The week's good news: July 16, 2020

It wasn't all bad!

A food bank.
(Image credit: dragana991/iStock)

1. Community refrigerators help fight hunger in Los Angeles

In neighborhoods across Los Angeles, community refrigerators are appearing, filled with food that is free for anyone who needs it, any time of day. Since the LA Community Fridges project launched earlier this month, six refrigerators have been set up across the city, with another in nearby Long Beach. Refrigerators are installed at businesses, which supply the electricity, and filled with food donated by local residents, restaurants, and food delivery services. Volunteers make sure the refrigerators stay clean and stocked with a variety of items. Paloma Vergara of Reach for the Top, the organization coordinating the effort, said the program helps people in all stages of life. "Food insecurity is a broad spectrum," she told NBC Los Angeles. "It can be anybody." Joshua Mock, the owner of Little Amsterdam Coffee, sponsors a refrigerator because he believes "the best thing you can do is lend a hand."

NBC Los Angeles

2. Holocaust survivor connects with family of American soldier who liberated her

Lily Ebert never forgot about the kindness shown to her by an American soldier during the darkest time of her life. Ebert, 90, was born in Hungary, and at 14, was sent to Auschwitz. After being liberated in April 1945, an American GI gave her a German banknote inscribed with an optimistic message. "The start to a new life," he wrote. "Good luck and happiness." He was "the first person who was kind and wasn't an enemy," Ebert told CNN. Her 16-year-old great-grandson, Dov Forman, recently tweeted photos of the banknote, hoping to learn the identity of the man, who had also written "assistant to Chaplain Schachter" on the bill. Forman soon learned his name was Hyman Schulman. A Jewish soldier from Brooklyn, he died seven years ago, but Ebert and Forman set up a video meeting with his children. "It means so much that we can now connect with the family," Ebert said.

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3. Ohio boy tracks down family to return dog tag lost decades ago

When Kolton Conrad found a U.S. Marine's dog tag in the Hocking River, the 12-year-old knew he had to track down its owner. The Lancaster, Ohio, resident was kayaking on July 4 when he made the discovery, and could make out the name "Rhonemus" on the tag. His mom posted a photo of it on Facebook, asking friends if they knew anyone with the last name. Within six hours, she was in contact with Kimberly Greenlee. Greenlee's brother, Steven Rhonemus, died in 1974 following a motorcycle crash. The Conrads met Greenlee at her brother's favorite park to give her his dog tag. "It's just amazing to think about, this tag was lost for 46 years, and for this little boy to find it on Independence Day, of all days," she told the Lancaster Eagle-Gazette. "And for him to realize the meaning behind the tag, and to hold onto it, to help a stranger's family, it's amazing."

Lancaster Eagle-Gazette

4. Nebraska retiree has donated his platelets more than 700 times

When he retired in 1995, Sherman Hirsch discovered something he could do with his newfound free time: donate his platelets. Since then, the 89-year-old Nebraska resident has donated his platelets more than 700 times, joking with Good Morning America that he is "definitely on a first-name basis" with the staff at his local Red Cross. While still working as a teacher, Hirsch regularly donated blood after school. It takes longer to donate platelets, about three hours, and Hirsch does this every other Monday. "I decided this is something I can do to help out other people and I've always been blessed with good health," he told GMA. "It's easy to do and it doesn't cost me anything." The Red Cross says that platelets, tiny cells in the blood that form clots and stop bleeding, are needed every 15 seconds in the United States to help people fighting cancer, traumatic injuries, and chronic diseases.

Good Morning America

5. 12-year-old trumpet player performs for health-care workers

Jason Zgonc uses music to show his appreciation for the health-care workers saving lives at Emory Decatur Hospital in Georgia. Every night, the 12-year-old trumpet player stands outside the hospital during shift change and puts on a mini-concert, performing songs like "Danny Boy" and "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." He was inspired by a New York Philharmonic trumpeter who stands on his balcony and plays in honor of health-care workers. Zgonc, who has been performing outside the hospital for more than two months, told CBS News he appreciates the doctors, nurses, and other staffers for "working so hard every day trying to save people's lives," and they can count on him to "be out here playing for them." The first time nurse Natalie Schmidts heard the sounds of Zgonc's trumpet, she was coming off a rough shift, and he helped change her perspective. "It gives you a sense of community," she said.

CBS News 11 Alive

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Catherine Garcia

Catherine Garcia is night editor for Her writing and reporting has appeared in Entertainment Weekly and, The New York Times, The Book of Jezebel, and other publications. A Southern California native, Catherine is a graduate of the University of Redlands and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.