It wasn't all bad...

The week's good news: February 14, 2019

Catherine Garcia
Joshua Tree National Park.
David McNew/Getty Images
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Woman reunited with purse lost at her high school 65 years ago

Workers demolishing the old Jeffersonville High School in Indiana discovered an accidental time capsule from the 1950s. While ripping out cabinets in a science classroom last month, the crew found a simple black purse containing the 1953-54 basketball team's schedule, lipstick, a ribbon for coming in first in the mile relay at a track and field event, ID cards, and a letter asking the purse's owner, Martha Ina Ingham, to prom. Greater Clark County Schools tracked Ingham, a member of the class of 1955, down, and the purse will be packed up and mailed to her. "I hope this little piece of history brings back fond memories of her year at Jeffersonville High School," Erin Bojorquez, public information officer for Greater Clark County Schools, told the News and Tribune. "I also hope to answer the community's burning question about who took Marty to prom." [The News and Tribune]


Vending machines filled with books are being installed in schools and public spaces across the U.S.

Instead of getting a soda or candy bars out of the vending machine, students at Clinton Middle School in Tennessee are getting books. Academic coach April Meyers had the special vending machine installed in the cafeteria, with books costing only $1; the money raised will go toward buying new titles. "We just hope it will spark a little more interest in reading for some students who maybe don't have the opportunity to go to the bookstore and choose their own book to keep," Meyers told WVLT. Something similar is happening in Houston, where the Houston Public Library recently installed two vending machines downtown. To get the machines open, people just have to scan their library cards and enter their PIN, and the machine is able to tell which books have been borrowed. "We believe that the library should be everywhere," Houston Public Library Executive Director Rhea Lawson told Houston Public Media. [WVLT, Houston Public Media]


Community learns sign language to communicate with young neighbor

This is what being a good neighbor is all about. Glenda and Raphael Savitz moved to Newton, Massachusetts, a little over two years ago, and soon welcomed a daughter, Samantha. During her newborn screenings, doctors discovered that Samantha was deaf, and her parents immediately began learning American Sign Language. As Samantha got older, her neighbors would see her using sign language with her parents, and it sparked an idea: What if they learned ASL, too? An instructor was hired, and soon, 18 neighbors gathered in a living room for their first lesson. Since then, they've learned lots of basic words and how to string them into sentences. The neighbors love that they can now communicate with Samantha. "We will all be participants in helping her as she grows," Terry Nowak told The Boston Globe, adding, "The community is already in place. This is just a new way to express it." [The Boston Globe]


Pastor tackles food insecurity by bringing fresh produce to churches in Baltimore and beyond

After seeing how many of his parishioners were sick because of their diets, and who did not have access to fresh, healthy food, Rev. Heber Brown III of Pleasant Hope Baptist Church in Baltimore decided to do something about it. On a lot in front of the church, Brown planted a garden filled with everything from summer squash to kale that now produces 1,100 pounds of produce every year. He also teamed up with black farmers in the area, who now sell their fruits and vegetables at the church on Sundays. Due to the enthusiastic response, Brown decided to bring the program to more congregations, launching the Black Church Food Security Network in 2015. Now, more than 10 churches in Baltimore, North Carolina, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., have established sustainable food systems at their churches, and Brown gets emails and calls all the time from people interested in joining the network. [WTOP]


In a bipartisan move, Senate passes landmark bill to enlarge national parks

On Tuesday, the Senate passed a bill that protects millions of acres of public lands and hundreds of miles of river, creates four new national monuments, restricts mining and development around national parks while expanding other parks, and saves taxpayers $9 million, according to Congressional Budget Office projections. "The most sweeping conservation legislation in a decade" passed 92 to 8, The Washington Post says, and has widespread support in the House. The bill expands Joshua Tree and Death Valley national parks, permanently bars mining on 370,000 acres around Yellowstone and North Cascades national parks, protects 1.3 million acres of land as national wilderness, codifies a program from former President Barack Obama that makes national parks free for fourth graders and their families, and funds a migratory bird habitat protection program. [The Washington Post]