As we turn off the news and step away from the TV more, now's the time to rest in Father God. Here are a few great stories that uplift and inspire us. Keep shining your light and doing things that add value.
Story shared via ABC News: Eric Erdman is all about helping others, especially children. The 20-year-old Pennsylvania native founded the Give a Child a Voice foundation in 2016 shortly after being diagnosed with anaplastic ependymoma, a rare form of brain cancer. His foundation is not only dedicated to ending life-threatening childhood illnesses but also works to combat child abuse and bullying, two things Erdman experienced firsthand.
“When I got diagnosed with cancer, I didn’t want to focus on the bad times,” he told "GMA." “I wanted to go the route of being happy and joyful, and inspire people.” Erdman first shared his story with "GMA" in September 2019 and it was around that time that medical experts told him he had approximately five months to live. Putting no time to waste, he has spent the last several months continuing to grow Give a Child a Voice and empower youth. In his most recent philanthropic effort, he launched the Give a Child a Voice Fitness Center Giveaway, offering a school in need a brand-new fitness facility.
The contest drew the attention of hundreds of schools all over the world. “We had so many amazing submissions from schools,” he said. “We even had one from Australia, which was mind-blowing ... I couldn’t believe the amount of people that were in need.” After reviewing the submissions, the foundation was announced on Feb. 20 that Life School Oak Cliff in Dallas would be the recipient of the new fitness facility.
A recent shooting in the community and a student’s death by suicide stood out as reasons why Erdman thought the school would benefit from a fitness center. “I’m so happy that they are the winners,” he said. Erdman was unable to be at the announcement because of medical appointments, but he visited Life School Oak Cliff in January of this year, where he was welcomed with open arms by the students and faculty.
Story shared via ABC News: WEST WARWICK, R.I. -- A doorbell camera captured a 2-year-old hugging a pizza delivery man -- and later, the boy's mom found out his simple act of kindness was a "blessing" for the stranger, whose daughter recently passed away. Lindsey Sheely said she ordered a pizza to her Rhode Island home Saturday night. After the delivery driver, Ryan Catterson, said his goodbyes, her young son Cohen chased after him and gave him a hug.
"Enjoy your pizza!" Catterson is heard saying in the video, and the 2-year-old blows kisses as Catterson walks back to his car. Sheely shared the sweet moment on Facebook to give others a laugh and "warm your hearts." Somehow, the video made its way to Catterson, and that's how Sheely found out his 16-year-old daughter died suddenly last week. She called little Cohen's hug a "blessing from God."
"I believe in divine appointments and know that Ryan was the one to deliver our pizza for a reason," she posted to Facebook. Catterson told WLNE-TV the road ahead will be tough, as he'll never be able to hug his daughter again. "After losing my daughter this past week, it touched me because it was like she was there," he said. "It really just meant a lot to me." Sheely's post also included a link to a GoFundMe page created to cover the 16-year-old's funeral expenses.
Story shared via GMA: Valentine's Day is the perfect time to do good deeds all in the name of love, and a group of Washington, D.C.-based children did just that for homebound seniors. Leading up to Feb. 14, the Department of Aging and Community Living partnered with more than 25 District of Columbia Public Schools and Public Charter Schools to deliver charming handmade cards to elder residents who may have limited mobility.
More than 1,700 personal notes have been delivered in addition to warm hugs and smiles from students. Students from Charles Hart Middle School surprised the seniors at Colony House, a senior home in Washington, D.C., with personalized valentines on Feb. 13, 2019. This is the fourth year the Cupid's Kids Campaign has had students volunteer to dedicate their time in this way.
DC Department of Aging and Community Living Director Laura Newland told "Good Morning America" that "Mayor Muriel Bowser is laser-focused on combating senior isolation in the District. It's something she's been passionate about since the start of her administration." She continued: "Programs like Cupids Kids are helping us bring our younger generations into this conversation and teaching them about how they can be a part of the solution. We're proud to provide an introduction that will hopefully create lasting and impactful connections."
Students from Charles Hart Middle School surprised the seniors at Colony House, a senior home in Washington, D.C., with personalized valentines on Feb. 13, 2019. On Thursday, Newland and students from Charles Hart Middle School surprised seniors from Colony House, a senior home in northwest Washington, D.C., with personalized Valentine's. Kaevon Jefferson, 11, from Ida B. Wells Middle School, created a card that read "Roses are red, violets are blue. I have a big heart -- I hope you do too." Another participating student, Pedro Figuero's card says "Happy Valentine’s Day. I hope this card can make you happy. I thought about my Grandma when I made this card."
