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Secret Santa Surprises Fast-food Workers with $100 Bills

Secret Santa visits Fast Food restaurants

Santa is already busy in Hyannis

It’s the time of year when we begin to hear stories of strangers performing random acts of kindness and this year, the town of Hyannis, Massachusetts is the beneficiary. A stranger who bears more than a passing resemblance to Santa Claus has been visiting local fast food restaurants and making gifts of crisp $100.00 bills to the employees.


Among the establishments that have received the surprise visits so far are MaryLou’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, Burger King and McDonald’s. Envelopes bearing the message, “Merry Christmas” were passed out to all the employees.


According to Karen Sanguedolce who manages the Dunkin’ Donuts, the man asked how many employees worked there and then counted out 19 envelopes and turned them over to her to distribute, saying he hoped she had a nice holiday. The experience left her pleasantly shocked.


One recipient at Dunkin’ Donuts is inspired by the gesture. Patrick Nee wants to do something similar when he is older and has the money to be able to do so.


Though this Santa-wannabe has left the fast food workers of Hyannis stunned, it isn’t the first time this has happened in the town. Clorissa DeCosta who works at Burger King said last year the envelopes contained $50.00. She said every employee working at the time of his visit gets an envelope.


No one knows the identity of the secret Santa and that is just how this generous stranger wants it to stay. The reasons why he does it are curious but unimportant. Aside from the monetary gift, he is giving the gift of the spirit of Christmas and that is priceless.

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Pearl Harbor Survivors Reunite, Promise It Won’t Be Last Time

Survivors meet for 73rd anniversary of Peral Harbor attack

Scene at Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941. Photo by Wikipedia

A bittersweet anniversary took place as fur of the remaining nine survivors of the USS Arizona were reunited for the anniversary of one of America’s darkest days. The men promised it would not be the last time they are together.

In advance of the anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor that sank their ship, the men, members of the USS Arizona Reunion Association, gathered on Tuesday, Dec. 2 for what was the last official survivor gathering of the group. At a news conference that took place in a building which overlooks the Arizona memorial, the me – all over the age of 90 – vowed it wouldn’t be their last meeting, even if they have to meet somewhere other than Hawaii.

Louis Conter, 93, of Grass Valley California declared that the group still has time to go and will be back out here even if no one else can make it.

Donald Stratton, 92, survived having more than 65% of his body burned after the forward part of the ship where he was stationed was hit. His injuries kept him hospitalized for more than a year. The Navy gave him a medical discharge but he reenlisted a year later. He credits the Lord for saving the few that survived.

December 7 marked the 73rd anniversary of the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor by the forces of Japan. Over 2,400 sailors, Marines and soldiers lost their lives. The four survivors toasted shipmates with replicas of wine glasses from their ship and with a bottle of sparkling wine given to the group from President Gerald Ford.

As they arrived for the conference, the men were saluted and treated to music from the U.S. Navy Pacific Fleet Band. They posed for pictures with tourists and reminisced about what happened that day so many years ago.

John Anderson, 97, of Roswell, New Mexico was on his way to breakfast after just having attended church services. Someone told him they’d seen planes heading in and he grew teary-eyed as he spoke about the twin brother he lost that day.

The men watched a live feed of a dive that entered the Arizona. Inside, more than 900 bodies out of the 1,177 who died on the ship still remain interred. Ashes of 38 survivors are also interred there.

Daniel Martinez, a National Park Service historian moderated Tuesday’s discussion. He was overcome with emotion when he shared that Lauren Bruner, 94, of Mirada, Calif. had signed papers indicating his desire to be interred at the Arizona. Conter is making those same arrangements for himself. It is his belief that people will continue to visit the memorial site of the USS Arizona and he and his shipmates will be glad for the company.

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One Random Act of Kindness Is the Day’s Lesson for Some College Students

College students learn the lesson of giving

Pizza man gets huge tip from college kids. Photo By Huffington Post

At Indiana Wesleyan University, CEO of Residential Education, Keith Newman, found a way to teach the lesson of giving to his students and faculty during a recent chapel service. The lesson, “do for one what you wish you could do for everyone” was demonstrated this past Wednesday with the pizza delivery man from Domino’s Pizza.

After ordering a couple of pizzas to be delivered to the university chapel, Newman passed around the basket to collect donations for the delivery man’s tip. He also asked everyone present to write a note of thanks to the unknown man. The bill for the pizzas was just $12.50. The amount collected for the tip was substantially more.

