It wasn't all bad...

The week's good news: November 29, 2018

Catherine Garcia
Election workers.
AP Photo/Robert Kradin
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97-year-old New Jersey woman has served on every Election Day since 1939

Laura Wooten worked her first Election Day in 1939, and hasn't missed one since. The 97-year-old spent that day working as a challenger in her hometown of Princeton, New Jersey. "It was a little nerve-racking, but I think I managed the job decently," she told NBC News. "As a matter of fact, I liked it." She enjoyed being "close to this thing called democracy." It's thought that Wooten is the country's longest continuously serving election worker, and over the last 79 years, she's been everything from a vote counter to a crowd manager. Her devotion to democracy has earned her recognition from the New Jersey League of Women Voters and Princeton University, where she still works part time. "Democracy is just a beautiful, beautiful thing," she said. Wooten is looking forward to serving again in 2020, when she'll be 99 years old. [NBC News]


Twitter users help reunite friends who met on vacation 12 years ago

For a few hours in 2006, they were inseparable. Brianna Cry, 19, and Heidi "Heii" Tran, 18, met on a dinner cruise in Hawaii 12 years ago. "I don't think there were many kids our age on this particular dinner cruise, so we found each other and stuck together the whole time," Cry told Teen Vogue. Cry recently found an old picture with her vacation friend, and tweeted the photo, asking for help finding her. After thousands of people retweeted the picture, Tran saw it, and quickly responded with a photo of her own from that same night. "I was blown away by the response Bri had gotten," she said. "I didn't think so many people would be invested in a story like this." They are both in school and don't live near each other, but the friends have spoken over the phone several times and hope to meet in person someday soon. [Teen Vogue]


Zookeepers are overjoyed when endangered ape unexpectedly gives birth

Surprise! A siamang at the San Diego Zoo shocked everyone when she welcomed a baby on Nov. 12, despite being on birth control and showing no signs of pregnancy. Eloise, 37, has been on birth control for several years, and had her last baby in 2006. She has six other offspring, as well as a partner: 35-year-old Unkie. In a statement, Jill Andrews, animal care manager at the San Diego Zoo, said like with humans, "it's not uncommon for contraceptive failure to happen from time to time. Still, we are overjoyed — because any birth of an endangered species is a reason to celebrate." Because Eloise is always with the baby, officials are keeping their distance, and won't know if it's a boy or girl until they perform an exam sometime over the next few months. [The Associated Press]


Vietnam War veteran meets stranger whose Christmas card lifted his spirits

On December 25, 1970, John Metzler received a letter from a stranger, containing a message that helped get him through the darkest of days. Metzler was 23 and serving in the Vietnam War as an Army helicopter sniper. The letter was written by a sixth grader named DonnaCaye. She didn't know who would receive the note, as it was addressed to "Serviceman," but her message was heartfelt. "I want to give my sincere thanks for going over to war to fight for us," DonnaCaye wrote. Being thanked by this young girl meant everything to Metzler, and he still has the letter. He recently asked his family if they could track down DonnaCaye so he could share how much her words meant to him, and she surprised him by flying to his home in Idaho. Metzler was moved to tears, and said the letter "means more today than it did when I got it." [CBS News]


San Diego man donates $1 million to California school devastated by fire

Bob Wilson remembers his high school years fondly, and after hearing about the devastating Camp Fire in Northern California, he couldn't stop thinking about the sorrow felt by the people of Paradise. The fire destroyed most of the town, killing at least 85 people and displacing thousands. Wilson, 89, felt terrible for everyone affected, but particularly for the teenagers missing out on the quintessential high school experience. He wanted to "raise their spirits," and decided to do something special for all 980 students and 105 staff members at Paradise High School. Wilson wrote every single student and staff member a check for $1,000, no strings attached, and went up to Paradise to hand the checks out. He told NBC 7 he hopes this encourages others to give, too. "If I can just raise their spirits, I don't want anything more than that," he said. [NBC Los Angeles]