Sunshine Oelfke, 5, emptied out her piggy bank to pay for milk for a classmate who couldn't afford it. "Her mom doesn't have milk money and I do," the kindergartner explained to her grandmother.
After Sunshine's grandmother shared the story on social media, dozens of people offered to donate money to the cause. Now, every student in Sunshine's class will have the option to get free milk for the rest of the year.
Hope starts school
Last year, a Danish aid worker shared a photo of a starving young boy who was abandoned in a Nigerian village after he was accused of being a witch.
She called the boy "Hope."
A year later, she shared a new picture of herself with the now-healthy 3-year-old, writing: "This week Hope will start school." He now lives at an orphanage.
Strangers offer to help teen find kidney
Cirila Munyon’s 15-year-old daughter, Robin, is in desperate need of a kidney transplant. So she painted a plea on her car window.
A stranger posted a picture of it on Facebook in February 2017, and within a week, more than 170 people had offered to see if they might be a match.
An inspring teen
After suffering injuries in a car accident, Indiana teenager Jakeem Tyler went right back to work at an Indiana Chick-fil-A, telling a customer he did it because he wanted to donate money to feed the homeless for Christmas.
The customer launched a GoFundMe campaign and raised thousands of dollars to help Tyler fulfill his charitable goal.
Ben Carter, a 14-year-old with autism, will drink from only one brand and model of sippy cup. After Ben’s cup wore out, his father discovered the model was discontinued, and Ben was hospitalized for dehydration.
So he turned to Twitter for help. The company that made the cup, Tommee Tippee, caught wind of the plea and started producing the original design again, just so that Ben could stay hydrated.
“Ben ... won’t ever have to worry about finding another cup,” the company said in a statement.
An unlikely friendship
An 82-year-old widower mourning the death of his wife found new happiness when a 4-year-old girl randomly approached him in a supermarket and asked for a hug.
The girl, Norah Wood, was simply drawn to Dan Peterson, her mother said. Now Norah visits Peterson once a week. “This is the first time, for quite a while, that I’ve been this happy,” Peterson said.
A message of unity
Rosalynd Harris, a waitress in Washington, D.C., was surprised to receive a $450 tip from a table of three men following Inauguration Day.
A note on the check said: “We may come from different cultures and may disagree on certain issues but if everyone would share this smile and kindness like your beautiful smile our country will come together as one people. Not race. Not gender. Just American. God Bless.”
The Washington Post identified the generous tipper as 37-year-old Jason White, a Republican from Texas who was in town for the inauguration.
An anonymous donor gave people who couldn’t afford a Christmas tree a merry surprise: The chance to take one home after all.
The secret Santa paid for all of the trees on a lot at an elementary school in Ohio in December 2016, which were then made available to those in need. Proceeds from the school’s tree sales are used for the school and given to charity.
"That’s what grandma’s do”
An misplaced text message ended up bringing together two families for a Thanksgiving feast.
When Jamal Hinton got a mysterious text about Thanksgiving from someone claiming to be his grandmother, he asked for a picture of the sender. As he suspected, the photo wasn’t of Hinton’s actual grandma; the sender, Wanda Dench, had punched in a wrong number. But that didn’t stop her from inviting Hinton and his family for Thanksgiving anyway.
“That’s what grandmas do,” she replied. “Feed everyone.”
Boy packs extra lunch for schoolmate
The news is often full of death and destruction, but there are countless tales of hope, personal bravery and compassion worth telling too.
When Dylan Duran noticed a boy at his New Mexico school eating only a fruit cup for lunch, he asked his mom to start packing him two lunches. Dylan’s mom, Josette, eventually found out why, and shared his story on her Facebook page.
Once the schoolmate’s mom learned of Dylan’s kindness, she tried to pay Josette back, but she declined. When the volleyball team Josette coaches raised $400 to offset the food costs, she donated the funds to the school to pay off students’ past-due cafeteria accounts.
Secret donor pays lunch bills
An anonymous donor paid the outstanding lunch bills for all the children of a Pennsylvania elementary school in December 2016 after learning that some couldn’t afford to pay off their accounts.
The story of little Safyre Terry’s Christmas wish is another perfect example.
At the age of 8, Safyre has already experienced more physical and emotional pain than most people do in a lifetime. The sole survivor of an arson fire that killed her father and her three siblings, Safyre suffered burns on 75 percent of her body. And despite undergoing over 50 operations, she has lost both her right hand and left foot to those injuries...
A simple Christmas wish
After unimaginable tragedy turned her life upside down, Safyre Terry now lives with her aunt, Liz Dolder; and like most little girls, she loves Christmas. So, when Dolder brought home a tree-shaped Christmas card holder from a thrift store in December 2015, Safyre was thrilled. She told her aunt that she couldn’t wait to fill it. There was one small problem, though: Their family only receives around 10 cards a year, while the tree has enough slots to hold 100. Dolder knew there would never be enough to fulfill Safyre’s wish, so she took to social media for help...
