Good News Friday: A Pakistani book store owner gives back, in death. Five women in America making wonderful gestures, large and small. And a man who opens his heart and restaurant to homeless on Thanksgiving.

Hope you all enjoyed your turkey and stuffing  and sweet potatoes and gravy and whatever else you ate yesterday; we had a feast at my mother and stepfather’s house on Long Island that I’m still full from (Thanksgiving is definitely the day the Maalox and Tums companies enjoy the most, I’m thinking).

It’s my favorite day of the year, every year, and this year was no different. I am so grateful for so many things in my life: My beautiful, smart, caring and funny wife, my incredible son, my parents, step-parents and in-laws, my wonderful friends, and of course, for my health.

Three good news items to hopefully keep you inside reading and not out on the streets or stores shopping on this insane, ludicrous day we call “Black Friday.” (Plus, I have to, as always around Thanksgiving, share a scene from one of my favorite movies of all-time, that takes place on Thanksgiving (above), “Planes, Trains and Automobiles.” The slow burn on Steve Martin’s face in this scene kills me every time).

First up, it’s rare to find good news stories in the Middle East these days, but this was in the N.Y. Times this week and I thought it was great.

A bookstore owner in Pakistan named Saeed Jan Qureshi died in September; he’d built one of the largest bookstores in the world, Saeed Book Bank, in Islamabad.
When news got out of his death, five men came to the store and paid their respects to Saeed’s son, Ahmad.
But they also wanted something else: To pay for books they had stolen from the store many years earlier, when they had no money but wanted to read.

Bt Ahmad laughed, and told them his father had always regarded book theft by children as an investment in a future where people still read, and thus become his customers.

This is a really sweet profile of a beacon of knowledge and hope in Pakistan; the end of the story is perfect.

**Next up, there are happily a ton of stories of restaurants and churches opening their arms to the community on Thanksgiving, to feed the homeless and downtrodden and lonely.

So I could’ve picked out any of them to highlight today. But I chose the story of George Dimopoulos, owner of George’s Senate Coney Island in Northville, Mich., just for his simple message and gratidude.

George has been advertising for the past 10 years that he’ll feed any lonely souls on Thanksgiving, people who don’t have anywhere else to go, or couldn’t afford to travel to see family,

“I was young, didn’t have much food and someone gave it to me once and I was appreciative of it and I remember those people,” Dimopoulos tells WXYZ TV station. Offering a free meal on the holiday is his way of paying it forward.

The restaurant is open 6:30 a.m. – 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day and diners can came for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Dimopoulos isn’t too concerned about losing money, and he just wants people to be happy.

“Maybe I don’t make money but I feel happy to do that. I do this every year and I will keep doing this as long as I live,” Dimopoulos says.

What a great man. I wish more restaurants would do this on days other than Thanksgiving, since there are so many hungry souls out there.


**And finally today, tales of women doing amazing things. There’s never a bad time to highlight some of these incredible efforts, like Melaney Smith of Georgia, who  launched Books for Keeps to make sure that kids have access to books at home, especially during the summer months when they’re out of school.

Her organization has been giving out around 45,000 books every year to kids in need, which means summer recess has become a lot more fun (and educational!) than it used to be for many.

Or how about Miss Schniell Leake of Maryland, who, understanding the importance of kids having confidence and feeling loved, decided to launch Extra-Ordinary Birthdays to throw individualized birthday parties for homeless kids that most likely wouldn’t get to have them otherwise. In the past two years, she’s thrown over 200 birthday parties and has partnered with six shelters in Maryland and D.C.

Read these mini-profiles from to learn about Melaney and so many others, doing wonderful things for people young and old.

Don’t ever let anyone ever tell you there are more bad people than good people out there. They’re wrong. You just have to know where to look.


One response to “Good News Friday: A Pakistani book store owner gives back, in death. Five women in America making wonderful gestures, large and small. And a man who opens his heart and restaurant to homeless on Thanksgiving.

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