The week's good news: March 18, 2021
It wasn't all bad!
World War II vet finds a way to give back during quarantine by weaving hats
With just a hook, a loom, some yarn, and lots of patience, Tom Cornish has been able to weave 400 hats for people in need. Cornish, 96, resides in a Minnesota senior living complex, and because of the pandemic, spent much of the last year staying inside. The World War II veteran found that weaving was a good way to pass the time, and decided to finish one hat a day. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Cornish has made 400 hats, donating them to the Salvation Army. "If someone needs something, give it to them," he told KARE 11. Cornish has also taught some of his neighbors how to weave, and one has since made more than 35 hats to donate. Cornish has a long history of volunteering, and his son, Jerry, said "this is how he got to be 96 years old, because he's helping everybody else. Everybody's more important than he is, in his mind."
12-year-old college student aims to work at NASA in 4 years
When it comes to her future, Alena Wicker is shooting for the stars. Only 12 years old, the Arizona resident is already a high school graduate, after excelling in her classes. Her mother, Daphne McQuarter, told 12 News that when Alena was 4, it was clear she had "a gift for numbers and Lego and science, so I nurtured that gift." Alena wants to put her building skills to the test as an engineer for NASA, and when she starts at Arizona State University this summer, she will major in astronomical and planetary science and chemistry. "I'm just planning it all as I go," Alena said. "It doesn't matter what your age or what you're planning to do. Go for it, dream, then accomplish it." If she stays on course, Alena will graduate from college at the ripe old age of 16, and hopes that by then, she'll be "driving in one of those future space mobiles."
Archaeologists find dozens of Dead Sea Scroll fragments
For the first time in 60 years, Israeli archaeologists have discovered dozens of Dead Sea Scroll fragments, pieces of parchment that date back to around the first century. The more than 80 fragments were found inside a cave in the Judean Desert, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced on Tuesday. Also discovered in the cave were an intact woven basket believed to be 10,500 years old and the 6,000-year-old mummified skeleton of a child. The Dead Sea Scrolls are ancient Jewish religious manuscripts that were first discovered in the 1940s and 1950s, and are some of the earliest known copies of Biblical texts. It is believed the newly found scrolls were hidden in the cave by Jewish rebels fleeing a Roman advance. The parchment fragments feature Greek text from the books of Zechariah and Nahum, including the verse, "These are the things you are to do: Speak the truth to one another, render true and perfect justice in your gates."
Woman finds her biological parents — and then reunites the former couple
When Laura Mabry decided to find information about her biological parents, she had no idea she would end up playing matchmaker, bringing them back together after 50 years. The Arkansas resident was adopted in 1968, and grew up in a loving home. Two years ago, she took a DNA test and was quickly connected with her biological mother, Donna Horn. Mabry learned that her biological parents were high school sweethearts from Indiana, and her birth father was named Joe Cougill. It wasn't long before Mabry was able to find him, and she passed along Cougill's phone number to Horn. Once they started talking, they were "immediately bonded," Mabry told ABC News. Horn was a widow and Cougill was divorced, but they didn't stay single for long — last May, the reconnected couple got married. "This has fulfilled something in my life that even I didn't realize I needed so much," Mabry said.
Tutor aims to give out 1 million books to kids in her town
As the daughter of a librarian, books have always been important to Jennifer Williams, and when she learned that the kids she tutored didn't have reading materials at home, it inspired her to make sure that every child in her hometown of Danville, Virginia, has plenty of books to call their own. Williams launched her first book drive in 2017, with neighbors and people from her church donating books. She was able to give away 300 titles that summer, but Williams told CNN she didn't feel like it was enough, and set a new goal: to donate 1 million books in Danville. Since then, she has distributed 63,000 books — every year, she gives one book to each student at the local elementary school, and makes sure the shelves are full in 16 free mini-libraries she set up across town. Williams said she hopes her project teaches kids that reading "can take you anywhere. ... If you can read, you can learn almost anything."