The week's good news: January 28, 2021
It wasn't all bad!
Homeless veteran handed keys to her dream home
Now that Navy veteran Miyoko Toy has moved into her apartment, she's looking forward to everything that comes along with having a place of her own. "I'm excited to have keys," she said. "I'm excited to have a bed. I'm excited to be able to get up from my nap and make myself something to eat. It means everything to me." Toy is the 1,500th homeless veteran in Southern California's San Bernardino County to receive housing through the Homeless Veterans Initiative. Launched five years ago, this collaborative effort between the county and local social service organizations identifies homeless veterans and helps them develop housing plans before getting them moved. Toy settled into her new apartment earlier this month, and when she saw how much room she had — plus the furniture and cleaning supplies waiting for her — she was thrilled that she now has "a place to bring my family home to and share space with them."
Neighbors in Minneapolis sing together from their front lawns
At 6 p.m. on the dot, they start to appear on their front lawns, ready to belt out everything from "God Bless America" to "Baby Shark." In this Minneapolis neighborhood, residents have been participating in nightly singalongs since the beginning of the pandemic. Each family is a safe distance apart, as no one leaves their yard. They have a 200-song repertoire, and neighbor David O'Fallon told the Star Tribune they gather "rain, shine, or meteor shower." About 20 people — ranging in age from 2 to 80-something — usually join the chorus. Over the last 300 or so nights, they have become closer, despite the physical distance. "We know each other better now," O'Fallon said. "We are stronger as a small community. We lift each other's spirit."
Maryland man finds his calling in retirement, fixing hundreds of bikes at no charge
Neighbors, friends, strangers, it doesn't matter — Ric Jackson fixes any bike that comes his way, free of charge. Jackson, a retired mathematician and avid cyclist, lives in Potomac, Maryland. Last April, one of his neighbors was looking for someone to fix the brakes on his daughter's bike, and Jackson offered to help. When he was finished, the father and daughter were both "thrilled" with the results, Jackson told CBS News. That was his first fix of the pandemic — since then, Jackson has repaired more than 650 bikes for people he knows, as well as others who find him through word of mouth. Kids are often in awe when he takes their broken bikes and returns them good as new, Jackson said, and he regularly receives texts from people praising his handiwork and telling him about the great bike ride they just went on, thanks to him. "That's the kind of thing that makes my day," he said. "That's my reward."
Indiana community surprises longtime pizza deliveryman with a new car
Over the last three decades, Robert Peters has gotten to know a lot of people in Tipton, Indiana, and when they learned he was having car trouble, they were more than happy to lend a hand. Peters has worked at Pizza Hut for 31 years, and Tanner Langley, 28, told Good Morning America he's the only pizza deliveryman he's ever known. During a recent delivery, Peters mentioned to Langley that his 28-year-old car was having issues. Langley wanted to do something, so he started a fundraiser to help Peters buy a new car. Within days of launching a GoFundMe, he received more than $18,000 in donations — well above the $12,000 goal. With the money, Langley purchased Peters a 2017 Chevy Malibu, covered registration, insurance, and taxes, and bought a $500 gas card. Peters received his surprise car earlier this month, and told GMA he hopes "that all those who made this happen will be blessed as much as they have blessed me."
Volunteers spend 3 days removing 9,000 pounds of trash from Tennessee River
Over the course of three days in early January, volunteers making their way down the Tennessee River in a 25-foot aluminum boat were able to remove more than 9,000 pounds of trash from the water. It wasn't the first time the volunteers — staffers from the Johnsonville State Historic Park and members of the group Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful — cleaned the 652-mile river; in October, they pulled out 4,811 pounds of garbage. Kathleen Gibi, executive director of Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful, said it is up to "local partners and individuals who are eager about taking ownership to protect and improve their beautiful river community." The Tennessee River has an extraordinarily high amount of microplastics in it, and every cleanup is a step in the right direction. The volunteers are already planning their next event in April, and set a goal to remove at least 100,000 pounds of trash from the river by the end of 2021.