James Gilpin probably thought this was just another day at work. There is now way he could have known when he was brought to the stage in the chapel what was about to happen. He was given a piece of cake, a bag containing the thousands of notes and a tip of more than $1,200.00.

Jim Lo a faculty member who helped organize the event and was present for the generous tip-giving, described Gilpin’s face. Gilpin listened as what was being given to him was announced. His face was completely blank for a few moments. But as he left the stage with his tip, that smile was “wonderful to behold”, according to Lo.

Gilpin later he said he was completely overwhelmed by the act. He was not alone. Students who were there cheered, clapped and cried all at the same time. They later said they had definitely learned a lesson about the impact participating in such an act of random kindness can have – not only on the recipient but on the giver.

Gilpin plans to use the money to buy Christmas gifts for his kids this year. Looks like gift will influence others, too.

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Man Plans To Have Coffee With Each Of His 1,000 Facebook Friends

Man meets for coffee with each of his 1000 Facebook frinds.

Photo Matt Kulesza (L) with friend Joshua Poly-Goldschläger.

In this day and age, we are more apt to strike up a conversation with someone we don’t know personally through social media than we are with the person sitting next to us on the bus or the subway. Australian student Matt Kulesza Wants to rekindle good old fashioned face time with real, live human being. So he is taking the next 3 years to meet and have coffee with each and every one of his 1,000 friends on Facebook.

He calls his goal the “1000+ Coffees” project. He started in September and sees the endeavor as an opportunity to leave the “book” behind while reminding himself to socialize and get to know people ‘IRL’ or in real life.

As of this past Thursday, Kulesza had already met and had coffee with 26 of his “friends.” He is chronicling his meetings on both his Facebook page and on his Tumblr account. He uses photos and summaries of their conversations as well as descriptions of what they were drinking to capture each meeting.

He plans to meet with 5 people each week for the next 3years until he has met all 1,000. He doesn’t see this as a chore but rather as fun. He says he likes having coffee with people.

Each meeting provides insight into his friend. They discuss more than just coffee. Kulesza says no topic is off limits. Politics, pop culture and even tarot cards have been discussed with equal enthusiasm.

Kulesza says it amazes him how at school, everyone sits waiting for the lecturer to arrive and stared mindlessly into their phones. No one speaks to the people around them anymore. His “1000 Coffees” project should serve as a wakeup call to the rest of us that life is about the human touch and the connections we make IRL.

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‘Breaking Bad’ star Bryan Cranston Grants Wish of Terminally Ill Teen

Actor meets termianlly ill superfan

Bryan Cranston grants wish of terminally ill fan. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

A young man battling cancer was granted a wish from his bucket list and that wish was to meet Bryan Cranston, star of “Breaking Bad.” Brad Joyner, 19, has a form of brain cancer known as glioblastoma. Though the survival rate for this type of cancer isn’t great, the Mebane, North Carolina teen hasn’t lost hope.

He recently said he knows the survival rate is low for his type of cancer but he has strong faith and is determined to live. Together with his mom, Aimee Pettigrew, he made a “living list” of things he wants to do in his lifetime.

One of those things was meeting Bryan Cranston. Joyner realized that wish last weekend when he spent 30 minutes on a Skype video chat with the star of “Breaking Bad.”

To top off the once-in-a-lifetime experience, Cranston ordered an ice cream truck in his name to visit Joyner’s neighborhood. Everyone got to indulge in the treats Cranston sent, according to Pettigrew’s Facebook page.

The meeting was a dream come true. Joyner said Cranston was awesome. He asked the actor if he had a living list. Joyner learned that Cranston is an adventure seeker who shares his joy of living.

The teen had been trying to finagle a meeting with actor for some time. Using social media and an ad campaign that included the catch phrase #BreakingBad designed to hopefully capture Cranston’s attention; Joyner got people to post pictures of themselves holding up signs of the hashtag. It definitely generated a buzz.

The online community took hold of the campaign and ran with it. Through friends of friends, the meeting was arranged by Pettigrew> when the meeting was set, she broke the news to her son.

Joyner has scratched off a couple of other items from the list including swimming with sharks and driving a 1967 Mustang. Neither compares with meeting Cranston.

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First 3-D Printer Vertebra Used to Treat 12-Year-Old Cancer Patient

First 3-D printed vertebra treats cancer patient

12-year-old boy in China receives 1st 3-D printed vertebra. Photo courtesy YouTube Screen Capture

The wonders of the 3-D printer are just beginning to populate the common consciousness and for one 12-year-old boy, the fantastical invention is changing his life.