A merry Christmas, indeed
The day after Dolder posted about her niece’s Christmas wish on Facebook, the family’s local post office was flooded with cards and parcels for Safyre. The brave little girl now has hundreds of cards from all over the world ... more than enough to both fill up her tree and brighten her Christmas.
A K-9 purple heart
In early December 2015, a German Shepherd, named Rocky, was injured during operations in Afghanistan, when an IED detonated in the compound he and his handler, Spc. Andrew Brown, were searching. The blast broke the working dog’s leg and lodged shrapnel in both soldiers’ bodies.
Brown and Rocky were flown together to Kandahar, where they both received Purple Hearts for their injuries and service. The 89th Military Police Brigade then posted this photo to Facebook with the caption, “Rocky and his handler are staying in the same room right now as they are receiving treatment for their injuries. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers as they recover during the holiday season.”
Recuperating with his partner
As one might imagine, the heartwarming photo of Rocky, recuperating in bed with a Purple Heart attached to his muzzle, quickly went viral. So, the 89th Military Police Brigade took to Facebook with a follow up: “SPC Brown and Rocky are both doing well... They are both very thankful for your thoughts and prayers and are in the process of heading back home.”
Spc. Brown and Rocky have been partners for two years. They trained together. They flew to the Middle East together. And they were wounded together. So, it’s only fitting that they recuperate and fly home together too.
In November 2015, for example, a 32-year-old lifelong Star Wars fan named Daniel Fleetwood took a turn for the worse in his battle with cancer. It seemed unlikely he would live long enough to see the franchise’s next installment, “The Force Awakens,” in theaters. So, his wife, Ashley, took to Facebook with a plea for help. Before she knew it, a social media campaign with the hashtag ForceForDaniel was born and quickly went viral, demonstrating that Facebook and Twitter aren’t always used for the dark side. Sometimes, they are very much utilized for the light.
“Force Awakens” stars Mark Hamill and John Boyega quickly jumped onboard, joining the thousands of people retweeting #ForceForDaniel on social media. Then, the Fleetwoods received a phone call from the film’s director, JJ Abrams, informing them that Daniel’s wish had been granted.
The man who had filled his closet with “Star Wars” apparel and camped out to be the first ticket holder at numerous “Star Wars” screenings, watched an unedited cut of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” in his living room on November 5, 2015, just over a month before the rest of the world.
Daniel Fleetwood died a week later, on November 10, 2015. His wife Ashley posted this picture to her Facebook with the following message:
“Daniel put up an amazing fight to the very end. He is now one with God and with the force... This was the last selfie we ever took together. #forcefordaniel”
So, while Daniel’s is undoubtedly a very tragic story, as Yoda might say: Fulfilled his dying wishes, he did. Rest in peace, he will.
Professor helps single mom
On September 21, 2015, a single mother enrolled in college classes at DeVry University couldn’t find a babysitter for her 2-year-old son, Xavier, when it was time to go to class. Embarrassed and out of options, Amanda Osbon had no choice but to bring him with her.
Then, midway through the lecture, Xavier wondered up to the front of the classroom and raised his little arms to the teacher, like he wanted to held. Faced with what could have been a very difficult situation, Professor Bunkowske didn’t miss a beat. He simply picked the child up and continued teaching; a show of compassion that brought Amanda and several of her classmates to tears.
Cancer patient marries nurse
Four-year-old “Amazing Abby” has Pre-B Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia and, as such, spends much of her life going in and out of hospitals. One nurse, however, always brightens her day. So, in July 2015, Abby shyly asked that nurse, Matt Hickling, to marry her.
Cancer patient marries nurse
Less than 24 hours later, the Melodies Center at New York’s Albany Med put together a “wedding” ceremony for their childhood cancer patient, Abby, and her favorite nurse, Matt.
She wore a white dress and black leggings. He wore a tuxedo t-shirt. And the two sealed their union by kissing matching ring pops.
Strangers paint old man's house
Pendleton, Oregon resident Josh Cyganik has waved to his 75-year-old neighbor Leonard Bullock on his way to work, every day for years. Then, one day, Cyganik overheard two teenage boys walking past Bullock’s house yell, “Look at this crappy house. They just need to burn it down!”
Bullock was sitting on his porch at the time, and Cyganik watched as the old man hung his head in shame. “I couldn’t believe what those kids had said,” Cyganik told CBS News. “It was Leonard, this elderly, old man, who never hurt anybody a day in his life -- sits there all day long.”
So, Cyganik took action.
Strangers paint old man's house
First, Cyganik called up a friend who owns a lumber and paint store to ask if he would donate materials to fix up a stranger’s house. Next, he posted a status on Facebook, asking for volunteer workers.
To his surprise, more than 6,000 people shared the post and dozens commented. The following week, Cyganik and over 95 strangers repainted Bullock’s house; and in doing so, gave the elderly man a home he can now be proud of.
Once-homeless man gets new smile
In August 2015, a Dallas area dentist, named Dr. Lee Fitzgerald, performed $50,000 worth of dental work on a once-homeless man, named Harvor Davis, for free.
During the initial surgery, all of Davis’ top teeth were removed and he was given six implants. In about three months, he will return for more work.
