Happy Friday, everyone! Hope you all are reading this while relaxing on a beach somewhere warm, with a pina colada in your hands. If not, well, we can always dream.
Continuing my end-of-the-year theme in posting the Best Good News Friday items I’ve highlighted the past 12 months, have three more from earlier this year that I just absolutely love, and am thrilled to share again.
First up, this one was from March: I’ve written about this disgusting practice of “lunch-shaming,” before, where students whose parents have unpaid debt to the school are refused lunch in the school cafeteria or have their food thrown away when given to them.
Slowly, more and more schools are stopping this practice, and here’s a unique one: A charity run in the name of the late Philando Castile has erased the debt of every student in 56 Minneapolis-area schools, including the school Castile had worked at.
Castile, you may remember, was killed by police in 2016 at a traffic stop, and as has been the case in so many of these police killings, the officer was acquitted.
But Castile, who worked as a cafeteria supervisor for J.J. Hill Montessori Magnet School in Saint Paul, often reached into his own pocket to help kids pay for school lunch, so the charity felt this would be a wonderful way to pay tribute to him.
The charity, called Philando Feeds The Children, gave a check for a little more than $35,000 to the St. Paul School District, making sure every child can eat lunch without a stigma.
“Philando is STILL reaching into his pocket, and helping a kid out. One by one,” the charity announced on the YouCaring.com fund-raising site this week.
Very, very well done.
**Next up, from May, this is one incredible story, once again from my man Steve Hartman of CBS News. A bar owner in Wrightsville Beach, N.C. (a town I used to live about two miles from, a really beautiful place) learned that a customer, a total stranger, had lost her wallet and wedding ring in his establishment one night last month.
What Jimmy Gilleece did next completely changed the lives of two people. Remarkable stuff considering how far he went to not only get the ring and wallet back, but to reach out to the troubled soul who took it.
Jimmy, if I’m ever in Wrighstville Beach again (shout out to Caroline’s bar there, where I used to do really bad but enthusiastic karaoke of Prince, Bruce Springsteen and others!), I’m buying everyone in your establishment a drink. And you too.
Finally today, this is my favorite person I “met” all year. I love this kid so much.
Meet Austin Perine of Birmingham, Ala., a 4-year-old boy turned superhero who has an amazing power: He feeds homeless people. Once a week, he and his Dad drive around the city and, using money from Austin’s allowance, give chicken sandwiches to hungry folks.
Asked by Steve Hartman of CBS News why he does it, he replies: “You know what Mr. Steve? It’s just the right thing to do,” Austin says with a smile.
Followed by his slogan he uses after feeding a homeless person, dressed in his “President Austin” garb.
“Don’t forget to show love!” he says.
I mean, come on! Is he not the cutest thing ever??? You’ll be happy to know that since this piece first aired in May, Burger King has offered to give Austin all the chicken sandwiches he needs to keep feeding strangers, and a GoFundMe page set up for Austin has raised $54,000..
Austin and his Dad T.J. plan to use the money raised to open a rehab facility to help re-integrate struggling homeless people back into society.
“Feeding the homeless is the highlight of my life!” Austin exclaims in the update video.
Watching this kid… man, how can you not be hopeful about the future of America?
UPDATE: According to this story from a Birmingham site published last week, in addition to Perine’s accolades (he was recently named to a CNN “Most Influential People of 2018” list), he has raised $87, 254 toward conquering homelessness in 2018. The latest numbers show that he is less than $750 away from his goal of $88,000.
According to Austin’s father, the GoFundMe fundraiser will do the following:
“Austin’s show love project is a nonprofit movement that will involve traveling and fighting hunger and establishing a facility that will help with food, toiletries, drug rehabilitation and shelter integration. The nonprofit organization is called the Show Love foundation.”
Visit the Show Love Fight Hunger GoFundMe page – HERE.