The week's good news: March 10, 2022
Kids launch free hotline to share pep talks, pieces of advice
Need a little encouragement? How about some advice? All this and more is just a phone call to Peptoc away. Peptoc is a free hotline created by students at West Side Elementary in Healdsburg, California, with help from teachers Jessica Martin and Asherah Weiss. "I thought, you know, with this world being as it is, we all really needed to hear from them — their extraordinary advice and their continual joy," Martin told NPR. The students recorded messages for Peptoc, ranging from advice to words of wisdom, and Martin said their "creativity and resourcefulness is something that we need to emulate." Peptoc can be reached at 707-998-8410 — callers "feeling mad, frustrated, or nervous" are instructed to hit 1, and those seeking a pep talk from kindergartners can hit 3; encouragement in Spanish is available by pressing 5. The hotline's recordings show a high level of "joy and love and imagination," Martin told NPR, and that is "what's going to save us in the end."
In 2 days, Ukrainians received $2 million from Airbnb bookings guests don't plan on using
Last Wednesday and Thursday, Ukrainian Airbnb hosts grossed nearly $2 million from 61,000 bookings for guests who never plan on showing up. Booking stays without checking in is a way for people around the world to provide immediate financial support to Ukrainians amid the Russian invasion that began on Feb. 24. Volodymyr Bondarenko, who rents a one-bedroom apartment in Kyiv through Airbnb, told CNN on Friday that he received more than 10 bookings that day. "This was surprising, it's very supportive at the moment," he said. "I told many of my relatives and friends that I plan to use this money to help our people who need it at this time."
New Jersey man headed back home after walking 25,000 miles around the world
On his walking trek around the world, Tom Turcich traveled 25,000 miles, wore out 45 pairs of sneakers, and had more escapades than he could have ever imagined. In 2015, Turcich came up with a plan to spend about five years exploring the world on foot, leaving his New Jersey home on April 2, one day before his 26th birthday. He's used social media and YouTube to keep people updated on his journey; through posts and videos, Turcich has shared how he almost froze while camping in South America, received a police escort in Algeria, and hopped on a research vessel to Antarctica. "From all the solitude, from all the walking, I know myself very well," Turcich told NJ.com. "This has given me a much larger understanding of the world." Early on, while walking through Texas, Turcich adopted a dog, Savannah, who has joined him for 22,500 miles. In August, they flew from Kyrgyzstan to Seattle, and began the final leg of their journey, with Turcich expecting them to arrive in New Jersey by mid-May.
College students design device that helps stroke patient hug his grandsons
Four college students developed a tool that lets Kevin Eubanks do something he hadn't done in eight years: hug his grandchildren. Eubanks' daughter, Emily Sisco, is an adjunct professor at Arkansas State University, working with occupational therapy assistant students. Eight years ago, Eubanks had a massive stroke, which left him with weakness in his left arm, and for a recent class project, Sisco asked her students to make a piece of adaptive equipment for her dad. She showed them a video of Eubanks completing daily tasks, and the students were able to FaceTime him to ask about his likes and dislikes. After Eubanks shared that he missed being able to fully embrace his loved ones, students Lisa James, Larissa Garcia, Erica Dexter, and Casey Parsons teamed up and created the "HugAgain." It's a strap that Eubanks is able to "grab with the other hand and wrap around another person," James explained to Today. The first time he used it, an overjoyed Eubanks cried. He told Today he hopes his story can encourage others to "never give up."
After his special van was totaled, Florida man with cerebral palsy surprised with new ride
Jonathan Barnes is back on the road. The 34-year-old Florida resident has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair. His parents, Joe and Victoria, would drive him wherever he needed to be, from doctor's appointments to church, in a van outfitted with a wheelchair lift. In December, the van was totaled in an accident, but because of supply chain issues, there haven't been any replacement vehicles available for the Barnes family to purchase. Joe spent several weeks carrying his son in and out of a car when they needed to go places, which wasn't the safest option for Jonathan and caused back issues for Joe. South Florida–based Chen Med uses vehicles just like the Barnes' old van to transport patients, and after hearing their story, the company surprised the family by donating a new van to them that's equipped with the same special wheelchair lift for Jonathan. Jonathan told NBC 6 he is "very thankful" for the new van, while Victoria declared it's "exceedingly, abundantly above what I would have ever even thought or imagined."