The Friday 5: Your Uplifting Stories of the Week

Sometimes the news can be, well, not so inspiring. When headlines get you down, it’s important to remember that positive things are still happening all around us. Here are five hopeful and encouraging stories to pay attention to this week:

Merry Christmas to all the Single Ladies and Men

The Seawright family has had a tradition of quirky, creative, and outside-the-box Christmas cards going back generations. This year, they let their youngest (and most single) of their three daughters, Emily, pick the card format, and the photo proceeded to go viral. In the photo, Emily’s parents, sisters, and spouses are holding signs that say, “Excited,” “Engaged,” “Expecting,” and Emily is holding a sign that says “Emily.” It’s the most relatable Christmas card you’ve ever seen. Read more.

Santa Goes to Toys R Us

A generous Toys R Us shopper in New Jersey, identified only as “Charlie K,” surprised 62 shoppers last Friday by paying off all the layaway orders at the store–a total of more than $10,000. He then spent an additional $2,000 on toys to donate to Toys for Tots, all on a whim while Christmas shopping for his own son. He wanted to “fulfill some Christmas wishes for people,” the Mystery Santa said. Read more.

$20 Becomes almost $400K for a Good Samaritan

Ex-marine, firefighter, and paramedic Johnny Bobbit Jr. has been homeless for a year and a half after falling into a rough patch. When Kate McClure ran out of gas on I-95 a month ago, Bobbit spotted her, told her to return to her car and lock her doors. He proceeded to walk to the nearest gas station and buy her gas with his last $20, asking nothing in return. Determined to repay him for his extreme kindness, McClure and her boyfriend started a GoFund Me campaign for the Good Samaritan. They’ve raised more than $393K–and counting–to help get him off the street and back on his feet. Read more

Sensory Santa

Having grown up with autism, Kerry Magro knows well the challenges of a visit to your neighborhood Mall Santa. What should be a joyful moment in the holiday season can become terrifying and overwhelming for a child with sensory issues. With this in mind, Magro began offering Santa visits specifically tailored to children with sensory issues, complete with low lights, calming music, and therapists dressed as elves. The program is now three years old, and three years strong. Magro explained, “We don’t want them [the kids] to feel rushed, we don’t want them to feel overloaded. We just want to make it a labor of love.” Read more

Donor Closet

A new store is opening in Spokane, Washington that sells discounted medical mobility assistance equipment, like hospital beds and wheelchairs, to those in need. “Donor Closet,” which was started by multiple sclerosis patients and run by volunteers, serves as a sort of exchange where people can donate used equipment, which is often extremely expensive when new. The equipment is refurbished and sold at a reduced cost to those living with mobility issues. Even the site of the store was chosen to be accessible and disability-friendly. “I think it’s great,” Tom McNeill, a co-founder, said. “People can come in and get what they need.” Read more