Students from Charles Hart Middle School surprised the seniors at Colony House, a senior home in Washington, D.C., with personalized valentines on Feb. 13, 2019. The students's efforts haven't gone unnoticed. "I just think it's really nice, them giving back to the older people for everything that they've taught us as a youth, and for teaching young kids that they're able to give back and support those -- the elderly -- and let them know that they're not forgotten because they are older," Principal Shirvon Smith of Apple Tree Schools -- Lincoln Park, a participating school, told "GMA."
After being visited by the students this week, Dorothy Waltower, 83, from the Colony House said, "Is this a family gathering? This sure is a surprise. Bless you all." With each Valentine's Day card, seniors also received a blank "Thank You" and a postage-paid envelope addressed to the schools to encourage ongoing connections with students.
Story shared via CBS News: A police sergeant in Waynesboro, Georgia, is being hailed as a hero after a newly released body camera video shows him saving a baby who couldn't breathe. Harold Drummond jumped into action when he saw 6-month-old AJ Sherrod outside a Dollar General store last month. "When I looked down at that baby AJ, I looked down into my son's face. I looked down into my grandson's face" Drummond told CBS News.
His knowledge of two-finger infant CPR saved AJ, who was suffering from a respiratory infection. AJ's family was headed to a children's hospital on January 18 when he stopped breathing, so they pulled over to call 911, CBS affiliate WRDW-TV reported.
AJ's mother, Angel Collins, said Drummond was in the right place at the right time. "He allowed God to use him to help us save the baby," she told CBS News.
Drummond told WRDW he was "extremely nervous" and would "prefer to look down the barrel of a gun than to look down at a baby in distress." Collins said the "what-ifs" are unimaginable and life would be unthinkable without one of her twins. Even Drummond got choked up when he thought about what could have happened. "It's hard," he said. "This is what we do. You know, a lot of people don't realize that we're human also."
Story shared via CBS News: Toledo, Ohio — When a group of high school seniors gathered for what was billed as "the surprise of a lifetime," they were greeted by a man they'd never seen — to tell them something they'd never forget.
Pete Kadens, a wealthy businessman who grew up in Toledo, Ohio, said it was time to give back. I met with him at the Renaissance Hotel before his big announcement. "I think that Toledo could be one of the most equitable middle-market communities in this country," Pete said. "And so if you want to make a big difference, you go to the epicenter of inequity."
Scott High School has some of the most disadvantaged students in the state. But the school is still rich with dreams, and kids like senior Chris Rowland would love to go to college but can't afford it. Last fall, Chris' mom lost her job, and his dad died in a house fire. "My dad was the closest person I had in my life," Chris said. Fortunately, unbeknownst to Chris, a path to a brighter future was about to find him.
"If you're sitting here in this room today, as a soon-to-be graduating senior, tuition, room and board, books and fees will be paid for you will go to college for free," Pete announced. That wasn't the only gift Pete came bearing. Because poverty is an inter-generational problem, and because he is determined to snuff it out in this community, he offered each kid a study partner.
"So, too, can one of your parents go to college or trade school for free," he said. Chris' mom, Abena, said she always wanted to be a school counselor. Altogether, this could cost Pete up to $3 million. Now he's fired up to get others to pitch in to expand the program to every public school in Toledo.
Learn more about H.O.P.E. Toledo, the initiative started by Pete Kadens.
Father God in Jesus name, please bless Pete Kadens and others like him that give back. Please open doors for them and make the way. We also pray for the students, Lord. Please cover each and everyone and help them pursue their studies and have successful careers, resources and all the tools they need to succeed, in Jesus's name, Amen.
Story shared via CBS News: When a Maryland toddler went missing for nearly 10 hours, it was God that helped him get home. That's according to the postal worker who found the 2-year-old boy walking barefoot along a highway. U.S. Postal Service employee Keith Rollins found the boy on I-95 on Thursday morning — wet, shivering and barefoot. He had been missing since Wednesday night, CBS affiliate WUSA reports.
"It was God-ordained that I be in that place at that time," Rollins told WUSA. "Remarkable, man, remarkable." The little boy, Ethan Adeyemi, ran away from family members outside his home in Elkridge, Maryland, Howard County police said. Ethan followed an adult outside of the house then disappeared around 10:20 p.m. The family contacted police, who immediately started a search with fire personnel, K9 units, drones, aircraft and helicopters from neighboring departments. Neighbors also began canvasing the area, the family said. But it was a stranger, who didn't even know the boy was missing, who ended up finding him.
Rollins was driving on I-95 around 8 a.m. Thursday morning when he noticed something unusual, WUSA reports. "I happened to see a little head," Rollins said. "I didn't know whether it was a human head or whether it was an animal, so I pulled over and called 911." He got out of his car and cautiously approached what turned out to be the 2-year-old boy. Rollins said the child was "shivering."