Minghao of China learned about two months ago that he had Ewing’s sarcoma, a type of bone cancer usually discovered in children. There was a tumor lodged on the second vertebra of his spine. The usual treatment for this is bine replacement using a titanium tube. Minghao’s doctors decided to try something different.

Using the research and technology developed by the 3-D printer, the doctors at Beijing’s Peking University Third Hospital fabricated an exact replica of Minghao’s vertebra. When it is implanted surgically, they will be able to forego the usual surgical screws or cement. This will allow the boy to recover more quickly. Better still is the fact that the procedure will leave him with a greater range of motion in his neck that the previously used type of procedure would have. This is accomplished because the piece of replacement bone is made from titanium powder and has tiny pores throughout its design that will allow the child’s future bone growth to bond with it.

Minghao underwent the 5-hour procedure in August. It makes him the first recipient of a vertebra created by a 3-D printer.

Others have been helped by the ever-expanding technology surrounding 3-D printers. An Ohio baby’s life was saved in 2013 when it received an airway printed on the device. The implant corrected a birth defect that caused the infant’s airway to collapse several times, cutting off his supply of oxygen and on occasion, stopping his heart.

Minghao is expected to make a full and speedy recovery, thanks to the new vertebra and the out-of-the-box thinking by his doctors.

Posted in Science & Technology0 Comments

9/11 Victim Who Lost Dad Helps Newtown Victims Heal

9/11 loss spurs one woman to help Newtown residents

Sept. 11 motivates woman to help others in Newtown

Amanda Gregory, like so many others, is touched and reminded of the events of 9/11. That is the day she lost her father. The school shooting at the Newtown Sandy Hook Elementary School stirred her feelings of grief like nothing since that fateful day 13 years ago.

Gregory, 32, who lives just 40 minutes away from Newtown has found some measure of comfort by volunteering through the nonprofit organization, Tuesday’s Child. The organization, like a handful of others, works with those left devastated by 9/11 as well as the families affected by the school shooting that claimed 26 innocent lives.

Losing her father in such a tragic and unexpected way left her dealing with grief and other emotions. While much of the time that followed that experience was a blur, Gregory knew she wanted to be a vessel for healing. When she watched with horror the events unfolding in Connecticut, her desire to help was bolstered even more.

She recalls that she broke down because she understood what the friends and families of the victims were feeling. Her heart was breaking for the families touched so horrifically by this act of human violence. Her purpose was to let them know there are others who understand what they are going through and that even though healing takes time, there is hope.

Today Gregory is a junior board member with Tuesdays’ Child. Her work with the organization is helping raise funds for the Resiliency Center of Newtown, an organization launched last year with the assistance of Tuesday’s Child. It aims to help the community deal with the unspeakable tragedy that rocked its very foundation.

Stephanie Cinque is the founder and executive director of Resiliency Center of Newtown. She lives in the community and decided they could use the help Tuesday’s Child in setting up a similar resource. Though the tragic events these two towns experienced are very different, they do share similarities.

Cinque, a certified social worker, has overseen the operation and watched as it has helped 700-800 people in the community through art, play and music therapy. It offers support groups and socialization through sporting and other events.

The workshop Creative Insight has had the most impact. Run by two women who lost loved ones on Sept. 11, it helps strengthen the bonds between those who’ve suffered an immeasurable loss like the people of Newton have.

The center is helping the community heal because it is a safe place for those who have been shattered by the violence of others. The shared experience helps people hold on and learn to trust again.

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Sacramento Man Lost for 5 Days in Woods; Rescued by Spelling ‘Help’ with Pine Needles

Man attracts rescue worker attenion by speklling HELP with pine needles

Mike Vilhauer lost in wilderness, rescued by spelling HELP with pine needles. Photo courtesy YouTube Screen Capture

A man from West Sacramento, California went fishing in the wilderness and got lost. He spent a terrifying and grueling days alone wondering if he would make it alive and ever see his wife again.

Mike Vilhauer went fishing on Aug. 6. Since his luck was running low, he decided to try changing the bait he was using and set out to catch some grasshoppers. He had no GPS instrumentation and only had a topographical map to work with. Ultimately he discovered he was lost in the wilderness.