A free million-dollar smile
Immediately after the surgery, Davis ran to the bathroom to look in the mirror. He almost couldn’t believe his eyes, when the man staring back at him no longer had rotting or missing teeth.
“I jumped back and was like, ‘Who’s that? Who’s that guy staring back in the mirror?’” Davis said, with a chuckle. “I call it the ‘million-dollar smile.’”
Boy studying outside McDonalds
On June 23, 2015, a 20-year-old medical technology student named Joyce Gilos Torrefranco posted two photos to her Facebook page of a nine-year-old boy studying at a tiny desk on the street outside a McDonalds in the Philippines.
Her caption read, “I got inspired by a kid.” And as it turns out, she wasn’t the only one.
Homeless boy gets scholarship
After Torrefranca’s Facebook post went viral, local news stations identified the little boy as Daniel Cabrera and his full story came into focus. Daniel’s father is deceased. And he, his mother and his sibling have been homeless, since their house was destroyed by a fire; sleeping in the eatery where his mother works for 80 pesos a day.
All that changed, though, when Daniel’s pictures went viral. He received a scholarship offer, school supplies and enough financial assistance to put him through college. Charitable strangers even donated enough cash for his mom to start her own business.
Abused pit bull turns new leaf
Khalessi, a two-year-old pit bull who was abandoned on a Florida lawn in August 2015 with a broken jaw, broken back, fractured pelvis and a missing nasal cavity, was most likely used as a bait dog or severely abused over the course of her short life. As a result of that abuse, her snout was so badly damaged that her upper fangs hung out like an elephant’s tusks.
Despite the hand this pup’s been dealt, however, Stephanie Paquin -- Khalessi’s foster mom -- told CBS News that she’s “never seen a dog so willing to let go of everything she’s been through and trust anyone who comes up to her.”
Snoutless pit bull gets new nose
Thousands of people are now following Khalessi’s story, and she’s becoming known on social media as a dog with an unbelievable spirit. In fact, the small pup already has more than 25,000 Facebook followers and thousands of donations pouring into a foundation in her name.
“It’s been amazing,” says Lisa Otto, media relations manager at nonprofit Passion 4 Pits. “She has shown everyone that despite having a horrible start to life, there is still a chance for forgiveness, a chance for love.”
Perhaps that’s why people are so thrilled that this snoutless dog has finally gotten the nose she should never have lost in the first place...
Snoutless dog gets new nose
On August 27, 2015, Khalessi endured a long surgery in which her own facial tissue was elevated and brought to the front of her face, creating two new nasal passage openings.
Khalessi has at least half a dozen surgeries ahead of her. Next up: a surgery that will give her the ability to walk normally again. Until then, though, she’s going to rest easy.
Jewish woman gets PhD at 102
On June 9, 2015, Ingeborg Syllm-Rapoport finally received the German doctoral certificate she was denied 77 years earlier, when her thesis supervisor said he couldn't accept her doctorate work on diphtheria, due to Nazi race laws. Now, she has become Germany's oldest ever recipient of a doctorate at age 102.
"After almost 80 years, it was possible to restore some extent of justice," Burkhard Goeke, the medical director of the University of Hamburg's hospital, said in his speech. "We cannot undo injustices that have been committed, but our insights into the past shape our perspective for the future."
Disabled boy crosses finish line
Eight-year-old Bailey Matthews has cerebral palsy; but in July 2015, he didn’t let that stop him from competing in a triathlon.
The boy from Doncaster, England completed a 100-meter lake swim, a 4,000-meter bike ride and a 1,300-meter run. And when the finish line was near and he could hear the fans cheering, Bailey ditched the walker he had been running with and decided to run the last leg of the race on his own.
He fell several times, but always got up again; ultimately inspiring thousands of people across the globe with his miraculous completion of a seemingly impossible task.
Boy's lost tiger goes on adventure
In June 2015, while en route to a family vacation in Houston, 6-year-old Owen Lake misplaced his favorite stuffed animal -- a handmade tiger, named Hobbes -- in Tampa International Airport.
His mother called the airport the second their plane landed in Texas to report the “missing” tiger, and was assured that Hobbes was safe and sound at the airport’s lost and found. Owen, however, was still worried.
Boy's lost tiger goes on adventure
Amanda Lake assured her distraught son that his beloved tiger was on an adventure and would be back in his arms soon, but she had no idea just how true that statement was.
Unbeknownst to Owen and his family, the staff at Tampa International Airport took it upon themselves to literally take Hobbes on adventures all over the airport. In addition to being photographed outside by the air traffic control tower, the stuffed animal bought gelato, worked out at the employee gym, played Jenga, hung out with firefighters, napped in a hammock and rode a luggage cart.
Boy's lost tiger goes on adventure
And the kindness of the airport employees didn’t stop there. When Owen Lake and his family returned from their vacation five days later, Tampa International Airport not only reunited the 6-year-old boy with his beloved tiger, the airport staff gave him a hardbound book containing all of the photos of Hobbes’ adventures.