"He only had a pair of sweatpants and sweatshirt, no shoes or socks, so I walked up to him. I said, 'Hey buddy. How you doing? What's your name? Are you OK?' He looked at me, but I didn't get a response from him," Rollins said. Police later told him the boy is believed to be on the autism spectrum and is currently non-verbal. Ethan has yet to be diagnosed because of his young age, but he claps in response to his name, police said.
Rollins knows kids well — he's a grandfather to a little girl not too much older than Ethan. He knew he had to do something. "Once I didn't get a response from him, I decided to just scoop him up, and I took him to my vehicle," he said. "I had a sweater that I tried to cover him up with, and turned up the heat and I called the police back and said that I had the little boy in my vehicle, and within a matter of minutes, the police were there." The child was taken to the hospital when police arrived and he was treated for hypothermia, his family said. He was home on Thursday night and doing well, an uncle told WUSA. Many are now praising Rollins as the hero who saved the day — but he doesn't see it that way. "Giving glory to God that I was able to help at that particular time and be in the correct place at the right time," he said. "But a hero? Nah, not at all."
Story shared via ABC News: A delivery driver's good deed is being shared with the world, thanks to a doorbell camera. A FedEx driver delivering in Michigan's Upper Peninsula was dropping off a package for Jodi LaFreniere at her Manistique home Thursday morning. LaFreniere, a kindergarten teacher, told CNN she was at school when she got an alert on her phone from her doorbell camera.
"I was wondering who was at my house since my fiance was away in Alaska, teaching," she said. When she went to look at the alert, she saw the FedEx delivery driver shoveling the snow on her front porch. In the video, the driver can be seen carrying LaFreniere's package to her front door but stops in his tracks once he takes a look at the snow covering the floor of the porch. Within seconds, he puts the package down and grabbing a shovel near the front door, begins clearing a pathway without any hesitation.
LaFreniere hadn't spoken to the delivery driver but said her fiance, Rodney Riesland, has chatted with him a lot because he's usually home when deliveries are made. She said Riesland says the driver -- Melvin J. Marlett -- is a great guy. Marlett has been working for FedEx for 23 years. Through a friend on Facebook, LaFreniere said she was able to thank Marlett for his kindness. FedEx took notice of Marlett's actions and contacted LaFreniere via Facebook to ask if they could share her story.
"FedEx is proud of the many contributions our team members make to the communities we serve every day," FedEx spokesperson Heather Wilson told CNN. "We commend our courier, Mel Marlett, who went above and beyond to help shovel snow for our customer while making a delivery." Marlett told CNN this is something he saw as routine. "I would hope it's something that anybody would have done," Marlett said. "If you take care of your customers, they take care of you." LaFreniere said she got the doorbell mostly for security.
"Since we live in a remote area, our driveway is a half mile long so for delivery people it's quite the drive to get to our house." LaFreniere said she hopes Marlett gets some special recognition from FedEx for his act of kindness. "Although we see many acts of kindness in the Upper Peninsula, it was still surprising to see that he went the extra step," she said. "I shared it with my coworkers immediately because I couldn't believe it. It made my day."
Story shared via ABC News: A 3-year-old boy bowing his head in prayer during school lunchtime is taking the Internet by storm. On Jan. 7, Makhi Martin led teacher Mrs. James and classmates as they gave thanks for their food. Mom Ranisha Martin captured the sweet moment on video and shared it on Facebook, where it was viewed by millions.
Martin told "GMA" it was the first time she's ever heard her son pray so clearly at his Christian school, in St. Louis.
"I was very shocked," Martin said, adding that she was at school that day for Makhi's birthday celebration. "[I think] people were touched to see a little kid praying."
As mom recorded, Makhi asked for the food -- not to mention him and friends -- to be blessed. "Bless all the boys and girls," he can be heard saying in the clip. "All over the world." While Martin and her husband Darnell were impressed that Makhi memorized the prayer, Martin said it's consistent with his "great personality."
"He's very smart," she added. "He's obsessed with dinosaurs. He can name all the dinosaurs and something special about them. He can tell you his birthday, his mom and dad's names, where he lives ... he can tell you everything." When he's not praying at school, Makhi is looking forward to being a big brother in July.
Story shared via Fox News: An Alabama family's house burned to the ground the day after Christmas but they are grateful for life and faith after a few items managed to survive -- including the family's Bible. Ashlee Pham, 23, from Steele, told Fox News her mom and 13-year-old brother were cleaning their bedrooms when they heard a strange knock on the door. When he saw part of the ceiling fall engulfed in high flames, he yelled for his mom and they managed to get out with their cat and piglet.
"If they would have not got out when they did, they could have been trapped," Pham said. "Some say that knock on the door was an angel watching over them or God. God was definitely with them when it happened."