The 58-year-old man could not reach police or anyone else by cell phone as the signal was too weak. Though he repeatedly tried to find his way back, all of his attempts were unsuccessful. He resorted to drinking water from puddles and a few streambeds he stumbled upon. Willow branches and pine needles were used to build a makeshift shelter to help him stay warm.

Five days into his ordeal, Mike’s certainty that he would survive was beginning to wane. Unwilling to give up, he kept doing his best to stay alive. He could hear the search helicopters in the area. Using pine needles, he quickly cobbled together an 8-foot tall message that read “HELP” on the ground.

When Vilhauer appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America, he thanked the rescue workers for all their efforts. He talked about how he began to lose hope toward the end and even wrote his wife a goodbye note on a piece of driftwood.
In spite of the difficulties he faced, Vilhauer says he would return to the area in the future. This time, he joked, he would bring a marching band. Perhaps so the rescue workers could hear him if he got lost again.

Posted in Environment0 Comments

97-Year-Old Grandmother Drives a Big Rig to Cross Off Bucket List Item

97 year old woman crosses goal off bucket list

97-year-old grandmother drives big rig. Photo from YouTube Screen Capture

Many people have dreams they never realize. One woman, a 97-year-old great-grandmother from New Jersey, has a bucket list of goals she still wants to complete. This past week, she notched one of those goals off her list when she drove a semi-truck, a dream she’s had for most of her life.

Vera Abruzzi has wanted to drive one of the big rigs for about 80 years. Last Wednesday, with the help of her grandson, Gary Kadi, she saw that dream come true.

Kadi arranged for his beloved grandmother to take semi-truck driving lessons with Winsor’s Tractor Trailer Driving School. The instructor spent the day with her as Abruzzi learned to drive the 70-foot long rig. At the end of the day, she got to drive it around in a Linden, New Jersey parking lot.

Prior to her big day behind the wheel, the grandmother of 4 said she was looking forward to the experience probably as much as she’d looked forward to anything in all her 97 years. She explained that the 18-wheelers have always intrigued her and she’s longed to experience driving one firsthand.

Her instructor said she did just fine and handled the truck’s gear system well up to 20 mph. The great-grandmother of 7 told a WABV-TV reporter after the momentous drive that given the opportunity to take the rig on the highway, she would have gone 90 mph. She said she isn’t afraid of trying anything.

So what’s next for Abruzzi? She said she’d love to fly an airplane. Kadi said whatever she wants to do, the family is on it.


Posted in Health0 Comments

Fallen Marine’s Tribute Flag Found at Flea Market, Returned to his Mom

Fallen Marine’s Tribute Flag Found at Flea Market, Returned to his Mom

Marine's tribute flag

Fallen Marine’s tribute flag found at flea market and returned to his mom. Photo courtesy YouTube (Screen capture)

The mother of a fallen Marine received an unexpected gift from two strangers. They returned her son’s tribute flag almost ten years after his death.
Patsy Maciel of Houston, Texas, got a strange message on Facebook from a couple she didn’t know. They claimed they had something of her son’s and wanted to return it to her. It was the flag, inscribed with handwritten messages for her son, Fred, expressing remembrance and gratefulness. Patsy was stunned.
Fred had died in 2005 along with 30 other of his fellow soldiers when a helicopter crashed near Fallujah, Iraq. Patsy had been shipped Fred’s personal affects including his dress blue uniforms, combat boots and some souvenir spoons he had been collecting. She’d never heard of or seen a tribute flag.
Lanie and Walter Brown were out doing a little shopping at a flea market in Hemphill, Texas, roughly 170 miles from where Patsy lived. Tucked away in a vendor’s corner was the flag. Though they had no idea who Fred Maciel was, they realized the flag was a special find. Lanie knew that it was a flag meant for a fallen Marine and she just couldn’t leave it there. They scooped it up for $5, a deal because the flag had writing on it, they were told.
Once home, the couple started searching for the family of the fallen soldier. They felt compelled to act because they had an appreciation for what it stood for. Walter had himself been a Marine and the couple’s son and son-in-law are both currently Marines.
Lanie said as a Marine mom or dad, you feel a bond with all the other Marine parents out there. She understood what Fred’s mom must be feeling.
The couple connected with Patsy and the three have planned to meet this Saturday at Fred’s grave site. There, the Brown’s will return the tribute flag to Fred’s mom. Maciel is looking forward to reading the messages left for her son, who was just 20 when he was killed. She expressed deep gratitude at the gift the Browns are giving her. She described it as getting a small piece of her son back.

Posted in Charity0 Comments

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