The week's good news: February 9, 2017
It wasn't all bad!
Rescue dog visits Kansas second graders who helped save his life
Within a day of hearing about a dog that needed $400 for surgery, a second grade class at Shawnee Heights Elementary School in Topeka, Kansas, went above and beyond that goal, raising $450. In January, an Australian Shepherd was found abandoned with a broken leg, and brought to the Helping Hands Humane Society in Topeka. The organization posted a video of the dog, named Ryker, on its Facebook page, and requested donations for a surgery to amputate his leg. The students saw the video, and raised $450 overnight. Last Friday, Ryker stopped by to surprise the kids, bringing with him individualized thank you notes for every child. They squealed when he entered the classroom, with one student telling KSNT, "I felt like I was going to cry because I was so happy."
7-year-old starts recycling business to save the planet while earning money for college
At age 3, Ryan Hickman launched his own company, Ryan's Recycling. Now 7, Ryan estimates he has turned in more than 200,000 cans and bottles and raised more than $10,000 for his college fund. Ryan's father, Damion Hickman, told ABC Los Angeles his son became "hooked" on recycling when he visited a recycling center as a toddler, and now collects bottles and cans from friends, neighbors, and clients across Orange County, California. Ryan also sells T-shirts on his website, donating the proceeds to the Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach "for the sea lions to get food and medicine." The young entrepreneur has a simple message that he hopes will resonate: "If you already recycle, just keep on recycling," he said. "If you don't recycle, start recycling."
Indian villagers knit giant sweaters to keep elephants warm during cold snap
An elephant sanctuary in northern India is using jumbo-size sweaters to keep its pachyderms warm during a cold snap. When the temperature plummeted, villagers near the Wildlife SOS Elephant Conservation and Care Center started knitting brightly colored winter garments for the preserve's 20 elephants, which were rescued from circuses and logging camps. The new sweaters aren't just fashionable, they're also good for the animals' health. "It's important to keep our elephants protected from the bitter cold," said Wildlife SOS co-founder Kartick Satyanarayan, "as they are weak and vulnerable, having suffered so much abuse, making them susceptible to ailments such as pneumonia."
84-year-old artist uses California middle school as his canvas
History comes alive at Chaparral Middle School in Diamond Bar, California, where Cornelis Greive, an 84-year-old grandfather, has spent more than 1,000 volunteer hours painting murals of Anne Frank, Amelia Earhart, and Albert Einstein. "Cor has added a lot of color and really brightened up our campus," Principal Ron Thibodeaux said. "He's a gem." Greive, who started painting at Chaparral in August, has completed about 20 portraits of historical figures, and typically finishes each piece in about two hours. Greive's granddaughter Grace is a sixth grader at Chaparral, and he says in two years, he plans on taking his brushes and following her to high school. "I enjoy it here at school," he said. "I'm painting the walls and they let me get away with it."
After he lost his job, this man's friends sent him on a surprise trip a world away
When Alex Strand was laid off in December, he decided to go on a life-changing trip — planned entirely by his friends, with the destination unknown until he arrived at the airport. The 32-year-old from San Francisco gave his pals $2,500, and they chose to send him to Nepal and India. Strand left on Jan. 4 for two weeks, and to ensure he was out of his comfort zone, his friends had him stay in hostels and take long bus rides from place to place. He also spent a few nights with a family in Darjeeling, who opened his eyes to life in India. He's back in the U.S. and looking for a new job, but the trip is still with him. "It's given me an appreciation for the need to get out and explore and try new things, and to explore new points of view," he told Today.