"I am weary, God," it reads. "But I can prevail." A GoFundMe page titled, "Help get get a new home," [sic] set up by Ashlee Pham was started last week to help raise money for a new place to live with a goal of $5,000.
Story shared via CNN: JOHNSON COUNTY, Iowa — Linda Herring always wanted a big family. But she never imagined that she would foster more than 600 children and turn her home into a safe haven where every child was given shelter, food, clothing, and most importantly, endless amounts of love.
Now 75 years old, Herring has been fostering children for nearly five decades in Johnson County, Iowa. Herring and her husband, Bob, began fostering when they lived in Oxford, Iowa, and continued to do so after they moved to Tiffin. “My best friend was doing foster care for teenage girls and I thought, ‘Well, that would be nice to do the same,’ but I wanted little kids,” Herring told CNN. “So, I talked to the Department of Human Services and agreed to take kids with medical needs.” As a foster mom, Herring ran a home daycare for local families and worked as a night custodian in a nearby high school. If that wasn’t enough, she also volunteered as a first responder for nearly 50 years.
Herring was known by everyone in Johnson County for never turning away a child, no matter their age, gender, or special needs, and would regularly travel to pick up foster children who needed a home. Herring is not just a foster mom. For her eight children, three of which were foster children she and Bob adopted, she was just “Mom.” One of those children is 39-year-old Anthony Herring. He was 6 months old when he was placed in the Herring household. When he was 3 years old, the Herring family officially adopted him. “I appreciate being adopted even more today as a parent then I did when I was a child,” Anthony Herring told CNN. “I’m forever grateful for the life I was given. She and Dad have both taught me that family isn’t determined by blood, it’s who you have in your life to love.” He said that his mom taught him how to appreciate and understand children with special needs.
Linda Herring holds the resolution from the Johnson County Board of Supervisors honoring her for fostering more than 600 children. Two of Herring’s adopted foster children have severe medical and special needs. One of them, Dani, is fully dependent on others for care. While Dani wasn’t expected to live long after her birth, she is now 29 years old. Herring passed on what she likes to call her “foster care trait.” Four of her biological children have fostered children, and three of them followed their parents’ footsteps and adopted kids of their own. Three of her grandchildren fostered children as well. “It’s hard to say in words her impact. She was always available and ready for a child in need. These kids were usually taken from a traumatic situation and she’d take them in, provide a warm bed, clean clothes, warm meals, and love,” Anthony said.
“She also worked hard to keep families together. Keeping siblings together. Helping biological parents make the changes needed to be able to keep their children. She always makes sure a new child in her home was given a professional photograph that was placed on the wall in the living room. That seems like a small thing, but it helps them feel like they’re at home.” When it comes to Herring’s inspiration to foster children, she had one explanation: love. “I would just love (my foster kids) just like they were my own, probably more than I should,” Herring said. “I cried when the kids would leave my home, no matter how long they had been there. It was so hard for me to say goodbye to them. I always questioned, ‘Why do I keep doing this?’ because it was never easy to say goodbye to a child. But I kept doing it because I had so much love to give to these children in need.” Herring carries with her memories of each child that she has protected and loved. Once, she said, she was called in by DHS in the middle of the night to pick up three young children who had been abandoned.
Another memory is the look on the face of a young girl she fostered when she saw her brand-new clothes, the first new clothes the little girl said she was ever given. While Herring’s time as a foster parent is over, she enjoys the photos and cards she receives from the children she fostered after they’ve been adopted. Her favorite part is when her foster children come back to visit after they’ve grown up. Herring’s impact as a foster mom went beyond the children she took in. Tonya Stratton, whose mother was one of Herring’s foster children, grew up calling Herring “Grama Linda” and spending her childhood making friends with Herring’s foster kids.
“Grama Linda, it’s now your time to relax, but first you must learn the definition of that and then learn to sit without rocking, learn to appreciate quiet, no more piles and piles of laundry to fold, groceries to buy, diapers to change,” Stratton said in a Facebook tribute to Herring. “It’s your time now to rest, go through your memories, put your feet up or take a nap and try to understand how incredibly worthy you are to do whatever the hell you want.”
In October 2019, Herring chose to stop fostering children due to health concerns, her granddaughter, Amber Herring, told CNN. After announcing her decision to stop, Herring was honored by the Johnson County Board of Supervisors, with a resolution of appreciation on Thursday. “The Department of Human Services would call Linda in the middle of the night to take a child, and she would meet anywhere to get a child,” the resolution said in recognition of Herring’s efforts. “Linda mostly fostered young children with special medical needs and kept bins of clothes in her garage, stacked to the ceiling, labeled by size and gender. No one had to worry about a child going without clothes at Linda’s, even if they arrived with nothing but what they’re wearing.”