Despite their heroism, veterans of war don’t always retire comfortably. But for a select few, luck was just around the corner. While some were able to kickstart their careers with a hefty donation, others received a hero’s burial. For senior vet Ron Barwick, help was walking along the street — and donating a brand-new recliner.
“I posted something on Facebook, just to some family and friends at like 5 in the morning on Monday, and within an hour, 6:00 we had over a dozen people that had stood up and responded to the needs of a fellow man,” said Officer [Jordan] Gaiche.
In a speedy 36 hours, Gaiche had raised enough money to purchase Barwick a new motorized recliner. For the Vietnam warhorse, it was a treat, as back problems made beds a lingering nightmare.
“I think the real heroes are a man that served his country, a neighbor, I think that neighbor’s a hero. And 21 people that gave money I think they’re the heroes in this,” said Officer Gaiche.
Some may look more like heroes than others — but the job is totally up for grabs, no matter who you are.
In the midst of tragedy and political turmoil, we tend to forget that good samaritans exist everywhere. Whether they’re fixing a busted tooth for free or sheltering dozens from a storm, the goal is always kindness. Some do-gooders have next to nothing, and expect only a simple thanks for their selfless acts. When homeless Connecticut native Elmer Alvarez returned a $10,000 check to realtor Roberta Hoskie, he anticipated just that. However, the New Haven business owner refused to let the deed simply pass, rewarding Alvarez with a scholarship, job counseling, and housing.
“What I did, finding that check and returning it, I would do it all over again,” [Alvarez] said.
Hoskie admitted she felt deeply for Alvarez, having once been homeless herself. She also arranged for him to learn English as a second language. Seemingly too good to be true, the favors came only with a simple catch.
“When you get on your feet, you go ahead and you do it for the next person and the next person and the next person and the next person,” [Hoskie] said.
It’s random acts of kindness that start chain reactions. All we need to do is keep the ball rolling.
In the midst of tragedy, celebrities have been using their fame to give back to struggling communities. With big guns like José Andrés cooking up a storm for hurricane survivors, Hollywood stars have a lot to prove. However, one familiar face on top of his philanthropy game is Leonardo DiCaprio. After a stint saving African lions, Leo teamed up with on-screen flame Kate Winslet to save a cancer patient.
“I phoned Leo and I said, ‘Do you think we could do a charity dinner or something?’” Winslet [said]. “And he said… ‘Come with me to St. Tropez, to my big fundraiser for the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation,’ which is back in July, ‘and we will auction off a dinner with Jack and Rose.’”
The Titanic stars raised $1.35 million for patient Gemma Nuttall, who lacked $98,000 in funds for treatment. The new mom underwent chemotherapy just weeks after birthing her daughter. The film giants are also sending Nuttall to Germany for further specialist treatment.
“I just want to say thank you so much for all your hard work and [helping] me being able to have my treatment that I really did need,” Nuttall said… “You saved my life and I just want you to know that.”
If Leo and Kate can save the silver screen from a rise in awful B-movies, surely a life is no big deal.
It’s when we realize our privilege that giving back becomes instinctual. When you’re a good samaritan, kindness never ages. A child might raise funds for the local shelter or a grown woman might choose to change someone’s life. Sometimes, compassion is spontaneous. Take it from subway rider Maurice Anderson, who gifted the boots off his feet to a homeless senior suffering from frostbite.
“Maurice took the shoes off his feet in the middle of a Chicago cold snap,” [said witness Jessica Bell.]
“He didn’t draw a lot of attention to it,” she said. “It was so quiet and selfless.”
The heartwarming incident was fleeting, as Anderson noticed the man’s feet were visibly calloused and bleeding. Fortunately, Anderson appeared to be traveling, as he quickly changed into a backup pair of sneakers. Despite Bell’s retelling of the story going viral, Anderson has remained humble and without comment.
“I love that in a time and place where hate and apathy are rampant, quiet compassion appears without warning,” Bell wrote.
As much as we may not think so, kind and gentle souls are always upon us — even in the most unexpected places.
As the saying goes, a parent will do whatever they can for their children. If you’re anything like military mom LeAnn Boudwine, who sends care packages to soldiers, family goes beyond blood. Whatever the case, parenthood often demands sacrifice — or, for Jalandhar Nayak, moving mountains. To help his children cut down their 3-hour trip to school, the vegetable seller paved a 5-mile route by hand.
“My children found it hard to walk on the narrow and stony path while going to their school. I often saw them stumbling against the rocks and decided to carve a road through the mountain so that they can walk more easily,” he [said.]
Armed with only a chisel, hoe, and axe, the dedicated father spent two years picking away. Naturally, his actions became a subject of public interest, to which the local government responded by paying for his services. It will also construct the remaining 4 miles, which Nayak predicted would’ve taken another three years to carve through.
