl enrolled at Ursuline College. His intention was to get a business degree to help him manage his repair shop. But there was one hurdle: a biology class. He couldn't understand why he had to take it and he put it off as long as possible.

"I'm a business major, what do I care about biology. And in the first hour of being there, I knew what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. All those ideas of wanting to be a doctor just came rushing back," Carl said. 

Now the car doctor is now a doctor-doctor. Last spring, he graduated from Northeast Ohio Medical University and today he's an emergency medical resident at Cleveland Clinic Akron General.

Mighty Quinn

Once housebound, young boy gets his chance to see the world

Aside from immediate family, no one was allowed in the house to see 3-year-old Quinn Waters of Weymouth, Massachusetts. More importantly, Quinn wasn't allowed out. Parents Jarlath and Tara Waters say Quinn's natural immunity was temporarily wiped out after he got a stem cell transplant to treat his brain cancer.

Fortunately, the kid is a fighter, and as we first reported a few months ago, he kept a mostly positive attitude. But it still stunk. There would be days when Quinn was literally pounding to get out.

Unfortunately, staring out a window is a poor substitute for walking out the door. Quinn's connection to the outside world has been limited to whoever passes by, which hasn't been all that limiting, actually. The neighbors started showing up to entertain Quinn, the police caught wind of it and pretty soon topnotch performers were just showing up on Quinn's front lawn.

One minute it could be a dog parade, the next, a team of Irish step dancers. Everyone brought together by word of mouth and a will to help Quinn get better. Which his parents said, did start happening.

"It's the positive energy from all these people that we believe has gotten him through his sickness, you know.  You can never repay, you know, just maybe pay it forward," Jarlath said.

After this story first aired in August, things got even better for Quinn. By Halloween, doctors had released him from home confinement — and free to be a kid again, he rushed outdoors at warp speed. He also got to drop the puck at a Boston Bruins' game, feel the sand between his toes at the Massachusetts shore, and even watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade pass by.

To contact On the Road, or to send us a story idea, email us: OnTheRoad@cbsnews.com.