“Nayak’s effort and determination to cut mountains to build a road left me spellbound,” the local administrator, Brundha D, told reporters.
Truly, nothing compares to the love we receive from our parents.
In an age of pervading poverty, food titans do what they can to give back. In the absence of a refrigerator-mishap-gone-right, market chains usually distribute leftovers. But for a noble Texas couple, giving back is a full-time job. Joan Cheever and Dennis Quinn run The Chow Train, a food truck for the homeless.
“It started off as a family thing,” says Cheever, 60, a former journalist. “Then mothers of my friends’ kids started calling and saying, ‘Are you going to go out and serve people food? Can I send my kid over [to help]?’”
Since picking up in 2005, The Chow Train has served over 100,000 meals to needy customers. Recipes are spontaneous, depending on donations. While it can be worrisome, it makes for an exciting food adventure. The truck also caters to disaster sites, often with an extra serving of surprise goodies.
“Everyone who comes out on the Chow Train is a volunteer and they just feel wonderful afterwards,” [Cheever] says. “There are always going to be hungry people, and I think that we as a community need to do our part to help people.”
Paying it forward never ceases to put a smile on anyone’s face — and a satisfying lump in anyone’s stomach.
It isn’t every day an act of kindness makes a lasting impact. Thanks to a stranger, you might witness the birth of your child or reunite with a lost pet. Or if you’re 12-year-old refugee Mohammed Khaled, you’ll enjoy getting into shape. Gym owner Engin Dogan offered the shoeshiner a lifetime membership, in the hopes of inspiring others to pay it forward.
“A boy, looking through the gym window, wearing slippers in the middle of winter and carrying his backpack.
“Our aim was to find him and offer him a lifetime membership here. And, we did it.” [said Dogan.]
With over 3.3 million Syrian refugees taking shelter in Turkey, a simple favor goes a long way. Since going viral on social media, Khaled has finally begun training with his unexpected saviors.
“He found me and helped me,“ Khaled said.
“I had always dreamed of losing weight and now I believe I can do that by working out.”
Many Turkish establishments are famed for their ground-up histories. It’s no wonder their hardworking citizens look out for one another — even for those who are different.
I believe that people are inherently good. Strangers can volunteer to return a missing family pet across state. Entire communities can gather together to raise funds for a family in need. Regardless of who a person is, kindness is almost always in anyone’s nature. Latest to reflect this mantra is Griffins goalie Tom McCollum, who lent his pick-up to opponent Pierre-Cedric Labrie to catch the birth of his son.
“I’ve never actually met PC, but I played against him a bunch when he was in Rockford,” McCollum said… “He’s one of those … you can just tell he’s an honest hockey player.
At the time, Labrie’s only option was to fly and miss the birth, until the sympathetic McCollum stepped in. In lieu of a chauffeur, Labrie then braved the Milwaukee snowstorm in the borrowed truck.
“He offered to pay me for (using the truck),” McCollum said. “I just asked him to fill it up with gas, and he was nice enough he washed it for me before he gave it back. That’s all I need honestly.”
In just under six hours, Labrie and his wife welcomed baby Lionel. Hockey may be tough, but there’s always a little room for bromance.
When soldiers become veterans, heroism often wanes. However, a few special groups, such as Semper K9 Assistance Dogs, are giving back to deserving warriors. Yearning to thank his WWII rescuers, Holocaust survivor Bernard Darty is donating $1 million to American veterans.
“It’s one of the biggest donations we’ve ever gotten and will be hugely impactful,” said Michael Linnington, chief executive officer of the Wounded Warrior Project. “He feels an enormous sense of gratitude for our service members.”
Darty was 10-years-old when he went into hiding in Savigny-sur-Orge. Moved by American troops participating in rescue missions for hurricane victims, Darty felt it was his duty to make the pledge.
“First, Americans saved us, and then 50 years later they welcomed us,” he said.
While the current state of the U.S. is turbulent, Darty wants only to highlight its true heroes. In this day and age, they could use a break.
It isn’t everyday that people pay it forward to strangers. But in times of desperate need, you can count on dentists to work free and hoarders to donate supplies. You can meet a good samaritan anywhere, just as Kate McClure met Johnny Bobbitt Jr. The homeless veteran spent his last $20 on a gas refill after McClure’s car broke down on Interstate 95. To repay him, McClure raised over $227,000 in just under two weeks.
“I wish that I could do more for this selfless man, who went out of his way just to help me that day,” [McClure] wrote on the fundraising page.
With Philadelphia nearing the winter season, McClure made several trips down to the interstate to bring Bobbitt supplies. Determined to get the 34-year-old veteran back on his feed, she started a GoFundMe page, to which over 7,600 people have already contributed.
“[I] truly believe that all Johnny needs is one little break. Hopefully with your help I can be the one to give it to him.”
With more than $110,000 donated on Thanksgiving alone, the holidays couldn’t be more festive.